Disneyland Park, Anaheim, CA
It's been over a month since we last visited the Disneyland Resort specifically to check up on the work that's happening. In that time, we've had plenty of progress, plus a D23 convention that shed a little more light on the updates coming to the Resort. Plus, while the big focus of "Star Wars" Land (now actually named) has dominated attention, other projects have culminated around the park too. So lets take a gander at some of what we've missed the past thirty days. To partially make up for lost time, this update has extra photos, so you might need a little extra time for the page to load.
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
During the D23 convention, Disney officially announced that the "Star Wars" Lands going into both Disneyland Park and Disney Hollywood Studios in Florida would be called "Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge." Plenty of people have made the joke that this new land must be sponsored by Samsung, since it retains basically the name of their flagship phone from last year. But it does make sense, as the Imagineers have long touted the new land being a new remote outpost planet never before seen, located in the outskirts of the galaxy.
And over the past month, the structural steel for both the First Order and Millennium Falcon attraction buildings have basically sped forward, to the point where the buildings themselves appear to be pretty much fully framed. In fact, framing for the towering peaks and future landscape that will cover the actual show buildings has begun going up. With just two years till opening, we should start seeing things getting covered sooner than people might expect!
Last month, the park began a little project to ease congestion in Adventureland by removing South Sea Traders and the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost, so that it could provide an indoor dining area for the ever-popular Bengal Barbecue and relocate Tropical Imports to this location. That would free up the Tropical Imports structure to house stroller parking, taking it out of the middle of the pathway. In addition, the standing tables for the Bengal Barbecue would be removed, lessening the bottleneck between the restaurant and the Indiana Jones Adventure entrance, and generally improving guest flow.
Well, that project has been completed, and the results look great. There's nothing necessarily spectacular here, and this was never meant to be anything grand. But for a project rooted in the practicality of improving crowd flow, the result has been pretty nice. The seating area is much welcome and takes up most of the space, with only a small fraction devoted to some stands and display areas for the snacks and beverages that Tropical Imports used to sell. Interestingly, nothing has really been renamed, at least as far as signage goes. So there's still a South Sea Traders--it just sells things to eat and drink now instead of merchandise!
Rivers of America, Almost Complete
With the reopening of Tom Sawyer Island and the return of FANTASMIC!, the Rivers of America has nearly returned from its year and a half hiatus used to reroute the river to accommodate Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. All that remains is for the Mark Twain and S.S. Columbia to return to service (they're already functioning for FANTASMIC!), as well as the Davy Crockett Canoes and the Disneyland Railroad. Fortunately, all four attractions officially return this Saturday, July 29th. When I visited the park last Friday, only the railroad needed some last bits of touching up, and even that wasn't preventing the trains from testing.
The area down by Hungry Bear has also opened up a bit, revealing more views and giving a sense of the new riverfront ambiance that will be present once the Rivers attractions fully reopen. It's pretty darn nice, and I think the eventual Critter Country entry to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge will be one of the underrated fantastic experiences of the park. In the meantime, we can already start to get a feel of what that will be like now.
Last Wednesday, MaxPass officially made its long-due debut at the Disneyland Resort. This is effectively electronic FastPass for an upcharge. Guests can add MaxPass to their single day ticket for $10/person, which provides them with the ability to schedule FastPasses electronically using the app and receive PhotoPass downloads for the day. Annual Passholders can obtain this benefit for the entire year for $75. Signature Plus and Premiere passholders get MaxPass for free. And because Signature passes previously already came with PhotoPass privileges, which would render the $75 addition only half worth it, the park has made a change to remove PhotoPass benefits from all future non-renewal Signature pass purchases. Fortunately for those who currently have the Signature pass, their PhotoPass capabilities will be grandfathered in and remain a part of their pass as along as they renew on time. Renew after expiration, however, and current Signature passholders will lose their PhotoPass outright.
Construction on Downtown Disney's future bowling alley continues, with structural steel looking near finished here as well. However, given its targeted this year opening date, there's still plenty to do. The construction crew even seems to be working weeknights to make up for lost time (at least a couple workers were setting something up Monday evening a week and a half ago when I walked by after park closing), which is quite a push!
Mickey and Friends Parking Structure Renovations
Finally, the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure is receiving a bit of refurbishment work along its southern edge. Guardrails appear to have been removed, and the pedestrian paving is being worked on. As a result, there is construction fencing up and select stair impediments and closures to maintain safety around the work area. I imagine this work will take a few weeks to complete.
That's it from Disneyland Park. Time constraints precluded me from making it over to Disney California Adventure, although a recent rumor suggests that Hollywood Land's transition into "Marvel Land" may be coming relatively soon--and consume A Bug's Land as part of collateral. We'll probably find out soon if that's truly the case or not. But one thing's for certain--the only constant around the Disneyland Resort is change--whether we like it or not.
There's one more update scheduled for this week, and that's a visit to the Orange County Fair and all of its wacky fair goodness. Stay tuned for that. And if you've got no plans this weekend, and/or if you enjoy the realm of spoopiness, you should check out the Midsummer Scream Halloween convention, happening at the Long Beach Convention Center this Saturday and Sunday. Check the link for more details. There will be plenty of panels, shows, vendors, classes, and entertainment to delight and frighten, and if you love the world of haunt, you'll love this event! Last year's was a blast, and this year's con will most certainly be even better!
That does it for today. Boo bah!
Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.