Disneyland Park Updateby Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer
Update for March 20-27, 2006
Go directly to: News & Views | Current Refurbishment/Attraction Closures | Park Events | Discounts/Promotions | Park Schedule/Blockout Dates
Thanks for the Patience
Thanks to all our readers for their patience in waiting through the first planned vacation for the Disneyland Park Update in the 3+ years. Last week was the first since December 11, 2002, that we didn't publish at least a minor Park Update. We don't plan to take many vacations but with several of us in Japan for more than a week it seemed like a good time to do so.
Speaking of which, if you ever get the chance to visit Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea (as well as Japan) don't hesitate to do so. Both parks have amazing things to offer the Disney fan that set themselves apart from the other parks.
And with that, back to the weekly grind.
Registration is now open for the Spring 2006 MouseAdventure. The event will be held on Sunday, April 30. Depending on which category you choose, the game will either be entirely in Disney's California Adventure park or mostly in in DCA with time spent in other areas of the Disneyland Resort. You can find complete information and registration details here.
Opening up, closing down
The big event of our absence was the reopening of Haunted Mansion and the closing of Pirates of the Caribbean. The work on Haunted Mansion's long refurbishment wrapped up a couple days early and the overlapping closure of the two ended two days early on March 9. A lot of attention was paid to the reopening of Haunted Mansion due to recent rumors of show changes having been approved. We've heard the details (most of the details floating around can be found in this article by Al Lutz) but have conflicting reports from people inside the attraction that leaves us with a reasonable doubt.
Anyway, the ride opened with only the most minor of modifications and the current chatter through the grapevine is that the first changes should start to appear on April 7 and pretty much everything in place by Easter weekend (April 15-16). So, if correct we won't have to wait much longer.
Meanwhile, many people are wondering what exactly was done that required a two-month closure. While several areas look great, other areas seem to have received no attention with visible scrim tears and torn wallpaper in the stretching room. Overall, though, people are just happy to ride the original Haunted Mansion for the first time in about six months (since it was converted to Haunted Mansion Holiday last October).
At the other end of New Orleans Square, March 6 saw the 14 week closure of Pirates of the Caribbean and its collateral closures. There really isn't much new to report on this topic other than that it is closed and Blue Bayou is as well. If the Disneyland.com calendar is to be believed, there is a bit more information available about the impact of its opening, or rather the premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest at the same time.
Ever since the big push to the 50th began, Disneyland does seem to be putting extra effort into construction walls that will be around for a while. Photo by David Michael.
It appears that Fantasmic! will go dark from June 17 to June 28 to allow for setup and teardown of the bleachers and screens for the premiere (it is a bad month of Fantasmic in general as it will also be dark on June 8, 14, and 15 due to Grad Nites). Parade of Dreams is also not listed on the schedule for the day of the premiere (June 24), lending support to the return of the red carpet to that area. The "Remember...Dreams Come True" fireworks show will also be dark for the premiere. It isn't listed on the Web site but it seems reasonable to assume at least temporary interruptions of the watercraft on Rivers of American and closure or partial closure of Tom Sawyer Island.
The audience for this information seems limited but people have asked so we want to get it out that Club 33 is not impacted by the Pirates/Blue Bayou closure and will continue to operate normally.
When it seemed to become clear that the Goofy's Bouncehouse area would be reopening on March 6 it was hard to believe. Such an early date would mean that nothing of any real interest had been done with the area, that it really would just be a padded area for the youngest children to roll around on the ground. No doubt this will be much appreciated by parents of the targetted two- to five-year-olds but others will feel the space has been wasted (not that Goofy's Bounce House had much for older people to do).
Indeed, now that it is open it is clear that while there is some visually interesting touches to the area, it really is just a padded piece of ground with a couple pieces of playground equipment and benches for watching parents. The house remains and has been redone as a simple house (adults can now follow their children in) with exaggerated padded furniture and more soft flooring. Below are a selection of photos giving the highlights.
The new sign for the play area, giving the official new name: Goofy's Playhouse. Photo by David Michael.
The majority of the outdoor play area. Note the benches for parents and the boxes and watermelon tunnel for the children. Photo by David Michael.
A slide is the other piece of interactive equipment in the play area. Photo by David Michael.
Inside the house the walls and furniture are padded. So kids can still bounce around but probably shouldn't do it too enthusiastically. Photo by David Michael.
Children can "play" the piano in the sense that pressing keys will trigger recorded music. Photo by David Michael.
Being in the business of reporting on rumors about Disneyland is a tricky one. No matter how good your sources a fair percentage of the time plans will later change and somebody is going to think we're just making stuff up. That's why we don't generally try too hard to get out in front of everybody with the drawing board rumors unless they're particularly interesting or unusually solid. Still, it is nice to get one every once in a while. Back in November we first reported the rumor that Cafe Orleans would be converted to a table-service restaurant with a completely new menu, including a Monte Cristo sandwich.
Cafe Orleans did close last week and is expected to reopen in June, proabably around the same time as Pirates and Blue Bayou. The Cast Member Reference Guide for last week included this blurb abou the closure:
Cafe Orleans will close to Guests on Tuesday, March 14 and reopen in June as a table service location. The new menu will feature great New Orleans bistro favorites including crepes, soups, salads, and a new variation on the world-famous Monte Cristo sandwich. Additionally, the Blue Bayou Restaurant closed for refurbishment on March 6 and is scheduled to reopen in late June.
We're trying to press our luck by getting ahold of the exact menu but rumor has it that the monte cristo variation will be an all cheese or vegetarian version.
Signs on the fence around Cafe Orleans make it clear that this isn't a simple refurbishment. Photo by David Michael.
If you're a fan of the Disneyland Railroads or just little bits of Disney history in unexpected places, Steve DeGaetano recently pointed out an event you might want to check out. Back in the early of the Disneyland Railroad the two trains riding the rails pulled two sets of cars. One had freightcars and the second pulled passenger cars. By the mid-1960s the passengers cars were out of use and in 1975 one of them was refurbished into the Lilly Belle (which itself was recently restored and returned to the rails at Disneyland). The remaining five cars were eventually traded to collector beginning in a chain of trades that resulted in ownership of the engine that became No. 5 Ward Kimball. When that collector (Bill Norred) died in 1998, the family kept one car but sold the rest to Rob Rossi, another private collector near San Luis Obispo. Rossi is restoring the cars and occasionally opens his private railroad for events supporting the San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum.
He is doing so again during the Pacific Coast Railroad Roundup on May 6 and 7 in San Luis Obispo (the event flyer, in PDF form). Last year only two of the four cars were available to ride and that may be the case again this year. The cars, however, are still painted and labelled for the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad.
Equipment rental yo-yo
In what is turning into a regular crowd control effort, Disneyland has once again removed stroller, wheelchair, and ECV rentals from both Disneyland and DCA and temporarily into the esplanade. So for the time being, if you're going to be renting any of these, make sure you do it before actually entering a park or you'll need to exit and then get back in line after arranging your rental.
For the next six weeks, equipment rentals are again in the Esplanade. Photo by David Michael.
The current move to the Esplanade is expected to last until May 6, at which time rentals will move back into both parks. Rentals will then return to the Esplanade around Memorial Day for the summer season, returning back to the individual parks after Labor Day. It can probably be expected that the cycle will repeat with the holiday season two months later. The Esplanade solution has proven to be convenient and successful with guests and cast members, especially for the crowded area around the right tunnel into Disneyland. Here's hoping that eventually this change is made permanent.
Dapper treatment for the Billies?
There is a rumor going around that the closure of the Golden Horseshoe in mid-May may mark the end of the line for the Billy Hill and the Hillbillies show. According to the rumor, management is reconsidering all of the live shows at Disneyland. We have no solid evidence that this is true and whether the show is at any real risk of cancellation. The individual performers, however, are in the same situation as the Dapper Dans members in that they can be "cancelled" at any time as long as notification is given 30 days in advance as dicated by Disneyland's contract with the American Guild of Variety Artists. So if it does turn out to be true notification will be made by April 15. Until then, and unless more solid information comes out it probably isn't worth putting too much stock into this rumor.
It is interesting to note, however, that unlike with the Dapper Dans, Disney apparently does not own the rights to the name "Billy Hill and the Hillbillies," and there has recently been some sort of dispute between Disneyland and the rights holder that resulted in Billy Hill CDs being unavailable at Disneyland. At least, that is how we've heard it.
This week's lagoon photos
Work continues on reshaping surfaces in the lagoon. Photo by David Michael.
The figure in this chikcen-wire construction seems to indicate the eventual location for a fish. Photo by David Michael.
Equpment is all over the place in the lagoon now. Photo by David Michael.
Work is proceeding quickly on the new "show building" being built in the lagoon. Submarines will go through here before the waterfall. Photo by David Michael.
This and that...
...Select Grad Nite merchandise is available for pre-purchase through DelivEars. Currently available items are a pocket hoodie sweatshirt ($36), Mickey Mouse mortarboard ($14), fitted t-shirt ($20), and a Grad Nite photo frame ($8). More items may be made available (keep an eye on this page for current information). To order, call DelivEars at 1-800-362-4533.
...For the month of April, Disneyland will be offering select Olszewski scultpures and accessories for 25% off with a coupon to be made available later this month (watch this page). Qualifying pieces and regular prices are listed here (Sleeping Beauty Castle and Main Street Railroad Station are excluded).
...The new lockers in the picnic area near the loading area for the parking garage trams are now in place. Three sizes of large lockers are available and cost $8, $10, or $12 per day. At this time we don't yet have the actual dimensions for the new lockers; if anybody has this information (we're not quite willing to spend $30 to just measure the lockers) it would be most appreciated.
Bright and shiny large lockers are now available in the picnic area. Photo by David Michael.
The prices for the new lockers range up to $12/day. You can reenter the locker as often as you want as with all the rest but keep in mind that these are outside of the security checkpoint. Photo by David Michael.
...The information about the Disneyland AP contest for reserved seating at the 2007 Academy Award red carpet arrivals has disappeared from the Annual Pass web site, so it is possible that this contest was cancelled for some reason. But if not, just a reminder that you need to send in the entry form (link, a PDF form) by April 5, 2006. To enter, answer which movie won the award for Best Visual Effects (King Kong). Full rules here (in PDF).
...Like a bad foot fungus (at least for those who so despised it the first time around) the giant Chicken Little balloon is once again looking down over the entrance to Disney's California Adventure. This time around he is wearing sunglasses, and rather than the theatrical release of Chicken Little, is promoting the DVD release tomorrow (March 21). Hopefully he won't be there long since while not everybody hates it, nobody seems to think it is a great addition.
Chicken Little has returned to the Esplanade hawking DVDs. Photo by David Michael.
...On March 12, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad suddenly closed and then was closed for most or all of March 13. You may have heard that the reason for this was that the drag chain on the first lift had broken. While this sounds like a big deal, from a safety perspective it really isn't and isn't an uncommon event. When this happens, a train on the lift is in no danger as it will simply stop moving and passengers will be evacuated. The length of the closure is simply because it takes a while to get replacement parts and get them installed.
...Kaiser Permanent has been announced as the presenting (that is, the biggest) sponsor of September's inaugural Disneyland Half-Marathon.
...Several people have been asking for more coverage of a possible strike at Disneyland. Unfortunately, outside of anonymous rumors and speculation, we don't have anything remotely solid to share. We have rumors about a federal mediator getting involved (not surprising if true, but we don't know it to be true) and other rumors about management meetings about the strike being reshuffled for unknown reasons. For the most part, though, we want to stick to at least solid rumors and will report on events as they do or don't unfold.
...Finally, a MousePlanet staffer saw an interesting site in the park the other day. A management type was walking around with a stack of diagrams and some type of report that seemed to be titled "ODV 2006 Repositioning Program." If anybody has information on what changes may be coming in the world of Outdoor Vending, we certainly wouldn't mind hearing the details.
Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. Email us here.
- Goofy's Bounce House. Closed permanently as of January 8, 2005. The new playground, Goofy's Playhouse opened March 6.
- Pirates of the Caribbean closed March 6 June 26, 2006, for major refurbishment and show updates. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest will premiere at Disneyland on June 24. Ride may be available to public on June 25.
- Blue Bayou Restaurant closed March 6 June 26, 2006, for the duration of the Pirates of the Caribbean closure.
- Cafe Orleans Restaurant closed March 13 June 26, 2006, for redesign into full service restaurant.
- Fantasmic! dark June 17 - June 28, 2006, for activities surrounding premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.
- Disneyland Park opens and closes early June 24, 2006, for premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Will open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 5:30 p.m. DCA will be open two hours later than usual until 11:00 p.m.
- Parade of Dreams dark June 24, 2006, for red carpet arrivals to premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.
- Golden Horseshoe closed May 15 - June 15 for refurbishment and kitchen changes.
- River Belle Terrace rumored to close in September or October 2006 for complete redesign into larger two-story restaurant.
- Bengal BBQ rumored to close permanently in September or October 2006 to provide room for expansion of River Belle Terrace.
- Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage is currently under construction and will open sometime in 2007.
- Snow White, An Enchanted Musical closed. On hiatus during off season; expected to return for final season in summer 2006.
- Disneyland Monorail goes into shuttle mode (one way trips only) January 2006. Complete closure for station redesign will not happen until later in 2006.
Disney's California Adventure
- Department of Untapped Hilarity (D.U.H.) on hiatus. Might return for the 2006 summer season.
- Mullholland Madness closed April 24 - May 27.
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.
If you know of any events, official or unofficial, that should be listed here, let us know.
- The Shaggy Dog at El Capitan Theater. March 10 - April 13. Reportedly the sideshow for this run will be a show by stunt dogs that worked in the movie.
- Walt Disney Classics Collection Spring Premiere Event. March 24-26. Unknown what else will be available but the leading item will be a limited edition (4,000) Stitch sculpture at World of Disney (link).
- The Wild at El Capitan Theater. April 14 - May 11. Side show unknown.
- MouseAdventure. April 30, no official details released yet.
- Cars at El Capitan Theater. June 9 - July 4. Side show unknown.
- Prirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. June 24. Presumptive date of world premiere of this new movie, to be held in New Orleans Square. Park will close early (5 p.m.) with celebrity red carpet arrivals earlier in the day. Has not yet been officially announced.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest premiere: Details unknown but the world premiere is again expected to be held in Disneyland's New Orleans Square. The movie opens July 7 and the premiere will be up to two weeks prior to that.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest at El Capitan Theater. July 7 - September 4. Side show unknown.
- Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend. September 15-17. For more information and registration see the official Web site (link, warning: horribly annoying embedded music)
- Gay Days. October 6 - 8. Unofficial event (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 2006 page to see more dates. You can see future calendar schedules at Disneyland. As always, specifics are subject to change without notice (or occasionally, without us noticing) so when information conflicts between what is presented here and that presented by Disney, it is best to assume Disney's information is correct.
Entertainment schedule: Go directly to the Disneyland Resort schedule for this week at Disneyland.com here.