Disneyland Construction Update: January 2016

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In early January 2016, Disneyland closed a number of attractions around Rivers of America to begin construction on Star Wars Land, and to make layout changes to the park to accommodate this huge new land. Once the project gets going, it will be larger than any construction in decades, perhaps approaching the makeover and reboot of Disney California Adventure a few years ago. While this project won’t be as disruptive to guests as DCA 2.0 (after all, they rerouted the park entrance then!), Disneyland is much busier of a park, so it could have a greater impact on guests.

Because of that, some readers have asked for information about construction progress, impact, and the construction timeline so they can plan their visits. While I can’t provide the last bit of information since I simply don’t know it, I did head to Disneyland yesterday to capture some photos documenting the current progress that convey how the park presently looks, how the construction walls affect guests, and other random stuff.

I’ll probably continue to do this about once per month so long as people are interested in seeing and continue reading my thoughts on the updates. That is, unless I lose interest in taking photos of construction walls. As far as photo subjects go, they aren’t exactly the most exciting. Although, maybe this series will finally earn me my first (long overdue, if you ask me) Peabody Award?!

This post contains 75+ photos across 3 pages of text detailing the state of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure as of January 26, 2016. The first page features photos of traffic flow and the current state of the construction walls. Page 2 assesses my thoughts on the impact of the refurbishments on the park and includes photos of the alternate entertainment. Page 3 covers other random changes and photos.

Oh, before we get started, how about a moment of silence for The Goats of Disneyland Park® at the Disneyland Resort® in Disney Big Thunder Ranch® Presented by Brawny®, aka Goat Galaxy. Big Thunder Ranch permanently closed to make way for Star Wars Land, so the goats are gone. You will be missed, my beloved Goat Homies.

Aside from Big Thunder Ranch, every other closure is temporary. The attractions on the list below that are along the Rivers of America are down for over a year. My best guess as to when they reopen would be Memorial Day 2017, but that’s just a guess.

Here are current Disneyland refurbishments, along with anticipated re-opening dates:

  • Disneyland Railroad
  • Fantasmic!
  • Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
  • Sailing Ship Columbia
  • Mark Twain Riverboat
  • Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes
  • Soarin’ (Closed weekdays; reopening TBD)
  • ‘it’s a small world’ (Reopening February 4, 2016)
  • Jungle Cruise (Reopening May 5, 2016)
  • Autopia (Reopening April 28, 2016)

Alright, now let’s take a stroll around the parks. We’ll start with what I presume most of you care about: CONSTRUCTION WALLS!

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First stop, Adventureland. There’s only one explanation for this wall: social experiment to determine the tipping point for guests to go insane encountering random walls throughout Disneyland. Expect new walls up next week as the experiment continues. (Unlikely alternate scenario: bridge refurbishment.)

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Big Thunder Trail is closed off as work is preparation for Big Thunder Ranch’s removal and subsequent foundational work.

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We’ll become pretty familiar with this wall over the next couple of years…

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Looking past the wall, you can almost hear the faint bahs of the spirit of Goat Galaxy in the distance.

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Signs in Fantasyland advise guests of the Big Thunder Trail closure.

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Some random walls in New Orleans Square. The signage here might lead you to believe they’ve installed a bridge so the ‘it’s a small world’ dolls could deliver beignets from the train station to the Mint Julep Bar without being trampled by guests (safety first!), but this is actually to support temporary electric while refurbishments to the permanent structures take place.

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On to Critter Country…

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Walls are up all along the entrance to the Canoes, with signage. While Disneyland has indicated that all Rivers of America attractions will return, I wouldn’t be shocked to see these canoes go. I hope they come back–and signage acknowledging their existence is promising–but I could see this as an opportunity to quietly kill a minor attraction.

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Cool attraction posters on this wall, including one for Nature’s Wonderland. Props on that.

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Next up, Hungry Bear Restaurant. I have it on good authority that this is Bob Iger’s favorite restaurant in the entire world.

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The Rivers of America-facing side of the restaurant upstairs is covered by scrims depicting fall foliage along a river. It looks rather nice, but it’s super-easy to see through when the sun isn’t directly overhead.

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See? I wonder if another layer will be added to the river-side to deter weird bloggers like me from documenting construction progress.

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Downstairs, the walls are solid, making for a dark atmosphere. Perfect for naps!

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There are some great posters lining this wall, and the origins of some of these posters are beyond me. Obviously, the above is the Mark Twain attraction poster…

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But what’s the source of this? Port Orleans Riverside? EuroDisney?

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A few Google searches revealed nothing, but I’d be shocked (and really impressed) if these posters were designed solely for the refurbishment.

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All of the posters have lights above them, except this one. Presumably because New Mexico is an awful place, and SHOULD GO BACK TO MEXICO WHERE IT BELONGS BEFORE WE BUILD A WALL AROUND IT.

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Whatever the source, these posters are great, and it’s nice to see Disney giving some life to the walls, with the attraction posters outside, foliage scrims upstairs, and location posters downstairs.

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This is a nice explanation of the Rivers of America, and I thought I recalled reading it somewhere, but couldn’t recall where. The Google Machine revealed there was a Disney Parks Blog post with the same info. I assume this is the internal WDI backstory for the Rivers of America, but really have no clue.

This is the type of exposition that couldn’t be posted along the Rivers of America normally, but is a perfectly fine “breaking of the fourth wall” during a refurbishment. Hopefully it gives some guests a greater appreciation for the Rivers.

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Let’s be real: if a bear is hungry, he’s eating whatever rodent this is, not that burger. Let’s not glamorize the soulless killing machines that are bears.

If I haven’t already bored you to death, click here to read page 2.

There, I’ll start by offering my thoughts on the walls (you’re on the edge of your seat, aren’t you?!) and continue with photos of the alternate entertainment at Disneyland during the construction…


54 Responses to “Disneyland Construction Update: January 2016”
  1. Candice March 4, 2016

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