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Dateline Disneyland

Cones, Candy, Mountains and Mermaids: Re-openings, remodels, and revisions

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by , 05-07-2012 at 02:31 AM
It was a busy week at the Disneyland Resort! At Disneyland, three shops along Main Street, U.S.A. reopened after wrapping up extensive remodeling projects. The Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor, Penny Arcade and Candy Palace are all back with refreshed looks and layout adjustments that will help alleviate crowd-flow issues these shops often experience during the busy summer and holiday seasons. At the end of Main Street, the Carnation Plaza Gardens is now closed to begin its transition into the controversial Fantasy Faire princess meet-and-greet area. The closure of the Carnation Gardens has resulted in the opening of Frontierland's new Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree to host visiting performing arts groups. Meanwhile, in Fantasyland, the Matterhorn Bobsleds continues its $1.3 million refurbishment project. Over at Disney California Adventure, the Little Mermaid got a minor makeover at her year-old dark ride. As Ariel received her new do, construction continued along Buena Vista Street as Disney Imagineers tested the new attractions in the 12-acre Cars Land area. We also take a detour today to the Fullerton Railroad Days to check out the Disneyland Railroad's Lilly Belle parlor car and the recently restored Combine car as they made a special appearance at this year's event.

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.

We've got a HUGE update today, so let's get started right away.

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Spring break crowds will start to ease up mid-week. Our friends at Touring Plans their crowd forecast to help you plan you visit.

It will be another lightly crowded week at Disneyland with a slight spike over the weekend. Now is the time to visit if you want to avoid the crowds certain to flock to Disneyland once Disney California Adventure reboots. 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., May 8
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.
  • Grad Nights start this week.
  • Disney California Adventure is a 1.7 on the Crowd Calendar on Monday.
Wed., May 9
Thu., May 10
Fri., May 11
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.

Last week three shops reopened along Main Street as part of the major remodeling project that took over nearly half of the street's west side. First up, the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor reopened after a remodel that opened up its floorspace to allow for more queue for this popular ice cream location.

A look inside shows the large new queue space.

Nice new queue handrails

The passageway between the Gibson Girl and the former Blue Ribbon Bakery is closed off while construction in that space continues.

The ordering and cash wrap has been pushed further back, condensing the on-stage sundae kitchen behind the counter.

Great woodwork throughout the new Gibson Girl parlor

The menu (click for larger size)

The seating area that was located next to the old serving counter is been removed, along with the glass elephant. A new waffle cone display kitchen fills some of the space here.

Seating area with a view of Main Street, U.S.A.

Exit sign

New lighting fixtures

Next door, the Penny Arcade has reopened.

The majority of the arcade games that survived this remodel have been grouped up at the entrance to the space, which now, more than ever, functions primarily as overflow retail space for the Candy Palace.

Not many games were left when the Penny Arcade closed for this remodel, and not many of those returned.

The central cash wrap and candy display case have been reworked

You could previously walk into the Gibson Girl from a passageway here. With the space on the other side of the wall now home to the Gibson Girl's waffle cone irons, this is now a big wall of candy.

The organ is back, but you can no longer choose which song you want to hear and bins full of popcorn now sit in front, making the organ nothing more than a fancy display case for pre-packaged popcorn.

There are some nice details to find here...

Next door to the Penny Arcade, the Candy Palace is now open as well with a completely new interior.

The Candy Palace's door puts you into a slightly cramped corridor between Penny Arcade display racks and the Candy Palace's new, expanded onstage candy kitchen.

Nice new lighting fixtures overhead

Further inside the Candy Palace, the central candy display case and cash registers have been broken up and pushed against the walls. This change will definitely help with crowd flow in the store.

New cash register and display cases

Some great work done here in this remodel.

Gorgeous new lighting fixtures throughout the Candy Palace

Bottled sodas and energy drinks now available

The old indoor Coke Corner seating area has been lost in this project -- with the nearby Jolly Holiday Bakery patio offering plenty of seating for diners, the indoor dining area has now become retail space for the Candy Palace

Exit sign


Nearby the newly remodeled shops, the Carnation Cafe continues its expansion project.

At the end of Main Street, the Carnation Plaza Gardens is now closed as it begins its transformation into the new Fantasy Faire princess meet-and-greet area.

With Carnation Plaza's companion restroom closed, the long-unused Aladdin's Oasis has reopened its companion restroom for the time being.

No, there isn't a show here folks, only a toilet.

Construction walls block off the old theater area and guide guests directly to the companion restroom.

Over in Frontierland, the Shootin' Exposition is closed and the front of the Westward Ho Trading Company is covered for refurbishment.

The store is still open

Meanwhile, the Matterhorn continues its six-month refurbishment that is set to officially wrap up in mid-June.

The OC Register's Around Disney blog had some details and a great infographic (check out the full article for the graphic) on the Matterhorn's refurbishment last week:
Matterhorn getting most extensive rehab ever
Disney crews faced a challenge – how do you paint Disneyland’s tallest structure?

With 20 levels of scaffolding, it turns out.

Since January, motorists have watched the work play out from the nearby I-5 Freeway as the 147-foot-high Matterhorn undergoes the most extensive makeover in its 53 years.

The mountain that bobsleds zip through and around was blanketed with a spider-web of scaffolding, which has since been removed.

Now, passersby see a brighter, bluish-white mountain that glistens with tiny glass beads to make the snow look more authentic.

“It really makes the mountain come to life,” said Jim Crouch, Disney’s field art director.

On June 15, the roller coaster will officially re-open with new bobsleds after a five-month closure.

The project, which cost at least $1.3 million for the mountain renovations alone, according to city of Anaheim documents, has included more than 100 workers. About 25 underwent special training for the paint job on the intricate scaffolding that rose 20 levels.

“It was the most amazing scaffolding job I’ve ever seen,” Crouch said.

The previous bobsleds had tandem seating, making for a cozy ride in which one passenger sat in between another’s legs.

The new bobsleds have three individual seats in each car. There are 25 trains, each with two cars.

“People didn’t like to snuggle up so much,” Crouch said. “They wanted their space.”

The journey on the world’s first tubular, steel roller coaster will remain the same. But riders will see 23 new pine trees to replace ones that had been gone for years.

The minimum height requirement for passengers will be seven inches taller – rising to 42 inches. [ LINK ]

With the Carnation Plaza Gardens closed, Disney has opened up the former Festival Arena in Big Thunder Ranch to host the visiting performing arts groups. The Festival Arena has a large footprint and to fill the space, Disney has also added character meet-and-greets, coloring tables and visiting artisan booths.

Visiting performing arts groups have a bigger stage now that they've been evicted from Carnation Plaza.

Character meet-and-greets

Horace Horsecollar

Clara Cluck

California Carvers Guild was visiting

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

More details emerge along Buena Vista Street as we get closer to its June 15th grand opening.

New streetlights peek over construction walls

Oswald's Filling Station

Los Feliz Five and Dime

The Condor Flats radar marquee has been completely removed.

Rumor is that John Lasseter called for its removal as a last-minute change in the park's remodeling efforts. Just last August, the sign finished a refurbishment that included fixing the rotating mechanism that had been non-functional for years. Below is our video from August 7, 2011 of the refurbished sign.

Now that the sign is gone, the time-lapse camera filming Buena Vista Street construction that was attached to the sign has been relocated.

The Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Cafe:

Nice! Hand-painted sign

Annual Passholders can enter-to-win a spot at the California Adventure Annual Passholder preview on June 11. Details:
Enter for the Chance to Preview the Newly Re-imagined Disney California Adventure Park on June 11, 2012
Grab this chance — only for Disneyland Resort Annual Passholders — to be among the first to experience how the Happiest Place on Earth just got happier! As part of the preview, experience exciting attractions, dining and merchandise locations.

Step foot on Buena Vista Street — the main street of Disney California Adventure Park — to see the transformation. Imagine you have been transported to an idealized 1920's version of Los Angeles. Stroll past Art Deco storefronts, a sparkling fountain and see sights designed to invoke the energetic city Walt Disney discovered when he traveled to California in 1923.

And then enter a land like no other: Cars Land! Here, Radiator Springs has been brought to life and you'll feel like you've walked into the Disney•Pixar Cars movie. Cars Land comes fully loaded with exciting attractions, entertainment and plenty of Disney Character meet-and-greet opportunities. Get ready to be floored!

The expanded and re-imagined Disney California Adventure Park will open to the general public on June 15, 2012. [ LINK ]

Carthay Circle Theater:

Last week, Disney gave a sneak peek at the interior of the new Carthay Circle Restaurant:

As part of the new Carthay Circle Theater, Disney officially announced that the building will house a private lounge, exclusive to Club 33 members and their guests. "1901," named after Walt Disney's birth year, will be a hidden club on the upper level of the theater.

With the official announcement of 1901, Disney also announced that it would be opening Club 33 to new members for the first time in 15 years. 100 people on the Club's waiting list will finally be allowed to join and with their new membership will come access to California Adventure's new club on Buena Vista Street.

Disneyland opens up secret restaurant – for a price
For the first time in a decade, Disneyland is opening up new memberships to its exclusive Club 33 — the famous, secretive locale tucked inside the park.
Disney also is adding a private lounge for club members at Disney California Adventure.

Starting Friday, May 4, 2012, Disney will begin sending embossed invitations to the first 100 people on its 800-name waiting list, asking if they are interested in joining the club. Individual initiation fees cost $25,000 and annual dues are $10,000.

The club hasn’t even taken new names for the list in 10 years, said George Kalogridis, the Disneyland Resort president.

The openings come with new perks. The 1901 private lounge will open June 15 in Disney California Adventure as part of its $1 billion makeover project, Disney confirmed this week. The 1901 name comes from the year that Walt Disney was born.

Also, membership now will include private services, including valet parking and VIP itinerary planning.

Disney is adding new spots and amenities to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the club, which opened in 1967 in New Orleans Square.

Walt Disney was inspired to create the club after seeing the VIP lounges for corporate sponsors at the New York World’s Fair, said Kim Irvine, Disneyland’s art director who headed up a recent renovation of Club 33. Walt Disney wanted to offer a similar feel within Disneyland, spearheading dining rooms and a lounge alley that winds around the top floors of New Orleans Squares buildings. He passed away before the club opened.

Only club members and their guests are allowed behind the door next to a “33″ plaque, marking the address of 33 Royal Street. Club 33 is the only place in Disneyland where alcohol is regularly served.

Disney gave a Register news crew rare access inside Club 33 to announce the new memberships and lounge.

But Disney remains very closed about many aspects of the club: Employees won’t divulge how many members there are. They won’t name any members or guests, including celebrities. And they won’t say how many new members will be added, only noting that all 800 on the list won’t get in.

A 2007 Los Angeles Times story said that the club had less than 500 members. Celebrities who have gone to Club 33 reportedly include Tom Hanks, Michael Jackson, Christina Aguilera and Elton John.

For new members, Disney is starting with 100 invitations. Disney will ask interested parties a series of questions and set up individual meetings with a member-services employee, Kalogridis said. If there are more spots available, more invitations will be sent.

“We don’t even know how many of these we’ll be able to find,” Kalogridis said about the old addresses.

Disney also will start adding names to the list. Interested parties can [email protected]. [ LINK ]

Nice new wrought-iron handrails along the Carthay's upper level.

A peek through construction walls offers a glimpse at Trolley Treats.

New lights along the Hyperion Bridge

Elias and Co. Department Store.

A look at north Buena Vista Street from the Monorail:

...And South Buena Vista Street:
An advertisement for "Lyric Hotel" that can be seen from the Monorail:

In Hollywood Land, the Mad T Party setup continues to grow...

The stage is dressed to look like a table and chairs from Wonderland

The backside of the stage

Drink Me bar:

House of Cards bar

They painted the floor leading up to the Mad Arcade black

The ElecTRONica wrap has been removed from the studio catering truck

On Paradise Pier, the Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure underwent some quick changes last week.

Last week, the OC Register's Around Disney blog shared details on the Little Mermaid changes as the attraction closed.
Disney’s Little Mermaid ride will undergo changes
Less than one year after its debut, the Little Mermaid ride in Disney California Adventure will temporarily close starting today (Monday) to undergo changes. The dark ride will reopen Friday.
Disney officials said they received “guest feedback” and decided to make some changes to The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, which officially opened June 3. See more pictures of The Little Mermaid ride by clicking on the photo, right., a Disney watchdog group, reported that John Lasseter, the chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studio and principal creative advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering, asked for some upgrades. Read the full story in the website.

Specifically, crews will update Ariel’s hair and change two animation scenes.

“Ariel will receive a new, floating hairdo in the ‘Under the Sea’ scene, and two instances of computer-generated animation in the descent and ascent scenes of the attraction will be replaced with animation sequences from Walt Disney Animation Studios, depicting Ariel as guests remember seeing her in the motion picture – the way they know and love her,” said Kevin Rafferty Jr., a Disneyland Resort spokesman. “With every new attraction, we listen to guest feedback and are always looking at the best ways to tell a great story.” [ LINK ]

The animation in the attraction has been updated to reflect a more classic, hand-drawn look

Ariel's new hair-do in the "Under the Sea" scene gets rid of her hair that earned her the nickname "soft serve" with Cast Members working the attraction.

It's great to see Disney come back in and make changes to a major attraction like this less than a year after opening. The CGI animation was one of my biggest pet peeves with the ride, and I'm happy to see they've made adjustments there.

Below, we have video clip of the attraction's recent changes:

Complete attraction ride-through with recent changes:

Complete attraction ride-through pre-changes:

A look at Cars Land:

People going in to test Luigi's Flying Tires

New signs up in the queue area for Mater's Junkyard Jamboree

Nearby in A Bug's Land, tarps have gone up around the old FASTPASS distribution area for "It's Tough to be a Bug!" -- FASTPASS machines are returning here and will be the location for Radiator Springs Racers during its launch season.

MiceAge's Al Lutz had more information in his recent column:

Don't bypass the FastPass
The first big change the new DCA will attempt concerns the Fastpass distribution area for Radiator Springs Racers. Instead of distributing the Fastpasses for this huge E Ticket attraction in the nicely themed distribution area at the entrance to the ride, Fastpasses for Radiator Springs Racers will be distributed from the area once used for It’s Tough To Be A Bug Fastpasses.

It may be hard for younger viewers to believe, but in DCA’s early years the original TDA executive team thought It’s Tough To Be A Bug needed Fastpass, and the 3-D theater was outfitted with a half dozen Fastpass machines near the entrance. Those machines were yanked soon after DCA tanked upon opening in 2001, but new machines will be installed there along with a Radiator Springs Racers marquee at a side entrance along DCA’s parade route.

The thinking here is that people entering the park in the morning will first cycle through the new Racers Fastpass area in A Bug’s Land and pull their Fastpass ticket for the day, and then move on to DCA’s other attractions not necessarily in Cars Land. The DCA executive team has all visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Orlando, and they desperately want to avoid the overcrowding and general mayhem that Potterland generates. TDA’s industrial engineering department weighed in and decided that the best way to alleviate crowds was to move the Fastpass distribution machines for the Racers ride outside of the land nearer the park’s main entry path, and the location in A Bug’s Land was perfectly placed for that purpose.

Visitors to Cars Land this summer will still see the original Racers Fastpass location near the attraction entrance, but the doors will be shut and there are no plans to use it for Fastpass until after this summer or perhaps even after the Christmas season ends in early 2013. So when you visit DCA for the first time after Bob Iger’s rededication speech on June 15th, don’t run into Cars Land looking for Fastpasses for what they are feeling may be the best new E Ticket since Indiana Jones. Instead, remember to veer left off the DCA parade route and into the unusually placed Fastpass distribution area in A Bug’s Land.

The unusual placement of Fastpass machines outside of the land, the first time that’s been attempted in a Disney west coast park, is just a part of the overall crowd strategy the Anaheim planners are forced to deal with for the opening summer. The giant elephant in the conference room at all those planning meetings is the massive amount of Annual Passholders, a demographic that’s been growing again and is now beyond the 1 Million mark. [ FULL STORY ]

You can spot folks test-riding the Flying Tires

New trees in at the Cars Land entrance in Pacific Wharf

A video from Disney on the plant life in Cars Land:

Radiator Springs Racers testing

Downtown Disney's LEGO Store has reopened after undergoing a major remodel.

A new interactive play zone for kids

Build-your-own LEGO race car and test it out

Woody and Buzz

Beauty and the Beast

Inside, the space is a lot more open and clean. It looks great.

The gang from Aladdin

Kids' play zone

Another play zone upstairs

With the LEGO Store reopened, its temporary location has now closed and will begin its conversion into the new WonderGround Gallery, a Disney home goods and art store.

Nearby, Catal's Uva Bar continues its refurbishment.

Over the weekend, Disneyland leant its Lilly Belle parlor car and Kalamazoo hand car to the Fullerton Railroad Days. Along with the Lilly Belle and hand car, the folks from the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society brought the newly restored Combine car that was retired from the Disneyland Railroad in the 1970s. The event offered the very rare chance to see the two cars on display together and get to walk through both of them.

Inside the Combine car:

...and the Lilly Belle:

Also a rare treat: getting to take a photo on the Kalamazoo hand car that is usually on display (and off-limits to guests) in front of Main Street Station at Disneyland.

More on Fullerton Railroad Days, from the OC Register:
Railroad Days returns Saturday to Fullerton
Railroad Days, the weekend-long festival that serves as nirvana for train lovers, returns this weekend to the city where it began – the town with a rich locomotive history.
The festival is being held Saturday and Sunday, May 5—6, in the Fullerton Transportation Center, home to the busiest train station in the county.

Making its Railroad Days' debut will be Disneyland Railroad's Lilly Belle Presidential Coach – an elegant observation car festooned in Victorian décor that still rolls along in the Magic Kingdom. A former Disneyland combine coach for passengers and luggage that's now part of Carolwood Pacific Railroad Company in Griffith Park will be on display as well.

The lineup also includes three privately owned vintage cabooses, a modern diesel-electric freight locomotive, courtesy of BNSF Railway, and a steam locomotive from Fillmore & Western Railway.

All of the rail cars will be open for tours.

Enthusiasts can drool over more than 9,000 square feet of model train layouts, featuring gauges from G – the largest – to Z.

More than a dozen food booths will be set up, along with others manned by train-related organizations and nonprofit groups.

Crowds of up to 30,000 were typical when the event was in Fullerton from 1999 to 2008, and organizers expect this year to be no different.

"We have the location for it," Mayor Sharon Quirk-Silva said. "You often see people sitting and enjoying the trains, (and) I think people will be happy that it is back."

After the 2008 festival, the city and the Southern California Railway Plaza Association, the group that hosts Railroad Days, couldn't agree on the terms of building a railway museum in Fullerton that never materialized – so organizers opted to take the event to another city.

The festival was not held in 2009 and was in Brea in 2010. Last year, it was again cancelled.

In October, the City Council voted unanimously to welcome Railroad Days back, as long as the organizers could cover the cost. Through donations and sponsorships, organizers raised the needed $25,000, said association spokeswoman Donna Johnson.

Aside from waiving $1,759 in fees, Railroad Days won't cost the city anything. [ LINK ]

Carolwood Pacific Historical Society's booth:

Model trains:

Back at Disneyland, the Tomorrowland Terrace menu boards have received a makeover

In New Orleans Square, the Le Masquerade d'Orleans facade is getting some work


Over on the Rivers of America:

And back in California Adventure, the Flik's Fun Fair tunnel has completed its repaint:

Dateline Disneyland is sponsored by our good friends at the
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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.

Weekly Theme Park Hours
May 7 — 13, 2012

Disneyland Park
Disney California Adventure
Monday-Wednesday: 9 am - 9 pm
Thursday 9 am - 10 pm
Friday 8 am - 11 pm
Saturday-Sunday 8 am - 12 midnight
Monday-Thursday: 10 am - 8 pm
Friday-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
LOW-MEDIUM 1.1—4.7 out of 10
LOW-MEDIUM 1.7—6.6 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

  • Matterhorn Bobsleds: Closed for major refurbishment including the addition of new ride vehicles through June 14.
  • Carnation Cafe, Blue Ribbon Bakery: Food service locations are closed for major restaurant.

Disney California Adventure
  • ElecTRONica: Tron-themed nighttime dance parties ended 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: Downtown Disney retail location closed permanently. It will reopen as WonderGround Gallery on June 9, 2012.
  • Compass Books and Cafe: Book store and cafe closed permanently March 31. Earl of Sandwich dining location to open in space late-spring 2012.

Walt Disney World tests "NextGen" FASTPASS system
Information on Disney World's new FASTPASS+ system from Inside The Magic:
Walt Disney World tests the Fastpass of the future, offering RFID enabled ride access and advance reservations
In recent days, Walt Disney World has quietly installed colorful posts in front of many major attractions around the Magic Kingdom as part of a test of new Fastpass technology. Similar to the theme park entry tests that took place at Epcot in November 2011, these new posts each feature a familiar three circle Mickey Mouse icon, a scanning area used to read RFID (radio-frequency identification) equipped Fastpass tickets.

Disney’s ultimate goal with the new system is twofold. The RFID-based system would replace the existing (and rather clunky) system of distributing paper Fastpass tickets to guests eager to bypass standby lines with a digital format that electronically stores all the necessary timing information, indicating when guests can enter a ride or show. But more importantly, this test is a first step in the previously-announced “NextGen” theme park experience that will include making ride reservations from outside the parks, often dubbed X-Pass or Fastpass+.

The test is currently limited to a select group of Magic Kingdom guests and there is no way to sign up. But reports indicate that those who are involved were chosen in advance of their trips to the park and were asked to choose ride times that would fit their schedule. Special RFID-equipped cards would then store that information, granting access to rides at the scheduled times.

Attractions currently featuring the new multi-colored Fastpass posts include The Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Mickey’s Philharmagic, among others.

The Haunted Mansion is the standout attraction in the group, as it has not offered Fastpass tickets in several years, as it generally has a short wait time. But with the “NextGen” system currently in testing, guests may not have to wait at all, even a short time, by simply setting up a time to ride in advance, scanning their RFID-eqipped ticket against the new Mickey head scanner, and advancing directly into the ride.

During the test, Disney’s Cast Members have been staying on top of the new data using iPads, stationed at each of the technology-driven posts. The test is set continue in the park for around 2 weeks, after which the posts will disappear completely, just like the RFID scanners did after the Epcot turnstile test concluded. The attractions included in the test are not necessarily those that will feature the next generation of Fastpass when Disney eventually rolls it out officially. And the colorful posts are not themed to the areas they are in because they are only temporary. The final installation of this technology, whenever and wherever that may be, will be more elaborate.

It was just over a month ago that Walt Disney World announced they would begin enforcing the 1-hour ride time return window on traditional Fastpass tickets. As expected, that rule enforcement change was made to prepare the park for the shift to the new RFID-based system, at least during the ongoing test.

Disney has yet to comment officially and publicly about the “NextGen” Fastpass system, other than initially announcing they were working on it more than a year ago. An RFID-based system is also currently in development for the new version of Test Track at Epcot, which will allow guests to design vehicles in the queue, then bring that data onto the ride and into the post-show via RFID-equipped cards. But ultimately the sky’s the limit as to how much Disney plans to utilize this technology to further personalize the theme park experience.
Full Story: Walt Disney World tests the Fastpass of the future, offering RFID enabled ride access and advance reservations

Celebrate Mother's Day at Disneyland
Information on this year's Mother's Day dining options at Disneyland:
Get Mom Out of the Kitchen for Mother’s Day, Special Dining May 13 at Disneyland Resort
Mother’s Day is just around the corner and it’s time to pamper Mom. Disneyland Resort makes it easy, with four diverse dining options, all with special touches.

Mother’s Day is a tradition at the Disneyland Hotel, and this year the theme is “Join Cinderella and Her Princess Friends for Disney’s Royal Buffet for Mother’s Day.” The fun starts at 10 a.m. with delicious, all-you-care-to-eat tastes served until 3 p.m. in the Disneyland Grand Ballroom – we counted more than 50 delicious items on the menu, including prime rib and herb-crusted leg of lamb.

And of course, Cinderella and her friends – and special musical entertainment – take it over the top. With everything from breakfast classics like fresh omelets and French crepes to meats, seafood and artisan cheeses, it’s a real treat for everyone in the family. (Champagne and a chocolate fountain are the proverbial icing on the cake).

Cost is $71.99, $20.99 for ages 3 to 9, plus tax and gratuity (Premium Annual Passholders get a discount). Four-hour complimentary self-parking is available.

Both Blue Bayou and Plaza Inn at Disneyland park have special prix fixe menus for Mother’s Day. Blue Bayou is serving pan-seared, hazelnut-crusted sea bass with king crab legs, preserved lemon and butter sauce, sweet corn Green chili risotto, spicy mango jelly and Nicoise olive fennel relish. Cost is $39.99 – an easy way to impress mom!

Plaza Inn is offering pineapple-glazed, spiced salmon with peach-strawberry salsa, rice pilaf, sautéed green beans and bread sticks for $16.99. A nice respite for a day in the park.
Or start your day at Storytellers Cafe, in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, where the all-you-care-to-eat buffet includes buttermilk biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, eggs Benedict, Mickey waffles, omelets, smoked salmon, fresh berries and yogurt and more. Cost is $31.99, $15.99 for ages 3 to 9, plus tax and gratuity.

To request reservations for any of these and other Mother’s Day dining ideas, call 714-781-DINE, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., or email reservation requests to [email protected].
Full Story: Get Mom Out of the Kitchen for Mother’s Day, Special Dining May 13 at Disneyland Resort

Whew! That wraps up this week's super-sized edition of Dateline Disneyland. Of course, many thanks for reading and please be sure to join the discussion and share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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  1. Timekeeper's Avatar
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    Great Update! I have to wonder if the re-themed Flynn's Arcade (now called the
    MAD Arcade) will have the arcade game featured in Disney's upcoming animated movie, "Wreck-it Ralph"?

  2. twainrider's Avatar
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    From the pictures of the new Gibson Girl layout, it looks like there's a lot fewer places to sit and enjoy the ice cream. I had to sit back by the glass elephant most of the times I went in there because the seating near the front, the only seating left it seems, was always occupied already. The few seats on the porch across Main Street are rarely available either. Where are people supposed to sit?
  3. Crazee4mm's Avatar
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    I can't even begin to imagine the amount of trust that Disneyland had to muster in order for the Lily Belle to be removed from the park. Awesome update! Love the new hair.
  4. niklj's Avatar
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    Great update Andy. I appreciate it when you include what things look like before they changed--sometimes I forget so it's nice to compare and see if things really changed for the better or not.
  5. Barbossa's Avatar
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    Great update!
  6. AvanteGardens's Avatar
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    Thanks guys for another great update. I really love the newly added "click for bigger picture" ability. I had suggested it in a post a while back (I probably wasn’t the only one), so I'm glad you guys are really listening. I can finally make out the details you like to talk about, and can even read signs and menus in the photos. However, I have one additional request. Disneyland is so full of details, its hard to remember them all, and some of us don’t get a chance to be in the park every week. When possible, where your pointing out changes from a rehab, can you include a photo of the pre-rehab version? When you point out stuff like how "amazing the new Matterhorn paint job is," or how "the ice-cream parlor eating area is gone," I'm left scratching my head. A "before" photo would really help. You don’t have to go crazy, not every detail needs a before and after photo. Even just one before photo, especially when the article is making a point of how Disney did a great job or missed the mark would be helpful. Thanks.
  7. ghosty4's Avatar
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    I go to Disneyland once or twice a week, and yet I always make sure to check out Dateline Disneyland to see what I've missed, and this week is a perfect example! I never go anywhere near the Tomorrowland Terrace because I never intend to pay Disneyland prices for burgers and fries, so I would've never seen those pretty nice looking menu panels! Thanks so much!
  8. stev777's Avatar
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    Great update as always..... As an out of country AP holder your updates really do make me feel like I still do get to visit every week... Thank you matey!
  9. archdude72's Avatar
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    Awesome update Andy!......My family and I have a tradition to lunch at the Gibson Girl, it's a sentimental place for me, I'm so glad it's been updated. I like most of what the imagineers did, but is it just me or do the cashier partitions in the Gibson Girl look like sad pieces of toast?
  10. dizneedoll's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mac Daddy
    Thanks for the amazing update, Andy! Just a heads up for the folks over at Touring Plans - I'm not sure what their definition of a "1" is on their crowd level chart, but mine would be "almost empty." I was there on both Tuesday and Thursday of last week, and both of those days should have been labeled as a "6", i.e. moderately crowded. You could barely move through Fantasyland due to the stroller gridlock and most of the line queues seemed to be the same size as a typical weekend in the Fall rather than the "almost empty" mental image projected by Touring Plans. I would save the "1" classification for days when there literally is almost no one in the park, i.e. the weekdays following Thanksgiving when all the kids are still in school. Not sure where all these people came from during the first week of May, but between the wait to get into the park and the healthy lines for the rides when we got inside, Thursday was easily a "6" in my book. Not a 10, but definitely past a 5. I hope they will take this change in attendance into account so that folks planning their trips won't be disappointed.
    Thanks for pointing this out MacDaddy. I was there on Thursday also just because the crowd calendar had listed that day as a "1" and right from park open I could tell this was no "1." When the wait time for Pooh is 15 minutes you know darn well that ain't no "1" ;-) I agree that Thursday felt more like a 6.
  11. RedHandedJill's Avatar
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    I can only imagine how exciting (not to mention crowded) my June 17th trip is going to be. There is going to be SO much new to see! You all have really outdone yourselves. Terrific job!
  12. BTCS's Avatar
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    Great Thanks!
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