It’s FINALLY starting to feel like fall! The oppressive daytime heat is beginning to dissipate, nights are getting chilly, and the Halloween décor no longer feels out of place. But with the bait of big Halloween entertainment and events comes big crowds, long lines, and some very confusing traffic patterns. We’ll take a look at the impact of Halloween on the resort. Plus, there’s an array of stories from around the parks, including Disneyland Hotel’s HoJo moment, more fake turf rolls out, a new light in Walt’s window causes a stir, construction projects galore, and some things to keep an eye on…
Welcome back to the parade of pumpkins. Everywhere you look on Main Street USA it’s pumpkins. Pumpkin decorations, pumpkins on merchandise, pumpkins on signage, pumpkin flavored treats… You get the idea.
And the hot item this year is the giant Mickey Pumpkin figure with internal disco lighting (inspired by the big Mickey pumpkin in Town Square). It sold out early in the season but shows up in small quantities from time to time. Your best bet is to check the Main Street Emporium first thing in the morning and hope for some good news. But we have heard of shelves being restocked with this popular item at any time of the day. It’s like winning the lottery to find one.
But it’s not all pumpkins. The Halloween treats have finally shown up in the bakeries and candy shops around the resort as well. But it’s a very familiar lineup of caramel apples, rice krispy treats, marshmallow wands, and cake pops. We had been hoping for something fun and new this year (perhaps a pumpkin-flavored hand pie, fudge pop, filled doughnut, or something else out of the current norm).
Halloween-time villains are out and about. We saw Cruella and the Queen of Hearts during this photo shoot. Always fun to see them.
And the Halloween balloons have arrived as well!
Confusing… that’s all we can really say about the Halloween crowd pattern. Weekdays have somewhat reverted back to being slightly less crowded than weekends… EXCEPT for Oogie Boogie Bash days, when both parks are impacted by various factors which make them feel much more crowded. So, on Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday (and a couple of Saturdays) when Oogie Boogie is running, expect DCA to be busier than normal during the day as party guests mix in around 3 pm (but we see the crowds start earlier as some Magic Key holders start before the mix-in begins).
And Disneyland starts to get busier as guests leave the overcrowded Disney California Adventure and head to the other park. By 6pm, Disneyland is frequently packed beyond normal levels on Oogie Boogie nights.
On Thursday, we watched the Haunted Mansion wait times (even for Lightning Lane) swell as the day went on. By dusk, the Lightning Lane stretched to the Critter Country bridge.
Of course, multiple attractions all being down at the same time doesn’t help. On Saturday, Rise of the Resistance, Indiana Jones, and Buzz Lightyear were all down at the same time for an extended period. That caused Space Mountain and Big Thunder to swell as guests with Lightning Lane reservations for the impacted rides are given the option to ride a different attraction.
But there was one ride that looked like it had a crazy 70-minute wait on the app…
Splash Mountain claimed to be a 70-minute wait…
But when we got there, there was no one in the external queue, at most a 15-minute wait.
But why would that be? Either it was an error that no one caught for hours on end, or the system is being gamed so more guests will purchase Genie+. We certainly hope that’s not the case.
So, if you can, pick a Monday or Wednesday to visit the parks as Oogie Boogie days and weekends will likely remain busy throughout the fall season.
The spread of faux grass continues at Disneyland. It’s growing on us (forgive the egregious pun, but it’s true). While the type of fake turf Disney is using is more akin to what you’d find at a mini-golf course than a high-end lawn, it does make for great photos AND it makes a lot of sense in the terrible drought the West Coast is currently in.
The lawns in front of Jolly Holiday have now switched over, with the ones across the way at Plaza Inn also in transition.
Around the Hub, the grass has been pulled up in the outer ring with mulch placed down around the plants.
But it looks like they do intend to put some turf down eventually. You can see the edging set into place.
The new evergreen lawns look great in some places and a little harder to get accustomed to in other places. Perhaps solutions such as water-wise ground cover or even gravel or succulents might look better in some spots. But overall, this is a worthy experiment for the resort.
Almost Open for Business
While most of the announcements from D23 Expo won’t be realized for at least a year, there is one that’s about to open tomorrow. The new Tiana-themed shop in New Orleans Square, Eudora’s Chic Boutique, is set to open on September 20th. The signage has been installed and cast members were training in the location over the weekend.
I wonder how the shop will make good on their “Blue skies & Sunshine” guarantee 😉
Is there something you’re hoping that you’ll see in the shop once it opens tomorrow? We’ve heard from some Cast Members in training there that there will be a myriad of different items for sale, including apparel, home and kitchen décor, New Orleans memorabilia, purses, cookbooks and more. Supposedly this shop will be a different vibe than any of the other stores around the resort. Do you think that you’ll be leaving with some of Tiana’s Gourmet Secrets ingredients?
There was a lot to be disappointed in at the D23 Expo in regard to announcements. Or rather the lack of definitive announcements. Tomorrowland in particular. But we expect many little projects to pop up before the next Expo.
Just out front of the queue for Space Mountain, some new tables and chairs have been added in the old FastPass distribution area. This land is sorely in need of more chairs and tables, considering how packed Alien Pizza Planet can get. Sure, we’d rather that there was an attraction in the theater or that the theater was opened up for guests to sit inside to cool off… but at least there’s now a little more seating in the area (just be careful of the full sun and lack of shade during the height of the day).
The other thing that we noticed in Tomorrowland was that Launch Bay has many of its clutter of temporary signs removed. Instead, there’s just a single sign that mentions that Darth Vader photo op as a tie-in with the Disney+ series Kenobi.
The top floor of this area will be getting a retheme to a DVC Lounge…
The nighttime spectacular of Fantasmic is only presented on weekends right now, and that means there’s an opportunity for some work to happen on and around the Rivers of America during the week. One of the fountain pits was drained for a quick tuneup on the fountains.
Earlier in the week, there were construction walls set up in a small area along the riverbank.
By the weekend, the walls had come down and replaced with shorter barriers, revealing some work taking place on the ground. Easier for guests to see over during the show.
Currently, Halloween fireworks are also only offered on the weekend.
Push for Mobile Checkout
Disneyland is increasingly wanting guests to use their phones while at the parks. Genie, park reservations, digital tickets, a push to Mobile Order food, make restaurant reservations, and even Mobile Checkout at retail locations. While we have (begrudgingly) noticed the removal of registers at food locations over the course of the past year, now that appears to be happening in the stores as well.
In the Emporium on Main Street, there is a curtain up in front of a row of registers. We believe the registers here are being removed in order to add additional merchandising opportunities to that area. Guests will be encouraged to use the Mobile Checkout function of the Disneyland app or visit the remaining registers elsewhere in the store.
This is likely going to be a resort-wide push to further utilize the Disneyland app. Call me old-fashioned, but the last thing I want to do when at Disneyland is to fumble with checking myself out— especially when there are Cast Members that are willing and able to do that function for me. I’ve never even attempted Mobile Checkout myself. It seems so inconvenient and strange to me. Are you for or against Mobile Checkout?
Disneyland Resort Current Construction Projects
Leading up to the D23 Expo a couple of weeks ago, we were hoping that there would be a whole slew of new construction projects to be on the lookout for over the next few years. Unfortunately, few major projects were announced. But that doesn’t mean nothing is happening. Quite the contrary. Let’s take a look at what’s under construction or refurbishment…
Tom Sawyer’s Island
When we visited the Pirate’s Lair on Friday, all of the cave entrances were barricaded and painters were working in areas on the east side of the island. Walking around the island, we could see that there is a lot of work needed.
There used to be a cool hoist to lift the treasure out of the water. That hasn’t worked in years!
None of the water features on the island are working at all. It appears that this waterfall hasn’t worked in a very long time. There are pine needles and other debris gathered in the dried-up pools.
Are they barely keeping the Pirate’s Lair alive? It feels like it’s rotting beneath our feet just like the tree house did. With so much history on the island, it’s a shame to see it in such a state of disrepair. It’d be neat to see this area revitalized. Perhaps complete the Pirate theme originally promised (this is just phase one, phase two never happened). Or… what about an Encanto theme? Or… better yet, what about reverting back to just plain old historic Tom Sawyer Island (no pirates required)!
After some heavy storms forced the scrims to be temporarily removed, they are now back in place around Tarzan’s previous home. We were really expecting the new theme to be announced at the Expo, but unfortunately, this was a project that wasn’t brought up at all. Either they aren’t far enough along to commit to what’s happening, or perhaps they are afraid of what the fan reaction will be. But no mention of something this big that is already under construction is quite curious indeed.
We can just make out some work going on with the branches and the structure of the tree.
Mark Twain Riverboat
The Mark Twain is getting a quick refurb.
When we walked past it this week, we saw that the decks were getting cleaned up and stained. It will be back out on the Rivers of America on the 23rd.
Work continues on Matterhorn Mountain. The scaffolding is down around the east side waterfalls, though no water is running yet.
The water is almost completely drained from the pools at the bottom of the mountain. There appears to be some work happening to the tracks that drive through the pool.
We’re looking forward to this attraction returning in the middle of next month. Chiropractors throughout the area need the extra business.
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
The Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage just resumed operation several weeks ago after over a year-long refurb, and there are already signs of trouble. The last few times we have ridden in the subs, we have noticed water leaking into the subs from the hatches as we passed under the waterfalls. Unfortunately, that means that guests can sometimes get wet.
The other issue is that rust is already starting to come through the brand-new paint job. We realize that this IS a water attraction, but we also know that there are ways to mitigate corrosion. We are surprised that after this short amount of time (the subs returned to operation at the end of July), this much rust is already peeking through this freshly overhauled attraction, especially from around electrical components as they are in the photo below.
Broken Main Street Windows
The animated windows on Main Street seem to be spending more time broken than operating. It’s getting a little ridiculous how frequently they aren’t working (and how long they remain that way). For the last several weeks, both the Peter Pan and Princess & the Frog windows have been static and dark.
The Toy Story window is lit, but the Prince and the Frog window next to it is dark.
Disney California Adventure Projects
Over in DCA there are some unexpected projects and some that are nearing completion.
Buena Vista Street
Over on Buena Vista Street, there was a large box just off the sidewalk between the curb and the Red Car tracks. It’s hiding some surface repair that is being conducted after hours.
The Hollywood Lounge has reopened with some cool improvements after a lengthy refurbishment.
One of the new things is that the signboards are now all digital.
We were hoping that the closure would bring a change to the menu, but it appears to be mostly the same as before.
There’s also a new mural on the walls.
While Monsters Inc has returned to operation, the outside portion of the attraction is still behind paint scrims. The under-construction look of the exterior didn’t prevent the ride from pulling a 50-minute wait when this photo was taken!
Disney Animation Building
The huge artistic lobby that is home to Animation Academy, Anna & Elsa’s Royal Welcome, Turtle Talk with Crush, and Sorcerer’s Workshop is currently closed with outdoor queues being created for both Animation Academy and Turtle Talk. But the area is still in use during Oogie Boogie’s Halloween Bash… in fact, this is Oogie’s lair.
Guests enter Animation Academy and Turtle Talk through emergency exits in those attractions.
The Radiator Springs Curios Shop is another retail space that never reopened with the parks. On Friday, we noticed that there was a display set up on the porch of the shop for a Cast Member to customize leather bracelets. Unfortunately, there is no word on when the shop might open back up. While it’s no huge loss (there was never a great mix of merchandise here), it’s just a shame that this great land isn’t being fully utilized.
There is finally some visual progress in the dirt lot that used to be home to AMC, Sugar Boo, Starbucks, and Earl of Sandwich. Heavy equipment is now grading the land and preparing to install infrastructure for the Downtown Disney expansion.
We have a little more Downtown Disney news a bit further down in this article.
We touched on some of this above, but here’s the full list of current and upcoming refurbishments. And the good news is that there really isn’t anything major that’s planned to be down other than the Small World holiday install.
Currently Under Refurbishment
Downtown Disney Updates
While it’s been a busy week in the parks, there were also some updates around Downtown Disney not to be overlooked.
Pluto’s Pumpkin Pursuit
Most of the Halloween decor and activities take place in the parks, but there is one activity you can do without buying admission. Pluto’s Pumpkin Pursuit scavenger hunt has pumpkins painted as Disney characters hidden throughout Downtown Disney.
For this scavenger hunt, the trick is to look up. Most of the pumpkins will be hidden on the rooftops, in tree limbs, or above signs.
While it doesn’t cost anything to look for the pumpkins on your own, if you want a prize for your efforts you’ll need to buy an activity guide for $9.99 and redeem it after completing the scavenger hunt.
The prizes in previous years have been semi-decent things like cups and tumblers; this year, the prize isn’t nearly worth the cost. It’s a remarkably small trick-or-treat basket that would best be suited for an ant.
Party City is currently selling something similar – 12 mini pumpkins for $7.
This might be a good year to skip the prize and just have the kiddos search on their own. If they find them all, buy them a Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar or something more valuable for your $10.
Hispanic & Latin Heritage Month
Downtown Disney is highlighting Hispanic and Latin Heritage Month with a couple of new and existing offerings.
The mural on the defunct ESPN Zone building (which closed its Soul of Jazz exhibit recently) has been swapped out murals for a cute version of the tree of life found at Plaza de la Familia at DCA.
And next to the mural are a duo of new food trucks.
One option features Cuban cuisine. We’re looking forward to trying the Ropa Vieja Bowl next time we’re in Downtown Disney looking for something to eat.
The other food truck offers a variety of pupusas (stuffed corn tortillas) and tacos.
Nearby, there is a craft table for kids that want to do something a little hands-on.
Additionally, the live entertainment at night features Hispanic and Latin groups.
The other thing that Disney is doing to highlight Hispanic and Latin Heritage Month is a bit of a copout in our opinion. Disney is reusing the silletas (Columbian floral displays) throughout Downtown Disney (that also promote Disney employee diversity) as a way of honoring people with Hispanic and Latin backgrounds. This is pretty lazy, considering that the silletas have been in place since June. Unfortunately, this also means that Downtown Disney doesn’t really feel like Halloween right now. No pumpkin garden displays this year (at least so far).
This & That
Usually, this section is pretty short since there’s a lot going on in the parks. This week, there was a lot of smaller stories all taking place. Here’s what we picked up on.
Say Goodbye to Paradise Pier Hotel
One of the things that was reiterated at D23 Expo was the changeover of Paradise Pier Hotel to a new Pixar-theme. The Paradise Pier Hotel will soon become the Pixar Place Hotel. As a result, all of the signage and exterior theming will need to be removed. Disney has wasted no time in getting a head start on that. This week, the large light-up Paradise Pier Hotel signs were removed.
Additionally, the lighted waves at the top of the building are also in the process of being taken down.
There are some interesting things coming to the new Pixar Place Hotel, like the fabulous restaurant Great Maple (which will be taking over all of the food and beverage service on the property). However, we wonder if an outdated hotel like Paradise Pier would have been better rebuilt from the ground up. For more about the upcoming Pixar Place Hotel, including all of the announcements for Disneyland, take a look at the article below:
Disneyland Hotel Gets into the “Spirit” of Halloween
There was a surprising amount of things happening at the Disneyland Hotel when we visited this week. First off, there are quite a few changes to the exterior that are impossible to ignore. The entry to the hotel area from Downtown Disney is getting a repaving just under the Sorcerer’s hat. The curb right in front of it was redone last week, so it’s a continuation of the same project.
Here’s the area on Thursday…
And by Saturday a swirly form had been created ready for concrete to be poured.
The other thing that’s impossible to miss is the new color scheme across all of the towers. The beige has been replaced with a variety of shades of blue. It looks very contemporary with a nod to retro stylings. But it’s very, very blue.
And the sides of the towers have received a sort of ombré look with lighter blues at the top and darker at the bottom.
Additionally, the various seating around the hotel has also been swapped out for a shocking but still complementary orange. Disney sure knows its way around a color wheel (colors opposite each other on the wheel like blue and orange look nice together). But the Howard Johnson across the street may not be too happy to see Disney stealing their color palette.
It sure does look like the HoJo to us:
And at the back of the hotel property, construction continues on the upcoming DVC tower set to open next year. The new tower is nearly as tall as the other three. In just a little bit, the DVC tower will top out. Windows are already being installed on the backside. It will all move much more quickly from here.
Sure, the DVC tower will be great once it’s done, but I feel horrible for guests using the pool during their expensive stay at the Disneyland Hotel just to be assaulted with loud construction noises all day. Nothing says “relaxing day at the pool” like hearing hammers and construction equipment.
There is also some light theming around the hotel to the Haunted Mansion. It’s really just a collection of wraps, stickers, banners, and background music but it’s a nice touch for the season.
One of the neat things about the Disneyland Hotel is the various uses of greenery and florals for storytelling. The topiaries out near the pool are really fun.
I’d forgotten all about this Daniel Boone Mickey floral in front of the Frontierland tower. Super cute!
Oh Loaded Baked Potato, We’ve Missed You
When the Troubadour Tavern at Fantasyland Theater reopened with the debut of “Tale of the Lion King,” it showcased an entirely new menu. While the reviews of the food are mostly mixed, there were a lot of folks upset about the removal of the famous Loaded Baked Potato. Good news… the Baked Potato is back!
Although you won’t find it listed on the physical menu, it is available on the digital menu on the Disneyland app for mobile order and can be ordered in person by asking a Cast Member.
Here’s some of what’s listed on the menu at the site:
Skeleton Gingerbread Cookies
Is it too early in the year for gingerbread cookies? For the guests swarming the snack stand at the Grand Californian Hotel, it sure isn’t. The hot-ticket item at the cookie cart this season is the Skeleton Mickey Gingerbread Cookie. These bad boys sell out within minutes of being put out for the day, with people buying literal dozens at a time.
The stand also sells various Halloween cookies, dipped pretzel rods, and rice crispy treats.
You can’t miss the stand… it’s located next to a giant edible Oogie Boogie.
New Lamp in Walt’s Apartment
One of the most beloved aspects of Disneyland is the history that is engrained in the park. After all, Walt Disney himself dreamed this place up and spent much of his time during its construction and early days living out of an apartment above the Fire House on Main Street. So, when word got out this week that the lamp in the window of Walt’s apartment had been changed out, we saw a lot of concern about it online. But what those people don’t realize is that the lamp that was in the window previously ISN’T the original lamp either. The original green glass lamp is now with the Disney family (presumably since they collected it before the Walt Disney Family Museum was built). And the one that has been in the window was a relatively inexpensive catalog item (not even an antique or reproduction). The new lamp seems fitting for the Victorian-style Main Street, though we wonder if it is a Halloween-only addition as it does sort of have a pumpkin look to it. The symbolism is that a light is left on in honor of Walt.
You’ll note the roses painted on the globe, a node to Walt’s wife Lillian.
MiceChat Podcast is Back!!!
We’re finishing on a high note today. We heard everyone that stopped by our booth at D23 Expo asking if there would ever be another MiceChat Podcast… So, after a two-year pause, Dusty, Doug, and Chloé have returned with a lot to say about all the things that were (and weren’t!) announced during the D23 Expo. Ladies and gentlemen, the MiceChat Podcast is back and bitchier than ever. If we get enough love and support from you all, you just might see another episode in the not-so-distant future. Take a listen…
Discount Disney Theme Park Tickets & Hotels!!!
Check out the latest offers for Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and Knott’s Berry Farm:
(MiceChat works with Get Away Today to provide you with the best theme park travel deals and we may make a small commission on any sales made through our links)
And to bring today’s Disneyland Update to a close, we have some photos from Dusty Sage and Mike Kindrich to scratch your Disneyland itch. We hope you enjoy these!
We found Guido!
Looks like he got a new sponsor.
Let’s Hear From You
That was another news-filled Disneyland Update to start off your week. What do you think about all the changes around the park? Do you like the look of the blue-er-er Disneyland Hotel? Does Walt’s new window lamp bother you? Do you think Disney is inflating wait times on some attractions to get folks to buy Genie+ for Lightning Lane? Would you pay $10 for Pluto’s Pumpkin Pursuit? What should Disney do about the always-broken animated windows on Main Street? Is it OK with you that neither Fantasmic nor Fireworks run during the week? Leave a comment and let us know what’s on your mind.
Many thanks to Dusty Sage and Mike Kindrich for helping shoot and assemble the Disneyland Update today
This content was originally published here.