Update for December 12-19, 2005
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An off-season? That's just a myth.
This last weekend seems to have put to rest any idea that there might be any sort of attendance lull between Thanksgiving and Christmas, at least on the weekends. With many school systems going into winter hiatus next weekend, it will likely only get worse.
On Friday, the park nearly reached capacity, and the Disneyland gates did close to new admissions on Saturday. Though Disney's California Adventure (DCA) park is not reaching capacity, it also is seeing large overflow crowds and significantly longer wait times for attractions than normal. DCA, ironically, contributes to increasingly negative experiences at Disneyland in the evenings. With its early closing time of 9:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, thousands of people are fed into Disneyland just when the park is least able to support them.
As we worried when the 50th Anniversary entertainment schedule was announced, fears of a perfect crowd control storm are being realized. When DCA closes at nine, most of those guests quickly cross the Esplanade into Disneyland to take in the evening performance of the Remember...Dreams Come True fireworks show (unlike this summer, with the Disney Electrical Parade on hiatus, there is nothing to keep people in DCA just long enough to miss the fireworks). This inflow of people runs into a Main Street full of spectators who were already in Disneyland, and coming the other way are people trying to leave Frontierland/New Orleans Square following the first performance of Fantasmic. Things pretty much come to a standstill at this point.
Then once the fireworks are over, many of the new arrivals from DCA then try to continue into the park, people from the first Fantasmic are still trying to get out of Frontierland, and many people are trying to get into Frontierland and New Orleans Square for the second Fantasmic performance. And then the snow starts, and everybody in a spot where it is snowing stops moving and people who are in spots where it isn't snowing try to get to where it is snowing.
Throw into this mixture guests who don't follow cast member's crowd control instructions, the occasional cast member giving incorrect or unclear instructions, thousands of people tired at the end of a long day at Disneyland, and the natural disruptions that invariably happen in such crowded scenes and total gridlock can result in lengthy periods of being unable to move in any direction and making no progress at all.
So, here are some tips for making the best of it:
- Don't try to eat the whole pie in one sitting. If the park is very crowded and you are on a multi-day trip, don't try to do everything in one day. See Fantasmic one day and camp out for those good parade/fireworks seats on another. When there are 60,000 people in the park you simply aren't going to do everything in one day.
- Don't insist on only the best. The worst crowding and jams happen around the ideal viewing locations for Fantamic, the pardes, and the fireworks. Consider trading the perfect view for less stress. Decent views of the fireworks can be had from other areas and many are more convenient to your wherever you may go after the fireworks (the Main Street station is best if you're leaving and "it's a small world" actually provides decent access to Rivers of America if you are going to Fantasmic).
- If you can avoid it, don't plan to leave Disneyland immediately after the fireworks. Crowds will be at their most intense at this point and the tram loading areas will also be overcrowded. Instead, with people leaving and thousands more heading over to Fantasmic, it is frequently a good time for getting on rides with reduced wait times.
- If you do have to leave after the fireworks, try the trains. If they're running, try to catch the train to Main Street station. This works best from the Frontierland station in New Orleans Square since fewer people will be able to load at the Toontown or Tomorrowland stations. You may have to wait a few trains, but it will almost certainly be more relaxed than fighting your way through Main Street. For some, the monorail may also be an option for getting out of the park.
- Follow cast member instructions on where to walk. Frequently their instructions may seem counterintuitive, but there is a method to their madness. For example, if you are exiting Tomorrowland and want to walk down Main Street to the park gates, you'll first have to go to the right, walk all the way around the hub, and then go down Main Street. Always walk on the right side of Main Street, if you can. Many people try to walk through the stores of Main Street as a shortcut, and while there is a gray area where this seems to save a little bit of time, once enough people are doing it there really isn't any improvement.
- Be patient. If you can't be in a dense crowd without getting cranky, then do everybody a favor and hold back until the crowd dissipates. Pushing, shoving, shouting, cursing, and other rude behaviors will do nothing to alleviate the situation and much to make it even more unpleasant.
When Disney's Electric Parade comes off hiatus next week for a two-week year-ending run, it should help a little bit with all of this as there will be an evening draw to keep people at DCA just a little bit longer.
There was quite a bit of discussion over the week of a recent piece over at Jim Hill Media (link) about the possibility of Disneyland President Matt Ouimet getting a promotion to the Walt Disney World office recently vacated by Al Weiss. MousePlanet followed that article with a late addition to last week's Park Update (link) in which we essentially confirmed that the rumor was making the rounds.
We do want to emphasize that at this point, so far as we know, nothing has been offered or decided and everything is, at most, in the discussion phase. If this change were to be made, it would be quite the promotion for Ouimet. Close watchers of Disneyland need not necessarily worry that it would be left out in the cold, though, as Matt Ouimet's presumptive replacement Greg Emmers is viewed as having very similar philosophies as those cast members and watchers have applauded in Ouimet himself.
NNFC holiday party
The Studio Chapter of NFFC has sent out the following announcement for those interested.
Please join us in celebrating the latest edition of a holiday tradition as The Studio Chapter has its annual holiday party on December 18th. Our holiday party is a potluck partywe're asking members to bring along their favorite holiday treats for everyone to share (non-members are welcome to bring a food item, but it's not required). Guests will also have the opportunity to participate in a gift exchange; please bring a Disney gift valued at no more than $10 if you'd like to participate.
In addition to the potluck and gift exchange, we'll be having a silent auction of Disney memorabilia; here's a perfect opportunity to pick up that special Christmas gift for your favorite Disney fan while helping the Chapter! Our members will also be electing the Chapter board of directors for 2006, and we'll also be having a couple of our members providing entertainment for our guests (you'll have to come by if you want to know who!). There's no better way to get into the holiday spirit than to spend a chilly December afternoon having a good time with your friends. Your Christmas shopping list will still be there when the party's overtake a break from the madness at the malls and join us for a fun and exciting afternoon!
The Studio Chapter will meet at 1:00 p.m. in the community room of Westfield Shoppingtown Fashion Square 13750 Riverside Drive, Sherman Oaks, north of the 101 Freeway at the Woodman avenue exit; the community room is the small building at the back of the parking lot behind Ross Dress for Less at the southwest corner of Riverside Drive and Woodman Avenue. Non-members are welcome to attend. For further information and additional directions, please visit our website, http://www.nffc-la.org, or contact Paul Schnebelen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TV Christmas special
Several days last week, filming crews were at the Disneyland Resort filming segments for Disney's annual televised Christmas special. The word circulating is that for once it may actually be of interest to Disneyland fans, as a significant portion of the show will highlight the California park instead of the standard near exclusive attention on Walt Disney World.
Segments filmed last week segments with co-host Ryan Seacrest, a performance by Jewel, and tapings of both the Very Merry Christmas Parade and the Parade of Dreams. The 22nd Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade will be hosted by Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa in Florida and Ryan Seacrest in California. It will air Christmas Day on ABC at 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, except on the West Coast where it will be tape delayed to 2:30 p.m to 4:30 p.m (PST).
Narnia at the El Cap
As detailed last week, following each showing of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at Disney's El Capitan Theater in Hollywood, watchers will be able to check out an exhibit of movie props and artwork. Lisa Perkis was able to visit and took some photos.
The outdoor marquee for the El Capitan has received a full makeover for the film. Photo by Lisa Perkis.
Inside the theater, the balconies have been decorated as well. Photo by Lisa Perkis.
The dress worn by an adult Queen Lucy is on display. Photo by Lisa Perkis.
The dress worn by Tilda Swinton as Jadis, the White Witch, is also on display. Photo by Lisa Perkis.
The wardrobe used in the movie isn't nearly as deep as the story implies. Photo by Lisa Perkis.
Some of the opposition to the White Witch, in their defeated state, as well as a map of Narnia (not in the film) can be found as well. Photo by Lisa Perkis.
Meanwhile at Disneyland...
To help promote The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Jadis the White Witch is now making meet-and-greet appearances at Disneyland. An area has been set up against the back wall of Sleeping Beauty Castle (and blocking the Malifecent photomosaic) with a stone statue and archway. When Jadis comes out, true to her nature it begins snowing (in the movie she has plunged Narnia into a 100-year-long winter), a creative reuse of the snow machines installed for the holiday season. After a few minutes to establish atmosphere, the line is then let in for photos and autographs.
At this point we're not sure how long this will be going on, hopefully we have solid information in next week's park update.
A small area behind the castle has been set aside for the White Witch's appearance. Photo by David Michael.
When she appears, the White Witch brings snow with her. Photo by David Michael.
Hand embroidered hats going away
Cast members at the various Disneyland locations for hat embroidery have been told that computerized hat writing machines will be coming to the remaining hat locations in January. Currently only the Briar Patch and Star Trader locations have the embroidery machineHatmosphere, Main Street Mad Hatter, Fantasyland Mad Hatter and the Gag Factory still use the old manual machines. Cast members are concerned about this because it takes at least three times as long to embroider a name using the embroidery machine as just writing it the traditional way. Disneyland is said to be switching to the new machines in an effort to prevent the repetitive stress injuries common among hat writers.
Disneyland Hotel signs
The days of the prominent "Disneyland Hotel" signs at the top of the two towers of that hotel are very short. The sign on the Bonita Tower has already been removed. The other sign, visible from the Mickey and Friends parking structure is still in place though it will be removed by the end of the month. They are being removed to meet a deadline for compliance with Anaheim regulations related to signs in the Disneyland Resort area. The same restrictions removed the tall signs from Harbor Boulevard and the more standardized signage throughout the resort area.
The large exterior signs on the Disneyland Hotel need to go by the end of the year. The sign in this photo is the last to go. Photo by David Michael.
And once again
We know it is repetitious but we want to keep people aware that the Remember...Dreams Come True fireworks can be expected to see frequent wind-related cancellations at this time of the year. The fireworks were cancelled on Saturday, December 3, following the Candlelight Procession. On that evening the wind was more apparent (staff member Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix reports seeing windblown snow all the way over by the Downtown Disney tram loading area) but this may not always be the case.
This and that...
...The giant Chicken Little balloon that towered over the entrance to Disney's California Adventure has been removed.
...The 8:00 p.m. early closing times at Disneyland on some days last week and this week are for various internal after hour Christmas parties. This is the last week of them and they will not continue into full on Christmas rush.
...It appears that much of the resurfacing work in the back area of DCA's Hollywood Pictures Backlot has been completed with just the niceties left to finish. So it appears that if management wants to do early soft openings of the new Monsters, Inc.,: Mike and Sully to the Rescue attraction, they won't be held up by the construction walls surrounding the area.
The new pavement in Hollywood Pictures Backlot is shaping up, though some work remains on the new fountain. Photo by David Michael.
...The store in the tunnel of Sleeping Beauty Castle is now the Three Fairies Magic Crystals store and sells those laser-inscribed crystal items, you know the clear cube into which you have your face carved into the middle of. Only pre-made ones are sold, not custom-made.
Laser engraved crystal is now has a store inside Disneyland. Photo by David Michael.
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- Snow White, An Enchanted Musical closed. On hiatus during off season; expected to return for final season in summer 2006.
- it's a small world closed January 4 18, 2006, to remove holiday overlay.
- Haunted Mansion will close January 18 March 9 for removal of the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay and more extensive refurbishments.
- Pirates of the Caribbean closed March 6 June 16, 2006 for major refurbishment and show updates.
- Blue Bayou Restaurant closed March 6 June 16, 2006 for the duration of the Pirates of the Caribbean closure.
- Disneyland Monorail goes into shuttle mode (one way trips only) January 2006. Complete closure for station redesign will not happen until later in 2006.
- Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage is currently under construction and will open sometime in 2007.
Disney's California Adventure
- Department of Untapped Hilarity (D.U.H.) on hiatus. Might return for the 2006 summer season.
- Disney's Electrical Parade on hiatus for the off season, except for a two-week run starting December 16.
- Monsters, Inc.: Mike and Sully to the Rescue is under construction and will open in early 2006; current target is around January 27.
- Rizzo's Props and Pawn Shop closed and is being rethemed into a mixed Monsters, Inc./Muppets store.
- Redwood Creek Challenge Trail closed January 3 February 28, 2006, for major refurbishment.
Note: Refurbishment schedules are estimates only. All information is subject to change without notice. To get the most recent updates, call Disneyland at (714) 7817290.
- Refreshment Corner and Carnation Cafe Olszewski Release. December 10. Official product release of new Robert Olszewski scultpures for Candy Palace/Refreshment Corner and Carnation Cafe/Penny Arcade pieces. 10:00a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (link).
DCA: Disney's California Adventure
Annual Pass blockout dates:
- SL Southern California Select Annual Pass
- SC Southern California Annual Pass
- DX Deluxe Annual Pass
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Visit our Annual Passholders Blockout Dates 2005 page to see more dates. You can see future calendar schedules at Disneyland.
Entertainment schedule: Go directly to the Disneyland Resort schedule for this week at Disneyland.com here.