Spring break crowds continue to hit the Disneyland Resort theme parks as work rages on in both parks as major projects near their summer deadlines. In Disneyland, restoration and remodeling efforts are underway at the Carnation Cafe and the nearby Penny Arcade. At the end of Main Street, more of the Matterhorn's spectacular new paint job continues to be revealed as the attraction gets new ride vehicles and show scene upgrades. In Disney California Adventure, numerous new details continue to emerge as new shade trees are planted along the park's new Buena Vista Street main entrance plaza. Nearby in Hollywood Land, the park's nighttime dance party, ElecTRONica, is already starting to wind down with big portions being removed to accommodate the installation of the new Red Car Trolley wires. Meanwhile, Downtown Disney shops and restaurants continue their remodeling and expansion projects as Compass Books and Cafe prepares to close to make way for the new Earl of Sandwich restaurant.
Get a closer look at today's update! You can now click on any photo in today's column for a large, high-resolution version of the image.
Thanks to reader Masterman626 for contributing some Carnation Cafe construction photos for today's update.
We've got a big update for you today, ready to get started?
Honda has a promotional display set up between the Downtown Disney Mickey and Friends tram stop and the Main Entrance security tents.
A Honda representative is on hand to answer questions about their 2012 CR-V and help you enter-to-win a car.
Guests enter-to-win by submitting their information on an iPad.
Rain returned Sunday, washing out spring break crowds for the second weekend in a row. Still, big crowds hit the parks throughout the weeks and are expected to return this week. Our friends at Touring Plans have a look at this expected crowd levels.
It will be another busy week of Spring Break crowds at Disneyland. 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. With spring break crowds here, 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
RESORT-WIDE Crowd Calendar Prediction
Tues., Mar. 27
Here are some quick-hit notes that we hope you'll find helpful as you prepare your visits for the week:
Full block outs this Saturday and Sunday.
Disney California Adventure's lightest day is Sunday, when it's a 5.4 on the Crowd Calendar.
Disneyland's lightest day is Sunday, when it's a 6.1 on the Crowd Calendar.
Wed., Mar. 28
Thu., Mar. 29
Fri., Mar. 30
Crowd levels are based on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the least crowded conditions and 10 being most crowded.
MiceChat's famous Gumball Rally event is set for May 19 this year, and registration is now open to the public with special discounted rates through March 31. The annual event sends teams into the park with one goal: to experience every attraction in a single day. It's a ton of fun and a great way to experience Disneyland in a new way! Details for the event are below.
MiceChat Gumball Rally — May 19, 2012 — Sign Up Today!
What's a Gumball Rally? Well, it's the biggest, best and most fun Disney fan event in the known universe. The Rally is a race to find out who can ride the most attractions at Disneyland in a single day. Sounds fun, right? Well, it is even more fun than you can imagine. Yes, it is harder than it sounds. Yes, it will challenge you physically. But, it's one event that folks of any age can compete in and have a great time in the process. Whether you win or lose, you are always a winner when the race takes place on your favorite rides at your favorite place on earth.
But that's just a little piece of the puzzle. If you've never heard of the Gumball Rally before, please visit the Rally Information Page for more information and FAQ.
When: May 19st, 2012
Where: Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California
Cost: $24.99 per person (through March 31st, prices will go up to $29.99 per person beginning April 1st).
Note: About a week or two before the event, you'll receive both an email and a phone call from our Rally staff to answer any questions you may have and make sure you know when/where/how the event works.
This year, we are making event t-shirts available, including a lite breakfast at the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney and have all sorts of prizes and giveaways at our Award Party (sponsored by the Howard Johnson Anaheim Resort). There's even a special game show to help keep you entertained while we wait for the results! [ FULL EVENT INFORMATION ]
MAGIC KINGDOM MAKEOVERS
Work continues on expanding the Carnation Cafe into the former Blue Ribbon Bakery space.
The new paint job harkens back to the red-and-white color scheme the original Carnation Cafe had before its indoor space became the Blue Ribbon Bakery in the 1990s.
A look over the wall from reader Masterman626 shows that Disney has gone down to the dirt on this remodeling project.
Nearby on Main Street, the Penny Arcade's Welte Orchestrion was recently refurbished during the Penny Arcade's closure. It will return later this spring when the retail space reopens, but the Disney Park Blog gave a behind-the-scenes look at the restoration of this wonderful antique. Note: The Disney Parks Blog inexplicably refers to Main Street's Penny Arcade as the Main Street Arcade in their article.
Fans of the Main Street Arcade are familiar with its Welte Orchestrion – the large self-playing pipe organ that has entertained guests for decades. While the arcade is closed as part of the current Main Street, U.S.A., refurbishments, the Disneyland Electromechanical team is taking the opportunity to perform maintenance on this impressive instrument – which is older than the park itself. But you might be surprised at what is found inside …
Since 1945 – thirty years after the instrument was first built – those working to repair and restore the Orchestrion have signed their names to an interior panel, and the tradition has continued to this day. Dave Allan, an electromechanical technician at the Disneyland Arcade Shop (which cares for all of the resort’s electromechanical devices – from coin-operated machinery and popcorn carts to park turnstiles and FASTPASS machines) first came to work at Disneyland more than 35 years ago to work on the Orchestrion. He first signed is name to the instrument in 1974.
I visited Dave and his colleagues Ken Knibb, Joel Viado and Jeff Garcia late last year at the Disneyland Arcade Shop for the rare opportunity to see this giant machine being cared for by these talented technicians. Though it has been through maintenance before, those times have been surprisingly rare.
“It probably won’t be opened again for another 30 years,” Ken told me. The instrument still has it original acoustics and pipes, but the team is working to restore it to as close as possible to original condition while still being able to be enjoyed by guests daily upon its return to the Main Street Arcade. When it does return, it will feature more of the original music that it was first designed to play.
Be sure to check out the Welte Orchestrion when it returns in its full glory to the Main Street Arcade later this spring. And I’ll be back soon with an update on this amazing piece of Disneyland history when Dave, Ken and the Disneyland Electromechanical team are all finished with it – for the next 30 years, at least. [ LINK ]
Over at the Matterhorn, the new exterior paint job is coming along nicely. The entire mountain looks new again thanks to the impressive work the Imagineers are doing.
A look at the Matterhorn queue and loading area work from the Monorail:
A look at the on-going $1 billion remodel and expansion efforts at Disney California Adventure BUENA VISTA STREET
Lots of new details continue to emerge along Buena Vista Street as well as the addition of new trees and streetlights.
Tile work on the facades adds a layer of detail and texture
A look at the Hyperion Bridge towers, now in place along the Monorail track.
Inside, the Clarabelle's Ice Cream and Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Cafe area continues to get additional layers of texture to help make the area look less like a fancy strip mall and more like a believable representation of 1920s Los Angeles.
Great, detailed dragon-shaped wrought iron work
Elias and Company Department Store:
Another look at the Hyperion Bridge
Lots of new trees and street lights have gone up throughout the Carthay Circle area
New trees and light posts in front of the theater
The Carthay Circle Theater's Spanish tile roof is being installed and it's really bringing the whole thing together. The theater looks gorgeous and although it would have been nice to have the space house an attraction, the Carthay will be a great place to have a meal when it opens this summer.
Walls have come down from the sidewalk in front of the Carthay Circle pump house revealing a newly-added handicap ramp to this portion of the sidewalk. The new ramp is now the fourth handicap-accesible entry point for this stretch of sidewalk.
A look at Buena Vista Street from the Monorail:
A look at the north side of the street toward the main gate:
Over in Hollywood Land, the major ElecTRONica rigging down Hollywood Blvd. has been removed as Disney prepares to install the overhead wires for the Red Car Trolleys.
ElecTRONica officially ends April 15, but it is now almost entirely relegated to the back "Hollywood Studios" portion of Hollywood Land. All that remains on Hollywood Blvd. is the countdown clock and pre-show stage.
The main dance area and DJ booth remain.
Last week, Disney gave another sneak-peek at the upcoming Mad T Party, which will replace ElecTRONica when it opens June 15. The initial previews of this new nighttime offering look a bit over-the-top, and not necessarily in a good way. We'll see how it all pans out in June, but so far Disney's descriptions and conceptual renderings don't particularly inspire confidence.
At the Mad T Party, you’ll be able to party the night away with a wild and wonderful cast of characters. Would you like to meet them? I thought you might!
First of all, there’s our very own Mad T Party Band which provides the most awesome array of party tune favorites, and each member of the band has his or her own superlative sense of style!
Here’s our lineup:
Mad Hatter – the host with a hat … and a voice to “TOP” it all off!
March Hare – pumpin’ up the bass!
Dormouse – rockin’ out on lead guitar!
Caterpillar – jammin’ on the keys!
Cheshire Cat – smiling and keepin’ a beat on the drums!
And, what would a Mad T Party be without Alice herself? Lucky for us, she “drops in” for her own special moment in the spotlight!
You’re going to love this band – they absolutely know how to get down, get “MAD” and rock the park! But there are more to meet … and more who want to meet you! [ FULL STORY ]
The Mad T Party Band (no, really)
White Rabbit DJ:
"Hottest Deck In Town" dance crew
"The Hatters" — Mad T Party hosts that will appear throughout the day to give out information on the evening dance party [/center]
Meanwhile, the Monsters Inc. dark ride continues its facade refurbishment.
A look at the recently re-painted Cahuenga Building
And the completed Max Factor Building facades across the street:
The window displays here have been fixed up and all moving and light-up parts are once again functional.
On Paradise Pier, Ariel's Grotto is set to close April 30 for a brief refurbishment. We've also heard that the restaurant will debut a new breakfast menu when it reopens in early May.
Meanwhile, the Cove Bar on the upper level of Ariel's Grotto is currently closed for refurbishment.
It's set to reopen at the start of June.
Cars Land continues to work toward its June 15 grand opening and Disney continues to heavily promote the new 12-acre land on its Blog with new teasers weekly.
Disney brought the Billy Hill and the Hillbillies in to record the background music for Cars Land. The Disney Parks Blog had a look at the recording session:
Behind the Music of Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Park
The music you hear as you stroll around the Disneyland Resort or ride your favorite attraction is such an integral part of the Disney magic. Today we take you “behind the music” in North Hollywood with song writer and composer Bruno **** and the band, “Billy Hill and the Hillbillies.” (Billy Hill and the Hillbillies have been entertaining at Disneyland park since the early 1990s.) In this recording session they performed the instrumental tracks for the songs heard on Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. We have previously shown you a sneak peak of Larry the Cable Guy recording the vocals for these songs. In this video, Billy Hill and the Hillbillies are recording a variation of one of these songs – one that will be heard as background music throughout the town of Radiator Springs. Guests will be able to enjoy this in person as they explore the exciting new Cars Land when it opens June 15. [ LINK ]
Fillmore's and Sarge's Surplus Hut
Also from Disney, a time-lapse video of the Flo's V8 Cafe marquee installation.
New corrugated metal and chain-link fence pieces have been put up on the wall behind Mater's Junkyard Jamboree. Junkyard theming!
Mater's Junkyard Jamboree from above:
Radiator Springs Racers:
Disney gave a sneak peek at parts of the Radiator Springs Racers ride-through, recently filmed during attraction testing:
A Unique Point of View: Radiator Springs Racers at Cars Land
For this point-of-view video, a camera was mounted on the driver’s side of a Radiator Springs Racers car during a recent test run in Cars Land at Disney California Adventure park. Vehicles are being tested seven days a week, mostly at night. By the time each vehicle is commissioned, it will travel approximately 36,000 miles per year!
The video also shows a quick sneak peek of what to expect inside the mountain range. Guests will get to see the entire track for themselves when the attraction opens on June 15. [ LINK ]
The decorative covering for the back of the mountain range is now wrapping around the south end and visible from the Fun Wheel.
DISNEYLAND HOTEL REMODEL
Over at the Disneyland Hotel, the Mickey, Minnie and Pluto topiaries near the E-Ticket Pool area have returned and are now on pedestals, making them easier to see from behind the fence.
The curtain has come down around the new giant vintage Disneyland fun map at the Hotel's main entrance but none of the expected projection effects are working yet.
In Downtown Disney, the La Brea Bakery continues construction on its expansion project.
Disney recently gave an update on what to expect on the menu of the expanded restaurant when it reopens in late May.
New Menu Items for La Brea Bakery Café at the Disneyland Resort
Look for a late May opening of the expanded La Brea Bakery Café in the Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort, when lots of classics will be back on the menu. But it’s the new creations we can’t wait to try, like the brioche French toast or the Croque Madame sandwich made with gruyere cheese topped with a fried egg, both on the breakfast menu.
The centerpiece of the café is a new exhibition baking area, so guests can watch the chefs in action. A state-of-the-art wood stone oven will turn out new signature focaccia dishes, artisan flat breads, baked pastas, and other made-to-order dishes. And of course, La Brea’s fresh pastries and breads will be in the oven.
We checked, and classics like the turkey, avocado and arugula on country wheat bread, and the fresh mozzarella sandwich with basil and sun-dried tomatoes will stay on the menu. Ditto for Nancy’s Chop Salad, Cobb salad, classic Greek salad and Tuscan chicken salad, all with made-from-scratch dressings. For a heartier lunch or dinner, we recommend the seared salmon with crushed European potatoes, or Italian sausage pasta with crushed tomato sauce. The delicious menu is inspired by La Brea Bakery’s founder, Nancy Silverton.
The new décor features soft earth tones, highlighted by fresh food displays in the adjacent express area. Outdoors, new awnings, ceiling heaters and fans will offer expanded, comfortable seating. [ LINK ]
Over at the LEGO Store, work continues on refreshing the store's exterior with great new LEGO sculptures, some of which can already be spotted under tarps in plastic from the Monorail:
Part of Maleficent in dragon form can be seen under plastic:
Meanwhile, Compass Books and Cafe is preparing to close at the end of this month and is having a store-wide 30-50% clearance sale.
The OC Register had details on the Compass closure:
Downtown Disney store prepares for closure
Compass Book Store and Cafe is winding down its final days of operation at Downtown Disney as the company shifts the mix of venues in the entertainment-shopping district.
Compass is holding a clearance sale, reducing prices by 30 to 50 percent on books and gifts, until its last day March 31.
Michael Tucker, president of Books Inc. that runs Compass, said Disney and the company made a mutual decision to close the Compass location, which has run in Downtown Disney since it opened in 2001.
The lease was up in January, but Disney asked the company to stay a few months longer, Tucker said.
Tucker said Disney has a “new vision” for businesses in Downtown Disney. This summer, Earl of Sandwich will open in the Compass location. Read more about Earl of Sandwich.
Although most of Compass’ building carries books and gifts, about two-thirds of the sales came from the cafe side, which sells coffee, sandwiches and pastries, including Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Tucker said. A nearby kiosk, which sells magazines and sundries, also will close.
“In the long term, it made sense. They are going to have food and beverage there and they have a large calling for that,” Tucker said. “We’re sorry to lose the book store.”
The Anaheim store has 13 employees, Tucker said. [ FULL STORY ]
The Compass Books kiosk next to the Disney Pin Trading store will also close.
THIS AND THAT
Over the weekend, stars from Disney Channel's "Shake It Up" made an appearance at Studio Disney 365 for a meet-and-greet and signing. Radio Disney was at the event to keep guests entertained.
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 HoJoAnaheim.com/MiceChat.
MiceChat.com 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 NEWS AND INFORMATION ROUND-UP
Weekly Theme Park Hours
March 26 — April 1, 2012
Disney California Adventure
Daily: 8 am - 12 midnight
Monday-Thursday: 10 am - 9 pm Friday-Sunday: 10 am - 10 pm
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
Matterhorn Bobsleds: Closed for major refurbishment including the addition of new ride vehicles through June 14.
Carnation Cafe, Blue Ribbon Bakery, Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor, Candy Palace, and Penny Arcade: Food service locations and shops are closed for major restaurant and shopping expansion projects affecting current spaces.
Disney California Adventure
ElecTRONica: Tron-themed nighttime dance parties will end April 16. The new Mad T Party evening dance party will begin June 15.
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.
Disney California Adventure: Entire park will be closed to the public to apply finishing touches and for a media event on June 14, 2012.
Downtown Disney & Hotels of the Disneyland Resort
La Brea Bakery & Cafe: Quick-service cafe portion closed. Reopens spring 2012 with significant modifications.
Island Charters and LEGO Imagination Center: Downtown Disney retail location closed permanently. A temporary LEGO Store has opened in this location, with a permanent replacement yet to be announced.
Compass Books and Cafe: Book store and cafe to close permanently March 31. Earl of Sandwich dining location to open in space late-spring 2012.
Disney Legend Alice Davis to get window on Main Street Alice Davis is finally getting her own window on Main Street! Congrats!
Alice Davis is well known for her costume design work and has styled some of the most beloved characters at Disney Parks – including those found in the classic attractions, “it’s a small world” and Pirates of the Caribbean. She first designed costumes for the Walt Disney Studios during the production of “Sleeping Beauty.” It was common for animators to use live-action footage as reference – it helped them to see how the actors, fabrics, hair and other elements moved. And you Disney history fans may remember that it was her former art instructor (and future husband), Marc Davis, who recruited her to make the dress that would be worn by the actress portraying Briar Rose in the reference footage.
She continued to design costumes for the Walt Disney Studios until 1963, when she undertook a costuming project that would go on to become one of the most famous theme park attractions in the world. Along with fellow Disney Legend Mary Blair, Alice supervised the creation of more than 150 costumes for “it’s a small world,” helping to bring to life the iconic dolls who would sing the unforgettable theme song.
Two years later, she translated her husband’s drawings for the Pirates of the Caribbean into designs and patterns for all the costumes that would be seen in the new attraction.
In addition to the extraordinary work seen by thousands of Disney Parks guests through the years, Alice’s influence at Walt Disney Imagineering extended to the development of manufacturing, quality control and refurbishment standards for the three-dimensional characters created by Walt Disney Imagineering.
The Disneyland Resort is proud to award Alice Davis one of the highest honors one can receive at the Walt Disney Company – her own window on Main Street, U.S.A.
Okay, that ends our update this week. Of course, thank you for reading and be sure to join the discussion! What do you think of all of the new details along Buena Vista Street? Are you looking forward to the Mad T Party or do you think it's a bad idea? Let us know in the comments section below!
Thanks again to our guest contributor, Masterman626!
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