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Buena Vista Street construction, Cone Zone, More Memories, Facades in Paradise, +MORE

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by , 01-29-2012 at 10:53 PM
Disneyland Resort saw big crowds this weekend as unseasonably warm temperatures accompanied the popular inaugural Tinker Bell Half-Marathon event. As the runDisney event drew thousands of extra guests to the Resort, Disney construction crews took advantage of the gorgeous weather to continue work on on-going projects in Disney California Adventure, including the new Buena Vista Street main entrance complex and the massive Cars Land expansion. At Disneyland, the Matterhorn Bobsleds, Fantasmic! and Main Street restaurants continue their refurbishment projects as the Haunted Mansion reopened following the removal of its holiday overlay.

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This weekend was a great example of how a major event at the Resort can impact off-season crowds. The weekday crowds were nice and light, but the big Tinker Bell Half-Marathon brought big crowds to the parks over the weekend. Our friends at Touring Plans are here with their weekly crowd forecast, but you can get a complete forecast and avoid big crowds like those seen this weekend by subscribing today:
It should be another slow week at Disneyland. 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
Tues., Jan. 31
Here are some quick-hit notes that we hope you'll find helpful as you prepare your visits for the week:
  • Partial block outs this weekend.
  • Expect Super Bowl Sunday to be moderately busy, but light compared to Saturday.
  • Saturday in Disneyland is a 8.2.
Wed., Feb. 1
Thu., Feb. 2
Fri., Feb. 3
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 restaurant and retail remodels on Main Street continue, with some visible progress being made on the facade refurbishment on the side of the Crystal Arcade

Work on the Matterhorn also presses on, with scaffolding covering nearly the entire mountain.

Green spray-painted lines have appeared at various places on the rock work.

Views from the Monorail show that the loading platforms have been removed and will be completely rebuilt

Over at the entrance to Adventureland, the land's marquee has emerged from refurbishment tarps looking fresh and new again.

Back in New Orleans Square, the Haunted Mansion has reopened following the removal of the holiday overlay.

Inside, the classic show is back. While it isn't in the best shape, the attraction is moderately improved over the deplorable condition the attraction was run in throughout last year. Madame Leota is once again synced properly, a problem that Disney just couldn't seem to fix last year. Yet, the Stretching Gallery wallpaper shows obvious tears and patch marks following the removal of the holiday overlay. Lighting conditions in many parts of the attraction are too high, lighting up back walls and mechanisms that should be hidden from view. We've also noticed another lawyer-friendly guard rail up in the Mansion, immediately after the Attic scene. An ugly guard wire is now up here, decorated with cut-outs that appear to be inspired by the wallpaper in the Corridor of Doors sequence. Many of the attraction's issues are small and can be easily fixed by some people who just take some time to actually ride the attraction a few times and take note of what they see. Hopefully some folks who care can get this attraction looking as good as it deserves.

Across the Rivers of America on Tom Sawyer Island, the Fantasmic refurbishment continues in the dragon's pit.

While we know many are fans of Fantasmic, we're definitely enjoying this rare time when so much river traffic can be seen well into the late afternoon.


Back at "it's a small world," guests will soon be able to see the facade of the iconic attraction sporting Valentine's Day and summer-themed imagery as part of the on-going "The Magic, The Memories & You!" nighttime projection show. Disney announced the seasonal changes for the show last week on the Disney Parks Blog:

More Fun Surprises in Store for ‘The Magic, The Memories and You!’ at Disney Parks
One of the true delights of the recent holiday season at Disney Parks was a special segment during our evening projection show, “The Magic, The Memories and You!” The faces of Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park and “it’s a small world” at Disneyland park were transformed into gingerbread masterpieces, brightly colored packages and palaces of ice.

Well if you enjoyed that, our Creative Entertainment team has another treat in store, just in time for Valentine’s Day! A new show segment is set to debut Feb. 1, inspired by some of the most romantic moments in Disney animation. Cinderella Castle and “it’s a small world” will be covered in red roses for one sequence and turned into a beautiful, star-filled sky for another. During part of the show, spectacular stained glass windows will grace the façades, depicting the stories of Cinderella, Snow White and Belle.

One of my favorite moments comes when the king and queen from “Tangled” appear on a balcony, lifting a single lantern to the sky for their missing daughter. It’s soon joined by hundreds of others, creating a magical sight sure to draw “oohs” and “ahhs” from the crowd. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it! Of course, the most heart-warming part of any segment of “The Magic, The Memories and You!” is the images of our guests, captured by Disney PhotoPass photographers during the day and incorporated into the show each night. 

The romance segment is planned to run as part of “The Magic, The Memories and You!” through mid-April but we’re not stopping there. Wait until you see “it’s a small world” as a sand castle in a segment we’re working on for summer. It’s chock full of detail… right up to the point where Goofy rides a wave across the façade, washing it all away to reveal… well, I don’t want to spoil all the surprises! [ LINK ]

This looks like a nice enough seasonal enhancement, but does anybody really watch this show at Disneyland?

The "it's a small world" sand castle.


Disneyland hosted its inaugural Tinker Bell Half-Marathon over the weekend. The event was the Resort's first female-targeted running event and brought thousands of guests and millions of dollars to the local economy.

The OC Register's Around Disney Blog ran a story prior to the event discussing its impact on the local economy:
Disney race closes roads, brings in millions
A new Disney race may shut down streets for a few hours. But this weekend’s event is expected to open the road to millions of dollars for the region.

The inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon events are set to run Friday (today) through Sunday at the Disneyland Resort, bringing in about 17,000 people and an estimated $14 million to the local economy, according to Disney estimates.

The weekend falls in a traditionally slow time at Disney parks following the bustling holiday season and before spring break.

“It’s a great way to drive tourism and market in what would normally be a gap time,” said Faron Kelley, director of marketing for runDisney, which operates Disney park races.

The events are filled up. Half-marathon registration was closed about four months after it opened in April, Kelley said.

The Tinker Bell race is geared for women, although men can participate in the half marathon. Of the 12,000 registered runners, 920 are men. Actress Megyn Price of “Rules of Engagement” on CBS is set to be among the participants. Click on the picture of Price, right, to see more pictures of the race announcement.

A free expo, which is open to the public, launches the weekend with displays and pick up packets. The expo runs 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Disneyland Hotel Exhibit Hall. [ FULL STORY ]

Congrats to Kellie Nickerson for coming in first place on Sunday!

Kellie Nickerson Wins Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland Resort
Kellie Nickerson – looking apropos in her fairy wings and green tutu – flew away from the field to capture the inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif.

Nickerson, who hails from Albuquerque, N.M., captured her first win at Disney in 1:27:52, finishing ahead of Southern Californians Sharon Wilkinson of Winnetka (1:28:18) and Stacy Schafer from Carlsbad (1:28:54).

The Tinker Bell Half Marathon, hosted by the city of Anaheim and Disneyland Resort, led runners on a 13.1-mile trek through Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks, as well as by several city of Anaheim landmarks. The first year event featured music, entertainment, Disney characters and costumed runners donning fairy wings and pixie dust. Finishers received a commemorative Tinker Bell “wings” medal.

TV sitcom star Megyn Price (Rules of Engagement) and “Goonies,” “Lord of the Rings” and “Rudy” movie star Sean Astin were among the 12,000-plus registered runners to take part in Sunday morning’s race.
The weekend of events, all geared toward health, fitness and active lifestyles for women, featured a variety of races including The Never Land 5K on Friday night, kids’ races on Saturday and the Tinker Bell Half Marathon on Sunday. There was also a health and fitness expo featuring the latest running merchandise, products, apparel and guest speakers – all tailored for women – creating a weekend of camaraderie and wellness, plus a pinch of Tinker Bell’s trademark sassiness and sense of adventure. [ FULL STORY ]

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


Work continues on the Buena Vista Street project, with Disney taking full advantage of the unseasonably warm temperatures following last weekend's rain.

This new structure has appeared.

Connected to existing construction with these support bars

Looks like they're starting to "skin" this new facade

New window in place

The Clarabelle's Hand Scooped Ice Cream facade is coming together nicely behind tarps.

If you look closely, you can spot new bas relief ice cream cones and sundaes.

Scaffolding is up around the Elias and Co. Department Store as they prepare to add the themed facade elements.

The old Sunshine Plaza Candy Shoppe facade will be repurposed as part of the Elias and Co facade.

Looking down the eastern side of Buena Vista Street...

Views of the Buena Vista Street work from the Monorail


The repaving project in front of the Little Mermaid attraction should be just about ready to wrap up.

Across the bay, the Midway Shops along the pier are really starting to show some significant changes. The former Man Hat-n-Beach facade is out from behind scaffolding, but still has a ways to go before it's finished.

Meanwhile, the other Midway Shops have all gotten a healthy dose of wood paneling applied over the cheap stucco facades.

It's surprising how much some simple wood paneling can change the look of this area. It blends in a lot nicer with the nearby Toy Story Midway Mania and Games of the Boardwalk facades, but if you look close enough you'll notice the overlay is a quick fix and not the well-crafted permanent fix the Midway Games received a few years ago.

The California Screamin' supports are still exposed here, unlike the supports that were covered behind the Midway Mania facade when that attraction was built.

Hopefully they'll be able to swap out the garish signage on these facades as well.

Some stucco remains... for now.

The ugly stucco and cheap neon waves are history!


Last week, Disney released a new publicity image of the upcoming Radiator Springs Racers attraction that will be used when marking the new ride this summer.

The old Bountiful Valley Farms barn facade, which is becoming shaded queue space for Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, is getting repainted to a new yellow color.

The Cars Land/Pacific Wharf gateway is coming together...

The Cozy Cones are starting to turn orange!

A look at the backside of the Cars Land mountain range, as seen from Harbor Blvd.


Outside the parks, some Downtown Disney projects continue to show progress. The La Brea Bakery Cafe is getting some serious work done.

The work being done at the La Brea Bakery could potentially become home to the Disneyland Resort's first Starbucks location.

More new planters are going in around the Catal Restaurant

Over at the former Island Charters shop, work is underway to convert the space into a temporary LEGO Store location while the main LEGO location gets ready to close for a major remodeling project.

LEGO signage is already up in the window.

The new Cupcake Store kiosk is open for business.


The Harbor Blvd transportation hub continues to get some maintenance work, with its bus zones getting repaved. One of them has recently reopened.

...and another has now closed for repaving.

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Weekly Theme Park Hours
January 30— February 5, 2012

Disneyland Park
Disney California Adventure
Monday-Thursday 10 am - 8 pm
Friday: 9 am - 12 midnight
Saturday: 8 am - 12 midnight
Sunday: 8 am - 11 pm
Monday-Thursday: 10 am - 8 pm
Friday-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 1.7—8.2 out of 10
MEDIUM 4.0—7.9 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

  • Matterhorn Bobsleds: Closed for major refurbishment including the addition of new ride vehicles through June 14.
  • "it's a small world": Closed to remove holiday overlay January 23 - February 2.
  • Sailing Ship Columbia: Closed for refurbishment January 23 - February 17.
  • Fantasmic!: Dark while under refurbishment January 23 - February 17.
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters: Closed for refurbishment February 1.
  • Carnation Cafe, Blue Ribbon Bakery, Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor, Candy Palace, Penny Arcade and Refreshment Corner: 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.
  • 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 opens summer 2012.

Downtown Disney & Hotels of the Disneyland Resort

  • Island Charters: Downtown Disney retail location closed permanently. A temporary LEGO Store is set to open in this location this spring, with a permanent replacement yet to be announced.
  • La Brea Bakery & Cafe: Quick-service cafe portion closed. Rumor is that this portion may be expanded and reopen as a new dining/retail location, possibly a Starbucks Coffee store.

Disney allows male Cast Members to grow beards for first time
A big change for the Disney Look is now allowing Cast Members to wear bears and goatees for the first time in Disney theme park history. Is this a good idea?

Disney employees can grow beards for the first time
Characters, such as Blackbeard and the Seven Dwarfs, won’t be the only employees at Disney with facial hair anymore.

For the first time, the Walt Disney Co. is allowing male employees to sport beards and goatees.
Starting Monday (today), the company is informing employees of changes to the Disney Look – a strict dress code that dates back 55 years.

Employees can have facial hair starting Feb. 3. The policy includes the Disneyland Resort, Orange County’s largest private employer with 22,000 workers that has two theme parks, three hotels and the Downtown Disney complex.

“Disney Look guidelines are periodically reviewed in relation to industry standards, as well as the unique environment of our theme parks and resorts,” said Betsy Sanchez, a Disneyland Resort spokeswoman, in a statement. “While we are careful to maintain our heritage and the integrity of our brand, a recent review of our guidelines led to a decision that an update was appropriate at this time.”

The new policy allows neatly trimmed facial hair that is no longer than one-quarter of an inch, according to a notice sent to Disney employees. No soul patches are allowed, Sanchez said.

The Disney Look outlines stringent guidelines for employees, including no visible tattoos.

Up until 2000, Disney forbid mustaches as well. The last major change to the Disney Look came two years ago when female employees were allowed to forgo pantyhose. Read a story about the 2010 change to the Disney Look.

Twitter users commented about the new Disney Look, some saying they support it, while others saying they prefer a clean-shaven look.

Sandi Ecklund, president of Workers United Local 50, which represents 4,000 Disney food and beverage employees, said she was against the change. Ecklund said she found out about the new policy on Facebook.

“I see it as a way to lower their standards to keep wages down,” Ecklund said in a phone interview.

Full Story: Around Disney: Disney employees can grow beards for the first time

City of Anaheim backs tax incentives for luxury Anaheim GardenWalk hotels
From the Around Disney blog:

Anaheim backs tax incentives to Disney-area hotels
The Anaheim City Council approved Tuesday up to $158 million in tax incentives to build luxury hotels in the Disneyland area, despite opposition by city staff members.

Two hotel towers with 866 rooms are slated to go in the Anaheim GardenWalk mall complex.

The council voted 3-2 for the plan. Mayor Tom Tait and Councilwoman Lorri Galloway opposed the proposal. City staff members recommended against the plan, saying it would set precedent for future developers to seek tax breaks.

“We are opening the door and raising the bar to every other hotelier in the future,” Galloway said.

Before the vote, more than 20 people spoke in favor of the tax incentives, saying the money would help bring in convention business, spur tourism and create thousands of jobs. Speakers included business leaders and union members.

The city will provide no money up front, but reimburse hotel bed tax funds after the rooms open.

“If it’s not costing a dime to the city to create jobs, why not?” Councilman Harry Sidhu said.
The city support is needed to launch the hotel project, which has been stalled for about a decade, developers said.

“Without all of you, this project won’t go forward,” said Jim Adams, council representative for the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building Construction Trades Council.

The hotels are set to be built in the troubled GardenWalk mall, which is up for sale after going through bankruptcy. The mall is about half full.

“This is the shot in the arm GardenWalk needs,” resident Patrick Pepper said.
The tax incentives are about three times more than the amount approved in 2009: The developer would have collected up to $49 million over 15 years under the previous plan.

During the 2009 discussion, members of the Disney hotel union objected to the proposal, saying it would take too much public money. At the time, Disney was in talks to operate the hotels, but Disney is no longer involved in the project. The hotel union also was in a fierce contract dispute.

No one spoke against the tax incentives at Tuesday’s meeting.

Full Story: Around Disney: Anaheim backs tax incentives to Disney-area hotels

Disney pulls t-shirt inspired by Joy Division band from theme park shelves

R.I.P. Joy Divison Mickey Mouse Shirt
Disney's Mickey Mouse shirt inspired by Joy Division is no longer for sale. A representative from Disney says, "As soon as we became aware there could be an issue, we pulled it from our shelves and our online store to review the situation further." Indeed, the link to the shirt on the Disney webstore is now blank.

As reported on Monday, the shirt blended the likeness of Mickey Mouse with the cover artwork from the band's 1979 album Unknown Pleasures.

The shirt was for sale at Disneyland, Disney World, and online, but the surviving members of Joy Division were unaware of its existence.

Full Story: R.I.P. Joy Divison Mickey Mouse Shirt

Well, that concludes this week's edition of Dateline Disneyland. Thank you, as always, for reading. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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- Andy

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  1. Emmanuel_4's Avatar
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    Great Update!
  2. BestBeatingHeart's Avatar
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    Another great update as usual... really liked to see that you included some backside of Cars Land images to show what they've done with that... I like it.
  3. Dadoo's Avatar
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    Thanks for including pics of the back of Cars Land! It's about time someone clued all us out-of-towners in on what it all looks like! GREAT update! Wish I was there!
  4. Trumpet's Avatar
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    Great Update Andy,

    I love what the progress made in Buena Vista Street and Cars Land

    Thanks again Andy,

  5. Cadaverous's Avatar
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    Man, I always look forward to these updates. That Joy Division Mickey shirt is SWEET!
  6. D23Divinity's Avatar
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    We love these updates in this Disney loving house!! We are beyond excited for Carsland! I can't wait to find out the opening date, and I'm incredibly sad that it's in the Summer.. It will be so hot. Eek!

    In other news, I love The Cupcake Store, and am excited it's open again, it's about time! I've been asking them since last Halloween! We come every couple of months and we've had to have their cupcakes delivered to the hotel, which costs delivery fee's and gets expensive.

    Thanks for the updates!
  7. Disneymike's Avatar
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    Regarding the Joy Division shirts, Peter Hook said he "Appreciates the irony" and " I take it as a compliment" so I don't think they were too unaware...
  8. KingEric's Avatar
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    wonderful update!
  9. SpcMtn77's Avatar
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    Thanks for making Mondays a bit more bearable. Great update!
  10. Nivens McTwisp's Avatar
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    The Joy Division story is one of the more bizarre stories I've read about on your blog, Andy. I hope they work it out, cause now I want one!
  11. SpectroMan's Avatar
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    I don't know that I would have called the former neon waves "cheap". No neon is cheap - it may have been thematically undesirable or tacky, but not cheap
  12. MsMandy's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update! Glad to see that a lot of the construction is coming along nicely. Can't wait for Spring!
  13. TodAZ1's Avatar
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    Sandi Ecklund, president of Workers United Local 50, which represents 4,000 Disney food and beverage employees, said she was against the change. Ecklund said she found out about the new policy on Facebook.

    “I see it as a way to lower their standards to keep wages down,” Ecklund said in a phone interview.
    LOL -- you just gotta LOVE Union people!! LOL!!
  14. DisWedWay's Avatar
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    The Carthay will definitly be the Jewel in this Nile of period Architecture. PD
  15. DARTH MAUL's Avatar
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    All the complaints and nitpicking about the Midway section really do reflect poorly. Not exactly fun reading. Can we celebrate the park, and trust the improvements to come with time? It's better than any other theme park would have. Makes us sound spoiled.
  16. BrerDan's Avatar
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    Thanks for another great update! I really like the way the Midway is coming along. The wood panelling is a great update! I will say, though, that I don't mind the existing signs. Sure they are a little "tacky"--but then so are Midway rides and shops, even back in the early days. I think--for the most part--they fit ok. I continue to find it interesting that a lot of folks who hated the Orange Stinger or Dinosaur shack love the new Carsland with equally (if not more so) tacky Cozy Cones Motel and V-8 Diner. The stucco facades *were* cheap and looked bad--but the overall signage and concept isn't too bad. Just my thoughts.
  17. TodAZ1's Avatar
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    I agree. I think the signs on the Boardwalk, for as silly as the names of the stores are, fine. They can't, and shouldn't, be understated like they are on Main Street. They need to be loud and out there.

    P.S. The Small World sandbox is boss!!!
  18. TodAZ1's Avatar
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    I continue to find it interesting that a lot of folks who hated the Orange Stinger or Dinosaur shack love the new Carsland with equally (if not more so) tacky Cozy Cones Motel and V-8 Diner. The stucco facades *were* cheap and looked bad--but the overall signage and concept isn't too bad. Just my thoughts.
    I think that had more to do with the surroundings of those places than the Stinger and Dino themselves. Just....tacky.

    But the Carsland area IS tacky design and is part of the overall charm of the Route 66 motif they're going for.
  19. Barbossa's Avatar
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    This sight-line is looking very good:

    But the only thing that they need to figure out what to do is how to hide the convention center.

    Great update!
  20. danyoung's Avatar
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    Another excellent update, thanks. A couple of things -

    Answering the question about The Magic, The Memories and You - "...but does anybody really watch this show at Disneyland?" My answer is YES! I think it's a fantastic show, and I never miss it, both in DL and in Florida's MK.

    Also, and this is really being picky, but the official name of DL's big nighttime show isn't Fantasmic - it's Fantasmic! (exclamation point included). A small thing, but it always bothers me when it's written wrong.
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