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Dateline Disneyland

Buena Vista wigwag, Emporium reopens, Hundred Acre upgrades, Cars Land work, +MORE!

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by , 10-10-2011 at 04:22 AM
Details continue to emerge at the new Buena Vista Street entrance complex at Disney California Adventure as heavy construction gets underway on the park's re-themed dining and shopping offerings. In Cars Land, more trees move in, promising a shady desert oasis for guests when they step into Radiator Springs in 2012. Over at Disneyland, the Main Street Emporium has finished its major refurbishment and Winnie the Pooh is greeting guests at a brand new meet-and-greet area in Critter Country. Outside the parks, the Disneyland Hotel's E-Ticket Pool area is getting some great new landscaping as the Hotel's main lobby check-in area begins its remodel. Meanwhile, Disneyland has lowered its flags to half-staff in memoriam of Apple's Steve Jobs.

As always, 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!

Thanks to Low Saturn for some extra California Adventure construction photos this week.

It's another busy week at Disneyland, so let's jump in!

Inside Dateline Disneyland

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The re-painting of the Disneyland marquee at the Harbor Boulevard pedestrian entrance has wrapped up. The "Celebrate Today!" theme with Mickey balloons is now gone and the sign sports a much more understated palate.

Expect higher than average crowds Monday, with some workplaces and schools having Columbus Day off. 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. With holiday crowds on the horizon, 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., Oct. 10
Here are some quick-hit notes that we hope you'll find helpful as you prepare your visits for the week:
  • Partial AP blockouts this weekend.
  • Disney California Adventure's low day will be Thursday, when it's a 2.0.
  • Disneyland park's lowest days will be Tuesday and Friday, when it's an 1.1.
Tue., Oct. 11
Wed., Oct. 12
Thu., Oct. 13
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.

Inside Disneyland, flags are at half-staff for Apple's Steve Jobs, who passed away last week. In recent years Jobs had a significant impact on Disney, being a majority shareholder and a member of the Board of Directors.

The Los Angeles Times ran a great piece discussing Steve's impact on the Disney Company.

Steve Jobs brought his magic to Disney
When Walt Disney Co. looked to revamp its troubled retail stores in 2008, Chief Executive Robert A. Iger sought advice from the company's largest shareholder, a foremost expert on the consumer experience.

Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs had lured theme-park-size crowds to his company's stores with daring architecture, no-pressure sales staffs and displays that enticed customers to come in and play with the tech world's sexiest toys.

Though Disney sold its chain four years earlier, its name was still on the stores. Jobs told Iger that Disney needed to control those properties, arguing that a third party would never be as meticulous or creative a steward of the brand. After Disney bought back the chain, it was Jobs who urged the field testing of a fully stocked prototype before unveiling a new retail look to shoppers.

"He felt that if we were going to be in the retail business, we should do it ourselves; we should own it," said Andrew P. Mooney, Disney's former head of consumer products.

Helping resuscitate Disney's 220 North American stores is but one example of the powerful behind-the-scenes role Jobs played at the Burbank entertainment company as a board member and its largest individual shareholder. Jobs' 2006 sale of Pixar Animation Studios to Disney gave him a 7.3% stake in the media giant and a seat on its board.

His legacy can be seen in virtually every corner of Disney, from the budding resurgence of Walt Disney Animation Studios to the $1-billion overhaul of Disney's California Adventure and the expansion of its cruise line, according to the accounts of about a dozen current and former executives of Disney and Apple.

"Steve Jobs brought a perspective that was visionary because of his understanding of how technology was changing and what really resonates with consumers," said Arvind Bhambri, an associate professor at USC's Marshall School of Business. "If you look at Disney in the last few years, they started to regain their magic. I don't think it's a complete coincidence that the Pixar acquisition, and Steve Jobs' role on the Disney board, coincides with Disney regaining its momentum."

With Jobs' death Wednesday, it's unclear who will fill his board seat. Disney would not comment for this story.

Jobs was one of technology's leading futurists and an advisor and confidant to Iger, who sought his counsel on one of the key issues confronting Hollywood: digital distribution. Disney was the first studio to sell its television shows and movies in Apple's iTunes store, which yielded an early mover advantage.

Jobs lauded Disney's swift adoption of new forms of distribution. After ABC unveiled the network's iPad application, Jobs met with the development team in Iger's office. One member of the team told friends that it was the equivalent of getting an audience with the pope, according to a participant at the meeting.

Disney's digital forays sometimes placed the company and its chief executive at odds with the rest of the entertainment industry. Executives at rival studios criticized Disney, saying it rushed to offer its content on the latest Apple devices at the risk of disabling business models that had been carefully honed over decades.

The studio has maintained that it has benefited from associating its brand with the hippest tech gadgets, and reaped a financial windfall from leapfrogging its competitors onto the devices. Iger frequently has touted digital download statistics at Wall Street conferences and earnings calls.

Less tangible than his digital vision were the Apple marketing maestro's insights about the power of a great brand, and the need to carefully tend it.

Jobs encouraged Disney executives to think in terms of "brand deposits" or "brand withdrawals" every time they made a movie, television show or consumer product.

"You could make the argument that Disney has been reshaped in Apple's image: brand over everything, and an emphasis on quality," said Oren Aviv, former head of production for Walt Disney Studios. [ FULL STORY ]

A look at the current refurbishments and construction projects underway at Disneyland.

The Emporium's lengthy refurbishment has finished and the store is once again completely open for guests.

The back portion of the store has undergone similar changes to the front-half. The central cash-register islands have been removed and register counters are now positioned against walls.

The trading pin wall is gone.

No more cash register island here

New lighting fixtures

The animated vignettes around the Emporium are now turned on and working

At the end of Main Street, the Carnation Gardens Plaza remains intact, despite Disney previously telling the OC Register that the area would close in September for construction.

Back in Critter Country, the reconfigured Winnie the Pooh meet-and-greet area has opened.

Overall the reworked character location is a nice upgrade. It feels tidier than before with some nice thematic elements throughout.

The only issue here would be that the meet-and-greet pushes right up against the Pooh Corner store and because of this you can't walk completely around the meet-and-greet area. The change cleverly pushes more guests into the store as they exit the Many Adventure of Winnie the Pooh dark ride, but is a bit of an annoyance if you're simply walking around the area.

Pirates of the Caribbean continues its refurbishment as the main attraction facade goes behind tarps for repainting

The Frontierland boardwalk refurbishment has wrapped up.

With the refurbishment in the area done, Ray Bradbury's Halloween Tree has joined the Frontierland Halloween Time decorations.

Over in Adventureland, the restroom refurbishment continues...

Work on the fountain out front

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

In California Adventure, work continues on the Buena Vista Street project with new details continuing to emerge.

The new Carthay Circle pump house appears to be nearing completion. Signage and canvas awnings have been added.

MiceChatter Low Saturn was able to snap some sneak peek photos of the construction behind the walls. Rules weren't broken to obtain these photos; Low Saturn is just tall enough raise their arm up to snap photos.

The new Red Car Trolley wig wag at the Carthay Circle trolley stop has been installed

The new maroon awning indicates that the new trolley stop will also house a new information booth. Rumor has it that the pump house and information booth will be open to the public soon, likely with a wait board, much like the one in Disneyland's Central Plaza.

The Buena Vista Street shops are beginning to take shape. The former California Zephyr shops are being expanded.

The former Greetings from California shop, future home of Elias and Co.

The old Candy Shoppe's facade will be repurposed as a side entrance to the Elias and Co. department store.

Over on Paradise Pier, California Screamin' is going through testing following its loop replacement. The attraction is set to re-open this weekend.

Work continues on the 12-acre Cars Land expansion.

The view into Radiator Springs from the Golden Vine Winery has been obscured by new trees in the area.

Work continues on the backside of the Cars Land rock work.

Over at the Disneyland Hotel, the area surrounding the Hotel's main entrance continues to take shape.

Walls have been moved around, revealing some of this new courtyard area

The Sleeping Beauty Castle mural is now gone. A painting of Main Street Station has taken its place, but is likely just a placeholder until final art is brought in.

The check-in area has started its remodel.

Holes in the wall offer sneak peeks at the E-Ticket Pool construction.

New cement going in along the backside of the Adventure Tower

A great new lighting fixture in the Adventure Tower lobby

Some of the walkway along the old Fantasy Waters area has reopened.

Back in California Adventure, some refurb work in front of Taste Pilot's Grill

Last week ElecTRONica returned in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot.

A new merchandise cart, the same as those in the park's temporary entrance corridor, has popped up in the area.

Nothing significantly new was added to ElecTRONica during its month hiatus.

A new sign at the back entrance to ElecTRONica

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Weekly Theme Park Hours
October 10 16, 2011

Disneyland Park
Disney California Adventure
Monday: 8 am - 12 midnight
Tuesday: 8 am - 6 pm
Wednesday: 8 am - 8 pm
Thursday: 8 am - 11 pm
Friday: 8 am - 7 pm
Saturday: 8 am - 12 midnight
Sunday: 9 am - 12 midnight
Monday: 10 am - 9 pm
Tuesday-Thursday: 10 am - 8 pm
Friday: 10 pm - 11 pm
Saturday: 10 am - 10 pm
Sunday: 10 am - 9 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-MEDIUM 1.16.9 out of 10
LOW-MEDIUM 1.76.6 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

  • EVENT CHOC Walk in the Park: October 16, 2011. More information.
  • 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.
  • "it's a small world": Closed October 24 November 10 to install holiday overlay.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean and Blue Bayou Restaurant: Closed through November 23 for refurbishment.

Disney California Adventure

  • Redwood Challenge Creek Trail: Closed October 3 28 for refurbishment.
  • California Screamin': Closed through October 14 for refurbishment and loop replacement.
  • It's Tough to be a Bug! Closed October 24 November 11 for refurbishment.
  • Buena Vista Street: Re-themed main entrance under construction through summer 2012.
  • Red Car Trolley: Attraction set to open spring 2012.

Downtown Disney & Hotels of the Disneyland Resort

  • Fantasyland Tower lobby areas, E-Ticket Pool, Adventure Tower-area walkways: Areas closed for remodel and re-theming. Hotel remodel set to be completed in November 2011.

Disney CEO Bob Iger to step down in 2015
Disney announced Bob Iger's succession plan last week. The LA Times has details.
Disney, Robert Iger sign new deal and set succession plan

Walt Disney Co.has signed a new contract with its chief executive Robert Iger for five more years while at the same time laying the groundwork for a succession plan at the top of the entertainment conglomerate.

Iger, 60, will also take on the title of chairman of Disney after the company's 2012 annual meeting, when current non-executive chairman John Pepper is expected to step back.

In a regulatory filing, Disney said its new employment agreement with Iger will keep him in the CEO position until March 31, 2015, and in the chairman position through June 2016.

Disney said it intends for the new five-year contract with Iger to "provide for a smooth transition of his duties and responsibilites as CEO toward the end of that period."

Iger is also getting a raise. His base salary under the new deal will be $2.5 million a year, an increase of $500,000 from the previous agreement. His bonus target is also going from not less than $10 million a year to not less than $12 million. The target is based on the company's performance -- operating income, free cash flow, earnings per-share and return on invested capital -- and is not guaranteed.

Full story: LA Times: Disney, Robert Iger sign new deal and set succession plan

Okay, that's it for today's update. Thanks again to MiceChat's Low Saturn for their extra help today. Be sure to check out our sponsor at Touring Plans when you're planing your visit to Disneyland this weekend!

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See you at Disneyland!
- Andy

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  1. mark's Avatar
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    Nice, real nice! Can't wait to see it next week!
  2. bamato's Avatar
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    Excellent update

    I'm sure it was common knowledge, but I had no idea Iger made so much.... wow...
  3. The Forbidden Eye's Avatar
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    In regards to the refurb list. Redwood Creek was still open as of 10/8.
  4. WheresMickey's Avatar
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    Nice update!
  5. jpg391's Avatar
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    Once again another great article!
  6. eicarr's Avatar
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    Sad, they should fly the flags at half mast for a month at Disneyland because the support Steve Jobs gave to keep the financial guys off the creative guys has died. Looking at the good investments will make 5 years down the road... Not just on financial results for the year or quarter. Fingers crossed bob will support Lasseter (from steve's pixar) to some extent too. I fear new attractions and hotels will appear to be something out of disneyworld. Sad. But it was a great creative spurt I'll enjoy for years to come.
  7. dictionary's Avatar
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    Great update. We were there over the weekend and while we overlooked the construction it was nice to see how much they accomplished each day. Appears they are laying tile out the entrance of the Adventure Tower and all the concrete surrounding the pool had been completed as well as plants being planted all along the Advetnure Tower.
  8. Wreckless Abrandon's Avatar
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    Seeing DCA change throughout the years is pretty awesome! I'm glad I've been able to see this from the beginning until today. It's the closest I'd ever get to seeing Disneyland from the beginning... if only Doc Brown would let me borrow the DeLorean...
  9. Barbossa's Avatar
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    Great update! Happy Thanksgiving Canadian Micechatters!
  10. DizMiiLand's Avatar
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    The new sign along Harbor looks great. Very clean, very nice.

    It would be nice to see the front of Carthey finish and open the area a little, even though the inside would have a way to go.

    Great update. Thanks.
  11. a-mad's Avatar
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    Great update, as always!

    So will there only be three Cozy Cone's as opposed to five? Or are they finishing up the first three then adding two more later? It sure seems like you'd see the other two by now....
  12. Timekeeper's Avatar
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    Great update as well!

  13. Donald1980's Avatar
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    Great update! I'm just shocked you didnt mention that the Emporium lost one of it's doors due to the changes inside.

  14. Jo4brains1's Avatar
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    What is going on with the loop replacement on California Screamin?
  15. TodAZ1's Avatar
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    It's been replaced! The video showed them testing the trains. I don't think they'd do that without the loop in place.
  16. DisWedWay's Avatar
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    I always liked the center register islands in the Emporium, as it fit the era of the 1920's architecture. I know the first 8 feet upward belong to merchandising, but the islands made it interesting to walk through and discover that treasure you would take home to mark your visit. Esmeralda said she is very happy the Carnation Plaza Gardens remain open, and hopes some of the "Dancing with the Stars" celebrities do a little meet and greeting between Big Band sets. PD
  17. jcskifter's Avatar
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    In regards to "
    Nothing significantly new was added to ElecTRONica during its month hiatus." I did notice once change when I visited on Columbus Day... The Laser man show has been updated significantly. They appear to have added a second laser projector located behind the performer in addition to the original projector firing from below the performance platform. The two lasers are used VERY creatively and even interact with each other at times. It's a great update to the already very creative Laser Man show.

  18. Dadoo's Avatar
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    I sure wish I was the CEO of Disney right now! That's a sweet deal!
  19. Moviela's Avatar
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    I was hoping for a REAL WigWag with the case made from castings. I guess under all that Fake Hollywood Tinsel, there might be real tinsel.