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:
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 jury is still out on that and there has been no official word from Disneyland but insiders believe that the Paint the Night Parade will return in 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!
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.
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!
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
"... 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
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.
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!