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Dateline Disneyland

2009 The Year in Review: Disneyland celebrates, California changes

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by , 12-28-2009 at 12:17 AM
Welcome to the final Dateline Disneyland of 2009! It has been a busy year at the Disneyland Resort, from changing classics at Disneyland, to the constantly-evolving construction projects at California Adventure; the theme parks saw plenty of activity this year. However, work at the Resort didn't stop at the park gates — the opening of the Grand Californian Hotel's expansion marked the first Disney Vacation Club properties on the West Coast, and the classic Disneyland Hotel began a major multi-year remodel project.

It's been a busy year — there's lots to get to, so let's get started!

Inside Dateline Disneyland

New Year's Eve 2009 kicked off the new year with a foggy start. Dense fog blanketed the Resort, completely obscuring midnight fireworks from guests.

The 2009 "What Will You Celebrate?" marketing campaign brought to Disneyland a new line of decorations consisting of confetti, party hats, and Mickey balloons as the park "Celebrated Today!" all year.

The new Celebrate! A Street Party street show replaced the popular Walt Disney's Parade of Dreams. The parade was met with mixed reviews for its stripped-down float design, contemporary music choices, and interactive street show format, which some fans thought paled in comparison to the more traditional Parade of Dreams that had been running since Disneyland's 50th Anniversary in 2005.

Back in Frontierland, Disneyland re-opened Big Thunder Ranch as a dining location after several months of renovations to the area. The new all-you-care-to-enjoy Celebration Ranch and Barbecue sit-down character restaurant failed to draw in guests with its steep prices, eventually resulting in the removal of the stage show featuring popular Toy Story characters, a revised name, and a slight adjustment to the menu and price points.

"it's a character world"
As the year got underway, "it's a small world" reopened with the controversial new Disney characters and "Spirit of America" room.

As Disneyland celebrated, Disney's California Adventure pressed on in construction mode. The first big change was the removal of the sun face from the former Sun Wheel as it began its transformation into Mickey's Fun Wheel.

And the Mickey icon from California Screamin' began to be dismantled and replaced with a new illuminated Paradise Pier sign and painted sunburst.

Nearby, the Games of the Boardwalk were transformed into fun pay-per-play games featuring classic Disney and Pixar characters, housed in beautiful new Victorian-style facades. The new Games of the Boardwalk opened in April.

As the Games of the Boardwalk opened, Mickey made his mark on California Adventure's giant Ferris wheel.

Mickey's Fun Wheel officially opened in early May.

But as the Mickey's Fun Wheel and Games of the Boardwalk projects wrapped up and opened to summer crowds, the massive new Disney's World of Color show brought a tremendous amount of construction to the drained Paradise Bay.

Construction walls were decked out in advertisements for the new show

As construction on the massive new show platform pressed onward, work on the 9,000-guest viewing area got underway, along with Silly Symphony Swings construction, Cars Land groundbreaking, and demolition of the Golden Dreams Theater in July for construction on the new Little Mermaid.

In June, Dinosaur Jack's Sunglass Shack, a California Adventure opening-day feature was permanently removed.

And by late October, water was once again flowing into Paradise Bay as major construction on World of Color had completed.

The average guest wasn't left out of the loop on all the construction in Paradise Bay for World of Color — along with informative signage on the Paradise Pier bridge, guests could also get a sneak peek at the upcoming show in the Blue Sky Cellar, which debuted a new show focusing heavily on World of Color in July.

Summer marked the kick-off of Disneyland's new Summer Nightastic! promotion, which focused on the enhancements of key nighttime entertainment at the theme parks, from a new summer fireworks show ("Magical"), to new additions to Fantasmic! and Disney's Electrical Parade.

While the marketing focused heavily on a new dragon for Fantasmic!, the animatronic beast never managed to materialize during the summer promotion due to a series of technical issues that caused crews to work around the clock throughout the summer. Instead, crowds waited throughout the summer hoping the dragon would finally appear, but instead just got new Flotsam and Jetsam characters and a new Croc for the Peter Pan segment.

The new nightly fireworks show featured Dumbo flying over Sleeping Beauty Castle for the first time.

And over at California Adventure, Disney's Electrical Parade introduced the new Tinker Bell lead float along with a couple returning favorites and a reworked soundtrack.

Summer Nightastic! ended with mostly positive feedback except for that pesky Fantasmic! dragon, which eventually debuted three months later than originally planned, in early September.

In September, Disney hosted the inaugural D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center, just steps away from the Disneyland Resort. The four-day event included a huge Disney theme park display with Imagineers on hand to answer questions for eager fans, along with several key announcements including Star Tours 2 and a major expansion for the Magic Kingdom park in Florida.

Expo attendees got a sneak peek at Star Tours 2 in 3D and renderings for Walt Disney World's expanded Fantasyland.

MiceChat's booth in the Collector's Forum had loads of prizes, a Mr. Toad's Wild Ride car photo-op, and appearances by MiceAge and MiceChat columnists.

Disney's Halloween Time returned at the end of September for another year of Halloween festivities with a couple new offerings. The new Halloween Screams fireworks show drew big crowds and got generally positive reviews from fans. The show included new projection effects along with Zero from The Nightmare Before Christmas making an appearance in the skies above Sleeping Beauty Castle.

And Space Mountain launched guests into Ghost Galaxy, a new seasonal overlay involving close encounters with intergalactic ghosts.

Impressive, spooky new nighttime lighting was added for the overlay.

On October 2, the Disney Gallery returned to Disneyland in the former Bank of Main Street. The Bank, an opening day feature at Disneyland and most recently the Annual Passport Center closed in early July to begin construction on the new Gallery.

The Gallery retained the bank aesthetic while opening up space for both art exhibitions and retail.


Next door to the new Gallery, The Disneyland Story Presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln moved into the Main Street Opera House. The Disneyland Story is essentially a reworking of the great lobby exhibits from Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years and reopened at the same time as the new Disney Gallery.

The Disneyland Story features a small viewing area for a slightly edited version of the "First 50 Magical Years" film starring Steve Martin and Donald Duck, which originally debuted as part of Disneyland's 50th anniversary celebration.

"Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln" finally opened on December 18, after months of work bringing the new state-of-the-art Audio Animatronics figure to life.

In October, Disney announced the Disney Parks 2010 promotion: Give A Day, Get A Disney Day; aimed to promote community volunteerism with Disney theme parks tickets as incentive.

The Muppets star in these clever TV spots for the new marketing campaign.

Disneyland honored three Imagineers this year with windows on Main Street: Imagineers Don Edgren, Rolly Crump, and Marty Sklar.

The Disneyland Hotel kicked off its major multi-year remodel in August.

...And the new wing of the Grand Californian Hotel opened at the end of September, which included the first West Coast Disney's Vacation Club timeshare units.

In late October George Kalogridis took over as President of the Disneyland Resort following the retirement of Ed Grier.
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For a complete listing of theme park hours, please visit the Theme Park Calendar
Disneyland Park
Monday - Wednesday: 8 am - 12 midnight
Thursday/New Year's Eve: 8 am - 2 am
Friday - Sunday: 8 am - 12 midnight

Disney's California Adventure Park
Monday - Wednesday: 10 am - 10 pm
Thursday/New Year's Eve: 10 am - 1 am
Friday - Saturday: 10 am - 9 pm
Sunday: 10 am - 10 pm

At press time, no official New Year's Eve schedule had been made available. Please visit closer to December 31 for more information. [ LINK ]

Disneyland Park
  • Haunted Mansion: Closed January 4 - 14 to remove holiday overlay.
  • Big Thunder Ranch: Closed January 4 - 12 to remove holiday overlay.
  • Main Street Cinema: Closed January 4 through February 1 for refurbishment.
  • Starcade: Closed January 4 through February 1 for refurbishment.
  • Le Petit Chalet Gifts: Closed January 4 through February 10 for refurbishment.
  • Corn Dog Wagon: Closed January 4 through May 4 for refurbishment.
  • Tomorrowland Terrace: Closed January 4 through May 4 for refurbishment.
  • Rivers of America: Closed January 4 through May 6 for a major refurbishment. The closure of the river will result in the necessary closure of the following attractions:
    • Sailing Ship Columbia: Closed January 4 - May 6
    • Mark Twain Riverboat: Closed January 4 - May 6
    • Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes: Closed January 4 - May 6
    • Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island: Closed January 4 - May 14

  • "it's a small world": Closed January 18 - 28 for holiday overlay removal.

Disney's California Adventure Park
  • Grizzly River Run: Closed January 4 - 8 for refurbishment.
  • Redwood Creek Challenge Trail: Closed January 11 through February 19 for refurbishment.
  • It's Tough To Be A Bug!: Closed January 20 - 21.
  • Francis' Lady Bug Boogie: Closed January 25 through February 4.
  • Silly Symphony Swings: Under construction. Rethemed attraction opens Spring 2010
  • The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure: Under construction. Opens 2011.
  • Souvenir 66 and Corn Dog Castle: Store and dining location closed for remodeling through May 2011.
  • Disney's World of Color Nighttime Spectacular: New show under construction in Paradise Bay. Debuts Spring 2010.
  • Paradise Park: The former Golden State Amphitheater is closed. The new, larger Paradise Park viewing area for Disney's World of Color viewing is under construction in the same location and is scheduled to open February 2010.

Okay — that's it for the final Dateline Disneyland of 2009. Thanks, as always, for reading and thanks again to the talented photographers (Fishbulb, 2DieFR, Mac Daddy, Abominable Snowman, Darkbeer, Photo Matt, Capt Phoebus, and all the others) who helped throughout the year.

Have a happy and safe new year!

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Don't forget that MiceAge and MiceChat has loads of new content weekly! If Dateline Disneyland isn't enough to satisfy your Disneyland itch, then don't miss David "Darkbeer" Michael's In the Parks column which runs here every Friday and is packed full of Southern California theme park news, photos, and gossip. And if you want even more Disney theme park goodness, don't miss MiceChat's Weekend Update, which takes a look at Disney theme parks and other international landmarks, curiosities, and oddities every Saturday!

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  1. Kimmehface's Avatar
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    Thanks for the great update!
  2. Eagleman's Avatar
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    The Year in Review
    Thanks for Look Back of 09....Andy
    Great Pictures...What are you Celebrating...
    I find over all being a JOKE!
    I know there lots being done all around,
    specialy over DCA.....
    And was Nice for Bithdays...getting in and so forth!
    What I saw in 2009 most however
    DL management, and Disney over all......
    raise price's almost everthing.....
    same time want more for less....
    There really not mush new to see this year ,except
    maybe 2 new fireworks...a Street Party...
    which to me anyway not a big deal....
    But what they did with AP ....and the having monthly payments was bad ,all they did make the place over crowded.......getting worst! that to mush!
    make the resort lest than enjoyable !
    So my Opinon...I though 2009 was not a good year!
    Updated 12-28-2009 at 09:34 PM by Eagleman
  3. Eagleman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Disneykin Kid
    Well, I have to some one thing about the DL management, they've kept working to improve the parks! That's an impressive lineup of work being done. The only thing I'm disappointed about is the DL Hotel, I wish they rebuilt it to be like the Grand Floridian/Hotel Del Coronado like they originally planned - even though it has it's own history, the minor facelift doesn't cut it...Thank you for the nice recap.
    I have sad the same thing on others thread myself.....
    facelift is notting more that a lipstick on a pig.....
  4. Eagleman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rixter
    I really enjoyed the look back at 2009. I know that was a lot of work! Thanks.

    I wonder what the deal is with the reduction from 30 minutes to 20 minutes for the Billy Hill shows? Audiences with shorter attention spans? Do they pay the actors less money?
    Once again ,Disney wants you paid more for lest!
  5. Aladdin's Avatar
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    There would be a few more things that should be mentioned:

    It's always special when Disney welcomes new "family" members. In 2009, Carl, Russell, and Dug, with a preparade float!

    And in November, Disneyland welcomed Prince Naveen and Princess Tiana, with a makeover of the Court of Angels, for a meet and greet with Disney's newest royale couple. In addition one of the liveliest performances in New Orleans Square's history, complete with a show on the Mark Twain, with Tiana, Naveen, Louis and Dr Falicier, in Tiana's Showboat Jubilee. This was really the best new show at Disneyland this year.

    Another thing that absolutely needs to be mentioned for the year 2009, is that it was the 1st summer in DECADES without a Disneyland parade during the summer months. Along with the delays and problems with the additions to F!, it really made for one of the most disasterous Summer promotions in DL history. And during the week of DL's 54 Anniversary, not only was the dragon missing, so also were Flotsam and Jetski absent.

    Have to add editiorial to the Disney Gallery which opened in the old bank location. This was extremely disappointing. Especially with the realization that it took over the space that used to house BOTH of Walts Offices, which used to be part of the Walt Disney Story. The new location for the Disney Gallery also completely lack any and ALL charm, that it used to have when located at New Orleans Square. This was another failure during 2009.

    Of course the biggest flop of the year was the Street Party. An unmittigated failure, with it's ugly floats, and awful choice in music, which all seems to be more suited for a 6 Flags coaster park. This dumbed down type of entertainment was an insult to the standards that Disneyland used to represent.

    The Halloweentime additions of Ghost Galaxy and the Halloween Fireworks were a welcome addition to the Halloweentime festivities. And DCA continued to host Mickey's Trick or Treat Party, even amidst the construction. However, it does need to be noted that the entertainment for the Trick or Treat Party DOES need to be expanded, especially the parade.

    At Christmastime, Disneyland was all decked out, however with all the construction in DCA, DCA sure didn't hold the spirit of Christmas very well. (and this was the 2nd year without Santa's Beach Blast in the Main plaza area.) Next year doesn't promise much more Christmas Spirit, either, as even more construction will be going on in the main entry area, So DL with really need to continue carrying the majority of the Christmas Spirit.
  6. Slimshady's Avatar
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    Big thanks to Andy and the Miceage crew for all of their hard work in 2009. Can't wait for World of Color in 2010.
  7. Uncle Bob's Avatar
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    Thanks for the great review and all your hard work this year Andy and the rest of the Miceage crew!
  8. Sleepy505's Avatar
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    Thank you Andy for all those great photos for 2009. Lets all hope Disneyland and California Adventure keeps down their pricing for 2010 that would be a dream come true to all there fans.
  9. Barbossa's Avatar
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    Wow! All that happened in 2009? Thanks for the recap.
  10. JADP's Avatar
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    Thanks so much for all you do all year to keep us informed.
  11. Timekeeper's Avatar
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    Thanks for a wonderful year, with all the new stuff being done at DLR.

    Lets have great and a happy new year, 2010!

  12. penguinsoda's Avatar
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    Absolutely amazing recap!! Its been a really amazing year for the park. And 2010 should be equally amazing. Your pictures are beautiful! Thanks for all the work you have done for us, and I look forward to seeing your pictures and reports for the coming year!
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