With construction on Star Wars Land set to begin in April, a lot is happening around Disneyland to prep. This update features photos of current progress, news & rumors on what’s to come, and various random thoughts on what to expect in the next few months at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.
Since our last update in January, a lot has changed at Disneyland Resort. Big Thunder Ranch and a number of backstage facilities have been demolished, dams have been added to the Rivers of America, a new attraction has opened, and other rumors have started to swirl regarding this and other projects at Disneyland. Through everything that’s been happening, Disneyland has been surprisingly pleasant to experience. We know many of you are concerned about how construction will impact your summer visits, and hopefully this is a positive sign of things to come.
Page 1 of this update features photos and commentary concerning all of the changes at Disneyland and how things should change in the next few months. Think of it as a Ken Burns style documentary narrated by Carrot Top. Page 2 is essentially just a random assortment of artsy-kinda photos I’ve taken lately in the parks. Think of it as a Michael Bay movie starring Adam Sandler. If those descriptions don’t sell you on reading on, I don’t know what will.
Here are current Disneyland refurbishments, along with anticipated re-opening dates:
Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
Sailing Ship Columbia
Mark Twain Riverboat
Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes
Jungle Cruise (Reopening May 5, 2016)
Autopia (Reopening April 28, 2016)
Grizzly River Run (Reopening March 13, 2016)
Alright, now for a stroll around Disneyland. Let’s start with what I think is the most positive sign: the cofferdams. Above is the dam over on the Big Thunder Mountain side of the Rivers of America.
Here’s the Splash Mountain side. These cofferdams are a positive sign because they mean that the Rivers of America most likely will not have the front side drained for the duration of construction, meaning no construction wall the length of the Rivers of America on the New Orleans Square side.
While this doesn’t impact attractions, it is a significant win for ambiance and aesthetics, and means that guests will still be able to enjoy the tranquility of the Rivers of America (to some degree) for the next year or so. That is, assuming these are cofferdams (they are), and not just stray construction materials that randomly floated into the water.
From some parts of Frontierland, the work is noticeable. Not noticeable to the extent that it’ll impact your experience, but noticeable in the sense that it’s really obvious that a lot of trees have been removed (at least to regular guests).
From the roof of Mickey & Friends, you can really see the progress. Big Thunder Ranch, Circle D, and backstage facilities are all gone and the land that is being cleared basically abuts the backside of Toontown’s “hills” (you can see them ever-so-slightly above on the right half of the photo). I meant to get photos from the parking structure on our way out of the park the other day, but I forgot. I’ll go ahead and turn in my Disney blogger card now…
Here’s a great photo of the construction through the scrims at Hungry Bear Restaurant. I believe another layer was added to this scrim, as you used to be able to see right through it and now…this.
Readers over at Micechat caught this, and speculation is rampant that Nature’s Wonderland will be a component along the new-look Disneyland Railroad. We already know that certain parts of the railroad are being enhanced and altered, but Disney has not announced this as of yet. Is it an Easter Egg hinting at what’s to come?
I sure hope so. Conversely, it could be the work of someone in Imagineering who wants to troll fans online. The Imagineers know everything they do is dissected online to the nth degree, and that an alteration like this would be caught. So, that could also explain it. I know if I were an Imagineer, I would troll you guys nonstop…which is probably why I’ll never be an Imagineer. That, and the whole lack of talent thing.
Hungry Bear Restaurant remains open during construction. I’m sure they’ve seen a decline in business (hence the sign and Cast Member greeting people out front) due to the crazy number of scrims all over the place to prevent guests from seeing the backside of the Rivers of America.
Over by Harbour Galley, there’s this new thing.
I’ve heard that it’s for a new interactive game. Doesn’t Disney know that the kids these days have compasses in their iPhones? (Not that kids these days want to know which direction they’re going. That’s not hip.)
I think we can all agree that this game will be a colossal flop if it doesn’t star Mater, ALF, and Baby Sinclair.
Dr. Facilier is meeting guests on the Mark Twain. He had a 0 minute wait when I got this photo, and I’ve never seen he or Tiana with more than a 5-minute wait on the Twain.
Don’t be surprised if these meet & greets are replaced with a tea time or character dining experience of some sort for the summer season.
Skipper School is still taking place outside Jungle Cruise, and continues to draw crowds for the interactive skits. This is a nice touch, and it’s good to see Disneyland offering something here beyond just a construction wall.
The $6 Egg-stravaganza search is back for this year. I don’t mean to brag, but I totally spotted like 7 eggs without even having the map and clues. You might say I’m an eggsceptional sleuth.
Don’t freak out, that Mater egg is from last year, and pictured for illustrative purposes. This blog is a no-spoiler zone.
I have nothing against this upcharge egg hunt thing (we did it last year and it was reasonably fun), but it’s a bummer that the egg painting, concerts, and meet and greets that have previously been held in Big Thunder Ranch have not been relocated. Essentially, there’s nothing this year for Easter.
There’s a new exhibit in the Disney Gallery, Disney’s Steam Trains.
It’s a nice exhibit, especially with the Disneyland Railroad closed.
I do wish Disney would dedicate more space to these exhibits. I realize they are a thing about which 95% of guests don’t care, but for the 5% of us, these are wonderful.
I never saw the Disney Gallery in its glory days above Pirates of the Caribbean (with the Dream Suite no longer in use, why hasn’t it returned to that spot?), but it’d be nice if more space were devoted to it if it’s going to be at the front of the park. For a park that touts its history so heavily in marketing materials, it would be nice if that history were actually honored in the parks.
On the plus side, at least there are places like Walt’s Barn and the Walt Disney Family Museum for that. I’m excited to be heading to Walt’s Barn for the first time later this month.
Breaking: Tomorrowland to feature new House of the Future, sponsored by Turing Pharmaceuticals.
I think this Mr. Toad medium fig is new(ish). Or not. I don’t recall having seen it before, and it’s pretty cool. I’m sure our cat would break off Mr. Toad within 3 hours, so we aren’t going to buy it.
Disney During World War II is not new, but I saw it and thought I’d take a photo in case I ever want to review it. This book and Dali & Disney: Destino(its storyboards and photos are fantastic) are the two books I put on our coffee table whenever non-Disney fan friends or family come over.
They are both reminders that Disney isn’t just “kids stuff” that we like because we’re immature. I also put out a copy of Ulysses, but that’s just to make me seem more cultured than I actually am. (Fortunately, only 7 people on earth have read that book the entire way through, so no one has called my bluff…yet.)
Over at DCA, the big news is that there’s a new deep fried banana at Award Wieners! Finally, bananas the way God intended: deep fried.
Actually, there’s slightly bigger news…
THIS IS NOT A DRILL. NEW SEASONAL SMOOTHIE AT SCHMOOZIES. I REPEAT, NEW SEASONAL SMOOTHIE!!! (Not sure what it is, the world’s greatest restaurant was closed when we saw this.)
Oh, in other news, Disney California Adventure also opened a new attraction. Not as big as the deep fried banana, but whatever. You can read our Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters Review for full details and commentary (on the ride, not the banana).
Alright, that’s a wrap on the construction and new stuff portion of our Disneyland Spring 2016 update.