6/23/08 - Monday in the Parks - News, Photos and Tips
by, 06-23-2008 at 05:00 AM
Wow, what a hot weekend. The temperatures might be cooling down the next few days, but it is the last week for the Southern California Disneyland Resort Annual Passes to visit the park before they get blocked out for the summer. Lots to get to, so lets get started.
Disneyland Southern California Special - 3 Day ParkHopper for just $99
This week had the roll-out of the new Summer Fun Pass promotion for the Disneyland Resort. Alas, there were some problems, as many locations did not receive their "Gift Cards" (aka tickets) on time, and those who did couldn't activate them in the computer system.
Thankfully those problems have been fixed, and now you can pick up the ticket/'gift Card" at most major Southern California Supermarkets (Stater Bros., VONS, Ralphs, Food4Less, Albertsons and Gelson's). These tickets are also available at the Southern California Disney Stores and Disney Desks (Concierge style locations at selected Shopping Malls). But you MUST buy them in advance, and are not available at the Main Entrance Plaza at the Disneyland Resort.
This ticket is just for Southern California Residents, and are clearly marked that every person who uses the ticket should have proof of living in the correct zip codes (US ZIP codes 90000-93599 and Northern Baja California, Mexico residents within ZIP codes 21000-22999.) In the past, Disney has not checked every person using similar types of tickets, but they do check, at least on occasion, so be prepared to have the proper ID (for a kid, the parent/adult needs to have the proper ID).
This special promotion requires that the first day of use to be on or before August 30th, 2008, and then you have 45 days to use the other 2 days. (Ticket is Blocked out on July 4th, 2008).
The current price of a regular 3 day ParkHopper is $189 for adults at the Disneyland Resort Ticket Booths, or $169 if you buy it in advance at Disneyland.com. (Kids 3 through 9 are normally $30 less, but the Summer Fun Pass price of $99 is for all ages), so this offer is about half the price, and instead of the normal 2 week period to use all 3 days, the "Summer Fun Pass" allows you more than 6 weeks to use the last 2 days.
Disney is also allowing the full price of $99 to be applied to upgrading to any Annual Pass, including both Southern California versions. So for someone who does not have a current Annual Pass, you can visit 3 times during the summer, which is blocked out for Southern California Annual Passes, and then on the third day, take the ticket to the Bank of Main Street and for just a few dollars more, get a Southern California or Southern California Select Annual Pass.
Disneyland Resort Closures
The French Market Restaurant in New Orleans Square closed today until later in the week to allow for a change in their menu. The new menu will no longer feature Fried Chicken or Sandwiches, but instead feature a "Healthier" menu featuring American and Cajun-Creole items. The restaurant is expected to reopen Thursday.
The former French Market main menu items
Also, the Hearthstone Lounge at the Grand Californian Hotel will be closed this week for refurb, including a new floor surface. Napa Rose will be open in the morning and afternoon hours serving the normal Coffee and Cocktails that the Hearthstone Lounge normally serves.
Knott's Sky Cabin gets stuck midway on its tower Sunday Night
The Orange County Register reports that 24 guests had to be evacuated by the Fire Department after the Sky Cabin at Knott's Berry Farm got stuck about 100 feet up. Nobody was hurt in the incident.
The Sky Tower at Knott's was at one time the tallest structure in Orange County. The ride will remain closed while authorities figure out why the Sky Tower broke down. (Of course, the rest of the park will operate normally).
Disneyland Resort Park Hints
Just a few quick comments that might help your next visit to the Disneyland Resort go a bit smoother.
The new Toy Story Mania! attraction opened up at Disney's California Adventure Park last Tuesday, and now Disney has special Crowd Control procedures for DCA's park opening. The normal turnstile opening at 9:30 AM, when just the Sunshine Plaza and the pathway that goes in front of Soarin' over California to the Grand Californian Hotel is open to guests, now features a special queue for the new Toy Story Mania! attraction. The line starts near Grizzzly River Run, but quickly fills up the entire pathway and ends up next to the Sunshine Plaza main fountain. Prior to the official Park Opening, the line is moved forward to the Paradise Pier area and the new attraction. So if you are trying to be one of the first guests of the day to ride, make sure and follow the signs and the Cast Member directions to the end of the queue.
The line for TSM! at 9:40 AM, just 10 minutes after the turnstiles opened on Sunday
Disneyland is still having some serious issues with the new Mark VII Monorails, and only the old Mark V Monorail Purple is available to guests, so be prepared for long lines, one-way trip limitations, and even restrictions to just Disney owned Hotel guests for the forseeable future. Also, you might find the attraction closed, as if Monorail Purple (the one in the current Year of a Million Dreams Cloud wrap) breaks down, Disney has to close the ride until it can be repaired.
There have been a couple of changes to the smoking sections. First off, as mentioned here a couple of weeks ago, the "East side" smoking section at Disneyland has been moved from near the Autopia to the back side of the former Motor Boat Cruise Dock, now known as Fantasia Gardens. This moves the smokers from a popular narrow path to a "dead-end" area which non-smokers can easily avoid.
And as part of the Paradise Pier changes related to Toy Story Mania!, Disney has eliminated a smoking section that was near the Sun Wheel. In the past Disney had two different smoking section in the Paradise Pier/Route 66 area, so the elimination of one of them shouldn't cause much a problem. The smoking area near the Golden Zepher remains open. And for those looking for shade, there is also a nearby smoking section on the pathway behind the Grizzly River Run attraction.
And Honda is running a current contest, in which guests are handed an "Adventure Roadmap" when they enter the Parking Lots. (If you are coming in from a Hotel or using a shuttle, you can pick up a map at the Main Entrance Plaza next to the Honda Pilot).
Most of the questions are fairly easy, but the first question is "The New 2009 Honda Pilot displayed in front of the Park Features a _____________ secured to its roof rack." Well, as you can see, there is a LOT of stuff on top of the Honda Pilot. The official answer is "Tent". But the rules state that the questions are JUST for entertainment purposes and have NO bearing on the outcome of the sweepstakes.
Full details, rules and how to enter without visiting the park can be found at this link.
If you want to maximize your chance to win one of the 2 Honda Pilots (which come with a paid trip to the Disneyland Resort to claim your prize), you can enter once per day from now through August 15th, 2008. (one per person/e-mail address for residents of the United States. Must be at least 18 years of age to enter). The rules claim that they are handing out just 500,000 flyers in the park, many of those folks won't even enter (just throw it away), so there is a decent chance to win one of the 2 Grand Prizes. FYI, there are only the 2 prizes in the entire contest, but since you can enter online, the cost versus the chance of winning are not that bad, so good luck.
So enter early and often (well, once per day).
Howard Johnson Castaway Cove Update
Well, the majority of the new Water Play area has been installed at the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel on Harbor Boulevard
Of course, there is still plenty to do, including hooking up the plumbing, and getting all the required inspections approved before it will open. The last I heard, HoJo's is looking at a late July opening, but of course, is trying to get the project done as quickly as possible.
The large bucket will be a water feature that fills up and drops a large amount of water on guests.
HoJo's does have their new Main Pool area open, which was greatly appreciated this weekend, where the temperatures got around 100 degrees. (For Cast Members and Former Cast Members, last Saturday was a "Heat Index 3" day, and for those who don't know what that means, it allows Cast Members to be a lot more relaxed in their uniform requirements).
Anaheim GardenWalk Update
A few more shops have opened last weekend, but there is still plenty to get finished, including the new multi-plex Movie Theater.
The Orange County Register reported last Friday...
The Movie Experience, a planned 14-screen theater with an IMAX screen, was originally scheduled to open in the Anaheim GardenWalk last month. That opening was pushed back to June 18, but according to theater's website, www.themovieexperience.com, the theater will open on July 16.
"We don't have a tentative date yet," said Tracy Garcia, the theater's General Manger. "It's just depending on construction right now. We're targeting a soft opening towards the end of June, but that could change."
The Enchanted Tiki Room turns 45
One of the classic Disneyland attractions, The Enchanted Tiki Room turned 45 years old on Sunday, June 22nd. It turned out to be a very popular day for Disney fans.
Disney had some special merchandise made for the event, and the line to purchase them was over 4 hours long when the park opened Sunday.
The line at around Noon was still all the way back to the the Photo Supply Co., and the merchandise was being offered at the Disneyana Store.
And of course, the actual attraction was very popular, with large crowds visiting all day (The Air Conditioning helped). The Cast Members had Happy Birthday Buttons on stating Happy 45th to the Tiki Room and made a special opening announcement.
The new Indiana Jones Stage Show to be toned down
Sonya Smith at the Orange County Register interviewed Glenn Kelman from the Disneyland Resort, who stated they heard the complaints that show designed for kids of all ages was a bit too violent and will be toned down.
“We haven’t had a big negative response,” he said. “But there will be more pushes and shoves than direct hits.”
Kelman said that the crowd enjoys when Indiana Jones is beat up on, but the bad response is when he hits the show’s female character, playing Col. Dr. Irina Spalko, in the face.
“There are things that can happen in a movie that just shouldn’t happen in a theme park,” Kelman said.
Taking on John Lassister
Brady MacDonald over at the Los Angeles Times has a fun article in which he describes going against John Lassiter head to head on the new Toy Story Mania! attraction.
Jack in the Box to offer free Tacos on Thursday, June 26th
Ok, for those who are asking why I am mentioning this promotion, well, the twist is that the Orange County Register "Fast Food Maven", Nancy Luna just happens to be Brady MacDonald's wife...
She has a great interview with Jack Box, the "Chief Executive" that is featured in the Jack in the Box TV and Radio commercials. It is quite funny and well done. (Check out the audio MP3 link).
And for full details of the offer, check out this link.
Theme Park Special Needs access makes the news
OK, this article is basically designed to look at the Southern California Theme Parks, but this news article does mention the switchover that Disneyland did in 2004, going from "Special Assistance Passes", which was just one type of pass, to "Guest Assistance Cards" which takes into consideration just what type of assistance a person needs.
Here is one of the key points...
Many parks have switched to issuing a return time, similar to how Fastpass works, where you show up at the attraction and talk to an employee. They will write down a time to return that is equal to the current wait time in the main queue. Of course, if there is very little wait, the employee usually lets the Special Assistance Party on without returning.
The new policy has drawn ire from some parents, frustrated at what they see as just one more roadblock thrown in their children's way. But it also accomplishes something that advocates for the disabled have been chasing for years: Treating them like everybody else.
Valleyfair's parent company, Ohio-based Cedar Fair Entertainment, said some people were abusing the previous policy, which allowed the guest and three others to use a "special access entrance" that bypassed the line.
"We want to be as fair as possible for our disabled patrons, and make their day as memorable as it is for everyone else," spokeswoman Stacy Frole said. "But we also wanted to keep a policy that others don't take advantage of."
And Valleyfair's website says the new policy, enacted in time for this season, is an effort "to be fair to all guests."
There was a lot of complaints back in 2004 when Disneyland made its change in policy, but the new system has been working fairly well, and seems to be much better than the prior "one size fits all" pass.
Selected Photos from Darkbeer.Smugmug.com
The Disneyland Resort Ticket Booths now advertise the new Toy Story Mania! attraction
A special little show is offered to guests getting off the Mickey and Friends Tram in the morning hours promoting the new Toy Story Mania! attraction.
This Feral Cat has been hanging around Taste Pilots' Grill in DCA for quite awhile now
Mr. Potato Head showing off his removable ear
The Big Thunder Ranch closed early this weekend, to allow the Goats to head back to the Circle D Ranch barn, and the cooler environment.
Some of the refurb walls have come down in the Toontown area
Donald's Boat, which was scheduled to reopen last Friday is still behind refurb walls, but looks close to reopening.
Work continues of the Grand Californian/Disney Vacation Club expansion
The Los Angeles CW station, KTLA broadcasted their Morning News program from 7 to 10 AM PDT on Tuesday from DCA. Note how Disney covered up the attraction sign for Toy Story Mania! for the Media coverage.
Sorry for running a bit late this morning, but there was a lot to get to. Have a great week. Now go make up answers and try and win a Honda Pilot.