And just like that, Spring Break has come to an end, but the promise of summer vacations is just a few weeks away. Of course, there’s always something happening down at Disneyland, and this week had quite a bit of news. Between the preparation for another nighttime spectacular to return to the Disneyland resort (Fantasmic!), the myriad of Star Wars-related activities and events, and the rapidly changing Magic Key availability, there’s a lot for us to show you…
While Dusty is off covering the opening of what may be Disney’s best attraction ever (Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind), Nathan, Matt, Andy and I are taking on the duties of this week’s Disneyland Update. We hope you’ll like what you see (except the stuff that’s just plain horrible regardless of how pretty the photos are)…
Star Wars Bonanza
Star Wars is a cultural icon. Virtually every American is familiar with one of the most misquoted movie lines of all time: “Luke, I am your father.” (For those of you that aren’t Star Wars fanatics, Darth Vader actually makes the simple statement that “No. I am your father.” A small but important difference!) And just as inescapable as Star Wars is as a cultural phenomenon, there’s even an unofficial holiday to celebrate the franchise, May the 4th (as in, May the Force be with you). Disneyland certainly joined in the celebration, with specially ticketed after-hours events, a whole collection of Star Wars merchandise, and an array of intergalactic-inspired food options to enjoy. Here’s a brief overview of what Star Wars day had to offer this year.
Disneyland After Dark – Star Wars Nite
Our photographer, PhotoMatt, attended the first two nights of the special after-hours Star Wars Nite (yes, that’s how they spell it) at Disneyland. He’s got a lot of photos and thoughts to share from this sold-out event…
(For you Star Wars fans out there, you might appreciate the tasteful use of Aurebesh for his watermark.)
Star Wars Photo Ops
Around the park there were a selection of Star Wars photo ops. A few were open during regular park hours and available to guests holding regular tickets, but most were only open during the event.
Star Wars Food
There was an array of Star Wars-inspired food available for the party (and beyond!). Here’s a look at what caught my eye during the event.
For a full list of the Star Wars food available, take a look at the article below:
Star Wars Day in the Disney Parks – MAY THE 4TH BE WITH YOU!
Celebrate with Star Wars Nite Fireworks
One of the reasons to attend many of the Disneyland After Dark events is the special firework shows that take place during the parties. Although the Celebrate the Nite show was very short, it was very popular with guests. The pictures do make the park look crowded, but this was only for a short time before the fireworks and only on Main Street. The crowds were very manageable and reasonable throughout the park for the rest of the evening.
Lots of Lightsabers in the audience…
Here is video of the Star Wars Celebrate the Nite fireworks show. It’s short, give yourself a few minutes to enjoy the show:
Star Wars Guest Costume Parade
Twice each night during the party, guests can assemble in Town Square, march down Main Street, and then have their picture taken in front of the castle. Here is a video of one of the parades:
Star Wars Lightsaber Meet-Up
The best part of the evening was the lightsaber meet-up in front of the Millenium Falcon. This happens once each evening at 10:30pm. If you have a lightsaber, or just want to be a part of one of the most unique experiences you can have at the park, this is not to be missed.
I was dazzled by the energy and excitement of the crowd at this event. Star Wars really bring out the fun in people…
Star Wars Event Atmosphere
A live DJ played a wide variety of music throughout the evening. In the video below you can hear Meco’s Star Wars Theme as the clock strikes midnight and May the 4th officially begins.
There were projections on Main Street, It’s a Small World, the Matterhorn, and the castle.
Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes (the Cantina Band)
This is quite possibly one of the strangest things you will ever see on the Rivers of America, and it was absolutely perfect. Watch the video and listen to some Bithin’ tunes –
Star Wars Nite Rides
Since most guests are there for the event activities, there are either no waits or minimal waits for the attractions.
I’ll return on May 27th for the final Star Wars Nite of 2022. We will try to sample some of the food we missed on the first two nights and get more pictures of the Star Wars character meet and greets. We were unable to get pictures of the Ewoks, R2-D2 and C-3PO, so those are our priorities next time.
Other Star Wars Celebrations
Although Star Wars Nite is completely sold out, there are still some ways to enjoy the Star Wars scene. There are a handful of photo ops that are available around Tomorrowland. Over by the defunct Launch Bay, there is a photo op based on The Book of Boba Fett, a Disney Visa cardholder exclusive photo op, and a desert scene from The Mandalorian over by Space Mountain… Though, how hard would it have been for Disneyland to open Star Wars Launch Bay for this event and perhaps use it as a hub for merchandise and these special photo ops? Strange.
If you’re not headed to Disneyland, there’s still something to enjoy in Downtown Disney. Just outside the Star Wars Trading Outpost (the old Rainforest Cafe), there is a temporary sand sculpture featuring art from the upcoming Disney+ show Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Here’s a closer look at this intricate art piece.
Even the LEGO store got into the celebration with LEGO figures from various Star Wars movies.
And, of course, it wouldn’t be a Disney-approved holiday without a bunch of new merchandise. Natalie scoured the Internet for all sorts of Star Wars memorabilia from both Disney and non-Disney sources. You can take a look to see what’s new this year in the article just below.
Star Wars Day Merchandise Roundup: These Are the Goods You’re Looking For
And while we recognize that Star Wars Day is some lighthearted fun, we’re still adamant that Disneyland’s largest expansion of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is still in need of some fixes. Our resident Star Wars expert, Lilliana, had a few choice words about how Disneyland’s Batuu isn’t the place to live out your Star Wars adventure, at least, not yet. For a thought-provoking article about how good Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge could be, take a look at her article:
Your Best Star Wars Adventure is Out There, But Not in Galaxy’s Edge (YET)
Andy Castro from Dateline Disneyland shared this video of the sights and sounds from around Galaxy’s Edge during Star Wars Day. Take a look and see what was happening during the daytime hours on May the 4th.
And Dusty Sage had a sighting of the mythical kind…
— MiceChat (@MiceChat) May 5, 2022
Magic Key Availability
At the end of April, it was nearly impossible to get a last-minute reservation to the parks. Everything was booked solid with a few reservations opening up here and there as other guests canceled. This was due in part to Spring Break demand & the return of nighttime entertainment. But with things settling into a routine and kids now back in school, has it gotten easier to make a reservations? It seems so…
We’ve been noticing an interesting pattern about reservations lately. When we checked the availability calendar for May at the end of last month, it looked pretty dour in terms of getting a reservation. But when we looked again on Thursday, we noticed that nearly the whole month was open again for all pass levels (additional availability was added across the entire month). And then by Friday, many of those available reservations were already booked up again. Booking a Disneyland reservation is like riding a roller coaster of availability with highs, lows, and sudden drops.
It appears that Magic Keys below the Dream level have been blocked out for the weekend of the 28th, which is when Fantasmic is scheduled to return. (click any image below to enlarge)
We’re curious to see if more capacity will be added later on through the month. In the meantime, you can now book all the way out through the first week of August! So if you can, start planning ahead for your summer vacation… That seems to be the only way to guarantee you’ll get the dates you really need.
And now we’re off to the parks to see how the crowds felt with all that new capacity added. On Friday morning and into the early afternoon, the parks were busy but it still felt manageable. The usual pinch points didn’t start to become blocked until closer to the evening (when the popular nighttime spectaculars get closer).
One of the pinch points we like to check, Fantasyland, wasn’t very crowded at all earlier in the day.
However, by about 7:00 PM on Friday, more people were entering the parks for an after-work visit to watch the shows. But even so, most of those crowds remained on Main Street, holding spots for the Main Street Electrical Parade.
We heard that around 7:40 PM, the line to security and trams from the parking structure were fairly long. The lines were even longer than when we entered the park earlier in the morning.
On Saturday afternoon, wait times were average. At one point on Saturday, Big Thunder, Indy, and Jungle Cruise were all temporarily down for an unknown reason. Jungle Cruise was back up after a 246-minute downtime. And that 2 hour wait for Space Mountain is absolutely caused by Lightning Lane as standby guests are held for long stretches of time without moving as guests willing to pay extra for Genie+ stream through without waiting.
Treehouse Bridge Removed
Although there are a number of construction projects taking place around the Disneyland Resort, the big news this week was the removal of Tarzan Treehouse’s rope bridge. At the start of the week, the bridge connecting the entrance of the attraction to the actual treehouse was still in place. But by midweek, it had been removed. Disney has not made any official announcements on what the new theme of the attraction will be. Many folks are hoping for an Encanto takeover, while others are hoping for a Swiss Family Robinson return. But whatever it is will take some time as the old entry in the middle of the walkway is complete removed and a new entry needs to be created elsewhere.
By Saturday, you could see that part of the stump had been removed with some of the scaffolding and scrims taken down.
Dateline Disneyland’s Andy Castro shared this video of the Tarzan Treehouse construction:
Tarzan Treehouse signs on the construction walls have been removed.
Disneyland Nighttime Entertainment Updates
After a long hiatus Fantasmic is almost ready to return. Disneyland’s most popular show will be making its debut on May 28th, with a cast member preview the night before (after park closing).
If you want a guaranteed good spot to watch Fantasmic! from, your best bet is to try your hand at a dining package. Right now, the only participating restaurants are River Belle Terrace with a premium package which allows you to watch the show from your table ($75 per adult; $45 per child) or a standard package where you go stand with the huddled masses ($50 per adult; $30 per child). Note that you must request the dining package from your server. However, Hungry Bear’s boxed “Fantasmic meal to go” for $35 can be reserved up to 60 days in advance. Blue Bayou will eventually be available but is currently closed for refurbishment. Plan ahead folks, you’ll be glad you did.
Just know that once it gets to crunch time for nighttime entertainment, that’s when the crowds really start to pack in and it can be very hard to get a good spot (especially for the early show). That’s why you’ll want a dining package to ensure a decent spot to view the show.
If you don’t have a dining package, your two best options are to either stake out a viewing location hours before the show, or swoop in after the first show and claim a location for the 2nd show of the night.
And here’s a little blast from the past… a view of Fantasmic from the Dream Suite balcony shortly after the debut of the remixed version of the show in July of 2017. Unfortunately it’s 2017 cell phone video technology, but still an amazing view of the show:
The Main Street Electrical Parade popcorn buckets and sippers that were all the rage the last couple of weeks seem to have all sold out again. But if you have your heart set on one of these guys, they should be back in stock again from time to time through the summer according to cast members.
Tale of the Lion King Debut Set for May 28th!
We’ve been following the move of the Tale of the Lion King show from Disney California Adventure’s unshaded amphitheater on Paradise Bay to the much more comfortable Fantasyland Theater at Disneyland.
We had recently been able to view a preview of some scenes from the revised show and it’s a delight with fantastic vocals. Well, we finally know that it will launch the same day as Fantasmic, May 28th! Expect the park to add a lot of extra capacity beginning that day with all these extra seats being added throughout the day!
If you’re curious about the show, we have some great video from the summer 2019 performances when it first made its debut:
Disneyland Entertainment Returns
Every week seems to bring more information on returning entertainment to the Disneyland Resort. World of Color, Main Street Electrical Parade, Disneyland Forever Fireworks and Storytelling at Royal Theater have all returned in recent weeks, with Fantasmic and Tale of the Lion King on the way on May 28th. For more information about all the entertainment please check out our full coverage:
UPDATED: Disneyland Spectaculars & Entertainment Return – Everything You Need To Know!
Construction & Refurbishments
There’s a lot of construction happening around Disneyland. Let’s get caught up:
New Orleans Square/Pirates of the Caribbean
There have been many changes throughout New Orleans Square and along the Rivers of America, particularly in the Fantasmic viewing area. While some construction walls were removed last week, many more went up by Monday morning.
The walkway that leads to Blue Bayou and other shops in the square was blocked off with new construction walls.
It appears that painting is taking place in this area. It seems a little unusual, considering that several of these buildings were recently painted just a few months ago.
The French Market Restaurant remains open, but walls are up by the entrance, making it a bit difficult to navigate.
That’s a narrow entry into an open restaurant…
As we pointed out last week, new trees have been planted in the Pirates queue, where the two older diseased and dying trees were removed. Because they are sticking up over the construction walls, I think it is safe to assume that they are fairly large and should provide some much-needed shade to the queue area.
River Belle Terrace has construction walls up in front of much of the patio area. This completely blocks any of the romantic views of the river. Thankfully, all of these walls should be down before the May 28th return of Fantasmic!.
Speaking of Fantasmic!: As you look down the walkway from Pelican’s Landing toward the River Belle Terrace, you can see the other construction walls that are up around the areas where the light and projector towers are housed. After seeing the towers extended last week for maintenance, they were back underground (where they are stowed when the show is not running) by Saturday.
For a video walkthrough of the changes happening at New Orleans Square, join Andy Castro in the video below:
Finding Nemo Submarine Lagoon
As we travel over the submarine lagoon on the Disneyland Monorail, you can see that the construction cleanup continues. While it doesn’t appear much has changed over the last week, you can tell that scaffolding and tarps are slowly being removed from the lagoon ahead of it being refilled.
One last, lonely tarp sits atop a rock formation in the lagoon. Hopefully this is a sign that we will see water returning to the lagoon very soon. This is a critical piece of ambiance that is missing from this area, and I can’t wait to photograph it when it’s back up and running again.
The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
On our trip to DCA on Friday, we were surprised to see construction walls placed in front of Little Mermaid, effectively blocking the entire front of the building. The attraction remains open and the construction only affects the concrete directly in front of the attraction.
On Hollywood Blvd, Animation Academy is closed for refurbishment. Turtle Talk and the Sorcerer’s Workshop remain open.
It is interesting that the Frozen Meet and Greet remains closed while the Royal Hall in Disneyland is open for Princesses to greet visitors. Queen Elsa and Anna are currently greeting guests by the Carthay Circle Restaurant, which seems fairly out of place. We hope the popular Frozen characters are moved back into their Arendelle home inside the Animation Academy before the heat of summer arrives.
The location that was once the AMC movie theater, Earl of Sandwich, Starbucks, and Sugarboo is now a cleared-out dirt lot. Disney has certainly wiped the canvas clean for a fresh start in the area.
If you are worried about Earl of Sandwich, fear not! Disney has stated that the establishment will be returning soon with a temporary location in Downtown Disney later this year.
The redevelopment and redesign of Downtown Disney goes beyond this plot of land. Unfortunately, some of the concept art makes certain areas look like a local strip mall. And what seems to have Disneyland Resort fans most upset is the new design for Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen, which essentially strips all classic elements away from the Mardi Gras feel it currently has.
For an in-depth look at the “revamped” Downtown Disney, please check out last week’s epic Disneyland Update
Disneyland Update – More Entertainment, More Construction, More Reservations
This & That
You’ve made it this far, please hold on for a few more items that didn’t quite fit in above!
Marvel’s Scarlet Witch and America Chavez Now at Avengers Campus
With the recent release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, two of the characters from the film are now making their rounds at Avengers Campus. Scarlet Witch (whose popularity boomed with the wildly successful WandaVision Disney+ series) can be found at the Ancient Sanctum.
The other character, America Chavez, is less familiar unless you’re a Marvel comic book reader or recently watched Doctor Strange 2. To the untrained eye, this character looks just like any other park guest, but there is a moment during the Dr. Strange show where she is introduced on stage.
Pirates of the Caribbean 55th Anniversary Merchandise
Although Pirates of the Caribbean wasn’t open to guests to celebrate 55 years of mayhem, there are a couple of shirts at Disneyana commemorating the anniversary.
If you’re feeling a little more on the lavish side of life, you can opt for a hand-carved Pirates of the Caribbean placard for a cool $1,990.00
We hope that once the ride comes out of refurbishment, there’s an opportunity to celebrate its milestone anniversary properly.
New Doctor Strange Sipper
A new Doctor Strange Eye of Agamotto sipper has arrived at Shawarma Palace in Avengers Campus. It is also available at the cart across from Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout. The Eye of Agamotto is a talisman worn by Doctor Strange, and now it can be yours to fulfill your hydration needs.
Over the weekend, there appeared to be plenty of the sippers available at both carts.
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Let’s Hear From You
Did Disneyland meet your Star Wars Day (or should we say month) expectations? Are you ready for Fantasmic to return? Now that you’ve had a few weeks to think about the Tarzan Treehouse retheme, what are your thoughts on what should take his place in the treetops? If you are a Magic Key holder, how are things working out for you this spring. Have you been able to get the dates you were looking for (particularly on weekends)?
Dusty was absolutely giddy with excitement when he called from Walt Disney World to tell me about EPCOT’s new Guardians of the Galaxy coaster. That got me thinking about the delayed E-Ticket Bob Chapek promised us at the last D23 Expo. It sure would be great to flesh out Avengers campus with an indoor coaster like this one:
NEW RIDE: EPCOT’s Guardians of the Galaxy Coaster Reviewed!
We’ll leave you with a little parting gift… Some pretty photos from around the resort I hope you’ll enjoy!
Didi you know about this cool little hidden Mickey at the flower fountain?