Disneyland Update – August 2017
A lot has changed since our last all-around Disneyland and Disney California Adventure update. While we’ve covered a lot of this in separate posts, I thought it’d be a good time to drop in with a random update on everything that’s happening at Disneyland Resort.
Actually, using the words “everything” and “all-around update” are a bit of a stretch. Even though that’s the intent, honestly, I’m just not very good at that type of post. We go to Disneyland to have fun, and there is something distinctly un-fun about feeling compelled to take photos of construction walls, random signs that have changed, outdoor vending carts in new spots, etc. Even if I wanted to, I always forget to take photos of this stuff.
Hopefully, I get some points for effort, as I did try to get photos of most of the important new things (some of which I shot on our last couple of trips before this visit). In addition to the dinosaur and Rivers of America photos (and did I mention the dinosaur ones?) in yesterday’s New-Look Grand Circle Tour of Disneyland post, we also have done a bunch of other new stuff recently. In this post, we’ll cover all of that…
Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge construction or other ongoing projects throughout the parks. Maybe next time. Construction is really coming along, so I should probably do an update on that soon.
We’ll start this update in Disneyland, where some work in Adventureland has eliminated retail space (Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost and South Seas Traders) to relocate indoor seating for Bengal BBQ and that fruit and beverage marketplace across from it.
With that marketplace that was next to Jungle Cruise relocated, now there’s room for stroller parking in the old fruit stand.
This frees up a ton of space in what used to be Disneyland’s worst bottleneck.
The result is nice and makes this area easier to navigate even when it’s more crowded. Why this wasn’t done years ago is anyone’s guess. Even in a place where retail is king, those shops never seemed particularly busy.
This is just one of a dozen-plus projects like this that will need to be completed by 2019 so Disneyland does not buckle under the crush of the crowds that show up for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Even with these projects, it wouldn’t be surprising to see large swaths of the park become one-way only all day once that land debuts.
For about a millisecond, we debated eating at Bengal Barbecue to try the new pork belly skewer. When we saw the $7(!!!) price for it, we quickly jumped out of line. It’s no wonder this spot went from having insanely long lines a few years ago to often having no one in line today.
Those prices for what amounts to a savory snack (you’d need like 4 skewers to make this a full meal) are simply too high. You can see more of the new seating area and thoughts on this dining spot in our updated Bengal Barbecue Review.
Sticking to this side of the park, there’s new Fantasmic food at various places throughout New Orleans Square and Critter Country. The Mint Julep Bar is serving these Mickey-shaped Blackberry Beignets.
We really liked these; they tasted like Fruity Pebbles or some other sugary breakfast cereal. The only downside was they made our teeth blue, so we looked like disgusting swamp people with rotting teeth for the rest of the day. No ‘casually cute’ photos in front of colored walls for us! YOLO, as the kids say.
The S’mores Churros (a graham cracker churro with chocolate and marshmallow dipping sauce) in Critter Country is another Fantasmic exclusive.
This was literally the best churro I’ve ever had. They nailed the s’mores taste, the churro was fresh–everything about this was exceptional. I’m not a big churro fan, but I’d highly recommend this.
At the other end of the spectrum is the “lobster stuff” at Harbour Galley. Our original plan was to order one of everything, until we saw the $15 price tags.
Instead, we just got the Lobster Galley Chips, consisting of house made chips topped with lobster, cheddar cheese sauce, spicy-lime mayo, and chives.
Nothing says “lobster” like food served in a paper bag. At least they put a Fantasmic sticker on it, I guess?
These were one of the most disappointing things we have ever ordered at Disneyland, and we’ve eaten in Tomorrowland many, many times.
The portion size was tiny, there was barely any lobster, and what was there was rubbery. None of the ingredients tasted high quality, either. I suppose that’s partially to be expected, since this is a glorified outdoor vending cart. What is not to be expected is a dish this low-quality to be this small and this expensive.
I was not expecting anything fancy or super-impressive. I knew what I was getting myself into, and was just hoping it’d be a filling option while sitting and waiting for Fantasmic. I guess this “captive audience” mentality is how they justify selling this garbage.
Keeping with the lobster motif but bouncing over to Disney California Adventure for a second, we dined at Cove Bar for the first time in a long time over the weekend and had their Lobster Nachos. For only $1 more, we got a considerably larger and higher quality dish.
After this visit, we finally decided to do a long overdue update to our Cove Bar Review. Suffice to say, we have cooled considerably on Cove Bar, which we now consider overhyped and overrated…albeit still pretty good.
We’ll stay in DCA to finish up the food portion of this update. That same day, we had lunch in Paradise Garden. Sarah opted for Paradise Garden Grill, while I got a “healthy” salad from Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta.
While Paradise Garden Grill has had its normal menu back for a while, this was our first time eating there this year. It has become our summer season go-to in Disney California Adventure, with Pacific Wharf Cafe and Lucky Fortune Cookery being our go-tos in the colder months.
We’ll finish the Disney California Adventure section of the update before bouncing back to Disneyland…
Something really needs to be done about the trees around Grizzly Peak. From within the park, it’s nearly impossible to get an unobstructed view of the mountain. This has always been a bit of a challenge, but there have been a few vantages there were good.
I don’t believe the trees have been trimmed since around the time Cars Land opened, and it’s starting to get pretty bad. The one view I’d really love to see restored is along the ‘secret’ path that goes behind the queue of Grizzly River Run, right by the waterfall. Cutting some of those trees back would reveal a postcard-perfect view.
Apropos of nothing, here’s a photo of Carthay Circle Restaurant with the full moon overhead.
…and another, from earlier that same evening.
I could see this becoming “Monsters, Inc. Screamin” or something dumb like that when Pixar Pier replaces Paradise Pier next summer.
While wandering around, we noticed just how self-referential Paradise Pier is. There is a ton that will need to be changed within the land just for the sake of internal consistency–and that’s before you even get to thematic additions to make the attractions ‘work’ as Pixar experiences. I just don’t see all of that happening. The more I think about Pixar Pier, it just seems like a really half-baked idea.
Hopefully, it’s a temporary land “takeover” to celebrate whatever permanent addition is added to the Maliboomer’s old plot of land, and not actually a permanent land.
Back at Disneyland, we finally had a chance to ride the re-imagined Autopia, with ASIMO and Bird. This debuted months ago, but we never took the time to see it.
Of course, I neglected to get photos since I was in charge of driving, but I’m a huge fan of the change. It injects a bit of life into the attraction, gives it a sense of futurism, and further enhances the charm. Autopia has been making incremental improvements the last few years, and this is definitely another step in the right direction.
If the attraction is going to stay for the long term, I’d like to see more changes, but it’s definitely on the right track. Kudos, Disneyland.
This was our first time riding Pirates of the Caribbean since the announcement of the controversial changes that will occur next year.
As I’ve already stated, I can get behind changing this scene. My greatest hope is they dedicate Imagineering’s top talent and plenty of financial resources to the new scene. It should not just be a quick fix to eliminate this scene. Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland is a top 5 Disney attraction worldwide, and deserves something outstanding.
Remember… Dreams Come True is still running, and is still awesome. I suspect it’ll keep running at least until the Pixar show debuts next summer (probably Memorial Day). Make a point of seeing it if you haven’t.
In the past few weeks, we’ve seen it from the Rivers of America, it’s a small world, and Main Street. The last option is by far the best, but the projections on Rivers of America make that a solid choice if you’re stuck after Fantasmic and really have no other choice.
They also have a new (to me) version of pyro-less RDCT that shows if the Santa Ana winds prevent the full show from going. This is an expansion of the concept that debuted for Disneyland Forever, and seems like it’s a bit longer now.
It still is only a few minutes long, but it’s better than nothing. Given how often the fireworks are canceled, I’m surprised they don’t develop a fully-fledge laser, spotlight, and projection show that runs ~10 minutes. Maybe even have some castle-level pyro. Why not?
In my quest to have the world’s greatest collection of night photos of Anaheim hotels, I took this long exposure of the Residence Inn Anaheim Resort/Convention Center.
We stayed at this hotel on Saturday night and it was exceptional. We were both really, really impressed. I’ll have a review of this hotel later in the week; I don’t want to spoil anything (as if a hotel review can be spoiled…), but I think we might have a new #1 (or at least new entry in the top 5) hotel in Anaheim.
We also just stayed in the SpringHill Suites Anaheim Maingate. We’re kicking our hotel stays into high gear between now and October, so hopefully lots of new posts on these soon. As I noted in my the Present and Future of Hotels Near Disneyland post, I’m coming up with new rankings in the very near future.
By the way, thanks to everyone who has provided feedback on what your priorities are when it comes to hotels in Anaheim. I’m leaning towards creating a weighted points system based on those criteria, so your feedback has helped!
There’s a lot more happening at Disneyland Resort than this, so next time I suppose I’ll take a list of things to photograph so the ‘update’ actually provides deeper insight into what’s going on. We plan on making plenty of visits in early September prior to the start of the busy Halloween season, so I’ll definitely have another of these in about a month or so. I’ll also have a post on Main Street Electrical Parade later this week, as we finally camped out for a spot, and I got a bunch of photos of the parade. Anyway, hope this was at least marginally interesting or enjoyable, even if it was not comprehensive or informative. Can’t win ’em all!
If you’re preparing for a Disneyland trip, check out our other planning posts, including how to save money on Disneyland tickets, our Disney packing tips, tips for booking a hotel (off-site or on-site), where to dine, and a number of other things, check out our comprehensive Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide!
Do you agree or disagree with any of our opinions in this Disneyland update? Any construction progress reports of your own to offer? Any questions? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!
Do you happen to know if anything will replace the Main Street Electical Parade once its run is over on August 20th? I will be visiting the parks from August 24th to the 26th and wanted to see if there will be anything going on at night (aside from Fantasmic and the fireworks).
Hi Tom, why Paradise Garden Grill in summer, and Pacific Wharf Cafe and Lucky Fortune Cookery in the colder months? Lighter fare at Paradise Garden Grill?
Also, this ‘secret’ path that goes behind the queue of Grizzly River Run–is it like the path at WDW linking the Storybook Circus area to Tomorrowland?
I haven’t been to DLR in over 4 years–bur will return February 2018 🙂
Yes to both questions. The Grizzly River Run path is not quite as empty, and it also has a smoking area at the end.
I may be in the minority here, but the Adventure Outpost and South Seas Traders shops were my favorite at DL, since I was a little kid. I’m very sad to hear that they’re gone. 🙁
Appreciate the updates, as always, though.
South Seas Traders was always my favorite shop to browse in, also since I was a little kid.
I cannot agree more about those trees at Grizzly Peak.
My first visit to DCA/DL was in 2014, I got some excellent pictures of the mountain. Last year, the difference was glaring.
This is such a wonderful photo op and is not one of those obvious ‘look at me’ things.
I really hope something is done.
Tom – so glad to hear that you liked the new Residence Inn Anaheim Resort/Convention Center (beautiful picture BTW). We are booked for a family suite this fall and I am happy to hear a positive first take from somebody whose opinion I’ve grown to respect. I don’t know of anybody else who has stayed there yet.
Can’t wait to read your full review!
We are planning to be at DLR the second week of February 2018 (probably 11-15th is – dates are not 100% locked down). It looks like Mardi Gras falls in that time frame. Is it a good idea or bad idea to go to DL on Mardi Gras? We will be getting either 3-day or 4-day hoppers. I’m worried it might add significantly to the crowds.
I cannot imagine Mardi Gras having any impact on crowds on anything in California. If anything during that timeframe will cause a spike, it’s Chinese New Year (Feb 16). You can expect DCA will do its standard Lunar New Year celebration.
Thanks for the information!
Springhill Maingate is our go-to Disneyland hotel for a family with small children needing separation, but not needing tons of other amenities. Excited to see what you guys thought of it