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Welcome to the disneygeek.com Geek Speaks section. In this section I will post my comments on trips to the parks or other Disney related events.

1/27/23 - Disneyland Resort - Disney100 and Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway Opening Day

Hello Everyone!

Today the Disney100 Celebration started and Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway opened at Disneyland. I decided to spend a full day at the parks to take in the festivities. For me with the travel time it was a very long day, just over 18 hours from when I left my garage until I returned of which about 14 hours were spent in the parks. The weather was moderate starting off in the 40s and climbing to about 70 then dropping back to the 50s with a mild breeze at times and plenty of sunshine. The crowds were on the heavy side but attraction wait times were not insane due to many guests in line for merchandise or entertainment offerings.

Thoughts and Observations:

  • Started my day off on a couple positive notes. The drive to Anaheim was fairly smooth with no major traffic, the advantage of leaving at 5:30am. At 7am I was successful at securing a boarding group for this morning, group 41, with an initial ETA of 10:25am. As expected the virtual queue was full in a mater of seconds and quite a few people I talked to failed to get one.
  • Arrived at the parking structure just after 7am and found no wait at the tollbooths but as I reached the ramp up to the level we stopped and then it was a slow crawl to a space taking quite a bit longer than usual. They were only parking one lane and filling in spots on the Monsters Inc level of the Pixar Pals structure. Eventually was directed into a space. Because of this slowness there were no waits at security or the tram, nor at the park entrance.
  • Surprised not to see any sort of giveaway to mark the day.. a button, magnet, postcard, something for the Disney100 and/or attraction opening as you entered the park.
  • Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway attraction poster was added to the collection as you enter the park. The east tunnel had the new one, Mr. Toad, Star Tours and Snow White's Enchanted Wish on the same wall.
  • Main Street was alive with activity. There was a media location set up in Town Square and cast members out on Main Street high fiving and cheering on the crowd. Lines for merchandise were already long stretching outside the stores in a couple cases. The hub and north end of Main Street filled up as rope drop approached. The excitement of park opening is always a great time to be in the park.
  • The rope drop announcement has been updated to note the Disney100 celebration, this was nice change.
  • At rope drop drop the queue for the Disney100 popcorn bucket in the hub grew quickly and was wrapping when I passed by a few moments after the crowd started to move. Most of the crowd veered to the right in Frontierland and I went to the left. The popcorn cart in Frontierland had a half dozen guests in line and was growing. I kept walking and the crowd thinned as I passed through New Orleans Square. The popcorn cart in Magnolia park had no wait.
  • I joined the queue for the Haunted Mansion Holiday which turned out to be just under 10 minutes this morning. The attraction ends its seasonal run on Sunday so this was my last chance to visit this season.
  • Due to the recent winds the scrims on the Adventureland Tree house project were pulled back. This allowed you to see a number of workers this morning. There still seems to be quite a bit of work underway and a team was installing new/more scaffolding when I walked by. Disney has not announced any date beyond sometime this year.
  • The new fountains that flank Sleeping Beauty Castle are a nice plus, this morning you could not really get any pictures on the west side due to a media location set up though. Not many other decorations were added since last week. Overall its a fairly subtle set of additions compared to some years which I am in favor of. I do not care for the over top the extreme castle makeover ideas.
  • Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was posted at 15 minutes but looked shorter when we walked by. It turned out to be under 10 as expected. Always nice to visit a classic dark ride.
  • it's a small world returned last week to its classic show. I did not make it out there last week so decided to go for a cruise today since there was no wait, it took 3 minutes from seeing the queue until I was on a boat. As expected no significant changes, just a quick transition back to the classic show from the holiday version.
  • I was walking through Tomorrowland around 10:15 and there were a lot of guests in line at the Galactic Grill. The mobile order pick up area was a mob and was backed up out to the dance floor entrance. I found out most of these people were there to get the Disney100 Mickey Sipper. Interesting note I talked to a friend at DCA and she was able to walk right up and purchase one there with no wait at all this morning. Also note by later in the day waits were back to normal and sippers were still available.
  • As part of the Disney100 celebration Monorail Blue received a new platinum wrap. As the sun hits it the reflections are a rainbow of colors. As the Monorail passed over the sub lagoon the way it reflected was fun to see. If you see the wrap with backlighting or in the shade they look almost gray/silver with little spark.
  • Main Street USA and Buena Vista Street are both decked out with platinum and purple decorations for the Disney100 celebration. There is a statue of Mickey Mouse in Town Square and Minnie in the hub. DCA has a large medallion and Downtown Disney has several. Overall the decorations are on par with previous milestone events.
  • The Disney Gallery is hosting a new exhibit - Disney 100 Years of Wonder. I always enjoy the Disney Gallery exhibits and this one is larger than most with several display boards added to the center of the space and the large window space changed out. I am looking forward to visiting on a less crowded day when you can really spend some time and look at the artwork. I did find it awkward that the tomorrow display showcases the Railway which opened the day the exhibit did and Toontown that opens in a little over a month so 2 of 3 items will be out of date within 6 weeks of opening.
  • My boarding group for Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway was called at 10:45am, about 20 minutes later than the initial ETA. I made my way out to Mickey's Toontown. Cast members check to see your boarding group was called on the walkway before crossing under the railroad tracks. So your only way to see the partially opened land is to have a valid boarding group.
  • Off to the right of the attraction there is an outdoor queue set up and cast members there to scan your boarding pass. When I showed up there were more cast members than guests so it was a very smooth process and I was entering the El Capitoon Lobby in no time. The queue for the attraction takes you through several rooms of the theater where you will see movie posters and props from Mickey and Minnie films over the years. You will also pass through the concession and other areas of the theater which all fit perfectly in Toontown. The amount of detail and references throughout are great and an attraction in itself. We were moving at a leisurely pace through the queue stopping for pictures as well as for others who were taking pictures. We did not really stop to wait until right before the merge point at the preshow. There were a number of cast members throughout the queue today talking with guests.
  • We slowed briefly at the merge point for maybe one theater wait and then were moved to the waiting area and then into one of the two theaters for the preshow. There was no wait to board a train either we just kept walking. Our overall wait time experience was good.. I would have actually liked to have had it go a little more slowly for a first time through! From entering the queue until the merge point/preshow was about 13 minutes. Another five minutes to board the train and ten minutes until we were exiting. For a total experience time of just under thirty minutes from entering the queue until exiting back to Toontown. Note our experience was slightly longer due to a couple minutes of stoppage in two different scenes. The gift shop at the exit was curtained off and is still a work in progress.
  • Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway is a great addition to Mickey's Toontown. It fits into the land perfectly and the execution is great starting with the queue experience. The attraction itself is basically the same as its Orlando cousin for the most part with a couple of tweaks made to the layout at the end and some other updates/tweaks since it is a purpose build building for the attraction. Overall it felt a little more polished than the WDW version. My initial view of the attraction is still the same as my first ride at WDW. I enjoyed it but still am not a fan of this version/look of the characters and would have preferred a more classic look, especially for Toontown. Also I thought some of the ride programming was a little rough/jerky and would have liked a more smooth experience.
  • Currently your only two choices to experience the new attraction are to join the virtual queue or purchase an Individual Lightning Lane which was priced at $20. The virtual queue had two distribution times 7am and 1pm. Both virtual queue sold out within a second or two. The Lightning Lane purchases lasted until late morning, I did not notice when it sold out. I am not a huge fan of either and prefer the traditional queue where you know what you are in for and can make the choice to wait it out or not. With demand so high it is almost a lottery or luck to get a spot right now in the virtual queue, much like Rise of the Resistance was.
  • Mickey's Toontown does not reopen until March 8th. At this point only the new attraction and restrooms are open. You can walk by the dining locations and Car Toon Spin plus a new park in front of Car Toon Spin, but the area is still a work in progress with temporary covers up in places and signage missing. Speaking of missing the Goofy Water is not installed... maybe it is coming but it sure did not look it. Also the Roger Rabbit and Jessica Rabbit restroom signs are gone and generic ones are in their place.
  • The new lawn area is a definite hit and there were families and others just hanging out there. There is a lack of seating with only a few benches in the area so you have to sit on the lawn. I would have liked to have seen bench seating around the perimeter. The area was in the shade when I was there but there are not a lot of trees or shade structures so it may be rather warm out there come mid day.
  • I am curious how the area will be once everything opens up. Right now stroller parking is using the space in front of Car Toon Spin for example. Wonder where that will be, maybe there is a space set up in the unfinished area? The area is still very much a work in progress so we will just have to wait and see how it all comes together in a little over a month.
  • The Disneyland Band was joined by the Dapper Dans and Mickey & Friends in their Disney100 attire for their noon march down Main Street USA and set in Town Square. Their set includes the Wondrous Journeys finale/theme. I think its great the band is incorporating current celebrations into their sets. This reminded me of Tokyo where it seemed all atmosphere entertainment included the current celebration.
  • Speaking of bands some disappointing news was shared Friday. There will be no Disneyland Resort All-American College Band this year. The band is officially on hiatus. This was announced on their Facebook and Instagram accounts.
  • I was on Main Street USA at 1:00pm and you could hear a number of cheers and grumbles up and down the street as guests found out their fate for the virtual boarding group distribution. It was not nearly as loud as it was during the peak of Rise of the Resistance but it was still noticeable.
  • The 1:00pm Mickey and Friends Cavalcade has been changed to celebrate Disney100. It features a new sound track and the characters in their Disney100 attire. Also on Friday it ran in a reverse order and only included one float with all other characters on foot.
  • The Pacific Wharf transformation to San Fransokyo is underway and you can see the preparations for the footings for the new bridge facade. I still do not see the need for this transformation as the Wharf area has an established theme and healthy traffic all day long. Other areas of the park seem in much greater need to me and is anyone really in need of a Big Hero 6 area?
  • The second week of the Lunar New Year Celebration is underway and the marketplace queues were still overflowing most of the day. The entertainment and other offerings were the same as last week and we did not have a lot of time to spend in the area due to me wanting to see more of the Disney100 offerings. I did stop by to pick up my Magic Key button. Distribution takes place daily from 1pm to 5pm under the Silly Symphony Swings while supplies last. When I stopped by the queue was moving efficiently and it took only about 5 minutes, a much better experience than the bag distribution a few weeks ago.
  • The Esplanade and Downtown Disney have a new background music loop now. The selections include a number of attractions from Disney Parks around the world as well as songs from firework shows. It was great to hear and brought back a lot of memories.
  • Walked through Downtown Disney to check out the Disney100 decorations. They consist of a trio of large medallions, banners, and a large Mickey Mouse statue. Overall they were just ok.. nothing that spectacular to look at. Also noteworthy in Downtown Disney is there are now signs saying Earl of Sandwich is coming soon to the former La Brea Bakery location. No date posted, but it is expected next month.
  • Made my annual visit to Sprinkles to pick up my free birthday cupcake. This year I used the mobile order and the process was relatively smooth. I was there about 10 minutes after my pick up time and they had not prepared the order yet so I had to wait for them but it still only too a minute or two. Their perks program awards one free regular cupcake each year on your birthday in addition. If you are interested in joining here is a referal link
  • Walked by Sleeping Beauty Castle at night to check out the decor and fountains after dark. The fountains looked great and added to the area. The Disney100 decor was not ideal, the lighting package choices were a tad questionable. For the primary decoration, the shield there are fiber optics around the perimeter but nothing else is really lit up so its hard to read. The star atop the castle has a little light on it but does not really pop.
  • During the 6pm hour we had nothing planned and ended up visiting a trio of attractions. We rolled through the Jungle Cruise, Tiki Room and Pirates of the Caribbean in under an hour total. This was due to some good luck with Pirates reopening a few minutes before we were in the area and happening to walk by the Tiki Room as they were seating guests.
  • Just past 7:00pm did a loop of the park walking from New Orleans Square through Critter Country, Galaxy's Edge, Fantasyland, eventually ending up in Tomorrowland. The park was busy but walkways were flowing through most areas. Main Street is where all the congestion was this evening. Along the way spotted Rey in her warm weather costume looking down on Black Spire Outpost. This seemed a little hard and it was a challenge to make her out with most guests asking who the character up there was. I was hoping you could see a little of the new lights in Toontown but no such luck with access to the area restricted to those with boarding groups and the trees blocking most of the view.
  • Main Street USA was filling up as the evening went on. The area in the hub in front of the castle had guests camping out around lunch time for the fireworks and was mostly full well before sunset. Main Street was mostly full well over an hour before show time. I decided to find a spot about an hour before and was near the Cinema. The area I was in had a good crowd but it never really became packed. It felt almost the same density for the last 45 minutes or so before the show. There was not that final push of the crowd at show time. Announcements were played several times that the viewing areas were full and directing guests to the Rivers of America.
  • Wondrous Journeys is the new projection and fireworks shows. As with other recent shows on weeknights the show is projection only and weekends and holiday periods it is presented with fireworks. The show includes references to every Disney animated film. Most references are limited to the projections which are visible on the castle, Main Street buildings, it's a small world, and the water screens on the Rivers of America. The sound track does include a large number of different films, but on a first experience it seems most of the music was from the last several decades not the older films. There are some interesting mixes and I am looking forward to seeing the show again to be able to absorb more of the references. On a first viewing it is always a challenge. The show features the new original song/theme - It's Wondrous. The theme was performed at the D23 Expo and it still has not grown on me. It is not bad but it just does not engage me like some of the other show themes of the past.
  • The use of some new characters/surprises on the Tinker Bell wire were great to see and the projections were very well done with a lot of great clips. The laser effects seemed rather muted Friday and I did not see a lot of other really special effects from my vantage point.
  • Overall it is a solid offering and quite a few people online ranked it as their favorite Disney fireworks show. For me its in the top half but not at the top. I still view the E-Ticket in the sky portion of Remember Dreams Come True at the top of my list. Disneyland Forever is also a solid show along with Happily Ever After at the Magic Kingdom. At Disneyland Believe There's Magic in the Stars and Believe in Holiday Magic are also up there.
  • With the large crowd on Main Street USA it took a while longer than usual to get out of the park and onto a tram, plus I had some bad tram luck. So it was about 20 minutes from finale until on a tram and another 15 from there until I was on the road.


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