It was a busy week at Disneyland with hot weather, big crowds, some new entertainment, and tons of construction! Across the Resort, new additions are weaving the magic of our diverse world into the fabric of the Disneyland experience. Meanwhile, from ToonTown’s massive reimagining to a new tower at the Disneyland Hotel, construction on a variety of projects pushes ever onward.
We’ve got a big update for you this week, with tons of photos and videos of all of the latest news and changes at the Disneyland Resort… We even have some aerial images for you!
Welcome to Disneyland!
Summertime is almost here and guests visiting Disneyland this weekend got a sneak preview. Temperatures soared over the weekend, with highs climbing over 90ºF at the Resort. They may be accustomed to those sorts of temperatures in Florida, but we just aren’t prepared for that sort of heat here and Disneyland wasn’t built with a lot of shade and cool zones in mind… And it’s not even summer yet!
Despite the heat, the parks were still busy.
Diverse New Disney Magic
Disney continues its efforts to update attractions and offer experiences in its parks and resorts to reflect the diverse stories of our world. Some recent changes across the Resort are bringing more historically-accurate and inclusive stories to park guests. Today, we take a look at some of these recent changes and some upcoming additions.
Frederick Douglass joins Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
In the Main Street Opera House, Disneyland recently updated the preshow “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.” The changes to the preshow bring a new tribute to abolitionist Frederick Douglass. A small bit of wall text explains the relationship between Douglass and Lincoln, giving credit to Douglass for his work in persuading Lincoln that the only way to end the Civil War was through ending slavery.
Take a video tour of the new tribute to Frederick Douglass in our video below:
New wall text next to Lincoln’s bust gives credit to Douglass for his role in persuading Lincoln to end slavery.
A framed copy of a letter from the U.S. Department of the Interior recognizing Douglass as a free man is on display next to his bust.
The new addition to the “Great Moments” pre-show is well done and is one of those things that’s new but feels like it has always been there. This new tribute to Frederick Douglass adds context that helps show that Lincoln, imperfect, didn’t make the decisions that define his legacy alone.
Disneyland celebrates AANHPI Heritage Month
Steps away from the Opera House, the Disneyland Emporium on Main Street, U.S.A. is celebrating the heritage of Asian Americans.
As part of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Disneyland has a new window display at the Main Street Emporium. The new display is a delightful little bit of edutainment, showcasing games and toys associated with the Japanese version of Children’s Day.
The Japanese holiday, observed on May 5, is known for the displaying of koinobori, also known as “carp streamers,” to symbolize determination and success. The window display also includes Victorian-era games and toys from China, the Philippines, the Hawaiian and Polynesian islands, and Korea.
Take a video tour of the window display in our video below:
The window display is beautifully done and a subtle and educational addition to Main Street, U.S.A. What’s even better is that isn’t a heavy-handed cultural display in an area themed to 1905 America. Rather, it’s filled with furniture, games, and toys from the Victorian era. A wonderfully-crafted bit of edutainment that also fits the theme of the street.
In Disney California Adventure, AANHPI Heritage Month is celebrated less elegantly with a very simple photo backdrop for Pixar’s “Turning Red.” Would have been really great if they had brought the actual character out so guests could snap a photo with Mei — as a girl or panda.
In Downtown Disney, AANHPI Heritage Month is being celebrated with special Asian American artist appearances at WonderGround Gallery. Or, you can enjoy live performances from Polynesian dance and music groups, a Filipino a cappella vocal group, or a Chinese martial arts and dance group. The performing groups rotate on days throughout the week, so check the Disneyland app for showtimes and info. On Thursday, I enjoyed an evening performance by Tupua, a wonderful Polynesian dance and music group.
Below, a video clip of some of Tupua’s fantastic performance.
At the Grand Californian Hotel, Disney announced the Hearthstone Lounge would offer traditional Japanese sake flights and craft cocktails throughout the month. Unfortunately, when I visited on Thursday, the servers at Hearthstone said the menu items were not being offered. It’s unclear if this is just a supply problem or if the announced menu offerings were canceled.
Disneyland to celebrate Black Music Month
Disneyland Resort will “Celebrate Soulfully” this June with new entertainment, food, and art. In Disneyland, “Tale of the Lion King” will debut in its new Fantasyland Theater venue starting May 28.
The show was previously held on the stage in Paradise Park at Disney California Adventure when the live-action version of “The Lion King” was in theaters in 2019. The show is now in the process of finding a more long-term home in Disneyland.
Work to ready the Fantasyland Theatre for the new show is underway.
Sets were being installed late last week.
The decorative pattern for the new show has been added to the existing stage. You can catch a glimpse of the new curtain as well.
Troubadour Tavern will reopen May 28 as well, with a new menu inspired by the show.
In Disney California Adventure, the temporary stage for Five and Dime by Carthay Circle Fountain likely won’t be going away anytime soon. As part of “Celebrate Soulfully,” Five and Dime will share the stage throughout the day with Philly Phonics, an a cappella group singing jazzy tunes from the 1920s through today. Additional live music will be offered in the evenings in Hollywood Land.
In Downtown Disney, the former ESPN Zone building will be home to The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure. The special touring exhibit, which features Joe Gardner from Pixar’s “Soul,” takes guests on a journey through the history of American Jazz. The exhibit opens June 1 and will run through July 4. Admission will be free for all Resort guests. The nearby Downtown Disney stage will host jazz, R&B, funk, Motown and Doo-Wop groups in the evenings.
Now, let’s take a look around the resort for the rest of the news…
Disneyland Kennel Club No More
We’ve long suspected that the Disneyland Kennel wouldn’t return. When the parking lot for the resort was located where California Adventure sits today, it all made sense. You could walk your pooch straight from the car to the kennel. But once the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure was built, the location of the kennel became a problem for many as it’s a much longer walk… and an even more problematic tram ride (imagine jumpy, skittish, even terrified dogs who have never been on a tram before and the many harrowing incidents that resulted).
After a long closure with few complaints to City Hall, Disneyland has decided to just keep using the old kennels as storage for strollers and wheelchairs for now.
If you are traveling with your dog, there are lots of local options for boarding. We recommend checking Yelp for reviews and making a reservation in advance.
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
Tomorrowland’s Submarine Lagoon has water again! The (very) extended Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage refurbishment looks to be entering the home stretch as the empty lagoon was refilled over the last few days.
The newly-repainted lagoon and subs look spectacular with water again!
Below, check out the views of the lagoon being refilled from aboard the Disneyland Monorail
Disney has yet to announce a return date for the Submarine Voyage but we’re happy that it’ll be coming back with a ton of TLC.
Lights were on underwater near the exit of the caverns…
Animatronic crabs have yet to return…
And a couple aerial photos of the Submarine Lagoon below:
Fantasmic! Nearly Ready to Reignite the Night
Over on the Rivers of America, the popular Fantasmic! show is preparing to return on May 28th… but just missed its 30th-anniversary last week. However, it will return fresh from a massive top-to-bottom refurbishment at the end of this month.
Work on the Fantasmic! show infrastructure has been wrapping up but there’s a bit of work still underway along the riverbanks with show lighting and effects…
Red Car Trolley to Return
MiceChat’s Dustysage recently shared the news that the Red Car Trolley would soon return to Disney California Adventure. Their return will be a happy one, bringing some much-needed kinetic energy back to Buena Vista Street.
I can’t wait to hop on a Red Car here again very soon.
Disney installed electric charging for the trolley here on Buena Vista Street when the addition of Avengers Campus put an end to the trolley stop in front of the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction.
These merchandise carts that have been parked at the Carthay Circle trolley, will soon need to move on out!
Seeing the Wig Wags wag again will be a much welcome treat!
Tarzan’s Treehouse Retheme
In Adventureland, work continues on deconstructing the former entrance to Tarzan’s Treehouse. The tall tree stump and bridge are mostly removed now. Soon this area will be much more open.
Below, you’ll find a video of the treehouse from Thursday afternoon:
You kind of see through the tarps just how much of the tree trunk has been removed. There’s not too much left!
There’s no word yet from Disney on what the new theme for the treehouse will be or any idea when the new version of the attraction will reopen. But we can tell you that Kim Irvine and her team of Anaheim-based Imagineers are working on the project and have crafted an immersive new theme for the attraction.
New Orleans Square New Vistas
A ton of work continues in New Orleans Square. Pirates of the Caribbean and the Blue Bayou restaurant remain closed for refurbishment. New planters and walkways are emerging from behind construction walls. And new sections of the walkways are now behind walls…
You can get a great overview of all of the work underway from aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat, as seen in the video below:
The walkway and planters along the River Belle Terrace dining area are behind walls now. The planters are likely being scaled back or removed as they have been in so many other places in the park.
Pirates of the Caribbean remains closed for refurbishment and its outdoor queue’s major refurbishment continues…
The old trees in the outdoor queue were unfortunately diseased and had to be removed. New, smaller trees, have been planted in their place.
New trees are in place and now the queue space needs to be rebuilt.
Nearby, Royal Street walkway is being repaved.
The planter in front of the French Market main entrance is behind walls but it doesn’t look like the tree there is being removed.
Views of the construction and changes from ground level give a different perspective than from aboard the Mark Twain…
The entrance to the River Belle Terrace is temporarily located at the restaurant’s Aventureland door for the time being.
You can get a ground-level overview of all of the work underway along the Frontierland and New Orleans Square waterfront in our video below:
The Pirates of the Caribbean queue is in the process of being rebuilt.
Nearby, some pavement work is underway along Royal Street.
Refurbishment continues at the Blue Bayou Restaurant.
Walls are now down at the reworked planters and walkway in front of Cafe Orleans. It all looks acceptable. The walkways are easier to navigate and the gardens are smaller as a result. It’s not great but could have been worse.
With so much seating having been removed from the park in recent years, guests are using the new planters as a place to rest. We REALLY hope the park is paying attention to the fact that guests are struggling to find places to sit.
Planters used to be bigger here, with stairs and elevated areas that added texture and character to the area, as well as viewing levels for Fantasmic.
The floating light posts are strange. They made sense before when there were platforms here but now theyre just in the middle of an expanded walkway and it’s strange. Why not relocate them as part of the overall project so they weren’t in the middle of walkways?
The large tree and its planter in front of the French Market’s entrance are behind walls. Here’s hoping the tree isn’t removed.
In the back of Disneyland, Mickey’s ToonTown continues its major re-imagining project. From the walkway along Small World Mall, you can catch a glimpse of the new facade for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway rising in the distance.
No marquee at the land’s entrance for now…
From the sky, you can see that the new El CapiTOON Theatre facade for the new Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction is coming along nicely.
ALL of the pavement has been removed from the area as it is reshaped and rescaped.
Land is also being cleared for the new CenTOONial Park. The play area next to Goofy’s House has been removed.
No word yet on what might be installed in Goofy’s House now that his entire backyard has been removed. There’s still a lot of time and a lot of work to be done throughout ToonTown before its big reveal next year.
Paradise Park walkways
In Disney California Adventure, walkways along the parade route in front of the Little Mermaid attraction in Paradise Park are behind walls.
Doesn’t seem like the trees are being removed here, so hopefully, it’s just some standard walkway repaving or other work.
New California Adventure Hotel Entrance
Work on the new entrance to Disney California Adventure, which will be part of the re-theme and update of the Paradise Pier Hotel, continues. The new entrance is being built between the Corn Dog Castle and Seaside Souvenirs.
Downtown Disney expansion
In Downtown Disney, the former AMC Theaters is now just a dirt lot, waiting for construction on the new shops and dining locations to begin…
Take a look at the Downtown Disney west side expansion space from aboard the Disneyland Monorail:
This area will soon have new mid-century style architecture, stage, and lawn.
Disney’s Vacation Club at the Disneyland Hotel
Not far from Downtown Disney, the Disneyland Hotel’s new tower continues to rise behind the Monorail waterslides. The new tower will be home to Disney’s Vacation Club villas.
Around the Parks
Let’s wrap up this week’s update with some photos from around the parks!
It’s so great to have the Carthay Circle fountain running again now that characters are no longer doing socially-distant greetings in the area.
Scarlet Witch now meets with guests in Avenger’s Campus.
LIVE from Disneyland With Dusty Sage
Dusty takes us on a walk through Disneyland to look at the recent changes. I always appreciate his honesty and humor. He clearly loves the parks, but he sure isn’t afraid to share an opinion…
Disneyland Merchandise Update
And don’t miss the latest Disneyland shopping updates from our merchandise maven, Natalie Kipper. Some interesting new items…
Discount Disney Theme Park Tickets & Hotels!!!
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Let’s hear from you!
Alright, that wraps up this week’s Disneyland update. There’s been a lot of momentum in the parks lately, with the rapid return of entertainment, attractions, construction, and updates to park operations. Do things feel like normal to you? What do you think of the changes in New Orleans Square? Are you hopeful about the reworking of ToonTown and Downtown Disney? Share your thoughts on everything going on at the Happiest Places on Earth in the comments section below!