Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, CA
So, as you all know, we've been gone for a while. I know, I know, you all missed us. And you totally missed our local park updates. And you definitely totally missed our in-depth, award-winning, pencil-pushing, corporate-shilling park updates from the Disneyland Resort. But never fear! We've compiled an update of the happenings of the past eight months or so. Now, marvel as we condense said eight months into eight minutes of your reading and picture viewing pleasure!
Season of the Force
Last November, as part of the marketing effort for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Disneyland launched "Season of the Force," a Star Wars overlay in Tomorrowland that brought the Star Wars Universe ever deeper into the original Magic Kingdom. New lighting and theming was brought in to liven the nighttime atmosphere, while attractions like Star Wars Launch Bay and Hyperspace Mountain were introduced. Star Tours received a new scene featuring Jakku. And most shockingly, the Orbitron--aka the old People Mover station, was utilized for the first time in years to provide a dramatic nighttime spotlighting display.
Big Thunder Ranch
Speaking of Star Wars, it was officially announced that Disneyland would be expanding at some point in the future with the addition of a new themed land devoted to the world of Star Wars. This will be the largest addition in park history, and though specific details and an exact timeline have not been announced, work has already gotten underway with the removal of Big Thunder Ranch and the demolition of a large swath of backstage space behind Frontierland and beside Mickey's Toontown.
The removal of the ranch means the loss of the BBQ (relocated to the River Belle Terrace) and the loss of the Disney goats. That part was particularly painful, as the goats were just plain wonderful. Fortunately, they were relocated to a rescue farm to live out the rest of their days in peace and frolicking fun (that's not a euphemism for a darker demise, honestly), but it's still a bummer to see them go.
Rivers of America
To the dismay of Disneyland uber-nerds who never realized that rerouting has happened before, the back half of the Rivers of America is currently reshaped to make room for "Star Wars" Land. This means that the river itself is closed, and though the waterfront looks the same right now, the back half has been dammed up and drained, and the Columbia and Mark Twain are docked and not currently in operation. Ditto for the Davy Crockett Canoes and Tom Sawyer Island and FANTASMIC!
"Star Wars" Land Demolition
The park has wasted little time pretty much leveling the back northwest parcel of park property. The views from Big Thunder Mountain and the Mickey and Friends parking structure are pretty dramatic. Trees have been felled, buildings have been eliminated, and mounds up on mounds of dirt have been moved.
The Jungle Cruise
The Jungle Cruise closed for the first part of this year to allow an extensive refurbishment. Animatronics were fixed up, and the dock was modified to eliminate the need to tie up and run the throttle full for loading and unloading. As a result, this process is now much more stable. Part of the refurbishment also removed the added guardrail netting that had been installed on the boats, restoring the old viewlines.
Goodbye Mad Tea, and Other Hollywood Land Backlot Things
The Mad Tea Party finally said goodbye for good, much to the depression of hundreds of people who loved it for some reason. It had run its course. It will be missed. By some people, I guess. And it was quietly replaced by a generic summertime nighttime dance party overlay. One gets the feeling this may be the last year they keep the Hollywood Land club stuff going on, given how little effort was apparently put into this "Jammin' on the Backlot" theme.
Food and Wine Festival
In much more important and delicious news, 2016 saw the return of the Food and Wine Festival at Disney California Adventure! Though smaller than its EPCOT counterpart, this was the largest Food and Wine Festival at DCA yet. And most significantly, it meant the return of CHOUUUUUP!!!
Flowers bloomed and things got super pretty during the first quarter of this year around the parks. This season's El Niño was nowhere near what the hype predicted for Southern California, but the rain we did get led to some spectacular blooms.
Marvel Superhero HQ
Um, it closed down. Soon to be replaced with more Star Wars stuff.
After nearly a year down, Luigi's Flying Tires reopened as the transformed Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters. Instead of the old flying saucers bumper vehicles type ride, it is now a radio controlled attraction similar to Tokyo Disney Sea's Aquatopia, where riders cruise, twirl, and swing through pre-programmed "dance" sequences.
Never Let It Go
And finally, the Hyperion Theater kicked out the long-running Aladdin stage show and replaced it with something from Frozen. Yup, now you can hear Anna and Elsa sing on a proper theater stage, with full effects and Broadway-style production. Will Frozen ever go away? No. No it will not.
And that's Disneyland and DCA in a nutshell over the past few months! We'll do this again in another eight? Yeah? Alright. Cool. Goo brah! (Sorry, I don't do that as well as Jim.)
Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.