Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, CA
Fasten your seat belts and tighten your diapers, because we've got a doozy of an update today from everything that's been going on over just the past two weeks. Yes, it seems like the Disneyland Resort is zipping along at lightspeed, despite the summer season fully upon us. Lets dive into the fray, though you may want to grab a coffee or something while the photos load...
"Star Wars" Land
The First Order attraction building continues to grow larger and larger. It remains an interesting study in steel construction, with yet another new steel framing element entering the building: open web steel joists over the area that's been used as a steel beam and column staging area. Meanwhile, the Millennium Falcon area continues to grow, and work continues along the perimeter with the Rivers of America, densifying that wilderness berm and finishing up the park sides of the entranceways and bridges that allow the Disneyland Railroad to make its circuit.
A week and a half ago, Disney announced that the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost and the South Seas Traders would be departing forever to Yesterland to make way for a relocated Tropical Imports (currently next to the Jungle Cruise) and an expanded indoor Bengal BBQ seating area. Work on that has commenced--all while the popular Adventureland cafe remains open. In the next month or two, the islands in the middle of the pathway will be demolished, and the stroller parking will be moved to the Tropical Imports shelter to create a clearer path for guests. Though it's always a bummer to see common sights leave the park, this will definitely improve pedestrian flow and will be a welcome believe on peak days.
Along the Rivers of America
The Rivers of America has seen major visible progress over the past two weeks, not the least of which is the reopening of Tom Sawyer Island this past weekend. But we'll have more on that tomorrow. Today, we take a look at continued construction and work along the Rivers from our usual vantagepoints plus a bevy of new perspectives made possible by accessing the Island.
Disney also confirmed opening dates for the area attractions. In addition to Tom Sawyer Island opening this past weekend, FANTASMIC! will return on Monday, July 17, while the Mark Twain, S.S. Columbia, Davy Crockett Canoes, and Disneyland Railroad will accept riders once again starting Saturday, July 29.
Big Thunder Trail Reopens
Had I been able to make it to the Resort last week, you would have gotten this update a week earlier. But two Thursdays ago, Big Thunder Trail reopened after over a year of downtime to make room for "Star Wars" Land expansion and construction. Though the trail is scheduled to briefly go down again shortly before "Star Wars" Land opens, its reopening greatly alleviates traffic congestion resulting from the Frontierland and Fantasyland dead ends that had existed.
The new trail looks great, adopting a beautiful red sandstone motif brought forth by Big Thunder Mountain and inspired by the canyons and geology of Utah. The sweeping new rockwork even provides a bit of shade on sunny days, and guests walking through can now clearly identify the two main entrances into the future "Star Wars" Land, along with the path of the Disneyland Railroad's re-routed track and first-ever "left turn." It's pretty nice!
Lazy Summer Saturdays
My friends who visit Disneyland much more casually than I always talk about how busy the park is, especially in the summer season. And then I inform them that, actually, the lightest days are often summer Saturdays, since they are blocked out to all but Signature passholders. The effect is staggering, as most ride wait times this past Saturday were half the time of just a month ago, when blockouts were not in effect. Of course, the heat and Father's Day weekend may have played a part too, but not enough to cut crowds by that much.
The Summer of Heroes Continues
When we last stopped by the Studio Catering Co. food truck was serving the Guardians of the Galaxy-inspired special menu in place for the summer. Well, sometime in the past two weeks, the Knowhere Eats pop-up restaurant has opened, allowing its food truck adjacent location to take up the GotG menu. Meanwhile, the Studio Catering Co. truck is serving a collection of Mediterranean and European fare with superhero themed naming. For anyone who might be curious, the Garden Grill still has its normal Mediterranean menu, so the fact that falafel is here is not because something special is going on over at Paradise Pier.
I mentioned that the Summer of Heroes includes an Avengers Training Initiative show in the Hollywood Land backlot area. Here are some photos from the show, which is basically the Marvel version of the Jedi Training Academy that was taking place at the Tomorrowland Terrace. Kids can take part in training to become an Avenger and even get their chance at stopping a villain who crashes the show. Spoilers in the photos below, but it's definitely a fun and enjoyable event!
Also following up from last week, here's what the Toy Story Midway Mania Fastpass distribution and queue looks like. Here too, it seems like the addition of Fastpass has added a noticeable amount of time to the standby wait--to the order of about a 50% increase.
In Cars Land, Cruz Ramirez joins Lightning McQueen and Mater as meet-and-greet vehicles over at the Cozy Cone. My timing when I passed through twice did not overlap Cruz's appearance, unfortunately, so I didn't take a photo. But indirect proof comes from the revamped Cars Land entry sign!
Finally, it's also been a spell since we stopped by Downtown Disney, but the Splitsville Bowling Alley is also well into construction. This steel framed building looks like it will be three stories tall (though the top floor could just be offices and/or storage), maximizing the square footage of its overall compact footprint where the House of Blues used to stand.
If you've made it this far, congratulations! You survived the longest single Disneyland Resort update in Westcoaster history! It really has the content of two updates, so that's how I'm going to justify the length. But as you can see, even though it's the summer, there are plenty of changes still going on. I admit, I'll welcome a slowdown in amount of construction once things boil down to just "Star Wars" Land and Splitsville, since these the more content in an update, the longer it takes to put together. Then again, with some of the rumored Resort plans down the pipeline, there may be other projects springing up...
In any case, tomorrow, we'll look at Tom Sawyer Island. And after that, Ghost Town Alive!
Such a busy week, I might decide to give myself an extended break. Goo farh?
Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.