We brought you a blockbuster Disneyland Update on Monday, but that’s not all that’s going on at the Disneyland Resort. Today brings the return of an annual pass-like program to the Disneyland Resort called Magic Key. The question is, how difficult will it be to get your hands on a pass and what will be the impact on the resort? We’ll also take you to Disney’s California Adventure where lots of work is being done to get ready for Halloween, including a honking haul-o-ween in Cars Land and the amazing Villains Grove. Plus all sorts of news and interesting tidbits you’ll want to know.
Before we get started, I wanted to thank Photomatt for his great update on Monday and beautiful photos. I was busy helping host a birthday party at Walt Disney’s Hollywood mansion for an 84 year old Imagineer (who helped design Club 33, Haunted Mansion, and who did interior decorating for Walt Disney’s own homes). Happiest birthday wishes to the incredible Tania Norris.
If you’d like to know more about Walt’s Mansion and perhaps get a chance to see it for yourself, you can follow the Facebook Page: Walt Disney’s Storybook Mansion
Magic Keys Unlock Today!
After months of waiting, former Disneyland passholders can finally buy into a new program, called Magic Key, which will help them save on visits to Disneyland. While the new program requires reservations and therefore does not guarantee admission into the parks on any particular day, it will provide for a more affordable way to visit for those who frequent Disneyland often.
Tickets are expected to go on sale today (August 25th) sometime around 10am. Because the demand is expected to be huge, it’s highly likely that the process won’t go smoothly at first. Therefore, unless you need to access the parks in the next day or two, you’d likely be better off waiting a couple of days before trying to claim your new Magic Key pass.
For the first time, Disneyland will NOT be selling passes at the front gate. All sales will be conducted online. Further, if you have valid admission to the parks that you want to upgrade to a Magic Key, you’ll need to do that online as well. We went to the ticket booths yesterday to confirm that they will not be handling sales or upgrades. They may be allowed to assist guests in the coming weeks after the demand has died down.
The new Magic Keys range from $399 to $1399. Before you plunk down a big chunk of change, it would be wise to figure out how many times you plan to visit in the next year (don’t forget to add the cost of parking). Take the number of days by the average cost of a park hopper (around $200) and that will give you an idea if there’s a pass that could help you save a bit. Often, guests buy pass levels that exceed their actual need. Sometimes it’s better just to buy a multi-day ticket or promotional ticket (such as the current California 3-day ticket special) rather than buy into a pass that you might not use often enough to break even on the cost.
More info and questions about Magic Key answered in our article linked below:
Are you buying your Magic Key right away, waiting, or skipping it altogether? For those of you jumping into the fray today, we wish you well. Please be sure to let us know how it goes in the comments below. We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Oh, and what shall we call the holders of the new Magic Keys? Magic Keyholders? Keyholes? Or should we just keep using the old “Passholders” term?
Now, we sit back and wait to see what the impact on crowd levels will be. It’s the off-season, kids are back in school, and many folks were waiting for the Magic Key program so they wouldn’t have to buy full-price tickets, so the parks have been incredibly uncrowded these past few weeks. But once the new passes get into peoples’ hands (if you want an actual physical card, it will cost extra), the parks should start filling up again, especially once Halloween Time lands on September 3rd.
Halloween at DCA
Boo! It’s still August, but Halloween is rapidly approaching. While merchandise and orange bunting have appeared at Disneyland, it’s California Adventure that has the most work to do between now and September 3rd, when Halloween launches. In our Monday Update, we showed you some work being done to transform the Haunted Mansion into Holiday mode. Today we’ll look at Cars Land and Villains Grove.
As you walk up to the front gate you’ll know it’s Halloween Time. Oogie has taken his perch atop the turnstiles.
But he’s been redesigned since we last saw him. Before, he looked a little more tree-like. He’s slightly less sinister this time around.
We’ve always thought that the giant moon behind Oogie looked like a tortilla. It was particularly noticeable as you exited the park. This year they’ve added another Oogie to the backside so it doesn’t feel so blank.
Cars Land Preparing for a Honking Haul-O-Ween
Last week I showed you the poles which had been erected to support the faces above Route 66. Well, they’re up! I really appreciate how creative and whimsical the Cars Land Halloween decorations are.
The Horn-O-Plenty was originally created for Haul-O-Ween but is now kept year-round.
Most of the land still awaits decorations, but you can expect to see more and more added all week. This land gets one of the most elaborate displays in the entire resort.
Not Halloween-related, but Fillmore’s refreshment stand has finally reopened.
The cars will soon don their costumes for the season.
Don’t worry, we’ll be back soon to take more photos of the progress as it continues.
Oogie Boogie Bash
The good news for Disney is that all nights for Oogie Boogie Bash have sold out. That’s in spite of a somewhat scaled-back event (World of Color Villainous will not be offered this year). We have a feeling that Oogie Boogie will be expanded next year. Walt Disney World already started their Halloween events on August 10th. Hard to imagine that happening here, but the two resorts are moving closer and closer in the way they operate, so anything is possible.
For this year’s Oogie Boogie Bash, Disney is teasing some new villains. You might even call this corporate synergy. From the video teaser below, it looks like the new characters will be Sid from Toy Story, the live-action version of Cruella, and Agatha Harkness from Wandavision.
There are dozens of beloved baddies that kids and adults alike love to hate, if you were asked to pick three new villains for this year, what would have been your list?
In Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, speakers, spotlights and decorative elements have found their way into the area. They will all be used for the incredible “Villains Grove” walk-through during the Oogie Boogie parties. It was a wonderful surprise in 2019 and we really look forward to seeing it again.
Cleverly hidden speakers are tied to many of the trees.
Tons of lighting has been added throughout as well.
But there are only a few decorative elements you’ll spot during the day.
Roses have been added to one section in the back. This is the lair of the Queen of Hearts.
Construction walls are up as well. Some are concealing equipment for Villains Grove. Others have minor construction going on behind them.
It’s fun to walk through this area during the day and then see how it transforms for the event.
Here’s a little Villains Grove teaser I pulled together from the 2019 event.
Never Too Early for Halloween Shopping
Halloween Merchandise is flooding into the stores at this point. As soon as you enter Disney’s California Adventure you’ll see Halloween displays in the Five & Dime.
You’ll find a lot of Hocus Pocus items this year, including bags, spirit jerseys, and these fantastic plush of the Sanderson Sisters.
Off the Page is also focused on Halloween. Haunted Mansion and Disney villains take top billing.
Of course, there are hundreds of new items. Our own Natalie Kipper has assembled many of the things you’ll find this year at World of Disney and in the parks:
Spider-Man continues to have lots of availability. Oddly, they are still pushing Virtual Queue even when it is clearly not needed.
We asked you all recently if Web Slingers even needs a virtual queue. Your overwhelming response was that it either didn’t need VQ or a hybrid approach should be adopted where the virtual queue kicks in only when needed.
It’s not just the parks that have new things ahead. Right now, there’s a Princess Celebration taking place, new stores are headed into the shopping district, and more. Let’s take a look.
Ultimate Princess Celebration
When you head into Downtown Disney, you’ll notice a new set of posters and banners at the old AMC building featuring Disney Princesses. That’s because this week, August 23-30, is dedicated to World Princess Week. Way back in April this year, Disney announced plans for the Ultimate Princess Celebration, culminating in a weeklong event aimed at inspiring a million acts of kindness around the globe.
Around Downtown Disney, and also in the parks, you can find a few photo ops of Disney Princesses along with a QR code to scan for more information about World Princess Week and digital bedtime stories.
If you didn’t already know about the Ultimate Princess Celebration or that it’s currently World Princess Week, it’s not your fault. There isn’t a whole lot of information readily available to explain what the event is.
You can find out more about the Disney Princess Celebration HERE.
Two New Stores Heading to Downtown Disney
It’s been a while since there was a new face in town at Downtown Disney. The most recent addition has been the Star Wars Trading Post in the old Rainforest Cafe building earlier this year. But coming soon, there will be two new shops to visit. Both stores currently have locations at Disney Springs in Walt Disney World.
But with the closure of The VOID, space has opened up for new shops.
The first store is a card and stationery shop called Lovepop. They create some of the most intricate and beautiful pop-up cards, with themes from Star Wars to flower bouquets. Lovepop is one of my favorite places to buy cards from when I’m in Orlando, so I’ll be happy to have them here in Anaheim.
The other store is geared towards soccer/football (depending on the country you’re rooting for) fanatics. Pelé Soccer will be a stadium-themed venue with an assortment of soccer gear. We’re not convinced this is a great fit for Downtown Disney, but with the high rent, it won’t last long if folks don’t take the time to park, go through security, and then pay the usually higher prices at stores inside the magic curtain. Does a soccer store make you want to jump through the hoops of visiting Downtown Disney?
While it’s always good to have a variety of options to choose from, we were sorely disappointed that the über-popular Gideon’s Bakehouse wasn’t one of the stores headed to Downtown Disney. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the Florida bakery will look into branching out to sunny Anaheim for its next location.
Are there any shops in Downtown Disney that you’d like to see replaced, and with what?
This and That
And now for a few of the smaller stories around the Disneyland Resort, including a few things that just caught my eye:
New hours starting 10/4
After extending hours for the summer, they are being retracted again. Disneyland will close an hour earlier at 10pm and California Adventure will close two hours earlier at 8pm. Downtown Disney will stay open until midnight.
Digital Hotel Keys
Disneyland and Grand Californian hotels now offer digital keys accessed from the Disneyland app. This brings the Disneyland Resort in line with what is currently offered at Walt Disney World. This will also allow guests to check-in online and then use the digital key to access the room. Is this something you’d use, or would you prefer a key card?
I finally had a chance to visit Wonderground Gallery since their refresh earlier this month. Unfortunately, this “Gallery” space no longer has much art on the walls. Instead, you’ll find lots of merchandise based upon works of art. It’s still interesting, but it’s sad that the resort can’t support higher-end items like original art.
A few more random items and things that caught my eye…
Autumn flavors have arrived at Starbucks on property. We tried the new Apple Crisp Macchiato and enjoyed it. It had the taste of an apple crumb cake. I’d order it again. But I’m also overdue for a Pumpkin Spice Latte (I like to order mine with oat milk).
The compass in the Esplanade between the parks is behind construction walls. It lost its directional points years ago and is cracked and broken. It’s probably best for them just to remove it. This space has always been reserved for a fountain. While that’s likely not coming during these extremely budget crunched times, we would like to see it happen one day.
Candy corn colored bunting is replacing the red, white and blue on Main Street.
The national parks billboard is under wraps in DCA. It could be something Halloween related, or it might just be a refurbishment.
Updated Info for Princess and The Frog Splash Mountain Overlay
With all the news and information about various projects earlier this week, we wanted to make sure the new images and story details about the upcoming Splash Mountain overhaul was on your radar. The new Princess and the Frog takeover of the mountain has a storyline which takes place after the big kiss in the movie. So you’ll see Tiana as a human, and not a frog. It also appears that the America Sings animatronics will still have a home in the attraction. Take a look at the article below for everything we know about the retheme of Splash Mountain, including new concept art and story confirmations…
Disneyland Tickets and Hotel Discounts!
With new Magic Keys about to drop, it’s good to know what all of your options are. One way to lock in your future visit is to buy multi-day tickets from Get Away Today and then upgrade them later a Magic Key pass before they expire. So, you could use that first ticketed day in the park for a visit and then have up to 13 days to upgrade to a Magic Key pass (just make sure to upgrade before using all days on your valid ticket).
There are all sorts of theme park tickets and travel deals right now, including up to 25% off at the Grand Californian and Disneyland Hotels, a 2 free days offer at Walt Disney World, ticket deals to various theme parks, and discounted tickets to Disneyland: More details and to get a quote (HERE)
Let’s Hear From You
Are you ready for Halloween Time next week? Should Disneyland follow the WDW model and move Halloween even earlier? Is it time for Web Slingers to test what would happen if it used a standby queue instead of VQ? Are you going to try for a Magic Key pass today or wait a bit for the insanity to die down? Did you get this wait animation? How many minutes or hours did you have to spend looking at it?
And what about those two new additions to Downtown Disney? It seems that Disneyland’s shopping district has a bit of an identity crisis. What sort of mix of restaurants, shopping, and entertainment would be the right mix for you?