Welcome to the final edition of Dateline Disneyland for 2010! We hope you had a fantastic Christmas holiday and are ready to ring in the new year! But before we can welcome 2011, it's time to take a look back at a selection of the major happenings around the Disneyland Resort over the past year. From a major Rivers of America overhaul to Disneyland's 55th anniversary, Disneyland has seen a lot of activity this year. Yet, with loads of construction, the new World of Color water-and-light show, and after-dark dance parties; nothing compares to the major goings-on at Disney California Adventure. It's been quite the year, so join me and let's take a look back at 2010 at the Disneyland Resort.
Disneyland celebrated the arrival of 2010 with its usual array of dance parties, entertainment and midnight fireworks in both parks.
A new central stroller and wheelchair rental location opened in early January in the Resort's Main Entrance Plaza. The new stroller shop eliminated the rental locations in both parks, basing rentals out of one central location for the Resort theme parks.
After the walls came down:
BYE-BYE HONEY, HELLO CAPTAIN
Tomorrowland's Magic Eye Theater closed at the start of the new year evicting the tired "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience" show to make way for the triumphant return of the 1986 "Captain EO" 3D film starring Michael Jackson.
Captain EO didn't open its theater doors until late February, but the return of the retro 3D show once again made the Magic Eye Theater a popular destination in Tomorrowland.
BRIDGING THE FRONTIER
In February, the gateway to Frontierland got a new bridge with higher safety rails. The new bridge is themed well enough, but the old bridge was less obtrusive, visually. Some will disagree that a simple bridge isn't all that important, but the new lawyer-friendly bridge seemed to diminish the simple charm of the park's central plaza.
Meanwhile, the waterways surrounding the entrance to Frontierland were refurbished, resulting in a waterway that looked more like a pond from a miniature golf course rather than a stream you'd encounter in the American frontier.
The theming blunder was quickly fixed, the cement lip was removed and a excellently themed alternative was installed.
TWO BROTHERS TUNEMAKERS
In March, Disney Legends Richard and Robert Sherman were honored with a window on Main Street.
Over in Fantasyland, an attraction famous for a Sherman Brothers song, "it's a small world," got a new marquee.
In April, New Orleans Square's Jewel of Orleans closed after third-party retailer Dianne's Estate Jewelry vacated the location after 12 years of business in the park. The closure was due to the economic downturn, but the loss of the antique jeweler was certainly a loss to the character and makeup of the New Orleans Square area.
The shop reopened in May as an upscale women's accessory and handbag shop run by Disney.
In Fantasyland, the Gepetto's Candy Shoppe opened after the retail location sat empty for several months.
The candy shop was short lived, however, as the space became home to the character meet-and-greet for Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from Disney's animated film Tangled in October.
In early May, Frontierland's Rivers of America emerged from a five-month refurbishment with new scenery and wildlife vignettes.
A May 8th story from the OC Register's Around Disney blog:
Disneyland visitors will soon be able to see Native Americans scouting the territory and a keel boat in front of a cabin on Tom Sawyer Island for the first time.
The theme park’s Rivers of America, the main waterway surrounding the island, reopened Saturday after a four-month rehabilitation project. Disneyland crews drained the concrete-bottomed river starting Jan. 4 so it could complete upgrades, including the first new scenes on the shoreline since 1991.
The river began refilling earlier this week with recycled water just like was done with the water for the lagoon at Disney’s California Adventure.
Some of the new scenes included a new resident in the settler’s cabin on the island, Mike Fink from Walt Disney’s television mini-series, “Davy Crockett.”
A small herd of deer were spotted near a new stream tumbling down the rocks from the tracks for the Disneyland Railroad.
The Columbia Sailing Ship was parked at the dock as crews put the finishing touches on several of the scenes and attraction operators made sure the ship and the rafts that take guests to Tom Sawyer Island were ready to go.
The waterway now is divided into four U.S. river regions: the Mississippi, the Columbia, the Potomac and the Rio Grande. [ FULL STORY ]
CELEBRATING 55 YEARS
In late May, the Disney Gallery opened its "Day One Disneyland" exhibit celebrating the park's 55th anniversary.
Despite the milestone year, the park's July 17th anniversary date was rather subdued. Still, a pleasant and nostalgic rededication ceremony in Town Square was packed with park fans, and a special merchandise release sold out of nearly everything.
A "flash mob" of park Cast Members entertained guests after the anniversary rededication.
The Main Street Cinema showed newly-found footage of the park's early days for a limited time in celebration of the 55th anniversary.
In the fall, D23 - the official Disney fan club, hosted Destination D: Disneyland '55, a celebration of the park's history featuring numerous Disney celebrities, artists and Imagineers.
Imagineers Marty Sklar and X Atencio
Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald discusses Star Tours
July 26th marked the closing of Star Tours as the attraction undergoes major changes and upgrades in preparation of its reopening this spring.
The attraction is set to feature new characters and experiences when it reopens in 2011.
ALICE IN BLUNDERLAND
At the end of July, Fantasyland's Alice in Wonderland abruptly closed and safety measures were taken to prevent maintenance workers from falling from the attraction's elevated outdoor portion of track after a Cal/OSHA employee noticed a potential safety hazard.
The attraction reopened with ugly scaffolding covered in green tarps holding up safety walkways. The views on and off the attraction were ruined and much of the charm was lost. A permanent fix is expected to come in 2011.
2010 brought big changes to Disney California Adventure, including a new logo, new attractions and lots of construction!
Construction got underway on the new Red Car Trolley tracks at the start of 2010 in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot. Construction walls announced the new attraction and an open date set for May 2012. Construction was spread out through several phases down Hollywood Boulevard down to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror throughout the year, including the opening of a temporary pathway between the Tower of Terror and A Bug's Land, which was later closed and reopened as a permanent connector in August.
WELCOME TO PARADISE
In April, Paradise Park opened to guests after over a year of construction. The new area, completely rethemed and rebuilt to accommodate crowds gathering to view the World of Color show was a major step in the overall re-Imagining of the park.
TOY STORY 3 MANIA
In May, Toy Story Midway Mania got its first change, with the removal of Bo Peep's Ba-a-loon Pop and the introduction of Rex and Trixie's Dino Darts. The change was the first time the attraction saw a new game added and the first time characters from Toy Story 3 were seen in the attraction.
A SWINGIN' SYMPHONY
By late May the former Orange Stinger reopened as the Silly Symphony Swings, bringing some charm to Paradise Pier after ditching the tacky theme the ride opened with in 2001.
As the Silly Symphony Swings opened in May, Disney unveiled a new logo for the California park, ditching the previous two park logos:
...and introducing a new, more-cartoony logo that plays on style of opening titles from vintage Mickey Mouse cartoons. The new logo also dropped the possessive form of "Disney" from the park name, changing it to "Disney California Adventure"
A WONDERFUL WORLD OF COLOR
With a new logo and the opening of the Silly Symphony Swings ride, California Adventure was approaching the debut of its new "World of Color" show. A commercial promoted the new show to TV audiences as park guests saw the work crews testing the show's fountains during park hours, and Resort hotel guests saw sneak peeks of dress rehearsals after dark from their hotel room windows.
Finally, after over a year of construction and anticipation, the show finally debuted with a cavalcade of Disney celebrities in attendance and instantly became a crowd favorite.
GLOW FEST & ELECTRONICA
In an effort to give guests waiting for World of Color something to do in California Adventure until it was time to see the show, Disney had a third-party event team draw up Glow Fest, a neon-colored dance party that took over the Hollywood Pictures Backlot with a giant dance party and free-standing bars. The event proved to be wildly successful and became a popular attraction on its own for park guests throughout the summer.
The success of Glow Fest led Imagineers to create their own after-dark dance party following the summer run of Glow Fest. The Disney-created event utilized the new Tron: Legacy film as a basis and the end result was ElecTRONica, which included extra attractions including an extended 3D preview of the new film and a recreation of Flynn's Arcade along with dancing and bars.
With ElecTRONica came World of Color's first new scene. The "Troncore," a new show scene featuring music and visuals from "Tron: Legacy" debuted in late October.
CONSTRUCTING CARS LAND
Construction sped up on Cars Land in 2010 and in May the first test car arrived at the upcoming Radiator Springs Racers attraction as crews worked on testing the ride system and track.
Soon, the massive Radiator Springs mountain range began to take shape and buildings along the land's main street started going up.
In September, the old Bountiful Valley Farm area of the park closed and most of the area's buildings were bulldozed to make way for more of Cars Land.
In late October, Imagineers celebrated the "topping out" of Cars Land construction, marking the highest point of vertical construction on the project.
The Disney Parks Blog announced the construction milestone:
“Topping out” is a traditional construction event among construction workers and engineers that takes place when the highest piece of steel is installed on the frame of a building. [ . . . ]
As part of the tradition, the final beam is painted white and signed by the ironworkers, steel design engineer and construction management. This piece of steel will be part of the Pinnacle of the Cadillac Range, representing a 1959 Cadillac, whose tail fin was also known as the Pinnacle.
Several key people were on hand to explain the significance of this milestone, including Vice President of Disney California Adventure park, Mary Niven, Walt Disney Imagineer Kathy Mangum, and Walt Disney Imagineer Jim Kearns.
Mary Niven described the event as a huge milestone for Disney California Adventure park. “Literally and metaphorically, we’ve reached the other side of the mountain,” she said.
LITTLE MERMAID CONSTRUCTION
Rapid progress marked the construction of the upcoming Little Mermaid attraction, with the attraction's show building being constructed practically overnight in the empty space left from the former Golden Dreams attraction.
The new Little Mermaid attraction is set to open this spring.
DECONSTRUCTING THE MALIBOOMER
Paradise Pier's looming Maliboomer thrill ride closed permanently in early September as crews began dismantling the attraction on September 7. By the end of October there was nothing left of the ride. Current plans for the space left by the ride call for a shady park-like area with character meet-and-greets.
Also in September, Paradise Pier's Pizza Oom Mow Mow and the surrounding area closed to begin retheming.
The rest of the tacky S.S. rustworthy play area was finally removed.
The long-closed Burger Invasion finally went under the knife
And in October, the nearby Mullholland Madness rollercoaster closed to be rethemed as Goofy's Sky School, which is expected to open in the spring.
Mid-September marked the start of demolition in Sunshine Plaza, DCA's main entrance area. Construction crews began removing the park's giant tile murals that were intended to make park guests feel as though they were stepping into a giant postcard.
Also removed was the sun sculpture and fountain and the Sunshine Plaza planters.
While 2010 was a busy year for DCA, 2011 will be even busier as work gets underway on Buena Vista Street and construction ramps up on Cars Land. Brady MacDonald at the LA Times has a timeline of upcoming projects in California Adventure.
As part of an ongoing, $1.1 billion makeover, the sweeping and extensive reimagineering will wall off 4 acres of the main entrance between the C-A-L-I-F-O-R-N-I-A letters, Sunshine Plaza, Grizzly Peak and Hollywood Studios Backlot. The remade entryway, dubbed Buena Vista Street, will be designed to evoke the era when a young Walt Disney first arrived in Los Angeles.
After the winter holiday season ends, construction walls will go up around the iconic C-A-L-I-F-O-R-N-I-A letters Jan. 4 so that crews can turn the plaza area into Streamline Moderne turnstiles modeled after the former Pan-Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles.
The most disruptive phase of the project will start in August, when retheming work will begin on the shops just inside the entrance. On Aug. 1, Engine-Ear Toys, Bu-r-r Bank Ice Cream and Baker's Field Bakery will close on the right side of the entrance. Then on Aug. 29, the Greetings from California gift shop on the left side of the entrance will close. If all goes according to plan, the new Pan-Pacific-style turnstiles will also open Aug. 29.
But construction will force Disney to route visitors through a 500-foot-long backstage pathway running behind Soarin' Over California. The temporary entrance/exit route is expected to remain in place through spring 2012. Another pathway carved through the Sunshine Plaza construction zone will allow visitors to travel between Condor Flats and Hollywood Studios Backlot.
The undertaking is so massive and unprecedented that DCA Vice President Mary Niven has taken to a Web video in an effort to convince visitors the Anaheim theme park will remain open for business once the front gate turns into a construction zone.
"While we're adding all these new attractions, our guests' favorite attractions are still open," said Niven, who faces the daunting challenge of building and operating a theme park at the same time.
Indeed, all major attractions and shows will remain open during construction.
By spring 2011, virtually all the areas of Paradise Pier currently behind construction walls will reopen to the public – including the Voyage of the Little Mermaid dark ride, the Goofy's Sky School wild mouse coaster, the Paradise Garden Grill and Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta restaurants, the Corndog Castle take-out stand and the SeaSide Souvenir shop.
The 12-acre Cars Land addition is expected to make its debut with three new rides in spring 2012.
The ongoing expansion, which some have derisively dubbed "Disney's Construction Adventure," has proven to be a continuing nightmare for DCA planners. They were forced to ship the Main Street Electrical Parade to the Magic Kingdom when earlier construction shrank the parade route and cancel the California Food & Wine Festival for 2011 and 2012 when logistical hurdles became evident.
In addition, the Pixar Play Parade will go on hiatus after Jan. 3, with the parade characters continuing to appear in pop-up "dance parties" throughout the park. "The Incredibles" mini float will begin appearing at various locations throughout the park on Jan. 7, with "Toy Story" and "Monsters, Inc." pop-up parties making their debuts over the ensuing weeks. The full Pixar parade is expected to return in November.
The Playhouse Disney theater will also close after Jan. 23 for conversion into the Disney Junior theater in spring. The rethemed theater will feature a new show segment based on the upcoming Disney Channel cartoon "Jake and the Never Land Pirates."
Additionally, the Blue Sky Cellar preview center will add a more elaborate display on the Little Mermaid ride beginning on Jan. 27. [ FULL STORY ]
In mid-October, Duffy the Disney Bear arrived in Disney California Adventure with a line of merchandise and a new photo op on Paradise Pier. The bear is an import from Japan, where he is wildly popular and Disney is hoping he becomes a hit with American tourists like he did with the Japanese.
So far, lines have been short to meet Duffy and inside tips on his merchandise sales have reported varying degrees of success.
Outside the parks, the Disneyland Hotel worked throughout the year on its major multi-year remodel project.
In mid-August Disney closed the wonderful Disneyland Hotel waterfalls forever. The space is set to become a wedding lawn and nearby shops and restaurants are now gone and will be rebuilt as new dining and entrainment locations.
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Haunted Mansion: Closed to remove holiday overlay January 3 - 13.
"it's a small world": Closed to remove holiday overlay January 18 - 27.
Horse Drawn Streetcars: Closed January 18 - February 15 during Main Street repaving.
Main Street Vehicles: Closed January 18 - March 4, 2011 during Main Street repaving.
Splash Mountain: Closed January 18 - May 26 for refurbishment.
King Arthur Carrousel: Closed January 31 - February 2 for refurbishment.
Mark Twain Riverboat: Closed February 3 - 17 for refurbishment.
Star Tours: Closed for Star Tours 2 overhaul. Reopens May 2011.
Disney California Adventure
Grizzly River Run: Closed January 4 - 21.
Animation Building: Closed January 18 - 21.
Playhouse Disney — Live on Stage!: Closed January 24 - March 24 for retheme.
It's Tough to be a Bug!: Closed January 28 - March 3
Maliboomer: Removed. Space will become new park-like area.
Mullholland Madness: Closed to be rethemed. Reopens May 2011 as Goofy's Sky School.
Pizza Oom Mow Mow: Closed for retheme to Boardwalk Pasta and Pizza
Burger Invasion: Closed for retheme to Paradise Garden Grill. Reopens May 2011.
The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure: Under construction. Opens Spring 2011.
Souvenir 66 and Corn Dog Castle: Store and dining location closed for remodeling through May 2011.
Red Car Trolley: Track under construction in Hollywood Pictures Backlot. Attraction set to open spring 2012.
Downtown Disney & Hotels of the Disneyland Resort
Arcade, Jungle Cruise Remote Control Boats, Hook's Pointe, The Wine Cellar, The Lost Bar, and Croc's Bits & Bites (Disneyland Hotel): Closed permanently for removal as part of Disneyland Hotel remodel.
CELEBRATE NEW YEAR'S EVE AT DISNEYLAND! The Disney Parks Blog released some planning info for this year's New Year's Eve festivities at the Disneyland Resort theme parks:
New Year’s Eve 2010 at Disneyland Resort
This year, there will be special entertainment added to the traditional holiday fireworks in Disneyland park and the spectacular new “World of Color” show in Disney California Adventure park.
In Disneyland park, hours are extended to 2 a.m., and stages will be set up around the park for countdown festivities. DJs will encourage guests to dance into the new year at Sleeping Beauty Castle and small world Promenade while live bands will liven up Tomorrowland Terrace, Carnation Plaza Gardens and New Orleans Square, which will also be the site of three performances of “Fantasmic!” at 9 and 10:15 p.m. and immediately following the midnight “Fantasy in the Sky” New Year’s fireworks show.
At Disney California Adventure, where park hours are extended to 1 a.m., there will be special entertainment along the Paradise Pier boardwalk and a “fountains and fireworks” countdown to midnight in Paradise Park, immediately followed by the first “World of Color” show of 2011. (Earlier New Year’s Eve performances of “World of Color” will take place at 8 and 9:15 p.m.) In Hollywood Pictures Backlot, revelers on the grid in “ElecTRONica” will heat up throughout the night and into the new year.
Beginning at 6 p.m. New Year’s Eve, party hats and noisemakers will be available while supplies last in both Disneyland, at the Festival Arena near Big Thunder Ranch, and Disney California Adventure park, in Condor Flats near the vintage airplane just west of the entrance to Soarin’ Over California.
ROSE BOWL TEAMS TO APPEAR AT DISNEYLAND Info on the Rose Bowl teams annual visit to Disneyland:
The theme park traditionally hosts the teams before the New Year’s Day game in Pasadena. This year, players and coaches from Texas Christian University and the University of Wisconsin will hold press conferences before spending time in the park.
Disneyland visitors may get a chance to see the players and coaches during a 2:15 p.m. ceremony the day after Christmas in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle, said Donna Fisk, a Disneyland Resort spokeswoman.
While seats are reserved for Rose Bowl guests, visitors can find limited-viewing areas on the sides of the “hub” — the circular plaza and area in front of the castle.
Visitors may get a glimpse of the teams, but Fisk warned that the day after Christmas is usually crowded at Disneyland.
Whew, what a year! It's been a pleasure being here every week with you as we explore the current goings-on at the Disneyland Resort. I hope you all have a happy and safe New Year's Eve and please be sure to join me here again next week as we celebrate the new year festivities at Disneyland!
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