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.   

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

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.  

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

It’s usually hard to see the display windows in the store due to the long line of customers waiting to get in.  

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

We needed a little holiday pick-me-up this Thanksgiving, the trees, music, and jolly Cast were just what the doctor ordered. 

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

Since there was no one in line . . . we popped into Marceline’s Confectionary for a holiday treat. 

Pumpkin Spice Churro Toffee at Marceline’s

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, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

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.   

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

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! 

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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. 

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All
We hope Disney isn’t charging Splitsville rent. There were far more staff than customers during our visit. Splitsville being open increases Downtown Disney’s overall capacity and allows them to let more guests into Downtown Disney, so they are doing Disney a big favor by opening under these conditions.

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

Of course, part of Splitsville’s problem is their sky-high prices for bowling alley sushi, pizzas, and burgers. 

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

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.  

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

 

 

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. 

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 . . . 

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

Around 4pm, there were more Cast than guests on Buena Vista Street.  

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All , Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

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? 

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

We’ve always enjoyed the holiday windows at Big Top Toys: 

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The windows are reproductions of scenes from the 1932 Silly Symphony short-film titled “Santa’s Workshop.” Here it is for you to enjoy: 

https://youtu.be/HE9SYaTxbys

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. 

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All , Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

There was lots of seating for the Outdoor Vending Carts. 

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

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. 

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All , Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All 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: 

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All , Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

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 . . . 

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All , Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All , Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

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. 

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

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.  

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All , Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

On our way out of Buena Vista Street, we popped into Elias & Company and Five and Dime. 

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All , Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

There’s some new-ish gold and silver themed merchandise. 

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

Shiny gold and silver accents on this new spirit jersey: 

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All , Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

These knit holiday Minnie ear headbands are really festive. 

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

And I almost bought myself this new hooded denim spirit jersey . . . then I saw the price and thought twice about it ($80 I believe).  

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

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!

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Then to Five and Dime . . . 

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

It was nice to just examine the packed window displays, which have a mix of antique and current items. 

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All , Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

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. 

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All 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.  

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

 

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

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.  

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

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.

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

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.

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All
The forever young Joe Rohde wearing a pair of limited edition Mickey Ears he designed for the parks.

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: 

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

 

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.

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

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

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

  • “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

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  • “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
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Here’s a great photo of him from the MiceChat Anniversary event featuring some amazing Disney talent and legends. From left: Dusty Sage, Amy Mebberson, Marty Sklar, Terri Hardin, Dick Van Dyke, Mike Peraza, and David Koenig
  • “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
, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All
WALT DISNEY & VP NIXON — The Nixon family helps Walt Disney dedicate the Monorail at Disneyland June 1959.
  • “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

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

  • “The memories that I’ve made with friends and family. Irreplaceable.” – Kathy

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

  • “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
, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All
Pluto gives my kids a hug. Photo credit: Elaine Wu
  • “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

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

  • “The wonderful cast members!!! Can’t wait to make Magic with them again someday” – Kathryn

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

  • “Thankful for all the Disney Holidays I’ve had and looking forward to happier holidays ahead.” – Debby

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

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…

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

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.

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

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 Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

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.

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

For more information about the park’s closure, take a look at the article below.

Christmas Canceled: Disneyland Paris Will Remain CLOSED During the Holidays

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.  

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

Hong Kong Disneyland Closing AGAIN!

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: 

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

For comparison, here’s a photo from the day the statue was unveiled for Mickey’s 65th birthday in 1993. 

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

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:

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

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. 

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

Black Panther 

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.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Marvel Studios (@marvelstudios)


Save On Future Theme Park Travel

(NEW Discount Theme Park Tickets and Travel Packages)

Get Away TodayOur travel partners at Get Away Today are here to help you with your theme park booking and rescheduling plans. Whether you are ready to travel again or not, there is no better time to LOCK IN LOW RATES on future theme park travel to places like Walt Disney World, Disney’s Aulani in Hawaii, or family destinations like San Diego. Right now is a great time for you to speak with Get Away Today. Give your family something to look forward to and put a vacation on the calendar. Snap up those deals while you can, with your MiceChat partners at Get Away Today- HERE

NEW SAVINGS! Discounts up to 35% off for WDW Hotels have JUST become available. AND, we have a ticket package that combines Disney and Universal parks for extra savings! 

NEW VACATION SAVINGS PLAN WITH PERKS!!! Want to start saving for a big family vacation but aren’t sure where or when you’ll be ready to go? Get Away Today has created a plan which rewards you for saving up for your trip now. Place as little as $200 down and get free travel protection, travel credits, and more! Learn more and start saving now HERE!

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

HAWAIIAN PARADISE REDISCOVERED! And if you are looking for an adventure that allows you to relax and get away from other people, request a free Aulani quote by calling 855-GET-AWAY (and always let them know you are a MiceChat reader for the biggest discounts). Or, submit an online personalized quote request HERE


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!

, Disneyland Update – It’s a Small Holiday After All

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:

Walt Disney World Update – Say It Isn’t So, Joe!

Taste of Merry Farm is a Feast of Holiday Festivities

Christmas on Wheels: A Drive Through Six Flags Magic Mountain’s Holiday in the Park

 

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Dusty is the founder and CEO of MiceChat.com. When he's not visiting theme parks and writing, editing or speaking about Disney and theme parks worldwide, Dusty is involved in multiple Disney related projects and charities. He helped save and restore the charming Walt Disney Birthplace in Chicago, launched the Dick Van Dyke Foundation, and is the curator of Walt Disney's historic 1930's estate in Hollywood. If you've got news or photos to share with the MiceChat community, or would like to book Dusty for an upcoming event, please contact [email protected]