The flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, and the weather is beginning to remind us what living in SoCal is all about. This past weekend was over 80 degrees in Anaheim! With the change of seasons in full swing, the park is furiously preparing for the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s edge. This week we have updates on the Castle refurbishment, new attractions, and much more. Let’s get started!
What’s New, Coming Soon, and Returning
Jessie’s Critter Carousel
It’s up and running! Around in circles. Because that’s what carousels do. The walls have come down and the critters have been installed. And by golly, they are adorable. It is good to see another attraction on Pixar Pier. Now, all that’s left is the Emotional Whirlwind, and the Pier will be complete. But given how long it took to reskin the carousel, who knows how long it’s going to take to finish the Whirlwind.
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Howdy! We came to welcome Jessie’s Critter Carousel on opening day to take a spin on the reimagined ride. What do you think of this new theming?? ▪️ ▫️ ▪️ ▫️ #disneyland #dlr #pixarpier #jessiescrittercarousel #toystory #new #openingday #instadisney #disneygram #ride #disneyparks
Disney’s reimagined Dumbo premiered at theaters on Friday to mixed reviews. The Opera House currently has an exhibit that showcases original concept art and costumes from the new Tim Burton film. Dumbo pulls from a lot of different aspects of Disney magic and Disneyland’s influence in entertainment. There’s also a life-sized statue of Dumbo in the foyer. He’s a little on the creepy side– his eyes seemingly follow you around–but he does have a certain charm to that only a mother could love.
The visual style is a classic Tim Burton dark visual fantasy. The film feels more Halloween than Spring and perhaps missed the seasonal mood of the audience.
The exhibit is worth a visit and fans will enjoy the nods to classic Disneyland in Burton’s work. Does the scene below look like the Carousel of Progress to you? It does to me.
While the critical opinion for the movie was less than stellar, there are certainly a lot of interesting things in the exhibit that are worth checking out.
Everything Old is New Again – Mickey’s PhilharMagic on the Way!
Last week it was announced that an iconic, and well worn, 3D movie that has graced Disney Parks worldwide is coming to DCA in April. Mickey’s PhilharMagic will be located in the old Muppets theater in Hollywood Land at Disney California Adventure. This version is going to be a bit different than its counterpart in Disney World, particularly because DCA’s theater has one screen while WDW has a wraparound screen. We’re just happy to see an actual attraction in the space instead of movie previews. You can read more about the announcement here.
Grizzly River Run Returns
Grizzly River Run has returned from refurbishment just in time for the rising heat. As we were walking through the parks, the cement was burning the soles of my shoes, time to take a raft ride. The whole area around the attraction feels alive again with the water flowing and the guests’ excited screams. It’s also a beautiful time of year on the mountain with trees and flowers in bloom.
Here’s a quick video from the attraction on reopening day:
The one big issue with the attraction is the geysers seem to be switched off. They add a lot of excitement to the end of the attraction and it creates a lull for them to be completely missing.
After a lengthy refurbishment, the Astro Orbiter is slated to return April 4th. It has been under refurbishment since January 7th. The good news is that it’s coming back together nicely and looking very shiny.
The attraction is set to reopen this Friday.
As we approach the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the Project Stardust projects are in various states of completion to ease guest flow and general enjoyment. New rules and regulations are set to take effect May 1st, most notably a no smoking policy and new stroller limitations.
The Stardust projects play an important role in keeping the resort flowing.
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The Castle project continues to grow. The front now has an extended wall so the curb surrounding the outer ring of the Hub can be lowered. That project is starting in front of the castle and will grow toward Frontierland.
While the area is off limits, the forecourt of the castle is being repaved as well.
The compass in front of the castle is missing for now. No word on the time capsule which lies at its heart.
The passageways through the castle on either side have been opened up, with a great look at the paint scheme.
Work is being done in the central walkthrough as well. It looks like the columns were recently painted and are under wraps again.
Peter Pan’s Flight Stardusting
Part of the queue for the attraction is covered as the gardens in front are addressed. This particular area is a major concern as the Peter Pan queue often overflows, and when Snow White also gets an overflow line, and strollers are parked in front of the attractions . . . there is just a narrow band of walkway left for guests to walk through the area.
The formerly large garden near the exit of Autopia is being reshaped. The grouping of palm trees has been preserved, but more space has been reclaimed for what we assume is stroller parking.
Frontierland is heavily impacted by Stardust at the moment. Walls are up and block off part of the access to the land – particularly the pathway between Adventureland and Frontierland.
The tree planter which was reshaped last year is being tweaked again.
The gardens along the wooden walkways in front of the Pioneer Mercantile are also being reworked.
Mark Twain Dock Returns
On the other end of Frontierland, the Mark Twain loading dock has returned with a couple of Stardust updates. Primarily, the area is now less of a queue and more of a seating area. The turnstile has been moved to just before loading the boat itself. The area now provides a spot for guests to eat items from the nearby outdoor vending carts.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the turnstiles are missing from the front of the building and three arches now allow quick and easy entry.
One end of the building has been completely opened up to allow guests of the refreshment cart to easily find a spot to sit.
The other side of the structure remains as it was before.
You now pass through the turnstile right as you board the ship. It makes it much easier to come and go from the waiting area.
New Orleans Square Construction
The huge garden in front of the Haunted Mansion is completely surrounded by walls.
You see the construction as your walk from Frontierland toward New Orleans Square.
The side closest to the river has a beige scrim.
The Mansion side has a green wall.
The wall certainly impacts guest flow, but it should feel flowing when complete.
Dole Whip Mobile Order Only Test
The Dole Whip stand in front of the Tiki Room is doing a trial run as a mobile order-ONLY location. The nearby Tropical Hideaway remains walk-up accessible for Dole Whips. In theory, it sounds like a promising way of keeping guests from lining up in the Adventureland walkway. The actuality is a little more confusing. There is no sign explaining the mobile-only test, only a cast member helplessly overrun by confused guests. And the increase of guests who head to the location to pick up their mobile order now queue up in an extra long line on the Tiki Room’s patio, making it appear that the Tiki Room is full, and reducing the number of guests who visit the attraction.
A cleaner solution would be to remove Mobile order from this location, wall up the exterior window of the location, and put a sign on it directing guests to the more spacious Tropical Hideaway. The Tiki Room courtyard window could remain open for guests of the attraction.
At this time, the only place you can get a Dole Whip from a standby line is around the corner at Tropical Hideaway. The line certainly moves a lot faster here and there are more options to choose from. It seems like a no-brainer that guests should be pointed here for a better experience.
Although the line at Tropical Hideaway gets long, it moves very efficiently compared to the cramped Tiki Room location.
Plus, the seating at the Tropical Hideaway gives guests a space to consume their treats without negatively impacting an attraction.
This gift shop has just finished a long refurbishment (Jan 17 – March 31), in the midst of the rest of the Castle update. The entry to the shop feels a little claustrophobic with constructions walls all around, but the interior retains a magical charm.
If you need a princess dress, this is your spot.
Red Car Trolley
A long refurbishment starts today. While the iconic little trolley will be backstage for an unknown period of time, the Newsboy show can go on without it. Previously, they have set up their boxes in the staged area without the trolley.
The cafe is about to undergo a quick touchup (May 6th lasting through the 16th).
There have been some recent announcements regarding Downtown Disney’s shop offerings.
The Instagram/millennial-focused photo-op exhibit in Downtown Disney continues construction. The old ESPN Zone sign has come down, as well as some of the lighting fixtures. However, those garish sports reliefs remain up for now. Hopefully, those will be coming down or covered up before the pop-up opens.
The first sign for the new Pop-Up experience has been installed.
Construction walls have gone up around the future home of Sugarboo. It was previously the location of Disney Vacation Club, and encloses a lot of space. Sugarboo calls themselves “Dealers in whimsy.” They offer art prints, home goods and paper products.
Rinse Soap Store Announced
The soap and beauty product supplier, Rinse Soap, that is currently featured at DCA’s Food and Wine Festival, will have a store in Downtown Disney. It’s likely going in next to Sugarboo.
This and That
Spring is busting out all over. Pink, wisteria, flowers of all sorts, it’s been a beautiful week with warmer (even hot) weather.
There’s a Madame Leota figure at the Disneyana gallery that we are putting on our must-have list.
The new Mickey Mouse tumbler is lots of fun.
The Dumbo sipper and matching Casey Jr. popcorn buckets are super cute.
Easter treats and merchandise are starting to appear in the resort.
And in spite of all the walls and construction that we focus on in the update above, the parks really are gorgeous right now.
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Well, that about does it for this week. What do you think about PhilharMagic coming to DCA? Do you think the Mark Twain dock house makes a good guest refreshment area? And what about Jessie’s Critter Carousel? Let’s hear from you below.
My thanks to Nathan Villamor for help with today’s update