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Dateline Disneyland

Paving the road to Radiator Springs, Jolly Holiday Bakery, Elias & Co progress +MORE

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by , 12-19-2011 at 02:43 AM
Happy holidays, Dateline Disneylanders! The Disneyland Resort enters its busiest block of the year later this week as post-Christmas crowds hit the parks, likely bringing Disneyland to capacity several times between the Christmas and New Year's Eve holidays. Despite the crowds, Disney's Imagineers and construction crews continue to work through the busy holiday season as they enter prepare to enter the final six month stretch before major new additions like Cars Land and Buena Vista Street open to guests next summer in Disney California Adventure. Meanwhile, construction is set to wrap up soon at the new Mary Poppins-themed Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe. The new cafe is only the start of Main Street's construction walls and remodeling efforts, however, as the opening of the new dining location will set other nearby construction projects in motion. Outside the parks, work continues at the Disneyland Hotel as the finishing touches are applied throughout the hotel grounds as well as some early refurbishment work is taken care of at the Monorail water slide pool.

We're happy to announce that we've made some changes to Dateline Disneyland for your enjoyment! Beginning this week, you can now click on photos in Dateline Disneyland to view a higher-resoultion of the image. Because of this change, you will no longer be able to click on photos featuring Project Tracker watermarks to be redirected to those threads on our MiceChat discussion boards. For your convenience, we've added handy Project Tracker banners at each relevant section of the update, so if you'd like to learn more about any project in today's update or join the on-going discussion on the MiceChat forums, all you need to do is click on through!

A quick programming notice: We will be taking next week off from our regular update and will offer our popular annual recap of the biggest news and information in photos from 2011! Happy holidays and a very happy New Year!

Alright, let's get started!

Inside Dateline Disneyland

Sponsored by | Do More. Wait Less.
and Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel — Anaheim Resort.


Disneyland will enter its annual period of post-Christmas capacity-level crowds starting Thursday, so be prepared with your Touring Plan if you're visiting the parks! Below is Touring Plans' weekly crowd forecast.

Twas the week before Christmas and all through the park, not a line was short, not even Captain EO. Expect the parks to be crowded this week. 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., Dec. 19
Here are some quick-hit notes that we hope you'll find helpful as you prepare your visits for the week:
  • Full blockouts starting Thursday.
  • Disney California Adventure's low day will be Wednesday, when it's a 5.2.
  • Disneyland park's lowest day will be Tuesday, when it's a 6.3.
Tue., Dec. 20
Wed., Dec. 21
Thu., Dec. 22
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.

As you can see in the Touring Plans crowd forecast, crowds will get serious starting mid-week. The OC Register Around Disney blog had more information on the expected crowd levels:

Beware, tourists: Disney parks could reach capacity

Lines to get into Disney parks often stretch half way across the esplanade before the turnstiles open. Later, it can take three hours to get on a popular ride. Even bathroom waits can last 15 minutes.

And Disney parks sometimes have to shut the gates.

The Disneyland Resort is about to enter its busiest time of the year, the heart of the holiday season, according to two Disney experts.

Crowds this week are already thick as annual passholders try to squeeze in a day at Disneyland before the blackout dates on some passes. But a bigger mass will start coming next week when most schools are out and tourists come to town. It’s worst the week after Christmas, said two managers of unofficial Disney apps.

During the holidays, Disney’s two parks are specially decorated and offer festive features, such as a seasonal parade, fireworks and ride makeovers.

“The holiday transformation of the Disneyland Resort with all of our special offerings always makes this an extremely popular time for our guests to visit,” said Suzi Brown, a Disneyland Resort spokeswoman, in a prepared statement. “Our best advice is to arrive early – Disneyland park opens at 8 a.m. everyday through January 8.”

One website and app,, ranks crowd estimates on a 1 to 10 scale. Starting Thursday through Jan. 2, all days are listed as 10.

“It should be a 15,” said Fred Hazelton, the statistician for and “The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland” book.

During the holiday weeks, wait times usually increase 20 percent to 25 percent, Hazelton said, running as long as three hours. Fastpasses, tickets that allow visitors to go to the front of lines, are usually gone by noon.

Last year, Disneyland stopped letting in new visitors on at least four days, said Kelly Johns, founder of, an unofficial Disney website and app that tracks wait times.

Gates were closed for both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure at least once. The parks were especially crowded after Christmas last year because heavy rains had kept visitors out before the holiday.
Disney usually posts an item on its Twitter account, @Disneyland, to warn guests when the gates are closed. Disneyland’s capacity is about 65,000 people.

“People love that time of year at Disneyland,” Johns said. “Any time the kids are out of school, it’s naturally going to get packed.”

New Year’s Eve is especially popular as the parks stay open late: Disneyland until 2 a.m. and Disney California Adventure until 1 a.m. But if visitors want to ring in the New Year there, they must arrive early in the morning of Dec. 31 and stay. Sometimes, Disney closes turnstiles around 1 or 2 p.m., Hazelton said.
Hazelton said TouringPlans employees often ask visitors why they choose this time of year to visit Disney parks.

“Their answer is, ‘We have no choice,’” Hazelton said. “When the kids are off and the parents are off, it’s the time they have to do it.” [ FULL STORY ]


Main Street will soon start closing down some key foodservice and shop locations to make way for dining room expansions in some places and changes that will help ease crowd flow for others.

The Carnation Cafe will reclaim the space currently occupied by the Blue Ribbon Bakery and once again offer indoor dining in addition to its open-air patio.

The Blue Ribbon will disappear completely starting January 5, with the new Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe at the end of Main Street taking over the bakery duties.

Next door, the Gibson Girl will also close to receive a remodel that will address the crowd-flow issues that this popular location deals with. With the Blue Ribbon Bakery closing and becoming space for sit-down dining, the Gibson Girl's overflow queue can no longer extend into the Blue Ribbon's space.

Meanwhile at the end of Main Street, the former Plaza Pavilion is just about ready to reopen as the new Mary Poppins-themed Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe. The new location will offer the line-up of baked goods and coffee drinks currently available at the Blue Ribbon Bakery along with new signature entrees including hot sandwiches and fresh salads.

The new Jolly Holiday marquee went up last week and looks quite similar to the old Plaza Pavilion signage.

The lighting is now LED.

Friday's winds flipped the yellow "Coming Soon" banner over the marquee.

"Please Come Again"

The red-white-and-blue string lights on the patio have been switched back to yellow and orange.

A look at the new weathervane we showed you last week.

A look at the on-going $1 billion remodel and expansion efforts at Disney California Adventure


Construction continues on the new Buena Vista Street facades.

Inside the park, the Carthay Circle Theater looks great so far...

Nearby, the steelwork for the circular main entrance facade at Elias and Co. Department Store has gone up.

Work getting underway on the former Candy Shoppe facade, which will be repurposed as part of the Elias & Co. facade.

On the other side of Carthay Circle, work continues at the future Clarabelle's Ice Cream Parlor and Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Cafe eateries.


Lots of new additions continue to pop up in Cars Land.

A new wind-powered contraption up at Fillmore's.

Peace-symbol lamppost decorations, also at Fillmore's

Asphalt is now going down along the main drag of Radiator Springs.

If you look closely, you can spot neon up on the Luigi's facade

Speaking of neon, the tower for Ramone's is up with neon installed.

Mater's Junkyard Jamboree signage

Imagineers were out testing the Mater's Junkyard Jamboree ride system on Friday.

Imagineers at control booths

Below is a video clip, shot from the Blue Sky Cellar patio, of the Mater's Junkyard Jamboree testing. If you watch closely, you can see how much the seats that riders will sit in "whip" back and forth as the ride vehicles move around the track.

New junkyard-themed lights up on the posts

Sarge's Surplus

Views from Mickey's Fun Wheel:

Paradise Bluffs rock work.


The gas pumps in front of the Fly 'n' Buy store in Condor Flats, across from Soarin' Over California, were replaced last week. The new pumps are clean and new in the 1930s-style, whereas the old pumps looked abandoned and dirty.

This appears to be the first (small) step in abandoning the hip-and-edgy contemporary theme for this area of the park. Eventually, you won't feel like you're in a desert airstrip in the early 2000s; instead Condor Flats will represent a bustling, working airstrip of the 1930s. Thematic changes to help the park transport guests to different places and times have already been made at Grizzly River Run and in various places along Paradise Pier.

Hopefully this transition in Condor Flats will lead to new period-themed signage for Soarin' Over California and an overhaul and new name for the nearby Fly 'n' Buy shop and Taste Pilots Grill restaurant.

Last chance to give some Disney fun this year!
After we went live last week, Amazon extended their final day for FREE shipping to today, December 19! So, if you still need to order a gift or two for some Disney fans on your list, now is your last chance to get your gifts delivered on time for free! We've got a great list of Disney books, Blu-ray and video games that every Disney fan on your list will enjoy.

For more information on holiday shipping deadlines, click here.

Happy Holidays!
- Andy


Work continues on applying finishing touches around the Disneyland Hotel following the completion of the hotel's major remodel work.

A closer look at the new valet booth

The main entrance seems a bit plain, but hopefully some tasteful additions that will make the area feel less sterile are on their way.

The new Bell Services desk.

Some signage would certainly help with differentiating the guest services available here.

Over at the Hotel's pool area, the Monorail water slides and pool area remained closed this weekend while work continued on the rust issues.

Nearby, a new floral Mickey in his Davy Crockett coonskin cap is being installed near the entrance to the Frontier Tower, across from the geyser pool.

Dateline Disneyland is sponsored by our good friends at the
Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel - Anaheim Resort.
A short walk from the park, HoJo Anaheim is conveniently located next to Matterhorn Mountain at Disneyland with nearby dining, freeway access, FREE parking and FREE Wi-Fi. For more information on HoJo Anaheim, room rates, or to book your stay today, visit and Annual Passholder Discounts Available Every Day!
The HoJo Anaheim is now offering deeper discounts for Disneyland Resort Annual Passholders! On select nights, Disneyland Resort Annual Passholders can get rooms for as low as $59 per night, plus tax. For more information visit the HoJo Anaheim Innsider Boards which features an up-to-date listing of available nights, or call (714) 776-6120 and ask for In-House Reservations to book. If your date isn't listed, the HoJo Anaheim still offers rooms for 20% off their best available rate if you call (714) 776-6120.

See Disneyland from the comfort of home with the HoJo Mattercam!
See Disneyland from home via a live rotating video feed of Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park from the rooftop of Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel - Anaheim Resort! The HoJo Anaheim's newly upgraded Disneyland webcam now features new views including video feeds of Disneyland's nightly fireworks! Check it out now!

Weekly Theme Park Hours
December 19—25, 2011

Disneyland Park
Disney California Adventure
Daily: 8 am - 12 midnight
Monday-Friday: 10 am - 10 pm
Saturday: 10 am - 9 pm
Sunday: 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
MEDIUM-HIGH 6.3—9.5 out of 10
MEDIUM-HIGH 5.2—9.8 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

  • Big Thunder Ranch: Closed to remove holiday overlay January 9 - 18.
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds: Closed for major refurbishment including the addition of new ride vehicles January 9 - June 14.
  • Sailing Ship Columbia: Closed for refurbishment January 23 - February 17.
  • "it's a small world": Closed to remove holiday overlay January 23 through February 2.
  • Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes: Closed for one day, January 24.
  • Jolly Holiday Bakery Café: Opens January 2012 in location of the former Plaza Pavilion.
  • Blue Ribbon Bakery, Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor and Candy Palace: Food service locations and shops close January 2012 for major restaurant and shopping expansion projects affecting current spaces.

Disney California Adventure

  • Redwood Creek Challenge Trail: Closed for refurbishment January 9 - 27.
  • Grizzly River Run: Closed for refurbishment January 23 - March 2.
  • Soarin' Over California: Closed for refurbishment January 30 - February 3.
  • Ghirardelli Chocolate Company and Soda Fountain: New Ghirardelli chocolate shop and soda fountain will open in the space formerly occupied by the Mission Tortilla Factory. New dining location opens late-spring 2012.
  • Buena Vista Street: Re-themed main entrance including new Red Car Trolley attraction are under construction through summer 2012.
  • Cars Land: New 12-acre land in former Timon Parking Lot opens summer 2012.

Downtown Disney & Hotels of the Disneyland Resort

  • Disneyland Hotel Monorail Slides & Pool: Closed indefinitely to address rusting/structural issues.
  • Island Charters: Downtown Disney retail location closes permanently January 8, 2011. A replacement has yet to be announced.

Disneyland to celebrate Three Kings Day with entertainment, food
Details on Disneyland's new Three Kings Day holiday offerings are few, but the Frontierland-based offerings could be a nice addition to the park. Below is a blurb announcing the offerings from a recent press release

Fun Facts for a Merry Disneyland Holiday Celebration
For the first time, the Holiday season at Disneyland Resort will be extended to celebrate Three Kings Day, known as Día de Reyes. From Jan. 6-8, 2012, look for special décor and entertainment in Frontierland that showcases western and Mexican heritage, along with food themed to this holiday and children’s activities.

Full story: Disneyland News: Fun Facts for a Merry Disneyland Holiday Celebration

Report says theme park business will increase in 2012
From the OC Register's Around Disney blog:

Report: Theme park business expected to pick up
The theme-park industry, led by Disney, is expected to keep up growth for the next five years after a big dip in 2009, a new report states.

A December industry report by IBISWorld, a Santa Monica-based market research firm, predicts that theme parks’ revenue will go up 2.5 percent each year, bringing in a total of $12.5 billion through 2016.
Theme park business is coming back since a big attendance dip in 2009 when revenue slipped almost 9 percent during the recession.

The Walt Disney Co. is the biggest theme-park company, making up about 41 percent of the industry worldwide. The Disneyland Resort, with two theme parks in Anaheim, is the largest private employer in Orange County with about 22,000 workers.

The report predicts that Disney parks overall will see a 5.3-percent increase in revenue in 2011-12.

Nima Samadi, an industry analyst and report author, said the Anaheim resort is important to the company, even though it is smaller than properties in Florida. More visitors recently have come to Anaheim partly because of new attractions at Disney California Adventure, which is undergoing a major expansion. A new ride, The Little Mermaid-Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, opened over the summer.

“I think there’s been a lot of growing interest in California Adventure. I think that alone has convinced some to come visit who haven’t before,” Samadi said.

Suzi Brown, a Disneyland Resort spokeswoman, declined to comment.

Full story: Around Disney: Report — Theme park business expected to pick up

Okay, that's all for this week's edition of Dateline Disneyland! Many thanks again for reading and once again, happy holidays!

Let us know how you like the new larger photos in today's update in the comments below. Additional suggestions are welcome!

Don't forget to visit our fantastic sponsors over at TouringPlans and the Howard Johnson Anaheim!

As you may have noticed, we've recently reinstated our Amazon Associates links. If you still need to complete some holiday shopping for folks on your list, consider making your purchase using our Amazon referral code. It doesn't cost you anything, but your purchases will help support Dateline Disneyland so we can keep the updates coming to you every week through the next year! To start shopping on Amazon using our referral code, click any Amazon item in today's update or click here.

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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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  1. Trumpet's Avatar
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    Great Update Andy

    I can't wait for Cars Land! It look fantastic!!!!!!
    Buena Vista Street is coming together now, so hopefully ready by August 2012, my next trip to Disneyland.

    Merry Christmas to all Micechat Users

    Thanks Again Andy, and Merry Christmas - see you in the new year

  2. BestBeatingHeart's Avatar
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    Very excited to see you've started linking to Hi-Res photos of each picture in the updates... I've been hoping and waiting for this to happen for a long time.
  3. NanaTink's Avatar
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    Thanks for another great update! Love the new format.
  4. Mac Daddy's Avatar
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    Great update, Andy! It was so good to finally meet you the other night. It figures that we would bump into each other at nearly 1 AM hauling tripods around Main Street. I admire your dedication to your amazing column every week and I look forward to seeing more of your shots here and on flickr. I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas!
  5. Emmanuel_4's Avatar
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    Great Update!!!
  6. MrTour's Avatar
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    I love the details going in to all the new attractions. I just hope that they can be kept shiny and new as the years pass. I also hope that the LEDs don't look out of place...
  7. WDWizard's Avatar
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    There's nothing I love more than junkyard-themed lights.

    Great update as always
  8. Sparky's Avatar
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    The new changes to Dateline Disneyland make my iPod Touch crash, so I can't read it on my iPod anymore. : (
  9. dictionary's Avatar
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    Love that the neon is starting to show up. Can't wait to see that IRL at's going to be awesome. TFS!
  10. sir clinksalot's Avatar
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    Great Update!!

    I'm still vastly underwhelmed by Mater's Junkyard Jamboree. Despite what the Imagineers and John Lassetter have been telling us, it looks exactly like the Lady Bug Boogie not 50 yards away.
  11. waltopia's Avatar
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    Thanx for ALL the great work.
  12. TodAZ1's Avatar
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    Totally loving the Mickey floral layout in front of the Frontier Tower!
  13. TodAZ1's Avatar
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    • permalink is reporting "The Monorail water slides at the Disneyland Hotel have reopened..."
  14. socalchainsaw's Avatar
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    Awesome update as usual!! Looks like Cars Land is coming along nicely!
  15. Fairy Godmother Travel's Avatar
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    The coonskin cap floral Mickey made me smile! Great update!
  16. wec's Avatar
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    Say, I didn't see any photos of the animatronic Lightening Mequeen pulling any asphalt machine. That boy must have flown the coop again.
  17. Crazee4mm's Avatar
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    Looking at the vid of Junkyard Jamboree I am struck with the thought that this attraction looks like it will have an extremely low hourly capacity. Combine that with what I can only assume will be a very short ride experience and you have a ride that will hardly be worth the wait once you've ridden it once.

    Great update!!! I'll be there on NYE BUT I'll be avoiding the place like the plague until then. I'll go again during the first week of January (Thanks Disney for extending the season for that additional week). Any news on the demolition of the Carnation Stage? I haven't heard anything since the announcement.
  18. Barbossa's Avatar
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    Great update! Merry Christmas everyone!
  19. smathur's Avatar
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    No Bessie being pulled down Route 66?? Lightning must've worked overnight to get it done out of sight, but it looks like he sped through it again

    "Oh, man, you get to work with Bessie! I'd give my left two lugnuts for somethin' like that!"

    Great update as usual, have a good holiday, thanks!!
  20. RedHandedJill's Avatar
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    New bobselds! YAY!!!! I'll get to ride them when I go June 17th! Excitement! Happy Holidays everyone!!!