Saturday, January 14, 2017

Disneyland News and Rumors, January 2017

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly!


The Good!

Third Park
Disneyland just wrapped up another hugely successful holiday season with record crowds despite the rainy weather for much of the season. The week after new years when the Annual Passes aren't blocked out was so busy that on Wednesday January 4th, both Disneyland and CA Adventure were closed at one point due to reaching capacity! Disneyland will occasionally reach capacity and have to close during the busiest times of the year, but very rarely will CA Adventure have to. The fact that both parks reached capacity should tell Disney that things are going well and that they better start planning the third Anaheim Park that they've been contemplating, sooner rather than later.

The idea of a "third gate" (to go along with Disneyland and CA Adventure) has been in circulation for quite sometime among the brass at Disneyland. In fact I'm sure at some point before it was decided to add Star Wars Land to Disneyland and Marvel to CA Adventure, it was heavily debated as to whether or not Disney should open a third park based around these two intellectual properties (IP's). But ultimately with Universal opening it's Harry Potter area, Disney decided it couldn't wait 8 years to respond - they had to do something sooner (not to mention adding the IP's to their current parks would save them a bunch of money over having to develop a whole new park). But with attendance numbers creating a gridlock inside Disneyland Park most peak days and with it now even starting to carry over into CA Adventure, more serious consideration needs to be given to opening a third Anaheim park. (Imagine what the opening of Star Wars Land will do to even further increase attendance and congestion!)

Star Wars Land
Star Wars Land continues to take shape despite the rainy weather. A lot of rock work at the entrance of the land has been completed and is somewhat visible from portions of Disneyland despite Disney's best efforts to keep it as hidden as possible. What can be seen looks fantastic! The excavation of the Stormtrooper Battle Escape attraction has been completed and most of the work now seems to be focused on the areas around the Rivers of America that will house the new backstage area for Fantasmic!. And since the Rivers of America are supposed to open this summer, that's probably not a bad idea. The opening of Star Wars Land has been pushed back from it's original Christmas 2018 planned opening to Spring 2019.
This is a view from Critter Country looking at the new train tracks and the rock work behind the tracks. This is the area where a waterfall will come down behind the train and flow into the Rivers of America.

Disneyland Railroad
During my most recent visit to Disneyland, I took the time to check out the New Orleans Square train station. Although the railroad is not operating, Disneyland has opened the New Orleans Square train station for guests to explore. You are actually able to cross the railroad tracks to view the buildings and scenery on the other side - something you can't do when the railroad is operational. Disney also provides extremely knowledgeable cast members to tell you about the handcart and the train that is on display. For example, I was told that there are 5 trains in operation at Disneyland. Trains 1 and 2 were the original trains that were here when Disneyland opened - in fact, engine 2 was the actual train Walt Disney himself rode in on, on opening day. Trains 3 and 5 spent time on separate sugar plantations in Louisiana before coming to Disneyland and Train 4 spent time in a sand and rock port in New Jersey.

The most fascinating thing he told me, however, was about the future of the Disneyland Railroad. He mentioned that the New Disneyland Railroad will reopen on July 17th and the opening will be commemorated with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The new track will be 1100 feet LONGER than the old route, despite the river being shortened. This is due to the new winding the track does as it makes its way into the ToonTown station. The Disneyland Railroad ride will also be just over 5 minutes longer than it was previously, turning what used to be about a 24 minute ride around Disneyland into a 30 minute ride around the Park. I was also told that the old tunnel that the Railroad went through just before ToonTown is no more and that a new tunnel will be built. At this point I could tell that the cast member got even more excited and a little cautious as he told me the following: He said that it was believed that inside the new tunnel would be a throwback to the old Mine Train Through Natures Wonderland attraction that existed up until the late 1970's and was replaced by Thunder Mountain Railroad. He said that, although not confirmed by Disney, many cast members believe that there will be bubbling paint pots that existed in the old ride as well as new rock work similar to what existed back then.  
A bridge has been created for easy access to the other side of the train tracks, an area normally off limits when the Disneyland Railroad is operational. On the other side, Cast Members wait for you to cross to answer any questions you have. The Cast Member that spoke with me was very knowledgeable and friendly, yet not too pushy with his information. He was great! 

The Bad!

MaxPass 
Earlier this week DisneyParks Blog announced that Disney will be adding the Fast Pass option to two more attractions - The Matterhorn and Toy Story Mania as well as adding a new program later in the year called MaxPass. 

MaxPass is a service that will be available for an "introductory price" of $10 per day that allows the user to book a fast pass from anywhere within Disneyland or California Adventure. It also provides guests with unlimited downloads of their PhotoPass images. The announcement of MaxPass was met with overwhelmingly negative comments posted by readers on the blog. "Why is Disneyland charging for a service that is not only free but is the only way to obtain Fastpass at Disney World (in Florida)?" was the response of one of the readers. Many more responses weren't quite so diplomatic or kind. There are a couple of things that worry me about this new program. First is the way the cost was described using the words, "Introductory Price." Those words indicate a price increase once it isn't an "introductory program" any more. Second, for large families such as mine, the program isn't affordable. It is $10 per ticket, per day. So lets say my family of 8 makes the trip to Disneyland and we buy 4-day park hopper tickets. At $10 per person ($10x8 = $80) per day ($80x4 = $320) I'm paying an extra $320 for MaxPass in addition to the 4-day park hopper ticket price. 

As for the addition to the other two fast pass attractions, I've got mixed feelings. I love using the fast pass system and use it regularly every time I go to Disneyland or CA Adventure for Radiator Springs Racers, Soarin',Star Tours, and Splash Mountain. It works well for rides that would otherwise have insanely long wait times. 

My family rode the Matterhorn on a busy day this past July at a time when the queue wrapped half way around the Matterhorn and had a slight switchback at the end. We only waited 25 minutes to get on. In my opinion, a 25 minute wait for a ride that was busy at the time isn't an unacceptable wait. But what happens when you add Fast Pass to it? The wait time will increase for the standby line because now they have to wait for the people that have Fast Passes. So I'm not sure that increasing the wait time of a ride who's queue isn't too long to begin with in order to get people on faster is very effective.

As for Toy Story Mania in CA Adventure, for whatever reason that area of the Park doesn't interest me at all and I've never actually been on Toy Story Mania in the first place - partially due to lack of interest and partially due to long wait times. So having the Fast Pass here might actually entice me to try this attraction out. 

Either way, Disneyland risks pricing some people out of their programs and, even worse, exudes the appearance of charging unnecessary fees for programs that should be included for free.

Hollywood Land
For far too long the North-East corner of Hollywood Land has been allowed to sit vacant or, at the least, vastly underutilized. Currently out of the 4 buildings there, only one (Monsters Inc) has something going on in it. The other three (Sunset Showcase Theater, Stage 12, and Stage 17) sit vacant. That's up to three potential attractions that could help alleviate the overcrowding problem at Disneyland! 

To make things worse, instead of starting a re-theming of CA Adventure with these un/under utilized buildings, Disney decided to start with one of their most beloved attractions in CA Adventure - The Tower of Terror. The Tower of Terror is now officially closed as of January 2nd and is scheduled to re-open on Memorial Day weekend as Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout!. The new ride will basically be the same in practice as the Tower of Terror with the feeling of weightlessness as you drop quite a few stories, just with a different theme to it. Micechat.com is also reporting that a new Marvel themed roller coaster is scheduled to open in 2020 behind the new Guardians of the Galaxy attraction. 

While I hate to see the Tower of Terror go, I don't mind the decision to make the change. The Tower of Terror will still be available at Walt Disney World in Florida and I like the idea of having a different variety of rides in the different parks. In addition, Disney wants to give the Marvel Franchise, a franchise which Disney paid $4 Billion for, more of a presence in it's parks. So, as I have mentioned in previous posts, Disney is creating a Marvel sub-land in Hollywood Land. With that said, the issue I have is why would Disney start introducing the new Marvel theme by taking out one of it's most popular attractions instead of starting by adding attractions in the unused buildings around Monsters Inc? By adding attractions there instead of redoing one already in existence, they would be helping draw people into CA Adventure. Instead, CA Adventure now has one less attraction for half a year and will be back to the it's same status after that. The crowd issues will remain the same once Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout opens.
RIP Tower of Terror (2004-2017)
Another casualty of the Marvel theme that is being injected into Hollywood Land is Disney Jr: Live on Stage. Micechat.com is reporting that it will be closing in April and being converted into a Mavel character Meet and Greet. Again, with the above mentioned empty buildings, I'm at a loss as to why Disney is taking out a popular attraction instead of making use of an unused building.

The Ugly!

I'm not sure how to start this portion of my blog other than to say that I'm very surprised and incredibly disappointed by the following Disney decision and subsequent reactions.

I noticed a few days ago on the DisneyParks Blog Facebook page that Disney has invited "The View" co-hosts to broadcast from Disney's Animal Kingdom in March. I am of the opinion that shows that are hosted by controversial and divisive people from either end of the political spectrum should be kept clear of the Disney Parks. Furthermore, if Disney was a bit more forward thinking they would try to remain a bit more politically neutral or they risk alienating many many current and potential future guests. 

As I visited the Facebook page I noticed that I wasn't the only person with this opinion. In fact, many people had posted their disgust with Disney for inviting this program to film on their property. I decided that I would visit DisneyParksBlog.com to voice my opposition to their decision, thinking that maybe it would be more effective to post it there. When I got to their page, their were 5 comments below the story, all favorable to "The View." I thought this to be strange and posted the following: "Careful Disney - You risk alienating AT LEAST half of your customer base." I felt that this was an effective and respectful way to voice my concern at the direction Disney seems to be heading. 

When I went back the next day to see if any other comments had been posted, I noticed that my comment had been deleted. That upset me because I felt that I had a right to post my opposition to their decision in a respectful way. I guess Disney, a supposed champion of free thought and free speech, decided that they wanted to censor a certain point of view. 

I decided to go back to the DisneyParks Blog Facebook page to post there what Disney had done. Once again I respectfully posted what had happened - that Disney had deleted my opposition to their idea of filming "The View" at Animal Kingdom. Guess what happened? Disney deleted that post as well. Apparently they don't want people to know that they censor opposing ideas. 

I realize that Disney has every right to delete what ever comments they want - after all, these are their social media pages that they run. The issue I have is that both of my posts were respectful, just presenting my point of view that happened to differ from theirs. There was no reason to delete them unless Disney didn't want others to think that there are people out there who dislike "The View." For a company who is currently headlining the fact that they hosted a "panel discussion" with social activists, you would think that they would be in favor of free thought and speech. Unfortunately, I have just learned that seems not to be the case with Disney. 

Although I will still vacation with my family at Disney Parks for the time being, this sequence of events has me second guessing my devotion to and fandom of Disneyland. Note to Disney: Stay neutral on politics and social issues! 


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas time at Disneyland: A Trip Report

The magic of Disneyland is definitely enhanced during the Christmas holiday. Unfortunately so are the crowds! But if you can handle the additional people and manage your time wisely, you will experience quite a different Disneyland than you'll see at any other time of the year. We were fortunate (or unfortunate depending on your point of view) to experience Disneyland in the rain this holiday season. The rain started right as we pulled into the Toy Story parking lot at 7:45am, and didn't let up until about 2:00pm. The $10 poncho's did their job and we were able to enjoy Disneyland with slightly lighter crowds than normal for this typically busy time of the year.

After I left for college, my Mom started going to Disneyland frequently over the Christmas vacation period (She was a school teacher). Disneyland didn't start decorating for Christmas until 1997 so I never witnessed the Holiday overlay until 2016. It exceeded my expectations!

Disneyland is transformed for the holidays to capture the magic of Christmas by adding a giant Christmas tree just inside the park, by decorating the exterior of Sleeping Beauty's Castle as well as all of Main Street, and by including a Santa meet and greet in Critter Country. But the festive changes to the park not only include the exterior of buildings - they also include changes made to the interior of certain rides such as the Jungle Cruise, It's a Small World, and the Haunted Mansion. In 2016, the holiday changes will last through January 8th. Here's a look at Disneyland during Christmas time!

The umbrella's were out and poncho's were selling like hotcakes on this rainy morning!

The Christmas decor on the castle looked great!
During the day, the light strands hanging off the castle looked a little like moss...but at night when they were all lit up, they looked incredible!
Autopia remained closed through the early afternoon due to the inclement weather.

Work continues to be done on Tom Sawyer Island to get it ready for the return of Fantasmic! in Summer 2017.
Here's a closer look...
On the left-center of the picture you can see a lighter colored tarp. Behind it, the Sailing Ship Columbia is docked in Fowler Harbor receiving the necessary updates to accommodate the new Pirates of the Caribbean scene which is rumored to be replacing the Peter Pan scene in Fantasmic!
Here's a closer look...
The Haunted Mansion Holiday has been up since before Halloween and lines for the Haunted mansion seemed slightly longer throughout the day than they are in the summer time for the classic version.
Another look at the Haunted Mansion with the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay.
Work is also being done on the Disneyland Railroad track in Critter Country. I love how they have helped tie in the construction by using the painted tarps so it's not such an eye sore.
A little further in Critter Country, the Winnie the Pooh meet and greet has been turned into the Santa meet and greet.
I'm assuming this is where Santa typically meets the kids on good weather days...
...but this is where he had taken up residence when we were there, probably due to the rain. Candy canes were handed out to all guests who met Santa. 

Although the Disneyland Railroad is currently closed, the New Orleans Square Train Station has many fascinating displays to take in. In talking to one of the cast members, I was informed that there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony on July 17, 2017 to celebrate the re-opening of the Disneyland Railroad. The cast member also mentioned that the new track will be about 1100 feet LONGER than the old track and will add about 5-6 minutes on to the ride - instead of 24 minutes, the new ride will take about 30 minutes. There will also be a new tunnel before the Toon Town train station. The tunnel that was there previously is no more and in it's place is a new tunnel with unique rock formations and, according to this cast member, perhaps even bubbling paint pots in the likeness of the the ones that existed back during the days of the Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland! He mentioned that none of this has been confirmed by Disney, but all the Railroad cast members believe that it will happen and are extremely excited about the tribute to the past. 
You can actually cross to the other side of the railroad tracks - something that you typically aren't able to do when the Railroad is up and running. You can see the cast members that are available to give you as much or as little information about the trains as you would like. They are extremely knowledgeable! 
Here's a look at one of the information boards across the railroad tracks.
Looking back towards Disneyland from the other side of the tracks.
A look into the tunnel leaving the New Orleans Square Train Station.
I had to get a picture by engine #2. This was the actual engine that Walt Disney himself rode in on opening day as he came in to address the crowd. 
Now on to the Jungle Cruise - or the Jingle Cruise, as it shows on the sign. I had heard mixed reviews on the holiday overlay on the Jingle Cruise but I absolutely loved the new temporary look and story! 
Signs at the entrance start the story as to why there are Christmas decorations spread throughout the attraction. 
Here's the other new sign...
A look at a cool authentic-looking sign in the entry way...
...and the sign on the other side of the entry way.
The boats are renamed for the Holidays. The 'Kissimmee Kate' is now the 'Kissimmee Under the Mistetoe.' Other boats we saw were 'Sugar Plum Lady' and 'Navidad Adventuress.'
Unfortunately the pictures I took of the best parts of the attraction were blurry, but here are a few to show some of the overlay. 
The elephants used the bells to make some Christmas music. They played it by ear...
"No, no, Mr Rhino! The star goes on the top of the tree, not in the bottom..."
Alice in Wonderland was closed all day due to the inclement weather but that didn't stop this guy from smiling.
The tea cups also remained closed the entire day.
The giant Christmas tree is located just after you pass under the Main Street Train Station. In makes an amazing backdrop as you walk from the Castle back towards the entrance of the park.
It's a Small World was absolutely breathtaking! Inside of the ride the song 'Jingle Bells' was mixed in with the normal Small World song just perfectly! And the festive decorations that were added were just the right touch to make the ride feel "Christmassy" while not detracting from the special Small World feeling.
Here's a closer look. We went on Small World first thing in the morning since it's my 2 year old's favorite ride, and it's a good thing we did! When we returned to ride it again in the afternoon, the line was insane! It wrapped in and around and back and forth through the trees to the south of the attraction. We had to look to make sure that it really was the line for Small World because it wound its way so far away from the ride itself!
Here's a look down Main Street with Sleeping Beauty Castle in the Background.
And here's a close-up of the Castle. It was really beautiful all lit up!

Star Wars Land Construction

No update would be complete without a couple of pictures from Star Wars Land!

Here's a glimpse over the fence on the way to Critter Country...
...and a closer look. You can see the rock formations starting to take shape!
Here's a look through a knot in the fence that was just wide enough for my camera to capture it. The bridge you can see in the center of the picture is the new track for the Disneyland Railroad. There will be a waterfall coming off of the rocks behind the tracks and running under them into the Rivers of America.

Well, that about wraps up our Christmas Disney trip! I now understand why my Mom loved Disneyland so much during the holidays! Thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Sounds of Disneyland: The Casey Jr Circus Train attraction

Although Walt Disney was hopeful that Casey Jr would be able to be enjoyed by his guests on opening day, it didn't actually open until July 31, 1955 - two weeks after the opening of Disneyland.

Casey Jr has always been a favorite attraction of mine for the simple fact that it gives me the opportunity to experience the creativity of the past Disney Imagineers. The pleasant ride above the Storybook Land Canal Boats attraction gives guests the opportunity to see many intricate details that might otherwise be missed. My kids also love Casey Jr until they turn about 7 or 8, at which time they prefer to go on the faster rides, though they never put up a fight when I suggest we go on it.

Here is the audio from the ride, recorded in August 2016:

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Disneyland News and Rumors November 2016

The Disneyland Resort area is currently engulfed in renovations and construction projects. Fortunately, Disney is accustomed to refurbishment and construction projects during park operating hours and thus the impact of their current construction projects on their guests' enjoyment is very minimal.

Here's a look at some of the current projects being worked on and some of the projects reported and rumored to be getting underway soon:

Disneyland

Parades:



The Paint the Night Parade is currently back running on select nights at Disneyland and will be doing so through the remainder of the holiday season. After that time, it will undergo a lengthy refurbishment while the Main Street Electrical Parade is brought to Disneyland Park for "a limited time." 

So how long is a limited time? Well, the Disney Parks Blog just announced that it will premiere on January 20th and will run through June 18th. There will also be a special pre-premiere on January 19th from 7:30pm to midnight. For $95 guests will get to see the Main Street Electrical Parade a day before the general public gets to see it, and have access to a select number of attractions inside the park. No official word on what will replace the Main Street Electrical Parade, but common wisdom would point to a return of the Paint the Night Parade for the summer.

The return of The Main Street Electrical Parade to Disneyland was announced by the Disney Parks Blog on August 10, 2016 by Erin Glover, Editorial Content Director at Disneyland Resort. A question was posted by a reader asking if the Paint the Night Parade would be moving to Walt Disney World in Florida. Erin responded by saying, "At this time, there are no plans to bring “Paint the Night” to Walt Disney World Resort." This further confirms to me that the Main Street Electrical Parade is being brought in for a final short run before being retired permanently while also giving the Paint the Night Parade time for a much needed refurbishment. 

When/if the Paint the Night Parade does return, it may not run as often as it did in 2015-2016, possibly being rolled out only on weekends, holidays, and other "peak season" days. It is the most expensive parade to run in all the US based Disney parks so by limiting the days it is shown, Disney will be able to save costs.


Fantasmic/Rivers of America:

According to Micechat.com, the new Fantasmic! is currently scheduled to debut on the July 4th, 2017 weekend. There has been a significant renovation done to the Sailing Ship Columbia in preparation for the new show, as well as a lot of work done to the show portion of Tom Sawyer Island.

Even more exciting is the news that the Rivers of America - including all the water rides - are slated to open by late June, 2017. This also means that the Disneyland Railroad will be operational around that time as the track would have to be completed before they would open the Rivers of America since the track skirts the edge of the water. In fact, some of the track in that portion of the park has already been laid!


Haunted Mansion:

The tombstones that have been missing in the front portion of the Haunted Mansion queue since 2001 have been replaced! I have to admit that while I understand the appeal of the Haunted Mansion, it's not my favorite ride. With that said, my favorite part of the attraction was looking at all the humorous tombstones as I waited in line while going on it when I was younger. It had been so long since I had been on it that I didn't even realize that the tombstones were gone! But in 2001 when they first started doing the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay, they removed the tombstones to make room for pumpkins. When they took the overlay down, they couldn't find the tombstones anywhere! 

Originally the tombstones were made to honor each of the imagineers that worked on and created the Haunted Mansion attraction. The new tombstones not only honor the original creators of the ride, but Disney has also added additional tombstones to honor the imagineers that have helped with creating the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay.

Here's a video detailing the return of the tombstones, courtesy of Disney Parks Blog:

Star Wars Land:

Work continues on Star Wars Land. The land will only have two new attractions in its 14 acres which seems almost like a waste to me. Don't get me wrong - I'm a HUGE Star Wars nerd...uh...fan... so I am excited about the new land. I just wish they would add more attractions to benefit the guests rather than more shops and restaurants to line their own pockets. One of the two rides will be a Millennium Falcon ride and the other will be called Battle Escape. The Battle Escape attraction is said to possibly entail entering, exiting, and re-entering your ride vehicle multiple times. Picture a more interactive Pirates of the Caribbean where you are able to disembark your boat and check out the treasure room, the jail, or the burning city of Tortuga. Supposedly that's the experience that Disney is shooting for with this new attraction.  

Monorail/Eastern Gateway:

Beginning in mid-April 2017, the Monorail will close through at least October and possibly through the end of the year. The closure is a result of Disney re-routing the track! 

The track is being rerouted due to the new Eastern Gateway project announced by Disney. Construction has begun on a new large parking structure (containing anywhere between 5000-7800 parking spaces depending on what source you believe) being built on the East side of Harbor Blvd, behind the good-neighbor hotels. In fact, Disneyland purchased the Carousel Inn and Suites a year or so ago so they could use the space for a new pedestrian walk-way stretching from the new parking structure, over Harbor Blvd, to the esplanade. In mid October 2016, the Carousel Inn and Suites closed it's doors for good and it's now just a matter of time before the demolition process begins and the walk-way is started. 

There is some ambiguity in what will happen with the security checkpoints once the new walk way is in place. Micechat.com reported that once the new parking structure and walk way are completed, the only security checkpoint to the east of Disneyland will be accessed via the parking garage, meaning that any guests staying in one of the hotels on Harbor Blvd will have to back track to the parking garage to get through security. The facebook page of one of the Harbor Blvd hotels contradicted that report saying that guests would access Disneyland in the same way as before by crossing Harbor Blvd at the crosswalk and going through a security checkpoint there (where it currently is). This would make much more sense to me as it would be an extreme inconvenience to guests staying at the Harbor Blvd hotels to have to walk back to the parking garage, 

Another interesting piece of information on this project reported by Micechat.com is that the original plans called for a much bigger parking area but the United States Customs and Immigration Services are currently in a building on the area of the proposed parking structure. Their current lease runs through 2020 and when they were approached by Disney to see if they would consider ending their lease early, they refused. Regardless, once they are out of there, it will be easy for Disney to expand their currently planned parking structure to add a couple thousand more spaces. Construction on the new parking structure is expected to be completed in fall 2018, just before Star Wars Land opens.

Because of the Eastern Gateway project, the Monorail track will be re-routed from where it exits Tomorrowland to just before where it crosses over the Buena Vista Street bridge in California Adventure. Another reason for the re-routing of the track is because of the rumored expansion of California Adventure! 


California Adventure

Marvel Expansion

Although I'm not a fan of Marvel - particularly as a Disney franchise, the biggest news coming out of California Adventure is the planned expansion of the Hollywood Backlot area. With the new Eastern Gateway project, the bus loading zones will now be at the new parking structure, thus opening up all that former bus loading space for expansion. Since the Monorail beam will also be moved out of the way, there will be plenty of room now for a new Marvel area. The purpose for the expansion will be to give the Marvel brand more of a presence in California Adventure. This also means major changes are coming to the existing Hollywood Backlot area, including the Stage 17 building, Monsters Inc ride, and the old Mad Tea Party space. That whole area is rumored to be completely removed and used for Marvel themed attractions. 


Tower of Terror

My older kids were saddened by the news of the closing and re-themeing of the Tower of Terror to the new Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout. Although the Tower of Terror remains open through early 2017, the exterior of the building has scaffolding and tarps surrounding it as the transformation is underway. The building will close from January 2017 until Summer 2017 while the imagineers work on the interior of the new attraction with the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride opening in the summer. Joe Rohde, the principal imagineer of the project says that the new ride will not simply be an overlay to the old ride, but that there will be "way more new stuff." Here's how he described it in a response to a question posed to him on the Disney Parks Blog: 

"... it’s a totally different use of the same core thrill. Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! is an all-new attraction with the same thrilling drops that everybody loves, but it will have all new creative storylines, as well as multiple, unique ride experiences set to music inspired by the film’s popular soundtrack."  

There is an informative video on the new ride, complete with artists renditions of what the new ride will look like on the Disney Parks Blog. Unfortunately, while he is extremely creative, Joe Rohde has a very disturbing ear decoration that has stretched out his earlobe to a point that I would prefer not to have my children see it, so I won't post the video here.


World of Color

There is a new holiday themed World of Color show entitled, "Season of Light" which will run through January 8, 2017. After that time, the original version of the World of Color will return for an unspecified amount of time.



This and That

Hotel Construction

Disneyland has announced that it will be starting construction soon on a new 4-Diamond hotel. To receive a 4 diamond rating, Disney must spend $225,000 per guest room, including $30,000 in furniture, fixtures, and equipment. The only other 4-diamond hotels in Anaheim are the Grand Californian and the Disneyland Hotel. (The Paradise Pier has a 3-diamond rating). Both the LA Times and the Orange County Register report that the 700 room hotel and parking structure will be built on 10 acres at 1401 Disneyland Drive at the north end of the Downtown Disney parking lot. 

Construction is scheduled to start in 2018 and should be completed in 2021. Currently there is no official theme, but the hotel will be designed by Walt Disney Imagineering. The hotel will include an up scale rooftop restaurant, 2 pools, and a fitness facility and will cost about $450 per night.


TV Specials 

Disney is also planning on airing 3 TV specials in conjunction with the holidays. The first which airs November 24th on ABC from 8pm-10pm eastern time is titled, "The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration." It is being filmed live at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

The second special, "Disney Parks Presents: A Descendants Magical Holiday Celebration" will air on the Disney Chanel on November 25th from 8pm-9pm eastern time. It also will be filmed at Walt Disney World in Florida.

The third TV special, "The Disney Parks' Magical Christmas Celebration" will air on Christmas Day on ABC from 9am-11am eastern time and will be filmed at Disneyland.


That's it for this update. Thanks for reading and have a happy Thanksgiving!




Monday, September 19, 2016

Anaheim Camelot Inn and Suites Review (across the street from Disneyland)


We love to stay as close as we can to Disneyland so that we can go back to our hotel room for naps and to eat in the middle of the day when the weather is hot and the crowds are large. The Camelot Inn and Suites is the third different hotel we've stayed in that is right across the street, within walking distance of Disneyland. The other two we have stayed in are The Tropicana and the Del Sol Inn.

We typically don't spend any leisure time in our hotel so what we are looking for is a refrigerator for precooked meals that we bring with us, a microwave to re-heat those meals, a coffee maker to make hot water for our cup-o-noodles, and two nice beds to sleep on.

The Anaheim Camelot Inn and Suites offered our family of 5 everything we were looking for. Of the three hotels we have stayed at, the Camelot Inn and Suites has the most curb appeal. There are 5 stories, which is 3 more than either the Tropicana or Del Sol, and I would imagine a little tedious to get to if you had a room up there. Our room was on the second floor and instead of waiting on the elevator, I always took the stairs.
Here's what the Camelot Inn and Suites looks like from Harbor Blvd. 
Here's a look at the Camelot Inn and Suites once you've pulled in the drive way. 
The staff we encountered was very helpful and friendly. I chatted a little with the employee at the desk when I checked in about the forthcoming demolition of the Carousel Inn and Suites in October who seemed to think the noise wouldn't be too bothersome. I also had an encounter with an parking employee who saw me going to my car from Disneyland and then walking back out of the parking lot. He confronted me, thinking that I might be parking my car there and then going to Disneyland (which I'm sure many people try to do). He asked if I was staying at the Camelot Inn and for my room number. I also gave him my name and that seemed to satisfy him. While I did feel slightly interrogated, I understand the position he is in and felt that he handled the potentially challenging situation in a professional manner.

The parking situation at the Camelot Inn and Suites was much better than the parking situations we have encountered at either the Del Sol or Tropicana. The parking fee is $14 per night (same as the Tropicana) but we were able to find parking spots without needing to have our car valeted which we have never been able to do at the other two hotels. There is also covered parking and more shaded parking in general at the Camelot Inn and Suites.

Price-wise the Camelot Inn and Suites was slightly more expensive than the Del Sol Inn, which is the least expensive of the three mentioned hotels.

Here's a look at the rooms:
Here's a view of the room as you first open the door.
Although their website said Queen size beds, I believe these are doubles. They were slightly smaller than  the beds at the Tropicana and Del Sol Inn, but once my head hit the pillow, I was out after a long day at Disneyland,
A nice little seating area to eat a little lunch. We actually put the two chairs together and made a little bed for our 2 year old to sleep in at night. It worked out perfectly.
Here's a look at the mini-fridge, microwave, safe, TV, and dresser drawers.
Another feature that the Camelot in and Suites has that the Tropicana Inn and Del Sol Inn don't is a cabinet area to hang clothes.
Here's a look at the coffee maker, ice container and cups and the vanity area. The cleaning staff kept it well stocked with shampoo, conditioner, and soap.
The bathroom had a tub with shower and the towels were re-stocked every day.
One final look at the layout of the room.
I also have a blog post detailing all the hotels I've stayed at titled, Where to Stay at Disneyland which might be helpful in comparing the different hotels to one another.

hgj