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11/15/18 - Thoughts and observations from Thursday at the Disneyland Resort including 1st impressions of Christmas 2018 at the parks
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11/15/18 - Thoughts and observations from Thursday at the Disneyland Resort including 1st impressions of Christmas 2018 at the parks
I missed the kickoff to the Holiday season this year at the Disneyland Resort last weekend due to the wildfires in our area. Luckily all is ok with my family and friends but it was a long series of days being under mandatory evacuation from very early Friday morning through Sunday evening. This week I ventured down to Anaheim to check out the 2018 festivities for a couple days with a group of nine family members including my 2 year old nephew and 4 senior citizens.

Thoughts and Observations:

  • Our morning started off leaving home in the dark and as expected encountering Los Angeles traffic on the way. The traffic was worse than originally thought so it took us slightly longer than usual to make it to Anaheim, about 90 minutes, and the rest of the group even longer, well over 2 hours. Eventually everyone made it to the hotel and we set off for the park.

  • Since we were staying along Harbor Blvd. we walked to the parks and had to enter through the east side security check point. This area always seems more congested to me and today was no exception. There is construction in the area as they work to reconfigure it a bit and according to permits new shade structures are going up, hopefully some more lanes to go through too.

  • Disney California Adventure already felt like a good crowd on hand when we arrived. Attraction wait times were on the rise like every morning. Radiator Springs Racers for example was over an hour with return times in the mid after already.

  • Our first stop was Redwood Creek to visit Santa. The wait was under 20 minutes and we figured it would only get worse. I took a quick glance around and saw no substantial changes to the area but I did not really explore that in depth.

  • The Disneyland App seemed to be a little off all trip. Wait times were lagging behind the park as were FastPass times in many cases. The first indication we had of this was as we were walking toward Cars Land it said Luigis had a 5 minute wait. When we arrived, only a couple minutes later, the queue was almost to the door and posted at 25 minutes, the app still read 5. Down Route 66 Maters showed 10 on the app but was posted at 20 and ended up taking about 20.

  • The Sunset Showcase Theater in Hollywood Land is now empty. The Nutcracker preview is gone and no signs of what is next. Interesting to note nearby they are doing a meet and greet for Ralph Breaks the Internet even though the preview for that film is over at Disneyland. Also new since my last visit there are more photo walls. So now you have a choice of four. Buzz Lightyear, Up!, Wall-E or a new Share Your Ears wall. There were guests enjoying them but not really lines, maybe one or two groups waiting.

  • Decided to visit the Disney Visa photo op. It has been a while since I visited it. I think last time they were still doing photo prints. Now you get a free digital download of your pictures via PhotoPass, which is not a big bonus for those that have it as part of your Annual Pass or ticket already. But it is a relatively short character line.

  • Grab lunch on the go from Smokejumpers using mobile order and had no issues and it went very smoothly. The rest of the group ate at the Wharf and used the regular queues and it took them a long time. I got my food, found a table by them, ate, and then they arrived with their meals to eat.

  • Speaking of eating no Ghirardelli samples today when we walked by.

  • Disneyland was a film set as they were taping the annual Disney Parks Holiday Specials today. This morning was the parade taping then the afternoon and evening musical performances in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. We arrived as they were moving equipment from Town Square to the hub for the afternoon tapings. These events have an impact on day guests as they cause more congestion and crowds than normal. Plus it throws all the show schedules off with reduced entertainment and those that do run are many times delayed or truncated. Today was no exception with the 4pm parade starting late, no 7pm Wintertime Enchantment moment, and reduced Main Street entertainment. Not to mention the congestion in the hub all day. I stopped by and took a couple pictures of the afternoon performance, which turned out to be Gwen Stefani. The taping process is usually very slow and painful to watch.

  • it's a small world holiday returned last Friday. I used a FastPass and went for my first cruise of the season this morning. The big addition this year is a large gingerbread archway in the European section. It spans the canal and looked great. The rest of the attraction looked to be on par with previous years with no other major changes jumping out at me on a first cruise.

  • While talking about cruises wanted to mention that the Jingle Cruise did NOT return again. So looks like that is an attraction of the past now. I enjoyed the cruise and thought it was a fun tweak to a classic attraction. It really surprises me the Disneyland version is gone but the Magic Kingdom in Florida still has theirs and the Anaheim version I thought was better.

  • The Matterhorn reopens tomorrow and today the site was a live with last minute touches being applied. Crews were working well into the evening to finish up the new entrance marquee and queue areas. You could see the lights and some of them above the wall.

  • Out in Toon Town Donald Duck was greeting guests in front of his boat in his holiday sweater. The queue stretched back through the boat and around to Goofy's yard.

  • Stopped by the Golden Horseshoe to rest a bit and took in a showing of the Laughing Stock Co. A Christmas Carol. I enjoy the changes to entertainment throughout the park for the holidays. After their performance we stuck around and ate dinner too.

  • A very rare event on the Rivers of America this evening. The Columbia was in use due to the Mark Twain renovation that was going on and with no Fantasmic they were doing night cruises. I did not have time to go for one unfortunately.

  • Phat Cat Swinger is performing a Holiday Concert in Paradise Park each evening during the Festival of Holidays, they were great as usual! If you are in the parks stop by and catch some of their set.

  • The Lamplight Lounge neon sign is back and fully functional now. Pixar Pier is inching toward completion. Still no sign of Bing Bong.. wonder if they will wait for the attraction opening next year at this point? Also noteworthy is Luxo Jr did not seem to be moving. I walked by a couple times and spend time at the concert nearby and never saw it move. Hope it is not broken already.

  • Grizzly Recreation Area received a nice little plus this year. On the main trail between the Bay Area and just past Redwood Creek toward Rushin' River Outfitters there are snow moments throughout the evening. The lights dim, music comes up and it snows for a couple minutes. The event is not a big deal but a great little touch to the area and guests seemed to enjoy the surprise.

  • I closed out my night with Believe in Holiday Magic from Main Street USA. No major changes in this great fireworks show jumped out to me. Main Street projections were in use again this year.

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

Geek’s Blog Postings Recap November 1-14, 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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