Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, CA
Hi folks! Welcome to February and another construction update from the Disneyland Resort. Now, we had a lot of fun last month using various gimmicks to discuss the progression of dirt, and it seems like the general reaction was pretty positive to the entertainment. But a small minority did question the lack of actual facts and information in these updates. And even though at such an early stage, there's not much to do more than empty speculation, and there's only so much I can say about dirt being moved around and foundations being poured, and the gimmicks were obviously meant to be silly, this small and vocal minority has a point. We at Westcoaster pride ourselves in presenting correct and proper information to our reading public. We'd never want to stoop to "fake news" and "alternative facts" or engage in tabloid journalism. So today, we will make sure that any facts we display are 100% real.
"Star Wars" Land
A week and a half ago, a wild construction crane appeared. It used "steel erection" (teehee). It was super effective! And in just a short a mount of time, "Star Wars" Land has progressed on noticeable architectural progress. To say it's just now "going vertical" is not technically correct, since grading and site walls and piles have been under the process of construction for a while. But in terms of attraction buildings that will enclose things of guest experience--this is the start of a new chapter in the saga of Disneyland's biggest expansion ever. Plus, last week, Disney officially announced that "Star Wars" Land will be opening in 2019. Exactly when is uncertain. My guess would be the traditional start-of-summer season target.
There's stuff getting dug up on the north end of the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure property. It's probably not important.
Lets take our usual overview of the site.
As you can see, a massive crane has landed (not literally) in the construction zone.
And you're going to be seeing acceleration in observable progress over the next bit of time.
Finally, some excitement.
The most obvious new feature since last time is structural steel being put up. Even last week, this scene looked different.
But steel workers go pretty quickly, and the skeleton of even sizeable buildings can be installed in surprisingly short periods of several weeks.
A closer look shows some braced frames and steel columns and beams.
Braced frames are shear elements that provide rigidity to an overall building. The diagonal brace limits the amount that the building can move along the direction of that brace.
These braced frames appear to be buckling-restrained braced frames (BRBF). BRBF's are a relatively new type of concentrically braced frame that improves ductility in the brace.
What are concentrically braced frames, you ask? Well, they are a type of braced frame characterized by the centerlines of all vertical, horizontal, and diagonal elements meeting at single points. They are efficient and the conceptually simplest of braced frames.
Traditional concentrically braced frames are very strong but not very ductile, or strong and stable under tensile stress. BRBF's improve upon the traditional concentrically braced frame by adding a sleeve to resist buckling that might be caused by too much push and pull of tension and compression when the frame is subjected to lateral forces like wind or earthquakes.
Over in the back corner, near Mickey's Toontown, concrete trucks appear to be pouring concrete for another building.
Concrete has become a popular construction material for large scale projects, especially in seismic zones, because the aggregate and cement component resists compression very well, while the steel reinforcement (rebar, or what we always like to call "noodles") provides tensile strength.
As we move across the built up berm, we see some trees planted on the hill.
This looks like it will help soften the transition from Frontierland to "Star Wars" Land by keeping a rustic edge on the Frontierland side.
Fact: The green you see on the slope is not grass. It's hydroseed, which is used for erosion control, minimizing the amount of water that might otherwise fall and be absorbed into dirt. That way, the dirt doesn't turn into mud, and the slope is more stable. Hydroseed can also be used to stimulate planting for grass or shrubbery so that roots strengthen the dirt.
Moving back to the foreground of our overall view, we return to the giant pit that has been dug for--presumably--one of the future attractions of this land.
Further down, the hole has gotten circular, as new shoring and formwork has been put up for the retaining wall that will ring around here.
A slightly closer glance. You can insert moneypit joke here, because Disney is throwing a LOT of money into "Star Wars" Land.
Also, retaining walls are structures--usually concrete--built in basement or hillside conditions used to hold back the soil and dirt on one side of them. Dirt pushes against the wall sideways, so the retaining walls must be designed to resist this force.
Additional concrete walls have gone up closer to Disneyland Drive.
This looks to preserve an access road for backstage navigation.
Over at the Hungry Bear side, the site looks a little cleaner.
They'll have a few months to finish up the public-facing side of this area, since the Disneyland Railroad is scheduled to reopen in July.
You can see the backside of the temporary dam on the Rivers of American on the left half of this photo, above the "Sunstate Equipment" lift and behind that branchy looking tree.
The rockwork facing the Rivers of America continues to progress as workers reconfigure this part of the river.
This is an interesting and artistic process using plaster over a mesh network of lath which is shaped and welded to support members attached to the main structural walls.
The plaster is essentially the same type of material used in a lot of residential home-building around the country. It's more commonly called stucco.
I don't know for sure (haven't bothered to look it up) if the company doing this work is the same company that did the rocks in Cars Land and similar work at Mysterious Island at Tokyo Disney Sea, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was.
Here, you can see the mesh wrapping around to the "Star Wars" Land facing side, with numbers spray painted to identify components of the future rocky surface.
In addition, there looks to be a bit of a bridge over one of the future entry portals of "Star Wars" Land, presumably to provide service access and connect from backstage of Fantasyland/Frontierland. This looks similar to a service crossing at Mysterious Island at Tokyo Disney Sea that is masked by a tunnel from the park guest perspective.
Again, the green is not grass. Nor is it Soylent Green.
From the dead end at Frontier Crossing, guests can spot a bit of not-Star Wars Land through the trees. The bridge for the train trestle, for example...
More walls for the backside of "Star Wars" Land.
And of course, Mr. Crane. That's not just a personification. That's a large and frequently-used operator of large construction crane equipment for big construction projects.
Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: Breakout!
Speaking of glimpses, this past weekend provided a glimpse of the ex-Tower of Terror, as the first view of the facade of Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: Breakout! (say that three times fast) was peeled back. The covered scaffolding appeared to be lifted away just a bit to show guests a sneak preview of what's to come in May, and, well, I'll just let you make your own conclusions.
The former Tower of Terror as seen from the Mickey and Friends parking structure.
Upon closer view, the first bit of the building redesign has been revealed.
One of my friends remarked that it resembled a 90's artist interpretation of a circuit board. I can confirm that the **fact** is this was not what Disney Imagineers were going for.
Also fact: there are a lot of Disney fans who wish this ride re-design was leaving instead of coming also.
Fact: this is a stark change from what the building used to look like.
Less than four months before the rest of the building needs to be finished.
Perhaps with time, this "inside-out" (not the movie) looking building will find the fate of another controversial building that also turned its systems inside-out--the Pompidou Center in Paris, which was initially revolted when it opened in the 1980s but has since become embraced as an icon of the city.
The new Guardians of the Galaxy attraction will have a visual impact all over the park. Here's the view from Cars Land.
And here from Pacific Wharf.
And here it is looming behind Carthay Circle Restaurant, as seen from Grizzly Peak Airfield.
Rivers of America
Meanwhile, the wraps are (mostly) off at the Rivers of America. Other than the Sailing Ship Columbia, most of the tarps around the area are gone, especially around Tom Sawyer Island. This suggests that the TLC refurbishment the island has been receiving the past few months is complete or just about so, though I doubt it will reopen ahead of the Disneyland Railroad reopening in the summer. There's still work on the backside of the river to be done.
Here we area at the frontside of the Rivers of America.
The front of Tom Sawyer's Island looks all finished up and looks nice and rustic.
Whatever adjustments were made for the return of FANTASMIC! look well integrated.
We move along toward the New Orleans Square side. Mr. Crane can be glimpsed in the background, giving an idea of its scale.
The masts on the Columbia are back up too. You'll recall that the ship was literally at half mast(s) for a while there.
A mast is a tall, vertical pole used for the attachment of rigging and sales. It can also feature a perch--often called a "crow's nest," that allows a sailor to look out into the distance for potential hazards.
Tom Sawyer's Island has its own crow's nest as a pairing with the Columbia's.
A view back to the Mark Twain, which remains docked.
Here is the dam of which you saw the backside earlier. You can also see the portion of the top level of the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure from which I take photos of "Star Wars" Land.
The tarps around the Big Thunder side of the river are gone too. The buildings look like they've received a nice coat of paint and clean-up.
Paint is a colored substance that is spread over a surface and dries to leave a thin decorative or protective coating
The Return of AP Days
It's February, which means that AP Days are back. This is basically a little event exclusive to Annual Passholders that provides little perks and opportunities for AP holders. There are free souvenirs such as decorative pins and recipe cards for dishes inspired by or made at restaurants around the Disneyland resort, a little lounge area, plus meet-and-greets with rare Disney characters. It's a small gesture, but it functions as a thank you for the Annual Passholder community.
AP Days are back, and they've taken on a Main Street Electrical Parade theme this year.
They're also being held at Disneyland Park this year, after being at Disney California Adventure the previous.
Annual Passholders can get a special button. The buttons change each week and are basically a little memento.
Here's this week's recipe card, which can be obtained from Redd Rocket's Pizza Port, Jolly Holiday Bakery, Refreshment Corner, or Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor (just go to a cashier and show him or her your AP for scanning).
Inside the AP Days Welcome Center at Starcade, there's a map showing locations of AP Day events. In addition to what was described above, there is also a showing of an 1986 documentary on the Main Street Electrical Parade at the Main Street Opera House. Showtimes are 5:00, 6:30, and 8:00pm daily.
The AP Days Welcome Center has a few photo ops.
Plenty of merchandise to purchase, of course.
After all, Disney will gladly take more money. Who wouldn't?
Annual Passholders can take a pamphlet with various facts and a fun quiz about the Main Street Electrical parade. Did you know that it has over 600,000 sparkling lights?
A lounge area has been set up for relaxing.
It's actually pretty charming and quaint.
It's not a large area, but it's good for a brief break.
The little facade behind is pretty cute.
And there's a small charging station for those who need to juice up their phones.
A separate activity area is available for kids who want to color their own pennants.
There's also a very modest arcade corner by the entryway.
The most popular feature of this Welcome Center appeared to be the meet-and-greet with the Sheriff of Nottingham and Prince John from Disney's Robin Hood.
Prince John seemed reluctant to meet anyone.
*evil villain finger motions*
It is a rule that all villains must bring their hands together in such a manner.
The two villains were well in character with their guest interactions.
The Sheriff did his best to act devious.
Prince John reluctantly accepted the affection.
"Can I get some sanitizer after that smooch?"
The interactions are not brief either. Each guest had meaningful time with the characters.
The downside was longer lines, but it's uplifting to see the magic in these guest/character interactions.
Around the Parks and Resort
The refurbishment season continues, as rides go offline for a few weeks to receive their annual maintenance. As a year-round park, Disneyland does not benefit from a closed off-season during which said seasonal parks can perform their maintenance. Thus, they need to rotate their attractions for that routine service.
The Jungle Cruise is back open and no longer Christmas-y.
Haunted Mansion is back open too, so it's Pirates' time to go down for regular work.
Also closed for a while is the Matterhorn Bobsleds.
And during the time since the last update, It's a Small World also closed and re-opened back as its regular iteration.
Refurbishment work is ongoing at Disney California Adventure too--mainly at Grizzly Peak. While I was there, I also caught more fun guest interactions with Chip and Dale, who you may recall were the focus of some photos in our Lunar New Year Celebration update. They're really the greatest.
Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters are NOT down for refurbishment; they just can't run when it's raining (or sprinkling, like it was Friday).
Grizzly River Run is closed for regular maintenance.
Fact: rafts cannot function through a flume drained of water.
This is because rafts rely on buoyancy as a medium for propulsion.
Buoyancy is the property of a matter that allows it to float.
Also closed is the Challenge Creek Trail.
I caught Chip and Dale interacting with guests along Grizzly Peak as I walked through.
They were quite animated and hams for other guests' cameras.
Their interactions with children were also heart-warming to witness.
These are the types of scenes that attest to Disney magic.
Amusing and sweet, these chipmunks made many a person's day with their enthusiasm and energy and kindness.
Also, very important announcement: the current seasonal soup over at the Pacific Wharf Cafe is the Loaded Baked Potato Soup, formerly served at Carnation Cafe. It's super delicious. Everyone should go and have some.
Over at Downtown Disney, the old House of Blues building is still torn down, with no sign of new construction behind the work walls for its replacement, the Splitsville bowling alley. Also, the work walls in front of Curlsurf--the replacement for Quiksilver--are down, which means it should be opening soon.
Looks like Curlsurf is close to opening up.
This is the time of the year when Disneyland goes to the birds. In the afternoons and early evenings, the Rivers of America are inundated with a swarm so fowl that Albert Hitchcock would be proud. Don't worry, they're not here to bring about your doom, even though the sight may be intimidating. Or are they? Who knows. I don't know enough about avian doomsday portending to provide any facts. I'll just let you draw your own conclusions.
Blackbirds are everywhere in the late afternoons right now.
They flock all over the trees and spring to the air at random periods.
It's quite a sight.
The bird issue is so egregious that even parrots are camping out at the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure.
Clearly some guys missed the memo that Adventureland is that --> way.
And that does it for a fact-based Disneyland update. Unless indicated, everything mentioned today was a fact that is totally true, and not a fake rumor, political satire, or South Park reference. In true American fashion, we are appeasing the low minority complainant, and we hope that this meets satisfaction.
(...Wait, you can't please everyone on the internet? Ah crap.)
Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.