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1/26/18 - Thoughts and observations from Friday at the Disneyland Resort including first impressions of the Lunar New Year Celebration.
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1/26/18 - Thoughts and observations from Friday at the Disneyland Resort including first impressions of the Lunar New Year Celebration.

Friday was the start of the Lunar New Year Celebrations at the Disneyland Resort. This year they run for just over 3 weeks (4 weekends) at Disney California Adventure. The weather was moderate starting off in the upper 60s and dropping to the lower 50s when I left. Crowds were on the light side with many waits under 30 minutes throughout the day and FastPasses available well into the evening for almost everything. For World of Color there were still FastPasses for the 1st show available at show time.

Thoughts and Observations:

  • The trip started off on a positive note with no real delay in parking. I even choose wisely with the lane to reach a spot (the other one was backed up and mine just kept rolling). Keep in mind that most of the Chip and Dale level is blocked off with the tram work and on Friday they had almost all of the Pinocchio lot closed too when I arrived. In the near future the Pinocchio lot will be permanently closed. So parking may be even more of a challenge at the Mickey and Friends structure when the crowds return and it is going to be that way until the new structure opens.

  • Speaking of the new parking structure, preparations are well under way as they continue to work on a temporary solution and rerouting of the trams to accommodate the construction and since my last visit they have fenced off a handful of areas in the Pinocchio lot and have started drilling some holes. I believe demolition work of the surface lot is supposed to get underway in February.

  • I found it interesting a red border is being added to the Star Wars building. Usually Disney wants the backstage buildings to be as dull as possible so they will blend in. Will be interesting to see what they do with these massive buildings right on the road. So far it looks like the traditional green is not happening.
  • One of the differences of the Disneyland Resort to other Disney parks seems to be the number of free roaming character interactions. Most other parks seem to be extremely heavy on meet and greet type interactions with a defined queue and process. At Disneyland there seems to be a greater number of characters moving around the parks and interacting with guests. For example on Friday I ran into Chip and Dale a couple of times. First I spotted them near the walled off entrance to Grizzly River Run. They joined some kids and cast members who were tossing bean bags. Then I later spotted them on two different occasions dressed in their Lunar New Year outfits walking around the dining area of Paradise Gardens. They were stopping by tables to say hi to people. I thought both these examples were great! I am all for these free roaming interactions. I think it is much more memorable and a more pleasant experience than the wait for a meet and greet and hurried and brief moment with them for a staged picture.

  • This year the Lunar New Year Celebration is very similar to last year's. The events are centered in Paradise Pier from Paradise Park to Paradise Gardens. There is a good assortment of entertainment, activities and food to go with the festival. I have always enjoyed these events as they add to the experience in the park and are something new for frequent visitors. Also as they have grown more and more guests plan their trips around them to be sure to visit when they are going on.
    • The guest performing group this year is GuGu Drum Group from Shanghai China. They perform a handful of times throughout the day in Paradise Park. The show runs around 30 minutes. I thought it was an interesting show and entertaining but the songs tended to run on the long side for my taste. I would have liked to have seen more songs or a slightly shorter show.
    • The main festival area is in Paradise Gardens again and the activities include Lantern Decorating, a Wishing Wall, Chinese calligraphy, and a character meet and greet. Plus an Annual Passholder area. These are all the same as previous years and work well to round out the event. The AP area seemed a little cramped where it was though and being the first day ther was a healthy queue inside. The AP button featuring Pluto to celebrate the year of the dog.
    • There is one small merchandise cart near Paradise Park featuring merchandise for this year. The selection is about the same as previous years with shirts, envelopes, plush, etc.. I was told a couple of the items are from Shanghai Disneyland, the ears and Mickey plush.
    • The food offerings this year are similar to last year too with three marketplaces, Paradise Garden Grill and a small stand each featuring a menu for the event. The menus have some returning items and some new offerings. Pricing and portions seem about the same.
    • Mulan's Lunar New Year Procession features Goofy this year to mark the year of the Dog. I found it interesting that Pluto is on all the signage and banners but Goofy was in the show. I thought both should have been. It was great to see how they worked Goofy in and the performance is a highlight of the Lunar New Year events.
    • There were no community groups again this year. The first years of the festivals in between the Disney acts local community groups were on hand to do dragon dances and other demonstrations.
    • Be sure to check the times guide when you visit. The activities all have various start and end times, with many closing at 5:00pm.
    • The finale to the event is the return of Hurry Home before World of Color each night (note it will only run before the first show each evening). The show has been modified slightly for the year of the dog, but other than that it is the same as last year.

  • I walked around Paradise Pier and this visit there are even more walls than the last one. They have added Pixar characters and Pixar Pier graphics and concept art to a majority of them too. Not a lot of other visible changes this early in the project. Mostly preparation work and removals are underway.

  • I made a very quick walk through Disneyland as I was racing against a setting sun. Due to the Lunar New Year activities and a 5:15pm sunset I did not have a lot of daylight. Some quick notes:
    • The construction walls throughout have been updated with some artwork and signs. I thought the additions to the Dumbo walls were the best. I found it interesting they had posters from Anaheim, Orlando, Tokyo and Hong Kong but nothing from Paris or Shanghai.
    • On Main Street the track replacement is moving quickly. In Town Square it looks like the concrete and most of the track is removed and they are ready to lay the new trackin the coming days.
    • Small World mall now has walls up blocking the way from near the gift shop straight across as they work to shift the parade route to accommodate a redesign of the attraction queue. The attraction is closed for the annual removal of the holiday show.
    • The final drop of Splash Mountain looks to be receiving an extensive rebuild this year. You could see into the mountain as the top portion of the flume is now removed.
    • Unfortunately I did not have time to ride the Mark Twain, Train, Monorail or visit the tree house to get different angles of the work. Hopefully next visit.

  • The Haunted Mansion has returned to operation since my last visit. With the very quick turn around to remove the holiday show nothing has changed that I could see no a first ride through. FastPass is still in use, which worked in my favor for an instant walk on Friday evening. I think MaxPass is spoiling me.

  • Took a walk through Downtown Disney after dark and found more walls up, Naples is expanding its outdoor seating so walls circle a large portion of the building and come out into the walkway. The walls are down from around Splitsville. It had been announced Monday will be the opening day, the 29th, but it has been delayed with no scheduled date yet. There was still exterior work underway on Friday. Inside looked ready to go, from what you could see from walkways.

  • I closed out my evening with World of Color. It had been quite a while since I saw the classic show. When I arrived earlier in the afternoon blue FastPasses were long gone, so I had a yellow. I opted for my go to standby spot vs using my yellow FastPass. Found it interesting the large number of strollers and families standing in the handicap area on Friday. Usually you get a very clear view but with these people standing on basically the same level it was more obstructed than usual. Hopefully this was a one off and not a new procedure.

Here are some recent posts to the Geek's Blog:

Geek’s Blog Postings Recap January 1-16, 2018

Disney Related Press Releases

Be sure to check out the picture update that goes with this Geekspeak column, it can be found in our Disneyland Resort Pictorial Update section

Trip logs and mileage reports are in the Park Miles section.

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