Sunday, August 17, 2014

Disneyland News and Rumors August 2014

Not as much "inside information" has been revealed lately as far as the goings-on are concerned at Disneyland, which will make this update short but sweet.

The refurbishment of Alice in Wonderland is complete and it is awesome! I have always loved the Alice in Wonderland ride and the new, updated projections and animatronics greatly enhance it. Next up will be the other dark rides (Peter Pan, Mr. Toad, Snow White, and Pinocchio) which currently aren't on the official published refurbishment schedule but are assumed to be closed one at a time in the fall.

Work is also well under way on the pedestrian passage ways off to the side of Main Street. Once completed, these passage ways should really make getting from the entrance of the park to the various lands (and vice-versa) much easier during parades.

The Finding Nemo Submarine Ride will, in fact, reopen on September 27. The original plan was to close it indefinitely and replace it with another Star Wars themed ride. For months the ride was closed with no work being done on it (other than some scaffolding up here and there for appearance sake) while different ideas were being considered as to weather or not to keep the submarine ride for another year or two or to close it permanently. In the last month or so, work has finally started to pick up on the ride with a lot of new underwater plants being painted which will really add a lot of new color to the ride. With all this said, Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney, stated in a conference call to reporters on August 5th, 2014 that there will be a "far greater Star Wars presence" in the Disney theme parks in the not too distant future. My gut tells me that they wanted to wait for the new Star Wars movie to come out before creating a new Star Wars ride so they can incorporate some of the new movie into the ride. It wouldn't make financial sense to spend $4 Billion on a movie franchise only to base rides on the older movies. I think it's safe to say that the subs are safe for the 60th Anniversary, but I wouldn't be surprised if they close down permanently shortly after the celebration winds down, when details of the new Star Wars movie are known for construction to start on the new Star Wars ride. Of course, this is all speculation so take it with a grain of salt.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Character Dining at Disneyland

With my little kids getting older every year, I thought I better take advantage of the character dining while they still appreciate it. 2014 was actually my second experience with character dining. In 2009, we took the kids to Goofy's Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel. In this post, I'll talk a little about both experiences including the menu's and pricing.

June 2014 Ariel's Grotto
With two daughters, ages 8 and 5, who love princesses, I thought I better try Ariel's Grotto. Because it has a penchant for being extremely busy, it is very important to make reservations as early as you can, which is 2 months in advance. In 2013 I waited until a week before we left to try to make a reservation and they were completely booked. In 2014, I made my reservation on April 20 for June 18th. I pre-paid through getawaytoday.com, which is the travel agency I use to book all things Disney and SeaWorld. Despite pre-paying for it though getawaytoday.com, I still had to make the actual reservation by going to the Disneyland website and under "things to do" clicking on "make reservation."

There are a few different groups of people with the same reservation time, so when they called us in, we first stood in line down the stairwell for a picture with Ariel. After the picture, we were led to our table. The waiter brought the kids each crowns which they were able to decorate with crayons and stickers.

The menu doesn't have a huge selection so it made my selection of the BBQ Tri-tip that much easier. There is a kids menu as well and the kids got the chicken nuggets and fries, and the hotdog and mac and cheese. The meals all came with a small dessert which included a chocolate covered strawberry, cookie, and jello. The food was good, but the reason we came was for the princesses. Soon after we were seated, Cinderella was announced by a squire. As she was going from table to table, Belle, Snow White, and Aurora were also announced and began to walk from table to table as well. My kids are all a bit shy so they didn't talk to them much but were all eager to get pictures with the princesses.

All in all, it was a fun experience, even for my 7 year old son. It was pricey - $44 for me and $22 for each of the kids. You're obviously paying for the experience with the princesses because the food alone would be hard to sell for half that amount.





MENUS: (as of June 2014)
Adult:
Sautéed Shrimp and Angel Hair Pasta
with Seasonal Vegetables and Basil, tossed in a Tomato Broth
Red Oak-Smoked Honey-Whiskey Barbecue Tri-Tip
Thinly Sliced with Mashed Potatoes and Seasonal Vegetables
Fire-Roasted Corn Cakes
Sautéed Spinach, Onions, and Shiitake Mushrooms with spicy Bean Salsa and Chili Oil Drizzle
Fresh Catch of the Day
Sustainable Fish served with Chef's choice of sides
Citrus-Glazed Chicken Breast
Udon Noodles and Bok Choy, Edamame, and Carrots in a light Miso Broth
Grilled Lobster Tail Salad
Mixed Greens, Hickory-smoked Bacon, Avocado, Tomato, Quail Egg, and your choice of Point Reyes Blue Cheese Dressing of House Vinaigrette   

Child:
Ursula's Octo-Dog served atop Macaroni & Cheese with fresh Fruit, Vegetables and an individual Dessert. Choice of Small Low-fat Milk, Small Dasani® Water, Small Minute Maid® Juice, or Small Nesquik® Chocolate Milk
Whozits and Whatzits Fries and Nuggetz
Chicken Nuggets and French Fries served with fresh Fruit, Vegetables and an individual Dessert. Choice of Small Low-fat Milk, Small Dasani® Water, Small Minute Maid® Juice, or Small Nesquik® Chocolate
Clammy Turkey Sammy
served with fresh Fruit and Vegetables and choice of Small Low-fat Milk or Small Dasani® Water. Meets Disney Nutrition Guidelines for Complete Meals without substitution  Angel Hair Pasta a la Dinglehopper
served with fresh Fruit and Vegetables and choice of Small Low-fat Milk or Small Dasani® Water. Meets Disney Nutrition Guidelines for Complete Meals without substitution



June 2009 Goofy's Kitchen
While staying at the Disneyland Hotel, we thought that one morning we would try eating at Goofy's Kitchen. The kids were 3 and 2 at the time while Lizi was just a baby. When we were called to our table, we were first taken to have a picture taken with Chef Pluto. Once to our table, we ordered and as we waited for our food, Goofy came in to the center of the dining area and had all the kids come up and help him cook some pretend food. The kids were a little young to go by themselves so their mom carried them up there while I stayed behind with the baby.

The menu selection was good, with more choices than Ariel's Grotto and more appealing choices as well. While I don't recall anymore what we paid for the experience, the prices were expensive, but a bit cheaper than Ariel's Grotto.

Although they were young, the kids enjoyed the experience.




MENUS: (as of June 2014 Prices are $37.99 for ages 10+ and 16.99 for 3-9)

For more info on places to eat at Disneyland, see my other post here:
http://ourdisneybiz.blogspot.com/2012/08/eating-at-disneyland.html

Monday, July 14, 2014

2014 Disneyland Ride Stats

This year our family of 9 bought 4 day park-hopper tickets to Disneyland and California Adventure. Our ages are 40, 38, 16, 14, 11, 8, 7, 5 and 4 months. Every year I have all the kids write down every ride they go on and then I compile a list of all of our rides when we get back. The following is a list of all the rides we went on in 2014, keeping in mind that Space Mountain, Alice in Wonderland, and the Nemo Submarine ride were all closed.


Ride Breakdown
Rank Attraction                           Riders
1 Pirates of the Caribbean 50
2 King Arthur's Carousel 30
3 Grizzly River Run 25
4 Radiator Springs Racers 24
5 The Little Mermaid 23
T-6 Tea Cups 22
T-6 Splash Mountain  22
T-8 Buzz Light Year Astroblasters 20
T-8 California Screamin' 20
T-8 Autopia 20
T-8 Big Thunder Mountain Railroad 20
T-12 Winnie the Pooh 19
T-12 Jungle Cruise 19
T-14 Disneyland Railroad 18
T-14 Star Tours 18
16 Mater's Junkyard Jamboree 15
T-17 Peter Pan's Flight 14
T-17 Soarin' Over California 14
19 Tarzan's Treehouse 13
T-20 It's a Small World 12
T-20 Casey Jr Circus Train 12
T-20 Pixie Hollow 12
23 Heimlich's Chew Chew Train 10
T-24 Monorail  9
T-24 Mr. Toad's Wild Ride  9
T-24 Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular 9
T-24 The Enchanted Tiki Room 9
T-24 World of Color 9
T-24 Story Book Land Canal Boats 9
T-24 Dumbo 9
T-31 Luigi's Flying Tires 5
T-31 Haunted Mansion 5
T-31 Rafts to Tom Sawyer Island 5
T-31 Pirate Lair on Tom Sawyer Island 5
T-31 Pinocchio's Daring Journey 5
T-31 Matterhorn Bobsleds 5
T-37 Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk Through 4
T-37 Main Street Vehicles 4
39 Indiana Jones  3
T-40 Tuck and Roll's Drive 'Em Buggies 2
T-40 Tower of Terror 2
T-40 Mickey's Fun Wheel 2
T-40 Flick's Fliers 2
T-40 Starcade 2
T-40 Games of the Boardwalk 2
46 Big Thunder Ranch 1


I also did a breakdown of the time we spent in Disneyland vs California Adventure and even further by the land in each park.

Park Breakdown
Rank Park Total riders % of Total
1 Disneyland 404 71.00%
2 CA Adventure 165 29.00%

Land Breakdown
Rank Land  Total Riders % of Total
1 Fantasyland 143 25.13%
2 Tomorrowland 76 13.36%
3 New Orleans Square 58 10.19%
4 Paradise Pier 56 9.84%
T-5 Adventureland 44 7.73%
T-5 Cars Land 44 7.73%
7 Critter Country 41 7.21%
8 Golden State 39 6.85%
9 Frontierland 32 5.80%
10 A Bugs Land 14 2.64%
11 Hollywood Land 11 1.93%
12 Main Street 9 1.58%
13 Mickey's Toontown 2 0.35%

Just a couple of interesting facts: we spent over 70% of our time going on rides in Disneyland and we spent 25% of our time just in Fantasyland alone.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Disneyland News and Rumors, May 2014

Dark Rides

With summertime fast approaching and my family's own Disney trip getting closer, it's time for another update on the newest info regarding upcoming changes to Disneyland. If you've been to Disneyland in the past few weeks you will already know that Alice in Wonderland is currently closed for refurbishment through July 3rd. What was still a little up in the air was weather the refurbishment was just going to be to keep the ride up to code on the safety standards of the outside track, or if it was also going to include upgrades to the animatronics on the ride itself. Micechat now reports that it will include new animatronics as well as more fluid animation in general. The last time the Disney dark rides (referring to inside rides) were updated in Fantasyland was in the 1980's, so it is definitely time for touch-ups.

Following the refurbishment of Alice in Wonderland and after the busy summer season is over, Peter Pan will be next in line for its refurbishment, replacing some of the old outdated mannequins with projected animation and updating some of the audio and lighting. Following Peter Pan will be Mr Toad, Snow White, and Pinocchio, all receiving major upgrades to the same sort of things. The plan is to have all the work completed by the Spring of 2015 in time for the 60th Anniversary. Although the Alice in Wonderland refurbishment will take about 4 months total due principally to the outside track, the other dark rides are expected to be closed for about half that time each for their upgrades.


Main Street USA

If you've ever tried to get from Disneyland's main entrance to Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, or any other land for that matter during a parade, you're probably already familiar with the daunting task it can be! Another project that is being reported by Micechat is the constructing of a themed alley way to the east side of Main Street that will help with the pedestrian traffic flow through the area, especially during parade times. There are also plans to update the older buildings in that area, such as the lockers, First Aid, and the Baby Care Center.


Parking

Parking has never been an issue for me because I always walk to the park from my hotel. But there are many locals and cast members that have been inconvenienced for a long time because of the current parking or lack thereof. Disney recently purchased an old RV Park and gas station near the corner of Ball Rd and Harbor Blvd with the designs to add a few thousand parking spaces for cast members. Once this project is completed, look for them to turn the Pumba Parking Lot (to the east of Disneyland) into an 8 story parking garage with a pedestrian walk way over the busy Harbor Blvd, just like the walk ways in Las Vegas. To facilitate the extra foot traffic this would create, they would need to purchase some of the property across the street to the east of Disneyland. In Anaheim's City Hall, a plotted map shows plans for this to happen with The Park Vue Inn and IHOP coming up on the short end of the stick.

Miscellaneous odds and ends

Still no certain update on the future of the Submarine Ride although no real work has been done on it since it's closure for "refurbishment" back in January. What TDA (Team Disney Anaheim) appears to be doing is just keeping it shut down for the remainder of the fiscal year while saving on its large operating costs. Then as they determine whether the funding is there for the Star Wars concept in Tomorrowland, they will either open the Subs back up towards the end of September (in which case a couple of weeks of solid refurbishment would be needed) or shut them down for good and prepare it for the new Star Wars theme. The delay of the Star Wars concept actually may be more than just a financial decision as the longer they wait, the more they can add concepts from the new Star Wars Movie Trilogy, for which filming has just begun.

For my newest update, click here:
http://ourdisneybiz.blogspot.com/2014/08/disneyland-news-and-rumors-august-2014.html

Friday, March 7, 2014

Disneyland Vacation Planning Links

Although I have a few different posts devoted to planning Disneyland Vacations, I thought that it might be useful to put together a post of all the useful Links to different websites I have used in the past to make vacation planning easier. You can click on any of the below titles to take you to the site.



Disneyland Crowd Tracker This link from the isitpacked.com website is a helpful link in determining when to go to Disneyland based on the size of the crowds.

Hotels Near Disneyland This link provides a map of all the hotels within a couple of blocks of Disneyland.

Disneyland Ride Refurbishment Schedule It's important to know what rides are going to be closed at what times so you can plan your vacation accordingly - especially if everyone has a certain favorite ride! This link is to the most comprehensive site that I have found that lists all the refurbishments as announced by Disney. Be aware that even though the list may be accurate at the time you read it, sometimes rides require extra unplanned time for refurbishment (an example would be Thunder Mountain Railroad which was supposed to open early January 2014 won't open until the end of March).

Disneyland Restaurant Menus Although I'm an advocate of saving as much money as I can by eating as many meals as I can back at my hotel, sometimes it's just more convenient to eat a meal or two at Disneyland. This link will direct you to allears.net which has a great listing of all the menus at Disneyland and California Adventure.

Disneyland Tickets and Vacation Booking One of the most common questions I'm asked is, "Where can I find cheap Disneyland Tickets?" The answer unfortunately is that because Disneyland regulates who sells their tickets and because demand is so high, there isn't really a place that has extremely cheap tickets. In my experience, however, the place with the cheapest tickets and hotel rooms and with the most convenient way of booking is getawaytoday.com. They also have excellent customer service. We also use them to book our Sea World vacations.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Disneyland News and Rumors February 2014

Much has changed since my last update, and unfortunately not much of it is good news...Many of the refurbishments and new rides have been put on hold at Disneyland due to questionable decisions by the Brass to invest in sterile technology over at Walt Disney World in Florida, as reported by Micechat.

For the past 2 years, Disneyland has pulled in larger profits than expected which allowed the Imagineers to create concepts and rides in Disneyland and California Adventure. But while Anaheim was turning in unexpected profits, Walt Disney World Florida was busy creating the MyMagic+ program which as of yet has yet to reap the projected rewards. The MyMagic+ program includes the Magic Band - the ticketless entry in to all the parks in Florida - a reservation booking system, and Fastpass+ programs, to name a few. The MyMagic+ programs continued to require more time and more money and quickly fell behind schedule. Instead of putting the projects on hold, WDW decided that they had already invested such a large financial commitment to the programs that they would continue on with them despite being well over budget and behind schedule.

The end result is that while Disneyland Anaheim was doing extremely well financially, the new programs in Florida weren't paying off as they were supposed to by fiscal year 2014. But not only are the programs not profitable now, they will require additional funds in 2015 to help iron out the bugs the system has in it. Additionally, the MyMagic+ concept was originally sold to the operations team in Burbank, CA as being able to be duplicated in Anaheim at Disneyland, thus making all the expense easier to swallow. But because of logistics and different demographics in Anaheim, the program suddenly looks much less likely to work there. So with this in mind, the budgeted numbers for the project suddenly look even worse considering the MyMagic+ ultimately will probably only be used in the Florida property.

With all this in mind, Bob Iger (the CEO of the Walt Disney Company) and all of Disney's top Executives met in mid November to discuss the MyMagic+ (NextGen) programs. While the exact conversations might not be known, the end result had Mr Iger returning to Burbank and telling WDI (Imagineering) to halt all major projects at all American parks, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland. All plans for the 60th anniversary at Disneyland have also been put on hold and the Imagineers that were assigned to creating the Star Wars ride and concepts in Tomorrowland were reassigned to Shanghai Disneyland (which conveniently has its own budget) until at least the end of February.

The following is a status report on various projects or refurbishments as reported by micechat:

Star Wars in Tomorrowland - ON HOLD
Originally Star Wars was to be introduced into Tomorrowland in two phases. The first phase was to remodel some of the buildings and shops to make them look more "Star Wars-ish" and to replace Captain EO with another Star Wars related attraction before the 60th Anniversary in 2015. The second phase was to begin in late 2015 with the construction of the Speeder Bike ride, the Ewok forest where Autopia currently is, the Millenium Falcon walk-through where the People Mover platform is, the removal of the People Mover track, the removal of the Astro Orbiter from it's current location and relocation of it to the top of Space Mountain, and the remodel of the Tomorowland Terrace to look like the Cantina on the Star Wars planet of Tatooine. All of these projects have been placed on hold indefinitely in Anaheim and cancelled altogether in Disney Hollywood Studios in WDW Florida.


Monstropolis in California Adventure - CANCELLED
The concept was to take the underutilized corner of California Adventure in Hollywood Land and create a new thrill ride, restaurant, and re-theme the entire area. This project has been cancelled outright, and many think that the plans will never see the light of day again.


Fantasyland Dark Ride Renovations - ON HOLD
While the plans for the reconstruction of the Alice in Wonderland outdoor track are still scheduled to get underway as soon as Thunder Mountain Railroad reopens in February, the rest of the re-Imagineering of all the dark rides has been placed on hold. The one hope that we Disney fans can hold to is that Disney Imagineering pushed back the refurbishment of Alice in Wonderland from January to February so they could buy some time to save as much of the dark ride improvements as possible for the 60th.


Soarin' Over California in HD - IT'S A GO!
The original plans for the conversion of Soarin' to HD were for it to close down for 4 months from February 24th to June 6th. A new version of the film will be created and will culminate with scenes which are being filmed via flyovers of Disneyland and California Adventure on March 12. It has officially made Disneyland's Refurbishment schedule so I think it is safe to say that this is a go!


Plans for the 60th Anniversary at Disneyland in 2015 - STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS...
The 60th Anniversary in 2015 looks like it might be a smaller event than previously planned. The budget has been trimmed significantly. One idea being thrown around is to have a theme of nostalgia. At one time there were plans to create a whole new night time parade,  but with the budget as it now is, that won't be happening. The current working idea is to bring back the Main Street Electrical Parade. I, for one, hope that is the case! I have such great memories of viewing that parade as a child with my mom. Nothing will ever quite top the magic that the Main Street Electrical Parade brings to Disneyland. For the Holiday season, Disneyland is considering bringing back the Christmas Star on top of the Matterhorn, which was used from 1961-1972. The Golden Horseshoe Revue is also slated to come back to Frontierland. So aside from the Electrical Parade's return which appears to be the center attraction of the 60th Anniversary celebration, there will also be a few nostalgic odds and ends here and there.

On a final note, we all might have stepped on to the Submarine Ride for the last time - the Submarine's have apparently been shutdown for good. While the official refurbishment schedule has them down until September of this year, Micechat reports that they won't open until January 2015 if at all. The plan now is to drain the lagoon and save the money that it costs to run the attraction (it is by far the most expensive attraction in Disneyland to operate) while Disney waits to hear the future of Star Wars in Tomorrowland. If Star Wars get's the green light, the Submarine ride will have already sailed into Yesterland. If Star Wars stays on hold, it is a possibility they will bring it back for one final year in 2015 (remember, the 60th Anniversary theme is nostalgia) and then start construction on Star Wars attractions toward the end of the year.

For the latest news and rumors, see my newest update:
http://ourdisneybiz.blogspot.com/2014/05/disneyland-news-and-rumors-may-2014.html

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Disneyland news and rumors, November 2013

There have been a few changes made to the planning session of what the new Tomorrowland will look like according to MiceChat since my last post a few months ago. Also, it appears that a new "mini" land will be headed to California Adventure.

Tomorrowland
First, the plans to use the old PeopleMover track have apparently been scrapped probably due to the extreme amount of reinforcements that would have to be made to be sure it could handle a high speed ride. Now the tentative plans call for the Innoventions building to be gutted and used for the pre-show and boarding area for the new Speeder Bike thrill ride. The majority of the track would be out side and to the north where Autopia currently resides. I would be shocked if they actually took Autopia out, but according to the MiceChat report, that's precisely what they are considering. I would have to think that even if Disney goes through with this plan, they would simply move Autopia to another location, maybe Cars Land or by the Thunder Mountain Railroad where the Ranch is currently?

The Speeder Bike thrill ride will be based on the forest moon of Endor where the Ewoks live (from the Star Wars film, "Return of the Jedi" for you non-Star Wars fans out there) and an Ewok village and walk-through attraction will be built to house dining and shops. Disney's Imagineering team supposedly has dueling proposals for this area; one that keeps the current Monorail track as it is and disguises it amongst the Ewok forest, and one that cuts out much of the track and shortens the Monorail route to enhance more of the Ewok forest visuals.

Another Tomorrowland reported project is the removal of the Astro Orbiter from the entrance of the land which will help free up space to get in and out of Tomorrowland. The re-Imagineered Rocket Jets Spinner is currently planned to land on top of the Space Mountain Concourse, tying in with a repurposed Starcade upper level next door.

The old Rocket Jets spinner and PeopleMover platform is reportedly getting an extreme makeover its self, as a landing pad for a very popular spaceship...the Millennium Falcon. The Falcon will serve as a walk-through attraction as well as the meet and greet location for Chewbacca. Just below the landing platform where the Tomorrowland Terrace dining facility is currently, will be made over into the rowdy Cantina on Tattooine (from "A New Hope").

Monstropolis
This past summer, the attendance split between Disneyland and California Adventure was nearly 60/40 which is a HUGE jump from the normal 80/20 split it had been typically, visitors preferring Disneyland in large numbers. This amazing change can be attributed mainly to Cars Land. But since the jump in California Adventure attendance is more than anyone had foreseen, the Disney brass now sees a necessity in increasing park capacity by the creation of another "E-ticket" attraction. (An E-Ticket attraction is a ride that draws people to an area, such as Radiator Springs Racers or Indiana Jones). Doing so would help them decease overcrowding on other rides, specifically Radiator Springs Racers.

I an effort to create such an E-Ticket attraction, work is rumored to be close to getting underway for the creation of a Monstropolis land in the sleepy corner of HollywoodLand. The casualties would include the MuppetVision and Stage 17 buildings which would be replaced by the new E-Ticket thrill ride. Taking a concept originally cooked up a few years ago for Disney Hollywood Studios in Florida, the new thrill ride would be themed to the door hangar scene in the Monsters Inc. movie. The Monsters Inc. dark ride would remain although the façade of the building would be redone as the whole area will be transformed into a fully realized Monstropolis environment.

The "Studio Backlot" theme of this area would be removed entirely and the backsides of the Hollywood Blvd. facades would be built out and repurposed as new dining and shopping locations.

With the 60th Anniversary celebration set to get underway in 2015, work will undoubtedly be going on to some extent in both parks, though it will be much easier to hide in the corner of California Adventure. To what extent work is started on the Star Wars attractions in Tomorrowland by then remains to be seen. With the release of the new Star Wars film slated for December 18, 2015, it's possible that Disney will try to at least give Star Wars a bigger presence in the Area.