Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, CA
Hey guys! 'Member back when everyone was 'membering stuff from their past and stuff? Well, that was last week's gimmick, so no more of that. Instead, this week, we will be pulling a Buzzfeed/CNN (depending on your point of view) and presenting our sort-of-regular Disneyland Resort construction update accompanied by a plethora of made up rumors, and maybe one real factoid. Try to guess which one is the real one!
"Star Wars" Land
Last week, the photos I took were taken just after sunset, resulting in some pretty dull light. Shooting in RAW helped to salvage some, but this week, I got to the Resort a little earlier, which allowed a little easier visibility of the construction site. As a result, here's a clearer look at what's been going on in the future land of galaxy far far away.
Welcome to another edition of Construction... Watch... From Atop... A Parking Structure!!!
These much needed storms have also brought some pretty dramatic clouds lately.
They've occasionally even panned out into some spectacular sunsets, though as usual, I haven't been around a scenic place with my nice camera to capture them (that's my luck with sunsets).
Anyway, here we are at the future home of "Star Wars" Land.
Set in an unnamed planet that "has never been featured before in the Star Wars Universe."
Rumor has it that the planet will be called Anakeim.
Here, we can see that giant pit that they've been digging with concrete retaining walls.
And a smaller pit beside it.
This is the future home of "Star Wars" Land's upcoming premiere E-Ticket attraction that will contain the latest in state of the art technology and combine the best of Disney's and the theme park industry's ride advancements.
Code-named Project: Death Star III, it will be a radio-controlled trackless ride system (ala Mystic Manor and Pooh's Hunny Hunt) with double Kuka Arm ride vehicles (ala Forbidden Journey at Universal, but twice as good!) going through massive physical sets with projected screens (ala Shanghai's Pirates of the Caribbean) and state of the art animatronics (ala every major new attraction) and incredibly seamless 3D mapping (ala refurbished Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland), featuring two drops--one forward and one backward (ala Expedition Everest or Big Grizzly Runaway Mine Cars), a launch component (ala Big Grizzly or Rock 'n' Roller Coaster), two drop sequences (ala Tower of Terror), a water flume section (cuz water!!), and various scents (ala the Soaring rides) to enhance the adventure!!
It will be absolutely incredible.
Naturally, Disney internet fans will be dissatisfied and consider it overrated.
Over here, we have the backside of the rockwork that will front the reconfigured Rivers of America.
At night, the rocks and waterfalls facing the river will feature a fiber optic lit dazzling mini light show that triggers when the Mark Twain sails by.
'Member when this was a giant dirt mound? Well, they've moved almost all of that dirt out.
Over here, back at Project: Death Star III, they've begun pouring footings/columns for the show building.
Here's a trough that will simulate a run through the Death Star that then transitions into hyperspace and then emerges straight into another trench run through Starkiller Base.
Moving to the right, we come upon the back of Hungry Bear.
Here's a close-up. Slowly, the dirt is moving around, and stuff is getting built.
There will be a tertiary access point into "Star Wars" land from this area that tunnels right under Winnie the Pooh and includes a periscope point to look at the busts of Melvin, Buff, and Max.
Back to another look at Project: Death Star III.
This spectacular attraction will also contain an interactive queue area that will be a combination of every interactive queue area currently in Walt Disney World.
Another fun tidbit... "Star Wars" land will feature a variety of fun dining options, such as a Boba Fett boba stand, a place that serves Wookie Cookies (they're chewie!), a Yoda Soda dispensary, a high end seafood sit-down restaurant featuring Fried Mon Calamari, a Vader Taters quick-serve, an Asian style cafeteria service with Padme Thai, and a fun station of treats called Admiral Snackbar.
Rivers of America
Conversely, the light was rather terrible by the time I made it into the park and got to the Rivers of America. So the following photos are pretty drab. But since we haven't really ventured by this area in a couple of months, I figured I'd snag some shots of the area anyway, which has now been mostly covered behind tarps as more touches are being added in and around the island.
Curiously, tarps are up around the front of Tom Sawyer's Island now, even though they weren't when the building facades were being painted.
This is likely because work is being done to the stage to provide enhancements for when FANTASMIC! returns this summer.
Here's a look to the left. No big visual changes here, though eventually, the sightline to the Mickey and Friends parking structure should be obscured by new construction.
Back to the Island, I have it on very reliable but uncorroborated source that it will feature a reconfigured Maleficent pedestal that will now be Elsa casting incredible snow effects and whirling ice creations in the new FANTASMIC!
There will be snow cannons mounted along the sides to spray "snowpe" toward the audience.
In addition to Murphy the Dragon, the basement of the Tom Sawyer stage will also house a giant snowman.
It will rise up as Anna and Elsa "build it."
The long cursed Ursula FANTASMIC! float will make its return via 3D projection mapping across screens that will sweep across the entire perimeter of the Rivers of America visible from the show viewing area.
This will ensure that this long lost part of the show will finally work at all times.
You know, unless the fountains break.
Tarps on the right side conceal the launch point for a new Black Cauldron water float.
It will be spectacular and met with confusion.
Finally, the Columbia continues its refurbishment. This work is also partly for part of FANTASMIC! 2.0.
There will be new LED's and lighting effects outfitted onto the rigging and masts and sails and flamethrowers attached to added cannons, so that when the ship sails around the River, a programmed sequence of Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Wizards in Winter" will play with an dazzling light and pyro show--all thanks to the popularity of the segment from World of Color: Season of Light.
Some Other Stuff
Elsewhere, the Holidays at the Disneyland Resort are finally over, so the park has returned to a state of norm. This marks the start of Disneyland's... well, not off season, because the Resort doesn't really have much of that anymore. But we'll call it "less busy" season. That is, if you exclude Martin Luther King Day weekend, and the upcoming Chinese New Year festivities coming in a couple of weeks, and Presidents Day weekend, and the staggered span of spring break that will come up in a month and a half. But generally speaking, it'll be relatively quiet, with rides going down for their regular maintenance cycles and conversions out of their holiday overlays.
No Christmas tree! No Christmas tree!
And now Jim is so happy!
No Christmas tree! No Christmas!
Plus the castle is splooge-free!
The Haunted Mansion is now closed.
If you want rides, well then that blows.
No Christmas tree! No Christmas tree!
This trail's resumed no entry.
The pathway between Frontierland and Fantasyland had been open during the Christmas and New Year's holiday period to alleviate the incredibly congested crowds and remove the double dead end in each area. And there were photos of videos eagerly showing off "glimpses of 'Star Wars' Land" posted by people walking through with cameras above the (admittedly surprisingly low) temporary work walls. But those were really just photos of the rockwork that will face Frontierland and shield the actual "Star Wars" Land from guests passing through the western-themed area of the park. So sorry guys... that wasn't "Star Wars" Land at all.
Over in California Adventure, the holidays are also gone.
Yes, the great Festival of Holidays has packed its bags for the season.
Don't worry, though. In March, the Food and Wine Festival will return, giving guests another chance to pay too much for small samples of specialty food (which are admittedly pretty tasty and unique... but mostly not enough to be worth what the park was charging during the winter version).
Out in Downtown Disney, they're building a new surf shop store to replace the ousted Quiksilver store. It's next to the relatively recently-opened Pandora shop.
Also gone from Downtown Disney is the House of Blues Anaheim.
The concert venue has moved to a new location over by nearby GardenWalk.
They've wasted no time with demolition. Much of the old facade and interiors have already been torn down.
This will be replaced by a bowling alley called Splitsville, opening at the end of this year.
The new and larger capacity House of Blues location will undoubtedly be successful over in GardenWalk. It remains to be seen if this will finally be the shot in the arm that makes the long-struggling shopping center successful overall.
Oh, and before we leave, we must remind you... even though it is a new year, he is with us. Always.
And that does it this week from the Disneyland Resort.
We'll have other content later this week from outside the country. Or will we? Stay tuned to find out. Same West time, same West channel.
Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.