Disneyland is typically packed to the gills from Thanksgiving through the end of the year. And while no one expected that this year, due to the theme parks being closed, there was some expectation that Downtown Disney and the recent shopping expansion onto Buena Vista Street might see considerable waits for Black Friday and beyond. But those crowds mostly failed to materialize. But even more of a holiday turkey is news of expanding layoffs and furloughs, the cancelation of Grad Nights for 2021, and a sad loss for Imagineering.
But there’s a lot to be thankful for this week as well. Let’s start with some beautiful shots of a nearly empty Downtown Disney this holiday weekend.
Downtown Disney Updates
We stopped by Downtown Disney on Thanksgiving and Black Friday to see if it was as busy as in years past and found it blissfully empty. Disney was well overstaffed for the few guests wandering around. There was no wait for Buena Vista Street or World of Disney on Thanksgiving, and just small waits at times during the day on Black Friday. Cast expected to manage long lines of guests and closely monitor store occupancy, but the crowds just didn’t show.
We arrived about an hour before sunset and enjoyed some stunning views, and the lights twinkling on throughout the area.
When we passed World of Disney, they had about 10 people waiting in line. Less than a 5 minute wait. Stores in Orange County have reduced capacity to less than 25%. So lines were expected to be longer if for no other reason than extremely limited capacity during the normally busy holiday shopping season.
It’s usually hard to see the display windows in the store due to the long line of customers waiting to get in.
We needed a little holiday pick-me-up this Thanksgiving, the trees, music, and jolly Cast were just what the doctor ordered.
Since there was no one in line . . . we popped into Marceline’s Confectionary for a holiday treat.
Pumpkin Spice Churro Toffee at Marceline’s
I’m a sucker for the dipped marshmallows. But the overall selection at Marceline’s this year is VERY limited. The holiday offerings are limited to an apple, a marshmallow, a special toffee, a gingerbread cookie, a crispy rice pecan pie, and a cupcake. There may be a few more items. But it’s very limited. Considering this store has been consistently maintaining the longest lines in Downtown Disney, it’s a bit disappointing.
One thing that we really enjoyed was the limited edition Pumpkin Spice Churro Toffee. We don’t know how long it’s been offered because it looks almost identical to the regular Churro Toffee and there was no signage. But I happened to ask if there was anything new and the cashier mentioned this delicious treat!
There were a few other updates in Downtown Disney to note this week.
Splitsville Reopens for Patio Dining
Splitsville reopened for dining in the evenings. They seem to be closed at Lunch and then open around 4pm for patio service. Unfortunately, that strategy may not be working for them as there were only a few tables occupied at dinner time.
Of course, part of Splitsville’s problem is their sky-high prices for bowling alley sushi, pizzas, and burgers.
If you were looking forward to breakfast with Santa at Catal, they canceled their Thanksgiving return to operation due to recent dining restrictions regarding indoor seating. They continue to operate their outdoor Uva Bar. We asked the staff why they don’t just open the outdoor balcony at Catal for seating, as Ballast Point has done, and was told it just won’t be cost-effective.
Need a Spider-Bot?
In related Downtown Disney news, the special shopping event which starts today and runs through the 3rd gives Marvel fans a first chance to buy an Avenger’s Campus Spider-bot interactive robot. The product will then make its way into stores. As with other recent events, this one failed to catch fire and there are still spots available.
Reservations for the Spider-Bot AP pre-sale are still available! Get your Spider-Bot and find special Avengers Campus merchandise before the Land opens. Must show Annual Passport and reservation for entry. https://t.co/9uyjUoATMK https://t.co/XOBweGgV5e
— Disneyland AP (@DisneylandAP) November 28, 2020
Is there a Spider-bot headed under your Christmas tree?
A Nighttime Stroll Through Buena Vista Street
During our Thanksgiving visit, we noticed not a single person in line for Buena Vista Street. Since the sun was just about to set, and we had yet to see the street at night since the reopening, we headed in . . .
Around 4pm, there were more Cast than guests on Buena Vista Street.
The Market remains closed, and they’ve closed this side entry into Kingswell Camera. What would you like to see them offer in this space?
We’ve always enjoyed the holiday windows at Big Top Toys:
The windows are reproductions of scenes from the 1932 Silly Symphony short-film titled “Santa’s Workshop.” Here it is for you to enjoy:
We thought we’d check with Carthay to see if they were taking walk-ups since the rest of Buena Vista Street was so dead . . . but they were the one busy thing.
There was lots of seating for the Outdoor Vending Carts.
And there’s a new sipper cup available in several locations (Outdoor vending, and Smokejumpers among them). The cup looks like a Christmas ornament and has a pop-up straw and lights up as well.
The reopening of Buena Vista Street has been a success for Disney. And while folks shied away from potential crowds this past weekend, the experience has been quite popular. We’d really like to see Disney make some obvious adjustments to add a bit of capacity to the Buena Vista Street opportunity.
First, if Award Weiners is going to be open on Hollywood Blvd, wouldn’t it be easy for Disney to open the shops adjacent to this establishment . . . Gone Hollywood, which is already decorated:
And Off the Page, the art-focused store. And with Wonderground now Star Wars only, we sure would love the opportunity to buy some higher-end collectibles here before Christmas . . .
Across from the also open Smokejumpers burger joint in Grizzly Peak Airfield, is this cute little store called Humphry’s. We don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be open as well.
AND . . . since Carthay is almost completely filled all the time, how about opening the Trattoria at Golden Vine Winery as well. You can walk this far already, how about giving guests another large patio to dine outdoors.
On our way out of Buena Vista Street, we popped into Elias & Company and Five and Dime.
There’s some new-ish gold and silver themed merchandise.
Shiny gold and silver accents on this new spirit jersey:
These knit holiday Minnie ear headbands are really festive.
And I almost bought myself this new hooded denim spirit jersey . . . then I saw the price and thought twice about it ($80 I believe).
Not sure if these holiday Mickey balloon ears are new or not, but I thought they were clever. After the sun set, we saw several people walking around with these with the lights on!
Then to Five and Dime . . .
It was nice to just examine the packed window displays, which have a mix of antique and current items.
Again, it was a treat to shop and explore without the stress of many other shoppers. We had intended to just take a casual stroll and grab a few outdoor shots for you, but since there weren’t many other guests, we felt quite comfortable exploring a bit more.
As we exited, we noted how strange it was that Stage 17 is operated separately from this experience and almost hidden on the far East side of the Esplanade. We do think that having Stage 17 accessed from Hollywood Blvd inside DCA would work well, particularly if that section of the park was used as the exit for Buena Vista Street, helping create a more natural traffic flow and deliver a guaranteed river of guests to Stage 17.
Disney Expands Layoffs to 32,000
Back in September, Disney made the shocking announcement of 28,000 layoffs in its Parks, Experiences and Products unit. Unfortunately, Disney’s recent SEC filings for the 4th Quarter of the company’s fiscal year (ended October 3rd, 2020), shows planned layoffs of 32,000 for the company in the first half of fiscal 2021. We believe that the 28,000 previously announced is part of the larger 32,000 number. The Parks unit employs nearly 3/4 of the company’s workers.
On top of that, an additional number of Parks-related jobs will be furloughed due to park closures and limited attendance of open parks. As of October 3rd, 37,000 individuals were on furlough.
However, Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock recently announced additional furloughs for the Resort due to the continued closure of the parks and hotels.
Joe Rohde Retires
The retirement of Joe Rohde continues to sink in. Last week we informed you of his plan to leave the Disney Company after the end of this year. Joe’s value to the company, and theme parks in general, is more than the sum of the projects he has worked on. Joe is deeply entrenched in the soul of what the Disney Parks are and what they should be.
We’ve been wondering what the impact of Joe’s loss will truly be on the future of the Disney parks. We ran across this social media post from former Disney Imagineer and industry heavyweight, Tom Morris, that we feel sums things up perfectly:
Grad Nite 2021 Canceled
Sad news for tens of thousands of High School seniors as Disneyland confirms they are canceling the 2021 Grad Night. That will make two years in a row without the event.
The Disneyland Resort Grad Nights began in the 60s and has been a tradition that many Southern California high school Seniors looked forward to. In 2013, the Grad Night was moved from Disneyland Park to Disney California Adventure.
Disney World discontinued Grad Nights in 2011. Could the same happen at Disneyland? We’d love to hear your stories about your Disneyland Grad Night experience. Please share with us below so we can document the event and how it has changed over the years.
What We’re Thankful For . . . YOU!
In this time of reflection, we want you to know that we are so very thankful for you, your support, and your kind words and encouragement. This pandemic hasn’t been easy for anyone, and we’ve struggled here to keep the lights on. It was you that kept us going, emotionally and financially. We simply can’t thank you enough and we hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.
You’ll notice that this week we’re doing something a little different for our reader section this week. Instead of asking our MiceChat Facebook group to share a photo on a Disney topic or a theme, we asked them to share a Disney thing that they’re grateful for. We had a lot of touching responses, and we’ve compiled a handful of them for you to read here:
- “I’m thankful that Walt had the dream, vision and foresight to create DISNEYLAND! From that, amazing things have been created, countless memories made by millions!” – Arlene
- “I am thankful for the joy and friendships I experience every time I visit the parks. Thank you, Walt, for giving us this happy place.” – Cathy
- “While I’m thankful for everything Disney and my Disney family, this year I’m especially thankful for MiceChat and all the MiceChatters that have kept the magical Disney ember burning for me and so many others!” – Beverly
- “Memories of visiting Disneyland with my parents and grandparents, and that my husband became a megafan the first time my sister and I took him and we’re now raising the 4th generation of Disneyland lovers! Also grateful to Walt for being relentlessly dedicated to making his visions reality. Disneyland was a crazy dream and no one else could’ve pulled it off, and it’s now brought so much joy and magic to millions.” – Amber
- “Forever thankful for the cast members seen and unseen who made/make/will make visiting Disneyland and other Disney properties the magical experiences we remember/know/look forward too, now and always. Thank you” – Rebecca
- “The memories that I’ve made with friends and family. Irreplaceable.” – Kathy
- “The magic. The look on my kids’ faces at the amazing things in the park. The fact that my husband and I remember how to be kids again.” – Ashlynn
- “I am thankful for all the memories I have seen since DLR opened. I was there, took my son from 5 on up and have taken my grandchildren. I even took a great-granddaughter. Thank you Walt for all you have done to make this world a “happy place”.” – Janice
- “The wonderful cast members!!! Can’t wait to make Magic with them again someday” – Kathryn
- “Thankful for all the Disney Holidays I’ve had and looking forward to happier holidays ahead.” – Debby
Thank you to everyone who shared their thankfulness with us this week. To see more of the statements of gratitude, and to see all the photos that have been shared with us this year, take a moment and join the MiceChat Facebook group! And PLEASE share your own sentiments in the comments section below. What Disney thing are you thankful for?
This & That
And now for a couple of the other stories from this week…
LA Enters Second Lockdown
By the time you’re reading this today (November 30th), Los Angeles County will have entered the strictest government-mandated health order in the state. The county has issued a second “Safer-At-Home” order that lasts through at least December 20.
For the most part, not much is changing from the already adjusted day-to-day life, but now LA residents are advised to stay home as much as possible, all public and private gatherings of mixed households are prohibited (with some exclusions), and additional occupancy limits have been set to certain types of businesses and activities. All in-person dining was suspended this past Wednesday night and remains in effect for at least the next three weeks. That said, Orange County (where Disneyland is located) remains unaffected… for now.
Disneyland Paris NOT Reopening As Planned
This week, Disneyland Paris updated its calendar to reflect that it will remain closed for the short, two-week period between Christmas and the New Year. The park had planned to reopen for the holiday season, but due to the latest government restrictions, the park has decided to remain closed until February 12, 2021. You can read the message from Disneyland Paris below.
For more information about the park’s closure, take a look at the article below.
Hong Kong Disneyland CLOSING AGAIN!
The on-again, off-again, then on-again operation of Hong Kong Disneyland is now off-again. Disney has confirmed a December 2nd closing due to the world health crisis.
Partners Statue “Restoration”
We reported recently that the statues of Walt and Mickey in both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure were getting a facelift. This week, photos of the completed restoration of the “Partners” statue in Disneyland surfaced on Disney’s social media. The statue was given a deep cleaning and a protective coating that will last for a while. The new look is very similar to the version out in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. This restoration was done as a surprise birthday gift to celebrate Mickey’s 92nd birthday.
You’ll note that Mickey now has a two-toned look:
For comparison, here’s a photo from the day the statue was unveiled for Mickey’s 65th birthday in 1993.
And for a memory-jog, here’s what “Partners” looked like on our last Disneyland Update before the parks shut down in March this year:
Disney has commented that the statue has been “been restored to its original grandeur!” with its new look. Let us know if you like the two-toned look of the statue in the comments section below.
The Anaheim Hotel Parking Pass
We’ve heard from our friends at The Anaheim Hotel that the MiceChat reader parking pass has been getting a lot of usage! Just a reminder for those who aren’t already using the voucher, bring a print-out of the image below to the front desk attendant at the hotel to get an exclusive MiceChat discount on parking. For MiceChat readers, the parking costs $10, the same amount as what Disney is charging. Plus, you can enter through the Harbor entrance to Downtown Disney which has been significantly faster to get into than the traditional entrance on the Disneyland Hotel side of the resort.
In honor of Chadwick Boseman’s memory and to celebrate what would have been the late actor’s 44th birthday, Disney has updated the opening credits of Black Panther. It’s a touching tribute to Chadwick, and it’s a fitting update to the film. You can watch the updated opening sequence to the film in the post below.
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Let’s Hear From You
Now that Thanksgiving has passed, even the Scrooge-iest of people will agree we’re officially in the holiday season now. What do you think of Downtown Disney’s holiday offerings? Do you have any idea how Splitsville is planning on surviving with such a limited schedule? Does our suggestion for Buena Vista Street sound like a good idea? Are you going to miss Joe Rohde from Imagineering? And we’re extremely curious about your opinion on the restoration of Disneyland’s Partners. Share your thoughts in the comments!
More Theme Park News
You’ve made it to the end of the Disneyland Update, and your theme park hunger hasn’t been quenched yet? Well, we’ve got you covered. Keep on reading the articles below: