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11/23/16 - Thoughts and observations from a Thanksgiving Weekend trip to the Disneyland Resort
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11/23/16 - Thoughts and observations from a Thanksgiving Weekend trip to the Disneyland Resort

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone,

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. I kicked off my holiday weekend with a trip to the Disneyland Resort on Wednesday. The crowds in the park felt on the heavy side but wait times were still almost all under an hour most of the afternoon/evening. The walkways felt rather crowded though.

Thoughts and Observations:

  • Disneyland started offering preferred parking spaces in the Mickey and Friends parking structure. So for an additional $17 a car you can park in one of the spots closest to the escalators. So this means it can run you $35 to park for the day. Annual Passholders with parking can pay the upgrade fee if they desire. I took a quick look at a couple of the floors when I arrived just after lunch and two were fairly empty and two were about half full. I can see the argument on both sides with this one. For Disney if they can squeeze additional revenue out of an existing asset why not. The impact on most guests is minimal. Since I usually have bad luck and get stuck on the far side of the garage it really does not effect me too much. In terms of perks for your money this one seems minimal to me. At most it can save a quarter mile (assuming you are in the far corner vs the spot closest to the escalator) but more likely just a couple hundred feet on average. If you are going to walk 5-10 miles in a days it does not seem like that big of a savings. I find the trend of having two classes of Disneyland guests more troubling though. It seems that Disney Parks are really become a class system with a base class and then those paying for special treatment being separated. This differentiation is becoming more and more obvious. It has always existed with Club 33 and Guest Escorts but has been in the background of your experience and impact on a regular day guest has been minimal to non existent. Now it is becoming front and center with roped off areas, add on pricing, etc.. I am not a fan of the trend.

  • Started my day checking out the construction from the Mickey and Friends parking structure. As expected not a lot of visible change since Saturday but still interesting to watch the ongoing work. The new tram route looks to be getting close to opening. They were cleaning up the area. I am curious the plan with this area. It appears they are working toward opening a temporary route then will be doing construction on the current space then maybe doubling back? I thought they may build a new section then go back to the old but it seems the asphalt is staying for the time being since they were taking the time on Wednesday to paint over the lines and hose it down.

  • On my first pass through Disneyland just took a look at the west side of the park. The most interesting item to mention is that Moana has taken over the courtyard between the Oasis and Jingle Cruise. A backdrop was set up and they were preparing for her arrival. Cast Members were being coy about what time Wednesday so I hung around a few minutes and with no signs of her imminent arrival then moved on. The backdrop and area looked good and guessing she will be there daily for the coming weeks.

  • My first stop in Disney California Adventure was the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail to see what Santa and the Elves have been up to. They have moved in for the holiday season bring a couple new photo locations, signs, and plenty of decorations to the area. I would recommend picking up an activity map on the way in as it shows you what is going on, has a couple activities, and is a nice souvenir. Santa has set up shop in the Ahwahnee Camp Circle. So there is no show being performed right now. The line for Santa wrapped around the center of the area and looked rather long when I was there. A second photo op with Chip and Dale is set up by the Tunnel Tree, the chipmunks were no where to be found when I walked by. Throughout the area are gifts and other decorations. Overall it seems like a great first effort and looking forward to seeing how this may expand in the coming years.

  • I did a quick walk through Festival of Holidays and then circled the park to see what was going on. In Hollywood Land they have finally cleaned up all the lighting and stage equipment. Unfortunately the fountain in front of Monsters Inc is not coming back. The area is plain concrete now. The Sunset Showcase Theater is dark right now. Dr. Strange has ended his run and Beauty and the Beast is not coming until Spring. Too bad they did not play something Christmas related in there this season or would bring the Muppets Back. Guess the capacity is not needed. But that corner of the park is feeling rather quiet again.

  • I spent a good part of the afternoon bouncing around between the various entertainment offerings of Festival of Holidays. The scope and scale of what is being offered is approaching that of Epcot. There are 7 groups performing, 2 processions/mini shows, a couple meet and greets as well as some arts and crafts locations to go along with the market places and kiosks. I sampled almost all of the acts this afternoon and there is a good variety of performers and it was a very enjoyable afternoon. There are some hits and misses depending on your tastes but overall it was a good selection. I enjoyed the Holiday Toy Drummers and RAISE the most. Also having the Country Bears out for pictures is great, although a bit odd to me. Not sure how they fit into the Festival of Holidays. It would be nice to have some sort of performers with them or their Christmas show sound track playing in the area.

  • A new addition this year is Princess Elena's Musical Grand Arrival. This features Elena of Avalor and several dancers who perform near Paradise Gardens on the Parade Route (between Jumpin Jellyfish and Goofys Sky School). Elena rides in on a float and performs a several songs and dance numbers. There was a good size crowd waiting for her arrival when I was there. The show was well done and a solid performance. If your kids are familiar with the show this should be on your to see list.

  • Viva Navidad! has returned. There are no substantial changes to the show this year. It is as lively and entertaining as it has always been. I caught two performances and both had good size crowds that seemed into the show.

  • No signs of a Holiday Edition of the Buena Vista Bugle. It would seem that the papers run has come to an end. There was nothing for Halloween either. That is disappointing to see, I always enjoyed picking up a new copy and seeing what is going on around the park.

  • A big disappointment this year at Disney California Adventure is the retirement of the Buena Vista Street Community Bell Ringers. They were not brought back so there was no live Christmas caroling on Buena Vista Street this year. I missed that.

  • A side effect of this was the nightly Christmas Tree (which Disney is referring to as Holiday Tree by the way) is now a very sad effect. It takes less than a minute and is just a pre-recorded message. No performers or characters. It is now on par with what Disneyland has been doing for years, which is not good.

  • I walked through the Festival of Holidays area several times on Wednesday and was surprised with the crowds in the park that the marketplaces did not seem to have crowds. Most booths had no guests or maybe one group. This was between say 2pm and 6pm. A couple did have a handful of guests at them. Overall though it seemed really quiet at the food and merchandise locations.

  • Found a spot on Main Street USA to watch Paint the Night. The crowd did not seem as full as it was during the summer. Maybe the early run time? I found it interesting after Paint the Night how many guests were leaving. 3/4ths of the street was exit traffic.

  • Sleeping Beauty Winter Castle has returned this year. There are two snow fall moments, one at 7:30pm and another at 8:30pm. I noticed no difference with them compared. The hub and Main Street have white lights as before but to me the effect is not as grand without the overhead garlands. I enjoy Paint the Night but I would have rather had the overhead garlands back.

  • Small World Holiday looks great at night as usual, the projection show is back and runs most quarter hours. It ran 1 of the 2 I was in the area for. The show itself appears to be the same, nothing jumped out at me as being changed.

  • It was great to have Believe in Holiday Magic back. It is one of my favorite fireworks shows. This year they use some projections on the castle and some of the lights from Disneyland Forever. Too bad they did not incorporate the Main Street Projectors or more of the Main Street Lights into the show to plus it.

  • I finally got to see World of Color Season of Light. It has only been playing a couple weeks but I have not made it due to my Tokyo trip then a football game last visit. I really enjoyed the show. If you are a fan of Disney Animation and traditional Christmas music you will enjoy it too. I thought they really used the World of Color show technology well and in some interesting ways. The laser effects were well done and the Goofy lighting sequence was awesome! The show does seem to run rather long but I enjoyed the relaxing pace.

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

Geek's Blog Postings Recap – November 7-18, 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

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

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