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4/01/16 - Thoughts and observations from Friday at the Disneyland Resort including my 1st impressions of the Food & Wine Festival.
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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.

4/01/16 - Thoughts and observations from Friday at the Disneyland Resort including my 1st impressions of the Food & Wine Festival.

Hello everyone,

The parks felt crowded on Friday as I walked around but wait times seemed more moderate than the walkways suggested. I only saw a couple of attractions over an hour and several in the 30-45 min range when I paid attention.

  • Jungle Cruise - Reopening in early May
  • Autopia - Reopening in Spring
  • Hyperion Theater - Closed until Summer, reopening with a new Frozen Musical
  • Mark Twain Riverboat - Star Wars Project - Closed until 2017
  • Sailing Ship Columbia - Star Wars Project - Closed until 2017
  • Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes - Star Wars Project - Closed until 2017
  • Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island - Star Wars Project - Closed until 2017
  • Fantasmic! - Star Wars Project - Closed until 2017
  • Disneyland Railroad - Star Wars Project - Closed until 2017

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

Thoughts and Observations:

  • Every trip to the parks reveals more clearing for Star Wars and the scale of this project is becoming more and more visible. This week it appears the rest of the berm has been cleared. So now you can see all the way to the Hungry Bear in Critter Country as well as clearly into the park from the Parking Structure. And from in the park the parking structure is very visible now. Inside the park views of the work are becoming more obstructed but you could make out that the Rivers of America concrete riverbed is being removed and the earth is starting to be moved around.

  • The spring edition of the Buena Vista Bugle is now on news stands in Disney Califorina Adventure. I always enjoy reading these and find it to be one of the great details of Buena Vista Street. This issue has stories highlighting many of the happenings around the park including the Food & Wine Festival, the arrivial of the Marvel Super Heros, Zootopia, and the upcoming Soarin film change.

  • The Food & Wine Festival has returned to Disney California Adventure. The original festival ran from 2006-2010 then was shuttered during the DCA make-over. It runs the entire month of April with the last day being May 1st. There are activities taking place along the parade route as well as in Hollywood Land. A disclaimer up front on this. I am not a food person and I do not drink wine/beer. I basically eat because I have to in order to survive. My tastes are about as plain as you can image. So I am not going to dive into the food & wine choices. So think of it as the Food & Wine Festival from the perspective of no food nor wine.

    Overall the festival feels much larger this year than previous years. With 8 Marketplaces, 4 venues with activities and merchandise. The Marketplaces are basically portable/pre-fabricated buildings set up along the parade route. These house everything that is needed to serve food and wine. Including refrigeration, heating units, preparation counters, electricity, etc. Each one has a theme, unique menu, queue and cash registers. In between them are areas to eat and enjoy your beverage. For the presentations they are using the Mad T Party infrastructure. I found it amusing that a concert lighting package and sound system was being used for a discussion, but it makes a lot of sense to use what is there vs bringing in something different.

    Here are some of my first impressions:

    • The Good
      • I spent a good portion of time walking around the festival areas looking around, listening, and talking to people. The overall impression most had seemed to be good. Quite a few guests were very happy to see the festival return and they seemed to be enjoying themselves.
      • They did take into account Disneyland Annual Passholders and have turned the Blue Sky Cellar into a lounge for them. You can pick up a complimentary button for the event and recipe card each week, similar to the AP Days events. Inside there are charging stations as well as places to sit and watch a screening of the original Seasons of the Vine film. I thought this was a great touch and plays well with the AP crowd bringing back some history and offering a space for them.
      • I took in a couple presentations in Hollywood Land. Both Chefs I heard speak were having a good time and really engaged with the audience. I caught one performance on the lifestyle stage of a performing artist and it was entertaining too.
      • There is a dedicated guide each week for the festival allowing for changes as it moves along.
      • The crowd flow seemed ok most of the day. I thought with the Marketplaces and their queues on the main walkway in the park it would lead to some issues. It was crowded but I did not experience any gridlock situations.

    • The Not So Good
      • As with any new event there were opening day challenges. They seemed to have problems keeping the Marketplaces stocked. There were some communication issues with guests too when they went to order something that was not available it was not always clearly communicated if it was temporary, for the rest of the day, for the rest of the festival or what. There were some minor technical glitches with the cash registers and some mis-information on signs which led to replacements, etc...
      • The Annual Passholder Tasting Passport - This $45 pass entitles you to 6 different food items from the Marketplaces. You get a plastic card (think Year of A Million Dreams FastPass card) and a commemorative lanyard. That means your food items need to average $7.50 to break even on food. You really cannot do this because there are not enough items at that price point. So in the end you are paying several dollars for the plastic card and lanyard. Not really a deal. If you are looking for more flexibility and want something commemorative you may want to consider one of the gift cards.
      • I did overhear several people disappointed they did not get their Annual Pass discounts on the food or tasting passport.
      • I also heard quite a few commenting on the portion size and pricing at the Marketplaces. To me it did seem pricey to pay $6-$8 for a couple of bites of food but I believe these are on par with what Epcot charges during their festival.

    • Missed Opportunities
      • With the Marketplaces being on the parade route and some events happening there and the rest in Hollywood Land there seemed to be a disconnect between the two. It was not a seemless festival but almost two different events. There seemed nothing to tie the locations together.
      • The primary merchandise location was the Studio Store in Hollywood Land. I also heard there was some merchandise in Off the Page as well as on Buena Vista Street. There was nothing available where the Marketplaces were.
      • Speaking of merchandise I did not see an pins for the event. The closest I saw were the free buttons for Annual Passholders.
      • It seemed really awkward to me that the seminars/presentations ended in Hollywood Land by 7pm with the last one scheduled at 6:30pm but the bars stayed open later. I walked through after dark and it was very quiet with no real activity at the two bars. It seems they should have scheduled some night time entertainment or presentations to draw more guests to the area. Or maybe a couple of the Marketplaces should have been in the area to help draw guests.

  • Nick Wilde & Judy Hopps from Zootopia are now meeting and greeting guests in Hollywood Land. They were on Hollywood Blvd near Sunset. They were not listed in the times guide on Friday. When I walked by the queue had been closed and this was almost half an hour before their scheduled start time. So there appears to be pent up demand for the newest Disney stars. I am surprised it took so long for the characters to arrive in the parks.

  • I grabbed a quick dinner at the Village Haus. My meal was less than ideal. First up the price increase.. it cost me $10.09 for a plain hamburger and fries after discount and tax. This is up from $9.17 I paid in January. The burger was the same but the amount of fries seemed slightly less and the bun the burger was served on was not very good. It tasted almost rubbery. The only good from the meal was it was served hot and the order was correct. Also there was no wait to order nor pick up my food and plenty of seats.

  • Stopped by Toontown and it is looking new again. The colors for Car Toon Spin really pop again and make you realize how in need of renovation it was. The other buildings look crisp and clean again too. The hills in the residential area are almost complete too. Wonder if the rest of the Downtown area is next?

  • Walked through the Star Wars Launch Bay and it felt quiet. The rest of the park was alive with activity yet the Launch Bay had only 10 minute waits posted for either of the Star Wars Characters. On the second level the wait was slightly longer for Spider-Man. The Super Hero HQ is closed as of Sunday and Captain America and Spider-Man are moving to DCA. No official word on a replacement but internet reporting is Star Wars is taking over the second floor too.

  • The Egg-Stravaganza was extended and looks like it runs through the weekend. It was no longer listed in the times guide but all locations were open with prizes and eggs were still out. I did not see as many guests participating this week as in weeks past. For more on the 2016 Egg-Stravaganza including pictures of the egg locations here is my post

  • The Incredibles H.I.T. Squad returns Monday to Disney California Adventure. This is a short show featuring some of the Incredibles as they conduct a Heros In Training session. A similar show ran back in 2011 when the parade route was closed due to Buena Vista Street construction.

  • When looking at the times guide noticed the Fantasyland Theatre was hosting guest performers many mornings then Magical Map in the afternoon but on one day 4/7 no Magical Map, so be sure to check the guide or website if you are planning to visit and want to catch the show.

  • The Mark Twain was open into the evening, on previous trips it closed before sunset. This offered a nice quiet place to relax and at night the Rivers of America are nice. I thought this was a pleasant surprise and curious if it is just for the spring break crowds or if it will continue.

  • On my way out I wandered through Downtown Disney. I have the worst timing and most of the performers were idle when I walked through. I did catch the end of a reggae band on the main stage which was entertaining.

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

Geek's Blog Postings Recap – March 21-28, 2016

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

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