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Dateline Disneyland

Main Street changes, Buena Vista detours, Star Wars stars, Cars Land progress +MORE!

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by , 08-29-2011 at 02:36 AM
Disney California Adventure begins construction on its new Buena Vista Street complex this week, shutting down the park's main entrance plaza in the process. The closure is needed so major construction can get underway on the re-theming and alterations that will transform the former Sunshine Plaza into the new 1920s Los Angeles cityscape. The entrance corridor's closure will result in a new entrance route via backstage walkways that will empty guests into the park's Condor Flats area. Meanwhile, construction rages on in Cars Land as that park works toward its 2012 grand opening alongside Buena Vista Street. At Disneyland, work continues at the Main Street Emporium as a portion of the redesigned store was unveiled last week and some popular characters from Star Wars are now making the rounds in Tomorrowland.

We recently launched a fresh new look for our popular Disneyland Resort and Disney California Adventure Project Trackers on MiceChat. 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 another busy week here, so let's jump in.

Inside Dateline Disneyland

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The off-season has returned to Disneyland after a busy summer. Our friends at Touring Plans have their weekly crowd forecast to help you make the most of your visit.

Crowd levels drop even further this week, as even more schools return to session. 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 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 Hazelton Statistician,

Crowd Calendar Prediction
Crowd Tips
Mon., August 29
Here are some quick-hit notes that we hope you'll find helpful as you prepare your visits for the week:
  • Full blockouts this weekend.
  • Resort-wide crowd levels rise to 5 on Sunday, but still should be fairly manageable.
  • Disneyland park's lowest day will be Thursday, when it's an 2.4.
Tue., August 30
Wed., August 31
Thu., September 1
Crowd levels are based on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the least crowded conditions and 10 being most crowded.
See Disneyland crowds for the next 365 days.
Get Disneyland wait times on your iPhone, Android, or Smartphone.

Do more. Wait less.

The Main Street Emporium's major refurbishment is progressing as its main room has reopened with reconfigured cash wrap areas and display space.

The cash registers, previously centrally located in the store, have been pushed against the walls with more defined queue areas set up. The result is a lot more similar to the World of Disney check-out counters now and the sales floor has been opened up a lot more now for easier crowd flow.

The central check-out area with the giant Sleeping Beauty Castle snow globe that was previously here is now gone. A new Tiffany-style chandelier is a new visual focal point. Looks good!

A new large check-out area, with a switch-back queue with space for plenty of impulse-buys.

A reworked check-out area underneath one of the classic Emporium vignettes.

Speaking of those vignettes, they look great but were not turned on (or even functional) over the weekend. They're only minimally-animated, but when they do work they're a nice touch for the store. It would be nice if they were working again after the lengthy refurbishment.

With the main room reopen, the back of the Emporium is now behind walls for refurbishment.

Down Main Street, the interior of the Candy Palace and Penny Arcade are also now partially behind construction walls. The Candy Palace enhancement project isn't set to begin until January, but it looks like some early work may already be underway.

Walls in the back of the Penny Arcade:

The faux candy drawers that were filled with display taffy have now been emptied. Getting ready for big changes?

No visible work has started yet at the Jolly Holiday Bakery that's moving into the Plaza Pavilion.

With the off-season here, it might be a good time to get an extra ride in at the new Star Tours. While your wait will likely still be around an hour or so, it's much better than the wait times that could hit two hours during busy days this summer.

Much of the extended queue was pretty empty during the early evening on Saturday.

Elsewhere in Tomorrowland, we've had a hard time catching the appearances of these new characters, but our friend Loren Javier has recently spotted popular new Star Wars walk-around characters in Tomorrowland.

R2-D2 roams Tomorrowland interacting with guests.

Boba Fett out and about

Captain Rex

You can see more of Loren's excellent Disneyland photos on Flickr.

Meanwhile in Tomorrowland, speakers are popping up around Space Mountain as preparations for the ride's Ghost Galaxy overlay for the Halloween season.

Ghost Galaxy speakers on the old Peoplemover track

Work continues on the remainder of California Adventure's $1 billion-dollar remodel and expansion...

Contact [email protected] or [email protected]!

California Adventure guests got their last look at Sunshine Plaza over the weekend as the new temporary backstage entrance route behind Soarin' Over California opens today.

The Pan Pacific motif is carried through the new temporary entrance corridor.

Even the construction wall lighting maintains the Pan Pacific theme

NEW PHOTOS ADDED! August 29, 1:50 PM:
New photos of the park's new temporary entrance taken this morning by MiceChat's Fishbulb have just been added below! — Andy

It's a tight squeeze when you first enter

The new backstage route really does look more presentable than Sunshine Plaza did in its last couple weeks of operation.

Guest relations has set up shop in a trailer located along the backstage route

With Greetings! From California closed, merchandise ops has set up carts along the entrance corridor selling souvenirs. Seems a little tacky, considering the inconvenience this detour is causing for guests.

New attraction posters and concept art line the Pan-Pacific-themed walls

New landscaping along the backstage path. A nice touch.

"The fences are about to come down! (We promise!)"

Finally entering the park

This way to adventure!

New lamppost banners point the way to popular attractions

The information kiosk has moved from Sunshine Plaza to a former smoking area next to the Condor Flats restrooms.

You exit the park the same way you came in. A digital sign points the way, but will change at night when large post-World of Color crowds will simply exit the park through the utility gates straight ahead.

For now, you still pass in front of Greetings from California, but this will soon change. The retail location is now permanently closed.

For more photos of the new entrance area, check out Fishbulb's thread on the boards — MiceChat: The new, temporary entrance to DCA

Having to enter the park via a temporary backstage entrance path is another inconvenience Disney has asked guests to deal with while they transform the lackluster Sunshine Plaza into an entrance plaza befitting a Disney theme park. For guests, there will no longer be major shopping opportunities or a place to get a drink or an ice cream cone after immediately entering the park. However, considering the recent appearance of Sunshine Plaza as it continued to be dismantled before guests' eyes, the backstage route will likely be any more of a negative impact on the Guest experience and at the very least it really can't look any worse than Sunshine Plaza did on its last weekend of operation.

Here's how the Disney Parks Blog explained the entrance changes:

Buena Vista Street Ready to Take Shape at Disney California Adventure Park
We are reaching another major milestone in the ongoing expansion of Disney California Adventure park. On Monday, August 29, the Sunshine Plaza area will close to allow crews to start the transformation of the current park entry into Buena Vista Street, reminiscent of what Walt Disney encountered when he first arrived in California in the 1920s.

While the shops will close to make way for Buena Vista Street, guests will continue to enter the park through the new Pan-Pacific Auditorium-inspired turnstiles and follow a temporary walkway which will feature renderings of the future Disney California Adventure park and connect the turnstiles with the Condor Flats area. This area will be the temporary entrance and exit for guests during the transformation of the former main entrance stores to Buena Vista Street.

This entry and exit location will remain in place until Buena Vista Street opens in 2012. To see what’s in store when this area opens, take a look at the renderings below, which were shown this past weekend at the Disney D23 Expo in Anaheim.

The rendering above shows the west side of Buena Vista Street, including the restroom area in the top image.

The next rendering shows the east side of the street. In the center image you can see the new merchandise location, Elias & Co., rising above the other buildings. [ LINK ]

The old locker and restroom area. It's sad to say, but this minor theming was arguably some of Sunshine Plaza's more charming detailing when it opened in 2001.

It's all part of Yesterland, now

Across the walkway, the Greetings from California store's last day was Sunday, August 28. Without the Sunshine Plaza murals covering it up, this big box of a store has really stuck out.

The old Guest Relations area


Sunshine Plaza theming: this is as good as it got.

A last look at the Greetings! neon facade

The old California Zephhyr train station facade all covered up

From the Monorail, a look at the Carthay Circle area

The pump house and the new fountain

A peek through the construction wall gives a closer look at the new fountain

It's not finished yet, but is looking pretty good

A look at the new pump house from the "It's Tough to be a Bug!" queue

Naturally, a merchandise cart is parked near the new temporary guests entrance in Condor Flats

Some of the more generic souvenir offerings are offered here. Last-minute pens, keychains and plush before you head in or out of the park for the day.

Construction continues on the major 12-acre Cars Land expansion.

Note the big wall running along the back of the photo. This wall will separate the on-stage Luigi's Flying tires attraction with the backstage of Cars Land including the air mechanisms for the Tires attraction.

The new wall will extend all the way to the new path connecting Flik's Fun Fair and Cars Land.

The scaffolding continues to come down and the toothpicks cut off.

Progress at Mater's Junkyard Jamboree

A new facade is going up on the side of the old Bountiful Valley Farms building. The Farm building serves as a facade for the DCA Cast Member cafeteria and will also be used as a backdrop for Mater's Junkyard Jamboree. The side of the building that will face the main street of Cars Land is getting a new facade.

Lots of trees and progress at Junkyard Jamboree

New speakers on the poles

The Disneyland Hotel's remodel continues...

The Hotel convention center is all beige now

Permanent new directional signage has been installed around the new Monorail Pool and Tangaroa Terrace/Trader Sam's area.

It's rather plain, isn't it?

It gets the job done, though.

Back inside the parks, a new pin cart has popped up in California Adventure's Hollywood Pictures Backlot area

In Disneyland, the Matterhorn Bobsleds refurbishment is just about finished, with Bobsled testing now underway.

It'll be a while still until the new bobsleds hit the tracks. When the attraction reopens in a couple days, the old bobsleds with the cozy seating arrangement will still be around.

The new, sleek bobsleds with individual seats made an appearance last week, but were undercover by the weekend.

In Adventureland, Tarzan's Treehouse is still closed for refurbishment.

And in Frontierland, walls are up around half of the Golden Horseshoe again. The restaurant and entertainment venue are still open.

Nearby, the new cart across from the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad exit we showed you last week was being used for Disney Vacation Club sales. The cart doesn't look like it was designed specifically for DVC. None of the signage is permanent and there are no stands for the DVC marketing binders.

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Weekly Theme Park Hours
August 29 — September 4, 2011

Disneyland Park
Disney California Adventure
Monday-Thursday: 9 am - 10 pm
Friday: 9 am - 11 pm
Saturday-Sunday: 9 am - 12 midnight
Daily: 10 am - 10 pm
For a complete listing of theme park hours, visit the Theme Park Calendar

Expected Crowd Levels presented by
Disneyland Park
Disney California Adventure
LOW 2.4—3.8 out of 10
MEDIUM 4.9—6.3 out of 10
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 Park

  • 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.

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More information: MiceChat Nights of Horror Event Store

Okay! That's it for this week's edition of Dateline Disneyland! Thanks for reading and be sure to visit our sponsors at Touring Plans!

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Don't forget that MiceChat has lots of new content throughout the week! For even more Disneyland news, photos and information check out the In the Parks column on Fridays. And MiceChat's Weekend Update, tours the world of Disney theme parks and other worldly sights and landmarks!

See you at Disneyland!
- Andy

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Updated 08-29-2011 at 10:46 PM by Dateline Disneyland (Updated Buena Vista Street/DCA temporary entrance photos with higher quality versions and added several additional photos.)

Disneyland Resort , Disney's California Adventure Remodel/Expansion , Disneyland Hotel


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  1. gumby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Internitty
    How about the Disney's Hollywood Studios inspired entrance?
    LOL, the real problem isn't the execution, it was the laziness or just re-using the Pan Pacific theme by WDI. (there is no other better term).

    There were other things of the era that could have been used for inspiration, but now you have Hollywood Studios part 2.

    They're supposed to try and differentiate the parks in general, or was this a compromise of the "one world" concept.

    Seriously though, I would have loved the entrance more if it were original to a Disney theme park, but alas we copied WDW instead of the other way around. That is never a good thing.

  2. FredSimmons's Avatar
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    I love the fact that the blue fences at DCA have signs which read
    "THE FENCES ARE ABOUT TO COME DOWN" in big letters.

    And underneath, in little letters, it says "Summer 2012".

    Don't look now, guys, but it's still Summer 2011 !

  3. Spongeocto4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Shrinker
    I asked this in last week's Dateline, but it apparently vanished into the Internet ether. Why was the Zephyr removed from Buena Vista Street? In terms of the timeline, isn't it close to the appropriate era? And wouldn't the Zephyr have been the train that Walt took to get to California? As long as the lame puns were removed (Engine-Ears, for God's sake), I think it would have fit in nicely.
    I think the trains were not used in the 1930s but several years/decades later.
  4. RedHandedJill's Avatar
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    It's amazing how wonderful everything is coming along. 2012 is going to be one heck of a summer! I cannot WAIT!
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