What a weekend! Disney hosted its second D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center, bringing together the various divisions of the Walt Disney Company for three days of exhibitions, panel discussions, presentations and sneak peeks. We'll give you a full review and look inside the 2011 D23 Expo in a special D23 bonus edition of Dateline Disneyland tomorrow because today we have a full Disneyland update for you covering the latest goings-on at the Anaheim property. Over the course of the last week, Disney announced two significant projects for Walt Disney's original Magic Kingdom, including upgrades and improvements to the dining offerings along Main Street, U.S.A and a highly-themed new princess meet-and-greet area at the edge of Disneyland's Central Plaza. These projects are already starting to get underway as work continues on the major construction in Cars Land and demolition in Sunshine Plaza across the way at Disney California Adventure.
As you read today's column you may notice a new look for our Project Tracker photos. We've relaunched our ever-popular Disneyland Resort and Disney California Adventure Project Tracker threads on the MiceChat boards. With the re-launch, we've given the Trackers and updated look, which is now reflected in their special Project Tracker watermarks seen on related photos in today's column. Of course, you can always click on any photo featuring a Project Tracker watermark to learn more information on the project or join on-going discussion on the MiceChat forums!
We've got a full update today, so let's get started!
WELCOME TO DISNEYLAND!
Peak summer crowds have subsided following the busy D23 Expo weekend as most students head back to school this week. Our friends at Touring Plans have their weekly crowd forecast and some tips to help you plan your visit and if you still haven't signed up for Touring Plans now is the perfect time! Get 50% off a Disenyland Resort Touring Plans subscription with our MiceDeals Deal of the Day! That's only $3 for a year of Touring Plans!
With Summer break ending for most schools, the D23 Expo in the rearview mirror, and AP blockouts being lifted, Disneyland crowd levels should begin to subside this week. TouringPlans.com can help you navigate the parks with our per-park Crowd Calendar, Lines - Mobile Wait Times App that gives access to current and estimated wait times for attractions, and Touring Plans detailing the best plan of attack for hitting the attractions. Now more than ever, it's a good time to subscribe to TouringPlans.com to plan your strategy to avoid the crowds!
Below are the predicted resort-wide crowd numbers for select days generated by the TouringPlans professional statisticians as measured for the upcoming week. For the access to the full year and per-park crowd level predictions, visit our Crowd Calendar.
— Fred HazeltonStatistician, TouringPlans.com
Crowd Calendar Prediction
Mon., August 22
Here are some quick-hit notes that we hope you'll find helpful as you prepare your visits for the week:
No full blockouts this weekend, but the two lowest levels are blocked out on Saturday.
Resort-wide crowd levels rise to 6 over the weekend, but still should be fairly manageable.
Disneyland park's lowest day will be Tuesday, when it's a 3.8.
Tue., August 23
Wed., August 24
Thu., August 25
Crowd levels are based on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the least crowded conditions and 10 being most crowded.
On Main Street, the walls have come down in front of the Disney Gallery as work removing the add-on Disney Visa kiosk has wrapped up. It's nice to see that ugly and recently-unused room removed from the building facade. It's like it was never there at all!
The only thing that indicates something was here is the discoloration in the brick pavers.
MAIN STREET'S JOLLY HOLIDAY
On August 16, three days before the D23 Expo kicked off, Disney made an unexpected announcement on its official Disney Parks Blog for some Main Street, U.S.A. dining and shopping locations. Starting the next day on August 17, construction would begin in the Plaza Pavilion, converting the space into a new Mary Poppins-themed bakery-cafe. Rumors of the new location, named the Jolly Holiday Bakery Café, has been making the rounds in the Disney fan community for some time now, but it took the closing of the Annual Passholder Center to finally get Disney to make the formal announcement.
The new bakery is set to open in January 2012. It will be fantastic to once again have an operating dining location in the space after years of being closed or used as a simple Annual Passport Center. With the Plaza Pavilion being used for foodservice again, maybe it's also time for Disney to dust off the unused Aladdin's Oasis and bring back the Tahitian Terrace?
Signage on the construction walls announce the new dining location
The announcement also came with news of some notable changes at other Main Street dining locations. With a new bakery under construction, the current Blue Ribbon Bakery would no longer be needed once the the Jolly Holiday location opens in January. The removal of the Blue Ribbon will allow the Carnation Café to expand and offer an indoor dining space. This change is actually a return to how the location operated for decades before the Blue Ribbon Bakery moved in and made it an outdoor-only restaurant.
Bye-bye Blue Ribbon!
Here's what the Disney Parks Blog had to say about the restaurant shuffle:
The expansion kicks off with the all-new Jolly Holiday Bakery Café. The bakery will be located on the current site of the Plaza Pavilion, which recently hosted the Annual Passport Processing Center. The new location will feature an expanded menu, as well as outdoor seating. When Jolly Holiday Bakery Café opens in January 2012, the Blue Ribbon Bakery will close to make way for the next step in the Main Street, U.S.A., project.
We’re also excited to announce that, for the first time in decades, Carnation Café will once again offer indoor seating to Disneyland park guests, increasing the total number of seats and giving guests more options for experiencing this iconic restaurant year-round. Carnation Café will close for this refurbishment at the beginning of 2012 and re-open in the summer.
Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor and the Candy Palace display kitchen will also be gaining additional space. The newly reconfigured ice cream parlor will create more room for guests purchasing the extremely popular hand-dipped cones, and a larger Candy Palace kitchen will allow even more guests to view magical sweet treats as they are created. These locations will close in January 2012 and re-open in the spring. [ LINK ]
The current Blue Ribbon Bakery interior:
As the Disney Parks Blog noted, the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor and Candy Palace will also get some work done.
The ice cream parlor interior will be redesigned, hopefully fixing its frustrating crowd-flow problems. At peak times, the current parlor configuration often sees overflow ice cream queue stretching into the Blue Ribbon Bakery. With the Bakery becoming sit-down dining space, the current parlor's queue issues will need a fix.
Also on the list of upgrades is the display candy kitchen at the popular Candy Palace shop.
The on-stage kitchen is set to be expanded, and it'll be interesting to see how Disney manages to do this. The Candy Palace entryway is cramped as it is. Expanding the display kitchen suggests it will take over space currently used as a cash wrap, which can see significant lines when the park is busy.
The Disney Parks Blog didn't mention any changes at the Penny Arcade which is located between the Gibson Girl and Candy Palace. The Penny Arcade has already suffered from reduced floor space over the years as a large fudge and candy apple counter moved in, and a self-serve jelly bean display was installed. The Penny Arcade has significantly fewer vintage arcade machines than it did in its earlier years, and we hope that the Gibson Girl and Candy Palace reconfigurations don't compromise the space even more.
While it's important to address the operational needs of the incredibly popular ice cream parlor and candy shops, it's also important to maintain the Main Street show, which is supported by the individual identities of the shops, including the Penny Arcade with its vintage arcade offerings.
PRINCESSES ON MAIN STREET
As work got underway at the new Jolly Holiday Bakery, Disney waited for the weekend's big D23 Expo to announce the new Fantasy Faire coming soon to the edge of Main Street. The project will re-theme the current Carnation Plaza Gardens area into a princess meet-and-greet area including a stage, photo ops and activities for kids.
...will soon look like this:
Friday's announcement from Disneyland Resort President George Kalogridis was part of the larger Disney Parks and Resorts presentation at the D23 Expo, lead by Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Stagg's. The announcement was quickly reiterated on the Disney Parks Blog Friday afternoon:
The boundaries of Fantasyland are expanding with a brand new experience called Fantasy Faire. For this project, Carnations Plaza Gardens Stage is being reimagined into an enchanting village square that will immerse guests in the stories of their favorite princesses in exciting new ways.
Guests will travel through a village square surrounded by fairytale cottages and pavilions to the heart of the square – Tangled Tower, inspired by the film. The village square will come alive with activities and entertainment, including a Royal Ribbon Parade where guests can dance and interact with Belle or Rapunzel. Guests can visit the their favorite Disney royalty from such films as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Cinderella,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Tangled.”
The Fantasy Faire Stage will be a new entertainment venue where the stories of Disney’s fairy tale heroes and heroines will be brought to life, letting guests become part of the story as well.
And at night, the Fantasy Faire Stage will come alive with the classic music and dance offerings that Disneyland park guests have loved for years. [ LINK ]
This new offering is essentially a permanent implementation of the current Princess Fantasy Faire offerings located in the Fantasyland Theater. What's interesting about the announcement is that, so far, Disney has made no mention of the Fantasyland Theater. Rumors suggest that Disneyland Entertainment will reclaim the space for proper stage shows, something that's been missing from the theater since "Snow White — An Enchanting New Musical" closed in 2006.
The concept art promises a nicely-themed and detailed area. We hope the concept art delivers on that promise, but hopefully the princesses aren't too noticeable from Disneyland's Central Plaza at the end of Main Street, USA.
Disney has also promised that the popular evening entertainment including live music and swing dancing will still be offered even after the princesses move in.
Will these Frontierland transition facades around the tunnel to Rancho del Zocalo be lost?
Work continues on the remainder of California Adventure's $1 billion-dollar remodel and expansion...
BUENA VISTA STREET
Work continues on the new temporary backstage route guests will pass through when entering Disney California Adventure as Buena Vista Street construction gets underway.
Pan-Pacific themed path markers line the way through backstage.
Inside the park, work continues on Sunshine Plaza's west-side buildings, stripping them down before they begin receiving their new Buena Vista Street look.
The facade for the former Engine Ears Toys is completely gone now.
Slowly removing the train station facade.
Work continues on the Carthay Circle Theater:
Over the weekend, Disney Imagineers unveiled a new statue, named "Storytellers," that will be installed at the new Buena Vista Street area. The statue, like "Partners" at Disneyland, features Walt and Mickey, but this time they're fresh off the train having just arrived to Los Angeles with their suitcases.
A new statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse will be featured on Buena Vista Street when it opens in 2012. Walt Disney Imagineering unveiled a maquette similar to the one pictured above, showing what the statue will look like. In this Q&A with the Disney Parks Blog, Ray Spencer, creative director for Buena Vista Street, explains the story behind the remarkable statue.
How does this statue help tell the story of Buena Vista Street?
It is a young Walt Disney as you would have seen him when he just stepped off the train from Kansas City in 1923, arriving in California to pursue his dreams. The street is set in the time period between 1923-1937, the time when Walt arrived and subsequently innovated, risked and created the studio that is the origin of all that The Walt Disney Company has become. He is located on the ground, not on a pedestal or planter, so that he is accessable to guests – “one of us.” Early Los Angeles (Buena Vista Street) is Walt’s land of opportunity and dreams at this time, and metaphorically it is for our guests as well!
Tell us what is going on in the scene depicted in the statue.
Walt has just arrived in California from Kansas City, and as he looks around in wonder and optimism, the world is his oyster to realize his dreams.
The statue is also an amalgam of young Walt and early Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse – although not created until after Walt’s arrival in Los Angeles – was, according to story, created on a train and was part of Walt’s travels and his muse, and is a fitting travel partner.
How does this statue compliment the iconic Partners statue at Disneyland park?
It could be considered a “bookend” in that in Disneyland park, the Partners statue is a mature Walt and Mickey, already wildly successful and the guests are the benefactors of their effort. Walt has realized his dreams and is sharing with us. Also, the Partners statue is more of a “monument” at Disneyland park.
In Disney California Adventure park, the statue is of young Walt as he arrived in Los Angeles, and at this point in time nobody knew who he was. He is one of us, and his optimism and enthusiasm are yet to be proven. In a way at this point in his life he is “everyman” but you can see it on his face, and in Mickey’s, that through this remarkable individual’s dreams and efforts, something great is going to happen.
How did you decide on the placement of the statue?
We wanted it in the new Hub, facing the center and on the street corner, so that he is one of our guests. We also wanted him near the Carthay Circle Theatre so that he could be part of that scene as well. [ LINK ]
New lighting fixtures have been installed at the Carthay pump house:
Also shown at D23 Expo was a virtual fly-through of Buena Vista Street, giving a sneak peek at what the area will look like when it opens in 2012. More from the Disney Parks Blog:
Buena Vista Street From a Bird’s Eye View
Another update from the D23 Expo! Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs and Bob Weis, Executive Vice President, Creative, Walt Disney Imagineering, just took us back in time to 1920s Los Angeles, with updates on the upcoming Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure park. Imagineers have worked hard to transport guests back to the Los Angeles that Walt experienced when he first arrived in California.
Guests will be able ride the Red Car Trolley up Buena Vista Street to the new icon of the park, Carthay Circle Theatre — a recreation of the original theater where “Snow White and Seven Dwarfs” premiered in 1937. Guests will also be able to experience the park’s charming period architecture, mix of stores, eateries and guest services — it will be a whole new entry way into the park that immerses guests into the experience.
Now travel back in time with this new flythrough video, which takes you on a tour of the new Disney California Adventure park entrance like you’ve never seen before! [ LINK ]
Over in Cars Land, work continues on the major 12-acre expansion.
The wing nut-shaped finial at Flo's V8 Café is now in place.
The backside of Flo's:
Mater's Junkyard Jamboree received several new trees since last weekend. Lookin' good!
A couple new structures down at Mater's Junkyard
The Junkyard from the Blue Sky Cellar patio
Look for the new doors at the Radiator Springs Curios
Flo's V8 Cafe:
Scaffolding continues to come down and the places where the "toothpicks" were cut off are patched over.
While at the D23 Expo this weekend at the Anaheim Convention Center our friend Fishbulb snapped some photos of the backside of Cars Land from the top of the convention center's parking structure. It's an interesting view that we don't normally offer here.
The backside of this rock work will be covered eventually, but won't be nearly as detailed as it is from inside the park.
Nearby the Cars Land construction at Pacific Wharf, the grain silos that were next to the Mission Tortilla Factory have been removed.
Are they getting ready to start work on re-theming work for the rumored Ghirardelli Chocolate factory and soda fountain?
THIS & THAT
Disneyland Golden Horseshoe legends Wally Boag and Betty Taylor were honored over the weekend with a special tribute performance over the weekend. Both were long-time performers at Frontierland's Golden Horseshoe and have the distinction of being named Disney Legends. They both passed away earlier this year. The Disney Parks Blog has more on the tribute event:
This salute to “The True Legends of the Golden Horseshoe” kicked off with song and dance from the iconic show. Next, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs took the stage to pay tribute to these legendary entertainers.
Tom then welcomed some very special guests to the stage – Dorothy Fields, Betty Taylor’s sister, and Heather Dinkins, Wally Boag’s daughter. They were joined by Miriam Nelson, the original Golden Horseshoe Revue Choreographer and the 1955 Disneyland opening day choreographer, and several Disney Legends including Ron Dominguez, Jack Lindquist, Richard Sherman and Mouseketeer Bobby Burgess.
The show continued with songs, dancing and tributes to the lives and careers of Wally Boag and Betty Taylor – complete with some of the most-loved Golden Horseshoe performances and footage of classic performances by these Disney Legends. Video messages from Steve Martin and Walt Disney’s daughter, Diane Disney Miller, showed the widespread impact of the magical performances Wally and Betty gave throughout their many years at Disneyland.
Also during the evening event, Disneyland Resort President George A. Kalogridis joined Ralph Opacic, Executive Director of the Orange County High School of the Arts, to present the school with a $10,000 donation in honor of Wally Boag and Betty Taylor.
“We’re pleased that we are able to help encourage the education and future of young performers and artists in our community,” Kalogridis said, “and we’re very proud of the role your school plays in creating a nurturing and educational environment for the young people of today.”
He then unveiled a new playbill that is to be posted inside the Golden Horseshoe, that as George said, “will forever pay tribute to their legendary roles.” [ LINK ]
In Frontierland, a new cart has popped up adjacent to the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad exit. It was reported online last week that it was being used for promoting Disney Vacation Club, but on Sunday there was no DVC signage, brochures or Cast Members present at the new cart.
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WEEKLY NEWS AND INFORMATION ROUND-UP
Weekly Theme Park Hours
August 22 — 28, 2011
Disney California Adventure
Monday-Thursday: 8 am - 12 midnight
Friday-Sunday:[/B] 8 am - 12 midnight
Crowd levels are based on a scale from 1 to 10,
with 1 being the least crowded conditions and 10 being most crowded.
For daily crowd predictions for the next 365 days, visit
Closures and Refurbishment Schedule
Disneyland Monorail: Running on a shortened schedule due to Buena Vista Street construction. Monorail opens late at 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Monorail operates normally Saturday and Sunday.
Matterhorn Bobsleds: Closed through September 1 for refurbishment.
Haunted Mansion: Closed August 29 — September 15 to install Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay.
Indiana Jones Adventure: Closed September 6 — 7 for refurbishment.
Pirates of the Caribbean and Blue Bayou Restaurant: Closed September 7 — November 23 for refurbishment.
Space Mountain: Closed September 9 – 15 to install Ghost Galaxy seasonal overlay.
Mark Twain Riverboat: Closed September 26 — 28 for refurbishment.
"it's a small world": Closed October 24 — November 10 to install holiday overlay.
Disney California Adventure
Redwood Challenge Creek Trail: Closed October 3 — 28 for refurbishment.
It's Tough to be a Bug! Closed October 24 — November 11 for refurbishment.
Engine Ears Toys, Baker's Field Bakery and Bur-r-r Bank Ice Cream: Retail and dining locations are permanently closed. Space will reopen as new offerings in 2012 as part of Buena Vista Street.
Greetings! from California and Candy Shoppe: Retail locations close permanently August 28. Space will reopen as new offerings in 2012 as part of Buena Vista Street.
California Screamin': Closed September 6 — October 14 for refurbishment.
Red Car Trolley: Attraction set to open spring 2012.
Downtown Disney & Hotels of the Disneyland Resort
Never Land Pool: Area closed for remodel and re-theming.
Our D23 Expo coverage and commentary — Coming Tuesday on MiceChat
Dateline Disneyland spent the weekend at the 2011 D23 Expo and will be bringing you a full report from the event including a look at several panels and presentations, a look at the Walt Disney Archives exhibit, commentary and a review of the three-day convention right here on MiceChat tomorrow; Tuesday, August 23!
Don't miss it!
In the mean time, you can check out our live coverage from the event on MiceChat's D23 Forum — Click here!
Disneyland Hotel receives AAA Four Diamond rating Revenue is up at Disney theme parks despite attendance barely increasing. More from Around Disney:
Auto Club spokeswoman Elaine Beno said there were 10 hotels in Orange County – including the Grand Californian – and 70 hotels in Southern California that received a Four Diamond rating in 2011. There are four hotels in Orange County that received a Five Diamond rating in 2011.
Hotels and restaurants are being notified throughout the year of the 2012 award, with the full list to be released in January.
“Key to the AAA Diamond rating program is the unannounced inspection and also the objective and detailed rating procedures that are used,” Beno said. “The AAA Four Diamond rating is exclusive in that less than 4 percent of all AAA-approved properties achieve this rating.”
The AAA rates more than 2,600 hotels and motels in Southern California, Beno said. Inspectors make at least one unannounced visit a year and review and rate exterior grounds and public areas, room décor, ambiance and amenities, guest rooms, bathrooms, housekeeping and maintenance, management and staff and guest services.
“Once the inspection process is complete, properties that meet all requirements receive a rating of one to five diamonds,” Beno said.
Okay! That's it for this week's edition of Dateline Disneyland! Be sure to return tomorrow for our recap and review of the 2011 D23 Expo! Thanks for reading and don't forget to say hello to our friends at Touring Plans!
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See you at Disneyland! - Andy
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