Time seems to be slowing down for those of us waiting for Disneyland to reopen. The hopeful July reopening was pushed back and then, even as other businesses began reopening again in limited capacity, Disneyland and other SoCal theme parks remained mostly closed. It’s been a painful wait . . . but it appears not for too much longer. Today, we’ll take a look at the good news which may be rolling your way “very, very soon,” and the new things Disneyland has done in the last week to get ready for you. We’ll also show you a takeover from the edge of the galaxy in Downtown Disney, look forward to some Halloween activities, and enjoy some absolutely beautiful photos in our “Zen Disneyland” section. It’s been a rough year so far, let’s enjoy the quiet before the storm.
Disneyland Reopening “Coming Soon”
It has been just over six months since Disneyland suddenly closed, setting off a chain reaction throughout the theme park industry. And while our beloved parks remain shuttered, Disney management is hard at work applying pressure at the state level to get the parks reopened. Those gates won’t remain closed forever, and according to our sources, a new deal with California’s Governor may make the operation of the parks a reality again before you can say . . . Jiminy Cricket.
How Soon is Soon?
Two weeks ago, Governor Gavin Newsom mentioned that good progress had been made on theme park reopening guidance. But after the successful reopening of most of Disney’s parks around the world, the company has become tired of waiting. Disneyland President Ken Potrock blasted the state in a public statement, saying:
“We are disappointed with the state’s lack of progress in providing the industry with guidance and clarity on reopening. We have proven we can operate responsibly, with strict health and safety protocols at our properties around the world and at Downtown Disney in Anaheim.”
The cities of Anaheim, Buena Park, and Garden Grove (all near Disneyland) have also called upon the state to reopen theme parks because the hotels, restaurants and other businesses that depend on tourism in their cities are on the verge of financial collapse. It’s already too late for many businesses and their former workers.
The Governor seemed to respond to all of the concerns from entertainment operators with a statement on Wednesday that theme park guidelines would be coming “very, very soon.” However, while positive, he wasn’t ready to make the announcement regarding theme parks just yet. We were told to watch the governor’s noon press briefing on Friday, but it never happened.
Since then, we have received word from reliable sources that an agreement has been reached between theme park operators and the state. The state should be set to release guidance early this week. We expect Disney to act swiftly and there are many indications that they are already ramping up their reopening procedures.
While the park has essentially been ready to reopen since July 17th, lots of new things suddenly popped up late last week. On Friday, Disney’s most senior executives made a trip to Anaheim. Disney CEO Bob Chapek, Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro, and Disneyland President Ken Potrock, among others, were all spotted touring Disneyland and DCA. Various hotels in the Resort district have also received an invitation to a conference call with Josh D’Amaro for tomorrow morning at 10am (Tuesday the 22nd).
Tram Walking Route
We now know that the parks will open without parking trams. A new walking path from the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure to the parks has been prepared for guests. The tram route has been retrofitted as a walking path with benches, trash cans, safety signs, directions, and security towers.
From above, we can see benches and trash cans along the route. They’ll be needed, as that’s a long walk for many folks.
A-frame signs remind guests to be safe and follow procedures.
We believe that Disney will implement one-way traffic on the route. Likely directing guests from the structure to the parks along the tram route, and then have them walk through Downtown Disney and the new bridge at Magic Way to get back to their cars. Though, it is possible that the route could be reversed in the evenings to prevent overcrowding of Downtown Disney.
One of the parking lot telescoping security towers (in the lowered position below) has been moved to the tram route to help keep an eye on guests.
Buena Vista Street Ready
Meanwhile, it appears that Buena Vista Street was staged with more hand sanitation stations, outdoor sinks, and directional signage in stores. We can get a glimpse of the progress from the front gate. We took these photos Friday afternoon as the corporate visitors were leaving:
At Five & Dime, an “Enter Here” sign and two hand sanitizers have been placed near the park entrance. Like World of Disney, it appears they will have one main entry so they can track capacity.
More signs are going up in a hurry. They’ve had months to do this, but all of the sudden . . .
Orange tape is on the posts which will soon get the signs.
We showed you the new plexiglass dividers at the turnstiles recently, but here’s a different angle for you so you can see how the boxes work.
Disneyland Construction Updates
Jumping across the Esplanade, there is a bit of progress to show you.
You can see the shimmer of plexiglass at the front gate. While we are too far here for you to get a clear look at the boxes around the turnstiles, they are the same as the ones over at DCA we showed you above.
Each set of turnstiles has an automatic hand sanitation station as you enter the park.
And just to the West side of the entry, we can see that the scaffolds have been removed from the top of the Emporium on Main Street. They’ll easily be able to get this wrapped up before the park reopens.
Just last week the tower still had scaffolds all the way to the top.
But there’s still a bit of a mess at ground level that needs to be completed and cleaned up.
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
Meanwhile, at the back of the park, there’s lots of work in and near Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. That open gate you see in the lower right corner leads directly into the construction zone for Mickey’s big new ride.
In just two weeks, this attraction has gone from dirt lot to 3 story construction.
Although these are evening shots, you can see how smoky the air still is in the area. Orange County has had moderate to unhealthful air all week due to fires in the LA region and temperatures over 90º.
Disneyland Hotels Now Booking October 16th
Disneyland’s three hotels have pushed their potential reopening date from the beginning of October to October 16th. All reservations booked before this date can be rescheduled or canceled with no change fee. Please keep in mind that when Disneyland was planning to reopen in July, the hotels were scheduled to open two weeks later. So the potential reopening date of the hotels does not necessarily reflect Disney’s target on reopening the parks. That could come sooner. But, then again, Disney has been pushing these dates out two or three weeks at a time since April. Though, this could very well be the last extension given the recent change in tone at the state level.
Downtown Disney Updates
It’s been an unbelievable success for Disney, visitors continue to flock to Downtown Disney throughout the week, with the weekends a madhouse of trying to find parking, waiting in long lines to get in, and then long virtual queues to see anything once you are inside. Here are some of the updates from around the shopping and dining district.
It is now a common occurrence for the Disneyland Twitter account to warn potential guests that the parking lot may pause parking to maintain social distancing.
Downtown Disney Update: Due to limited capacity, we are occasionally pausing parking and entry into #DowntownDisney. Guests with dining reservations will be accommodated during this time. General entry will resume as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience!
— Disneyland AP (@DisneylandAP) September 20, 2020
And what happens when parking is paused? Hundreds of guests start circling the resort in a sort of mobile musical chairs hoping by the time they loop around again, a few cars will be let in.
In an update to the Downtown Disney “Know Before You Go” page, they’ve released new guidance regarding the parking situation. Boiled down, the advice is “you’re straight out of luck if we’re full!” Disney recommends to keep driving around the resort area until parking has resumed. The problem with that advice is two-fold. First, the signage posted around the resort area is limited at best, which doesn’t accurately reflect when parking is available again. Secondly, when parking is paused, the queue of cars waiting to get in are waved through the intersection and told to return later, effectively losing your place in line while others behind you could enter before you’re able to circle back and reenter the queue— potentially facing the same situation as before. That said, if you’ve got a dining reservation, you’ll be allowed entry once you speak to the parking attendant, even if parking has been paused.
To mitigate the troublesome parking situation, some of the local hotels in the resort district have started offering public parking for a fee. That’s how we visited Downtown Disney and it was so much easier and faster than dealing with getting into the Simba parking lot.
An Exclusive Shopping Event without Exclusive Merchandise
Last week, Disneyland once again offered an extremely limited-reservation shopping experience that was subtly announced through the Disneyland AP social pages. As expected, the event’s reservations sold out within moments. We were luckily able to score a reservation to the opening day for what appeared to be a Haunted Mansion-themed shopping event (based on the two items posted from the social media announcement). We also thought the items would be exclusive to the event. Oh man, were we wrong…
— Disneyland AP (@DisneylandAP) September 8, 2020
The event featured five items, and only one item (a pin featuring Fidget from The Great Mouse Detective, allegedly created for Bats Day) was exclusive to the event. Here’s what was available from the merchandise event from the MiceChat Instagram story.
To say we were disappointed was an understatement. Nothing quite like standing in a long line in 90º heat for a chance to buy items that you later find in the stores . . . or on sale at Hot Topic (in the case of the Funko Pop). We would much rather that they just put all the items online for sale and let folks just come pick them up later. Unnecessarily creating lines and taking payments in person is the exact opposite of the safety procedures that Disney keeps talking about in all of their statements about how they are trying to keep you safe.
For a more detailed look into the event and our thoughts about it all, take a look at the article below.
Galaxy’s Edge Takes Over WonderGround Gallery
One of the most controversial moments last week involved the WonderGround Gallery. Overnight, the gallery transformed from a spot that featured Disney-inspired artwork created by independent artists, to a location that sells merchandise formerly found in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The change happened quietly— with no advance notice— but appears to be temporary (especially since the Star Wars overlay features patchwork tarps draped over existing signage and video monitors). Here’s a quick overview of the “new” store.
The WonderGround Gallery sign has simply been covered with disheveled tarps like you’d see in Galaxy’s Edge. There’s a small sign with the store’s title just outside the doors.
When we visited the Star Wars Trading Post, it had implemented a virtual waitlist, like World of Disney and Marceline’s. It took about 20 minutes for us to get a text saying we could return. World of Disney’s virtual queue had a 60-minute wait at the same time.
For the most part, the store is pretty well spaced out. There are designated sections for the various merchandise, not unlike what you’d expect to see at Galaxy’s Edge.
Toys, plush, artwork, clothing, and lightsabers.
Here’s a video overview of the store. Please excuse the vertical format as this was filmed for Instagram.
Around the store, you’ll find much of the merchandise that filled the various shops and stalls at Galaxy’s Edge. You can purchase all of the exotic creatures, toys, and one particularly cute plush: The Child.
The walls of the space are used to hang some of the collectibles from the land. For the moment, it’s all artwork and props that could be purchased in the land before the shutdown; there’s no independent artists’ Star Wars-inspired works here.
And of course, you can’t have a Star Wars-themed store without a selection of lightsabers. There are several displays with hilts available for purchase. At this time, only the pre-built Legacy Lightsabers from iconic Star Wars characters are available, though the two different blade lengths can be purchased.
And speaking of lightsabers, the popular Kyber crystals used to change the color of custom-built sabers from Savi’s Workshop are also available. The red ones are pre-packaged in a box
We’re not exactly crazy about the Star Wars overlay, but we understand why it happened. Every time that we’ve visited Downtown Disney since it reopened in July, we were always able to just walk right into WonderGround without any wait. Now, people are jumping at the chance to purchase Star Wars items. For more about the Star Wars Trading Outpost, take a look at the article below.
While the majority of the items sold at the Trading Post were previously available in Star Wars land, there’s a new Legacy Lightsaber on the way to shopDisney, Downtown Disney and Disney Springs at Walt Disney World. The catch is you’re only able to choose one; fans are asked to vote for the one they’d like to see most. At the moment, it looks like Cal Kestis (the playable character from Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order) is in the lead, but the poll remains open through October 1.
Delicious Tidings: The Return of Sprinkles and Seasonal Ice Cream
The same day we visited the merchandise event, Sprinkles Cupcakes reopened. It was the last major storefront to reopen in Downtown Disney, it’s been a long 2-month wait. In order to promote a safer experience, the ordering process has changed.
Instead of the usual process of queuing up inside, the queue is entirely outdoors and the order is placed with an employee behind a plexiglass screen. Alternately, guests are encouraged to order through the Sprinkles mobile app when possible for quicker service so you can pre-pay and have your cupcakes waiting for you to pick up.
Across the way at Salt & Straw, their new seasonal flavors arrived on the same day. This month, it’s all about apples. You can see the descriptions for the flavors below. Just reading the flavors is making me crave ice cream…
Mini Merchandise Update
There weren’t many new items that we saw in the Disney stores this week. Although, we did see there’s a new Coco-inspired frock at The Dress Shop celebrating Dia de los Muertos.
There’s also a new Hades Spirit Jersey that’s available now. It was teased last month, and has now found its way to Downtown Disney. It’s a fun homage to the character and definitely a throwback to the 90s with the flame motif.
While The Dress Shop isn’t nearly as decked out for Halloween compared to the World of Disney, it’s nice they’ve included a few decorative accents around the store.
Disneyland Zen – MiceChat Reader Photos
We asked our readers to share the locations, attractions, restaurants, and lounges they find the quietest or most relaxing. We think you’ll agree that the gorgeous responses we got create a longing to return to the Happiest Place on Earth.
There are a variety of locations on Main Street U.S.A. that allow guests to relax and take their time. The Train Station, HUB
, Shops . . . it’s a slice of a simpler time. . .
From a stroll on Main Street to a journey just around the river bend. . .
There are spots from our past as well. The Big Thunder Ranch once again sparks the nostalgia of our readers.
Fantasia Gardens near It’s A Small World is a colorful spot to people-watch.
Disney California Adventure has its charms as well.
An evening stroll through Cars Land is also a relaxing outing.
And just outside the park, the gardens of the Grand Californian provide a quiet escape.
Most Relaxing Lounges and Restaurants
Have you ever found a window seat at your favorite restaurant to relax and watch the world glide by?
Trader Sams and Tangaroa Terrace seem to have captured the attention of our readers.
Most Relaxing Attractions
Attractions, relaxing? Yes! There are quite a few that are a little bit of zen all their own.
There is one spot that provides limited seating, air-conditioning, and entertainment as well. That makes the Animation Academy a perfect spot to relax and find your Disney bliss.
Well folks, what’s your favorite spot in the Disneyland Resort to relax and find a quiet escape. To see more peaceful photos of Disneyland zen, be sure to check out the MiceChat Facebook group. And while you’re there, keep an eye out for next week’s photo theme.
This & That
What’s this?! Now that we’ve reached the end of summer, fall is busting out all over! Here’s some theme park news that will get you in the mood to carve pumpkins and find yourself a costume.
Knott’s Taste of Fall-O-Ween Begins Friday
While Knott’s Scary Farm couldn’t happen this year, the park’s new fall festival kicks off this weekend. If you haven’t been following the park’s previous two festivals, Taste of Calico and Taste of Knott’s, then now’s the time to check it out. Still need convincing? I’ve got four words for you: The Great Pumpkin Bun, a deep fried cinnamon roll with pumpkin icing and sprinkles. How amazing does that sound?!
For more information about the upcoming Taste of Fall-O-Ween, click on the article below.
10 Halloween Tips and Tricks
We compiled a list of our top ten tips for a fun Halloween, all with a touch of Disney or theme park magic. Take a look at the article below and let us know what’s on your list!
It’s Time to Plan
Theme parks are reopening, and whether you are ready to travel yet or not, there’s no better time to lock in low rates on future travel. But waiting on hold and not knowing what questions to ask isn’t the magical part of a vacation. That’s why MiceChat has partnered with Get Away Today to handle all the difficult stuff for you . . . all for no extra cost. That’s right, they do all the work and it doesn’t cost you extra.
Our travel partners at Get Away Today are here to help you with your theme park booking and rescheduling plans. We know you’re as uncertain about the future as we are. That’s why Get Away Today is offering the most flexible Disney travel options available. Ask about:
Price Protection – If a better special comes out after you have booked, you’ll get the better deal.
Peace of Mind – Make hotel changes, reschedule dates, drop nights, change ticket vouchers and more, as many times as you’d like for a small, one-time fee.
Layaway Plan – Lock in your 2020 or 2021 Walt Disney World Resort vacation for just $175 down. By booking early, you secure your availability and have the flexibility to pay as you go. Make as many interest-free payments as you’d like, whenever you’d like, with final payment due just seven days prior to travel.
Give your family something to look forward to:
- Visit Get Away Today HERE
- And if you need to talk to someone, we can do that too. As Disney resumes hotel bookings and ticket sales, we expect periodic high call volume. So, please fill out our request form and a vacation advisor will call you back: Vacation Information Request Form HERE
Let’s Hear from You
This really does appear to be the final stretch folks. Once Disneyland gets the go-ahead, how many weeks do you expect them to take before they open? What do you think about walking from the Mickey & Friends parking structure to the park? Are you a fan of the Star Wars takeover of the Wonderground Gallery? And as we clear our minds and breathe for a few moments before theme park reopenings are announced, what calming spots at the Disneyland Resort are at the top of your list?
More Theme Park News
If you are still looking for things to scratch your theme park itch, please check out these great MiceChat articles you may have missed this week: