by Travis Munson
on April 30, 2012
The Express Monorail to the Magic Kingdom and the Resort Monorail will not be in service from 11:30am to 6pm starting today (April 30, 2012). Guests staying at the Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian resorts have been notified that hours should return to normal by the end of the week. Buses and watercraft will be available to take guests from the resorts and the Transportation and Ticket Center to the Magic Kingdom during these hours. The closure is due to construction of the future Disney Vacation Club at the Grand Floridian.
The Epcot Monorail will not be affected during these closures. We will be sure to let everyone know when the hours return to normal.
by Ryan Kilpatrick
on April 30, 2012
It's not just the castle that's different at Disneyland
As soon as my wife brought up the conference she had to attend in Anaheim, most of you reading this can imagine where my mind went. Yes, a trip for her to Anaheim for a conference meant a golden opportunity for the family and me to go and check out Disneyland, Walt Disney’s original theme park. While I have been in the past, my children have not been outside of a short trip when my son was 4 years old. And none of us has been in over 5 years. So I was eagerly anticipating the trip. That is, until I started planning it.
As a Walt Disney World veteran, I know how to plan for a trip there. At least I hope I do, or I wouldn’t really be qualified to write for TouringPlans.com. I know how to use the Touring Plans, the Crowd Calendar and the Lines app before and during my trip, and I know how to make Advanced Dining Reservations. I know the crowd pattern, and I know the best places to stop to water and feed the children. I’ve got Florida down pat. So Disneyland is just a case of taking that same knowledge and using it there, right? Wrong.
I know all about the differences between the parks, how Disneyland is two parks within walking distance of each other, the ability to stay at an offsite hotel and still walk to the parks. I know all of those things. What I don’t know is the crowd patterns, the tips and tricks for the must see shows, or the ins and outs of a trip to Disneyland. My first place to try to find that out was right here: I have combed through the Disneyland section of TouringPlans.com, checked the Disneyland Lines mobile app, and bought a copy of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland to prepare. Here’s what I’ve learned about the differences between the two resorts:
Some things are the same, like the need to hit Dumbo first thing in the morning.
- Chill Out – You know how things can be with a Walt Disney World trip. You’ve got your touring plan, your notarized itinerary, your list of ADRs a mile long, and you know what you’re going to do from sun up to sun down. What I’ve learned at Disneyland is that while having your touring plan for the morning is essential, the rest of it is not quite as crazed as Walt Disney World. The typical suspects will have long lines, but there is SO much more in Disneyland than in the Magic Kingdom, so you can pretty much always find something to do. The obsessive planning is not nearly as important, with a few exceptions.
- Mornings Are Crazy – In Florida, you arrive at the park at rope drop, see several attractions on the touring plan, and avoid the park with Extra Magic Hours. Pretty simple formula. At Disneyland Park, there is early entry (called Magic Mornings) several days a week, and if you try to follow the touring plan then, you’ll be out of luck because not all attractions are open. Plus, Disneyland opens at 8 a.m. most busy days, so you need to be there by 7:30am at the latest. In other words, Disneyland is going to require much more morning time than Walt Disney World has in the past.
- Dining Is Different – Many of us spend the months leading up to our Disney World vacations choosing just the right restaurants to reserve once that 180-day mark hits prior to the trip. Should I go to Le Cellier or Brown Derby? Where do I get the school bread? Where are those waffle sandwiches I’ve heard so much about? At Disneyland, making meal reservations 6 months in advance is not required or even possible. In fact, except for the Blue Bayou, there’s normally no need to make dining reservations. Imagine the freedom to walk into a restaurant and just…sit down. It hasn’t been that way in Walt Disney World for almost a decade. That will be quite the adjustment for me.
It's a little easier to do some map decisions at Disneyland.
- Shows Are King – Yes, in Florida, we line up for parades and fireworks. But not like Disneyland. At the Magic Kingdom, I’ve been known to grab a seat in the Hub for the Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes about 40 minutes before showtime. I was reading this week that some people will grab seats for Fantasmic! on the Rivers of America 4 hours before showtime! And don’t get me started on the algebra problem that is World of Color seating. Part of my planning process is definitely going to be how to squeeze in these amazing shows without spending all night camped out on the ground.
- Hotels Are Hotels – I admit, I usually stay on property at Walt Disney World. It’s nice for the convenience, and a room at Pop Century – while more costly than a comparable offsite hotel – is more than worth it for Disney’s Magical Express or bus service to the parks. At Disneyland, every hotel across the street on Harbor Boulevard is cheaper than any of Disney’s hotels, most of them are closer, and many of them feature better dining. Paying to stay on-site at Disneyland is a luxury, likely one that I cannot afford.
Those are just a few of the things I have learned. As I get closer and closer to my trip, I’ll keep you posted on what else I learn and how the Disneyland plans are going. What about you Disneyland vets? Any tips and tricks?
by Seth Kubersky
on April 30, 2012
Welcome to the first monthly installment of This Month at Disneyland, TouringPlans.com‘s regular round-up of upcoming events and operations in and around the Anaheim resort. If you are planning a visit to Disneyland in the next 30 days, this is your one-stop-shop for imminent information that may impact your vacation.
In addition to Disneyland.com and the Official Disney Parks Blog, much of the following news and photography comes courtesy of our friends at MousePlanet and MiceAge. Visit those sites for more images and up-to-the-minute updates.
May may be your last best chance for crowd-free touring at Disneyland in 2012, since we expect the resort to be packed following California Adventure’s relaunch in mid-June. Weekdays this May should be especially low-key, with growing wait times on the weekends building towards Memorial Day.
- Quietest Days: Resort attendance should be lowest (1 out of 10) on May 3 and 7-9.
- Busiest Days: Resort attendance should be highest (8 out of 10) on May 25-28.
Subscribe to the Touring Pans Disneyland Crowd Calendar for full details on predicted attendance for the next 30 days.
- Disneyland celebrates Cinco de Mayo on May 5. Look for decorations around Rancho del Zocalo, and a special menu at Tortilla Joe’s in Downtown Disney.
- AIDS Services Foundation of Orange County holds a charity walk at Disneyland early on the morning of May 6.
- On May 10, Disney Legend Alice Davis will receive a long-deserved tribute window on Main Street USA. The Imagineer was responsible for the costume designs of classic attractions including Pirates of the Caribbean and it’s a small world. Her window will be next to the one honoring her husband, late Imagineer Marc Davis.
- To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Fantasmic! on May 13, Disneyland is holding after-hours parties for Annual Passholders on May 14, 15, 21, & 22.
- Grad Nights return on May 10 & 11, 16-18, 23-25, 30 & 31. Expect large platoons of busses delivering hordes of teenagers to the resort for all-night parties on those evenings.
Opening, Closures, and Refurbishments
Disney California Adventure
Other Area Attractions
by Seth Kubersky
on April 30, 2012
Earlier, I introduced Part 1 and Part 2 of our new Disneyland touring plan that aims to take the stress of standing in lines or sitting on rides out of the equation. Though it may not be many guests’ idea of a day in a theme park, it’s perfectly possible to enjoy a full day of low-impact fun at Disneyland without experiencing any of the attractions most people associate with a visit.
Here is the next part of the plan. It focuses on the west side of the park, which features some of Disneyland’s most inviting corners to hide from the crowds.
- See the Enchanted Tiki Room, arriving in time to buy a Dole Whip and watch the preshow video.
- Jungle Cruise is gentle fun if the line isn’t long.
- If stairs aren’t an issue, climb Tarzan’s Treehouse, or at least enter through the exit and watch the kids going wild on the playground.
- Consider walking through the Indiana Jones queue at least once, even if you aren’t interested in riding; it’s an impressive (if exhausting) example of scenic design. When the wait is posted over 15 minutes, get a Fastpass to skip the boring exterior line. Before you climb the stairs near the loading bay, you can simply tell a cast member that you want to exit. If you are brave but impatient, Indy’s single rider line often has little to no wait.
New Orleans Square
- Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean both move guests through quickly even on busy days, and neither is likely to disturb any but the most delicate constitutions.
- Seek out the jazz and pirate bands that play in the area.
- Poke around the lovingly detailed alleyways around the Pirates of the Caribbean exit.
- Sit outside at Cafe Orleans with a plate of pommes frites and watch the crowds go by.
- Stand on the bridge near Splash Mountain and watch riders take the plunge. If you dare to get damp, the single rider wait is usually bearable.
- Feed the ducks from the porch behind the Hungry Bear restaurant.
- Take a raft to Tom Sawyer Island and explore the fort and caves (watch your head!).
- Sail on the Sailing Ship Columbia, Mark Twain, or both. You can usually step on board just before departure time without standing in line, or board early for the best seat at the top front.
- Don’t miss Billy Hill and the Hillbillies at the Golden Horseshoe. Show up early to grab a box seat and some chili. If the Billys have the day off, the Laughing Stock comics are a fun diversion.
- Get to know the pigmy goats, pardoned turkeys, and other animals at the Big Thunder Ranch petting zoo, and explore the decor inside Miss Chris’s cabin.
- Look for the petrified tree that was an anniversary gift from Walt to his wife; she donated it to the park. Also try to spot the jumping fish and railroad tunnel remains from Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland, across from Big Thunder Mountain.
- Pump some quarters into the Frontierland shooting gallery.
- Walk through the Rancho del Zocalo patio, especially when decorated for Dia de Los Muertos.
Check back later for the next final part in this series. And in the meantime, leave your suggestions for what was missing from this list in the comments below.
by Laurel Stewart
on April 29, 2012
Disney’s Animal Kingdom will close at 8pm tonight (Sunday, April 29, 2012) instead of the scheduled 7pm close. In response to this extra park hour, Kilimanjaro Safaris Expedition will operate until 7:15pm.
by Tammy Whiting
on April 27, 2012
Yep, this list should be closer to 50 than 10! There are whole websites dedicated to the scores of attractions no longer at Disneyland. While there are some former attractions that deserved to go the way of the dinosaur (Superstar Limo anyone?) others are truly missed. I’ve listed some of mine below and I know there are a lot more. We didn’t move to California until 2005, and as an adult I only visited Disneyland once before then, so I know I’m missing some!
I confess, when it comes to rides and attractions at the Disney parks, I don’t mind change. I’m of the opinion that when something is feeling old and losing popularity faster than you can say Carousel of Progress (ha!), it’s okay to update or replace it. But I do understand that sometimes people grow attached to attractions, often purely for sentimental reasons. I’m the same way (occasionally)! Even about the landscaping and decor! For example, I’m going to miss those giant letters outside of Disney California Adventure just because they were the first thing that greeted us when we arrived. I’ve got so many pictures of my kids on those letters! And I’m really going to miss watching the monorail zip over the Golden Gate Bridge. Do I think the new California Adventure will be wonderful and worth losing some attractions for? Absolutely. But there are things at both parks that have slipped into history that I now miss. Even if only for sentimental reasons.
1. The People Mover – Who’s with me? How could they take this away? Why have they not brought it back? I know they were trying some other stuff there, but it didn’t work out! Bring back this ride! Walt Disney World has kept theirs and we enjoy it every time we go. The continuous loading of this ride means it almost never has a wait. It’s a leisurely trip through Tomorrowland with a gentle breeze to keep you cool and views of rides that you won’t even see when you’re actually on said rides. Disneyland needs it back. Although I guess if some rumors are to be believed, it could be coming back sometime in the next few years. I hope it’s true!
2. The Stitch Satellite Phone – Okay, I can’t find the official name for this anywhere! Anybody remember? The Stitch phone was located inside Innoventions on the second floor. It was easy to miss if you weren’t looking. A cast member stood just outside the waiting area to greet you and put your name on the waiting list. While you waited your turn to talk to Stitch, there were coloring sheets and crayons to entertain the kids. When your name was called, another cast member took you to make small talk, and perhaps got some details about your traveling party, in a second waiting area while the guests in front of you finished. Finally, you were led into a Tiki hut where you picked up a phone to talk to – who else would you meet in a Tiki hut – Stitch! Similar to the Turtle Talk with Crush technology now in California Adventure, Stitch was fully interactive and even mysteriously knew some details about your family. Unlike Turtle Talk, this was your own private one-on-one session. There were times on multi-day trips where Stitch would remember seeing us the day before. My kids absolutely loved it! We all did!
3. Country Bear Jamboree – This may fall into that why-do-people-like-this category, similar to my feelings about Carousel of Progress, but it’s sentimental for me. I remember being slightly scandalized as a child listening to giant bears singing about blood on a saddle. I also remember being thrilled and slightly amazed at the moving, singing, dancing bears. Yes, the technology is dated at this point. But it’s a classic! So I know there are some people out there like me that think it should still be on both coasts.
4. The Skyway – How cool was the Skyway to Tomorrowland? Or the Skyway to Fantasyland for that matter? Any rides that can get you from one area of the park to another in a different way are a bonus to me. The train, the trolleys, the horse and buggy rides, all means of transportation but a nice change from walking. The Skyway was as different as they come. The sights you could see from that vantage point! The photographer in me wants them back desperately. The people in my family who don’t like heights are not in as big of a hurry to relive them, however.
6. Snow White- An Enchanting Musical – So we actually liked this show. Are we the only ones? I’ve actually never heard any real rumblings to bring it back, so maybe we are! I’m a big fan of live stage shows. Disney does them so well on the cruise ships and in the parks. It was certainly nowhere near the category of Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular over in California Adventure, but the theater is lovely and the show was very well done. The set was just beautiful, and for all the Trekkies out there who didn’t know, Patrick Stewart was the voice of the Magic Mirror!
7. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire – I was sad when this show closed on both coasts. Partly because I have a husband who is excellent at trivia and I just know he would have won us a cruise if he’d ever made it down there, and partly just because it was entertaining! It was also unique. It’s pretty rare (and exciting) in a Disney park when an average guest can actually win something more than a pin. I think that’s why the Year of a Million Dreams generated so much excitement. You could spend a lot of money to go to Disneyland and have an incredible time, and as an added bonus, there was a miniscule chance you could win something cool! I think it just adds an air of extra excitement to your day.
8. Mission Tortilla Factory– This tour is missed for obvious reasons – fresh, warm tortillas. The movie beforehand was interesting, but the real highlight was going into the next room where you could see the tortillas being made. There were also some very cool edible character rub-ons that you could add to your own tortillas at home. As you exited, there was always a cast member standing there handing out fresh warm tortillas. On your birthday they’d give you a whole bag! Here’s hoping that Ghirardelli will follow their example and hand out chocolate!
9. Maliboomer – I know this ride was despised by lots of Disney purists. It was a carnival and midway-type ride that represented everything about California Adventure that so many complained about. Like it or not, however, Disney did have a vision for Paradise Pier. When we first moved to California several years ago, my husband worked about a block from the Santa Monica Pier and beach. We met him for lunch there frequently; we took out of town guests there; we loved the whole area. Whether you realize it or not, you’ve all seen it on countless TV shows and movies because it is an iconic representation of California. So we “got” the Paradise Pier area at California Adventure as it tried to replicate the famous piers of California. In hindsight, however, even Disney ultimately came to the conclusion that they didn’t execute their vision particularly well—but the Maliboomer was a fun ride and the views were simply amazing!
10. Disney’s Electrical Parade – I know I’m not the only one who misses the Electrical Parade and are hoping all the rumors are true that it’s coming back! It started in Disneyland as the Main Street Electrical Parade and then moved to California Adventure where it was renamed Disney’s Electrical Parade. When all of the construction began in California Adventure, it moved again. This time to Florida! Once Cars Land opens, there is hope that it will make its way back over to California to one of the parks. My money’s on Disneyland, but as long as it comes, it works for me!
I know there are dozens upon dozens of attractions that have gone away over the years at Disneyland. Mission to Mars, Flying Saucers, and Pack Mules just to name a few. What about you? What do you miss at Disneyland?
by Tom Bricker
on April 27, 2012
As I shared yesterday, the team at TouringPlans has released our first eBook, Disneyland: Sunrise to Sunrise, which is one operational day at Disneyland through photos. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post introducing the book, I am responsible for the photography in the book, and I was also responsible for the design and layout. As I designed the book, I was tasked with narrowing down some 385 photos I had identified as good fits for the book to just over 200 for the finished product. When it comes to my photos, I can be my own worst critic and my own biggest fan, meaning that sometimes photos that I think are hideous others love and photos that I love others find mediocre or worse. Given that, I sought the feedback of the rest of the team with regard to the potential photos for the eBook. Based upon their feedback and my own judgment, I made some difficult cuts.
Here are some of my favorite photos that didn’t make the cut for the finished book:
What do you think? Did I make the right call excluding these photos, or should they have been in the book?
If you want to see the photos that did make the cut, click here to purchase Disneyland: Sunrise to Sunrise.
by Tom Bricker
on April 26, 2012
It’s only April, but already it has been a busy year for the team at TouringPlans. We’ve launched our Walt Disney World Dining Menus and introduced subsequent search and Lines App updates to the menu feature. We’ve released our Optimized Touring Plans feature for Disneyland and overhauled the interface and functionality for those and Walt Disney World Optimized Touring Plans. We’ve also expanded our coverage of Disneyland on the Blog and started to expand our YouTube channel. These are just some of the highlights of what we’ve done during the first few months of 2012.
Today, I’m proud to announce our next endeavor: TouringPlans eBooks. Those of you who are familiar with the Unofficial Guide series might be wondering why we need separate eBooks when the incredibly comprehensive Unofficial Guides already exist. Despite the size of the Unofficial Guides, there’s actually a lot that gets left on the cutting room floor or just isn’t appropriate to include in a planning guide.
This is where this new line of eBooks will come into play. Each TouringPlans eBook will focus on one specific topic, such as a resort-hotel or event, and present a thorough and visually-stunning eBook on that topic. If you’re that person who has been writing into the authors of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World for the last seven years demanding “a chapter on the architecture of Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts!!!” you may just be in luck. That is, if the architecture of Pop Century is a suitable alternative topic to you!
While no future topics are set in stone, we do know what the first title in this pilot program is, and are pleased to release it today…
Disneyland: Sunrise to Sunrise
Disneyland: Sunrise to Sunrise is the first TouringPlans eBook, which is a collection of over 200 photos from one single operational day in Disneyland, specifically “One More Disney Day.” I captured all of the photos in the eBook as I ran around Disneyland during the course of that morning, day, night, and morning (again). I was one of the crazy Disneyland guests in the park on “One More Disney Day” from start to the very finish (they literally closed the gates behind me when I left!), and I snapped hundreds of photos along the way to document the day.
If you’re not a regular reader of the TouringPlans Blog, you may recognize my photography from the Unofficial Guide: Color Companion to Walt Disney World, Popular Photography Magazine, or my daily Disney photos. As Chief Photographer for TouringPlans, I’m also responsible for the photos at the top of each page of this website and the attraction photo galleries, among other things.
Disneyland: Sunrise to Sunrise highlights some of my favorite photos that I captured on that single operational day in Disneyland and presents them to you in one attractive eBook. Throughout the book I’ve also presented some of my favorite little tidbits of trivia, such as the inspiration for the original Tomorrowland Moonliner and why Snow White was ultimately added to Snow White’s Scary Adventures attraction in Fantasyland. If you’re a fan of the Disney theme parks, I think you’ll enjoy this fresh and beautiful look at one day in Disneyland.
You may notice an asterisk in the blog post title above. This is not because I was abusing park touring performance enhancing substances to complete the record-setting day in Disneyland, but because I was actually in the park for more than 24 consecutive hours. I arrived outside Disneyland at 4:15 am on February 29 to begin my whirlwind journey, and I didn’t leave until after 7 am on March 1. However, rather than calling the book Disneyland 24 with an asterisk and a long explanatory subtitle, we just decided to go with the cleaner-sounding Disneyland: Sunrise to Sunrise.
We’re pretty excited about this first TouringPlans eBook. The whole team has put a lot of work into it, and we think you’ll really enjoy it!
If you’re able to read this blog post, you’re able to read this eBook! There are no crazy or exclusive formats. Disneyland: Sunrise to Sunrise is being released as a high-quality full-color PDF that you can download instantly and read on your computer or the go on your iPhone, iPad, or other eReader.
As a special offer to readers of the TouringPlans Blog, use discount code SUNRISE2012 at checkout to receive 25% off the normal $8 price of Disneyland: Sunrise to Sunrise. You can read more about the eBook and see more screenshots by clicking here.
Go straight to checkout to purchase Disneyland: Sunrise to Sunrise by clicking here.
If you purchase Disneyland: Sunrise to Sunrise, share your thoughts in the comments! Have suggestions for future titles? Share those as well!
by Seth Kubersky
on April 26, 2012
Earlier this week, I introduced Part 1 of our new Disneyland touring plan that aims to take the stress of standing in lines or sitting on rides out of the equation. Though it may not be many guests’ idea of a day in a theme park, it’s perfectly possible to enjoy a full day of low-impact fun at Disneyland without experiencing any of the attractions most people associate with a visit.
Here is the first part of the plan. It focuses on Main Street USA, a land most guests hurry through, but which holds the lion’s share of the park’s stress-free entertainment.
Main Street USA
- Ride one of the vintage vehicles up Main Street to the hub, then take a different one back.
- Look at the memorabilia in the Main Street train station, then ride the rails for a round trip or two around the park.
- Explore the Disney Gallery’s rotating art exhibit inside the old Bank of Main Street.
- See Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, arriving early enough to see the Steve Martin pre-show and examine the lobby’s historical Disneyland models.
- Check out the Emporium’s animated window displays, and the elevated manequine vignettes inside.
- Watch the classic short films inside the Main Street Cinema.
- Grab a cup of coffee from the Market House, and save your receipt for free same-day refills. Snoop on the antique party line telephones, then sit outside at a table on Center Street, listening to the amusing sounds emanating from the windows above.
- Put some spare change in the primitive 3-D movie viewers in the Penny Arcade.
- Watch the chefs in the candy store whip up a batch of sweets.
- Catch a performance or three of the Dapper Dans, Main Street Marching band, or Coke Corner ragtime pianist. The daily flag retreat ceremony is not to be missed.
- Try to identify the names of Disney Legends and Imagineers honored on Main Street’s windows.
- Stop and watch some artisans work, like the silhouette cutters, glass sculptors, and watch painters.
- Ask the prestidigitators at the Magic Shop to demonstrate some tricks for you, and stare at the creepy optical illusion in the window.
- Sit in the chairs on the porch, on the right side of the street next to the silhouette shop.
- Take a picture with the Partners statue in the central hub, and appreciate the surrounding flora and fauna.
Check back later for the next two parts in this series. And in the meantime, leave your suggestions for what was missing from this list in the comments below.
by Brad Huber
on April 25, 2012
Today we launched an improved Menu Search feature on TouringPlans.com and the Lines mobile app!
You may have noticed in the past that searching for a term such as ‘red’ would not only return menu items with the word ‘red’, but also items with any word containing the letters ‘r-e-d’, like ‘buttered’. We realized very quickly that this was not an optimal way of searching for items and set out to fix it. Now when you search, you will receive results that are much more accurate! You can also find the Menu Item search form off to the side on any dining-related page.
But that’s not all! We have also launched the Menu Search feature on our Lines app and mobile site! If you ever get a hankering for a sandwich while in the Magic Kingdom, you can just open up Lines, tap Search for Menu Items, and type in ‘sandwich’. You can even restrict that to the Magic Kingdom, and even further to Table or Counter Service Restaurants, if you wish. And then you’ll see the full variety of sandwiches offered in the Magic Kingdom, including all three types of Waffle Sandwiches!
Our Lines app also features the full list of Walt Disney World resort menus, just like our main site. You can choose “Browse Menus” to view menus at every park or hotel on resort property, or choose the “Dining” link from a specific park page (at the top, next to the “Attractions” link) to see that park’s dining options. Whether you’re at home planning, or in the parks exploring, you will always be able to find up-to-date menu listings and prices at every restaurant or food cart.
We also have many more improvements to our menu system in the works, and as always, we love to hear your feedback and comments!