Monday, September 30, 2013

Disabled Guests Will No Longer Enjoy Shorter Wait Times

This is why we can't have nice things.

Disneyland announced recently that guests suffering from disabilities will not have the privilege to cut lines anymore. A longstanding rule once allowed guests with a handicap pass to skip long wait times, so that they might not have to endure pain or an aggravated condition.

Unfortunately, it was rather easy to obtain these passes. It became common practice for parents without disabled children to hire kids with obvious physical limitations as a child or playdate friend, so that their kids could abuse the system. Even more common was the exercise of lying about an internal disability, that might prevent one from standing around for extended periods of time. As no medical papers or tests were required, it was easy for kids to obtain these passes, forcing actually handicapped guests to wait even longer than necessary.

Maybe they'll bring the handicap pass back, but for now it seems that those suffering from diseases or disabilities will have to wait in line with the rest of us.

Update: Thunder Mountain Reopening Pushed Back

In what's been a slow couple of weeks, (even with Mickey's Halloween Party going on), we finally have an interesting story. The much-anticipated grand reopening of Thunder Mountain Railroad has been delayed. For reasons that aren't yet fully clear, the nearly year-long refurbishment will take another few months.

For those unaware, Big Thunder is undergoing a massive overhaul that had it closed even during the entire duration of summer, the park's biggest season. It was scheduled to reopen in mid-October. But things have changed, and we won't be seeing this ride until the Winter of next year, which could even mean as late as March 2014.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Big Changes to Club 33

Disneyland's secret club, known as Club 33, is about to undergo major refurbishments.

Club 33 is located in a discreet New Orleans Square building adjacent to Pirates of the Caribbean. Members pay a whopping $25,000 initiation fee, on top of a $10,000 annual admission fee. That does not include admission to Disneyland, or the meals served in Club 33. Reservations must be booked months in advance, and a meal alone typically costs around $150.

So with all that extra cash, it's quite expected that Disneyland should update the famous club. Members can expect to see a completely new atrium, kitchen, lounge, new furniture. The menu is also to be updated, but no specific changes have been announced. The club is scheduled to close for half the year beginning in January, so hang tight, 33ers.

Of course, if you're not one of the few members of Club 33, you will not experience any changes whatsoever. But don't worry, Disneyland has probably got something in store for all of us.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Coming Soon: Mickey's Halloween Party

In just two weeks, prepare for Halloween at Anaheim, California. Every year around late September, Disneyland dresses up for Halloween, in a spectacular month-long event known as Mickey's Halloween Party. The party is complete with Halloween-themed decorations, parades, and countless activities.

Basically, the park will close at early hours (6-7:00 PM), and guests with a Halloween Party pass will be allowed to stay until midnight. Those times are when the activities begin. Below is a pricing guide for the events.

This year for the first time, guests will get to experience the Monsters U dance party at the Tomorrowland Terrace, as well as two new locations on the trick-or-treat tour. Many rides will even receive Halloween makeovers. Jack Skellington and the rest of the beloved characters from Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas will grace the halls of the Haunted Mansion, and Space Mountain riders will get to experience my personal favorite addition, Ghost Galaxy (review to come).

Don't be afraid to dress up in your costume (as long as it doesn't frighten too many children) and show up to the park from September 27th until Halloween, because this even lasts all month long.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix Launch Party

In 1999, video game developer Square Enix's producer Shinji Hasimoto stepped onto an elevator where a Disney executive happened to be waiting. Some creative ideas were bounced around and thus was the birth of Kingdom Hearts, an epic video game crossover between the world of Final Fantasy, and the universe of Disney. The player follows a young protagonist named Sora, as he battles his way through a dark fantasy world where Disney characters ranging from Mickey Mouse to Jack Sparrow live together.

This Tuesday, the world of Kingdom Hearts will come alive once more, and to celebrate the re-release of these fantastic games, Square Enix held a launch party at the Anaheim Convention Center today, a short walk from Disneyland.

Having played these games in my childhood, I decided to swing by and pick up an early copy of the game, and perhaps some more giveaways. The event began at 12, and people were handing out t-shirts, posters, and exclusive Disneyland pins. Included with the video game was a limited edition art book of concept drawings from the game.

This event turned out to be one of the most poorly organized catastrophes I have ever attended. Prospective attendees were able to RSVP through Facebook, seemingly so that the organizers could get an idea of how many people would show up. Over 3,000 RSVP'd and an additional 1,500 put down "maybe". How many copies of the game did they hand out? A thousand. Not to mention that t-shirts and pins were gone within the hour. By the time most people were inside, only posters were left.

I really wish I could have anything at all pleasant to say about this experience, but it was mostly torture. I was lucky enough to acquire a copy of the game and some artwork, but it wasn't worth waiting in line and I wish I had stayed home instead. All-in-all, I learned my lesson and will not be attending one of these again. However, I urge you to check out this game if you enjoy RPG's or Disney characters, because it is a true classic.

Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix for PS3 hits the shelves on Tuesday, September 10th.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Segway Update

Back in late July, we reported that progress was being made in the lawsuit related to Segway access in Disneyland. Well, the court has made their ruling, and it's no surprise. Disneyland will not have to accommodate segways as a form of transportation. They are simply too fast and hard to control, to allow them to be in the presence of heavily crowded areas.

As it is right now, strollers cause daily accidents. Imagine a motorized deathtrap like a Segway tearing through the streets of Fantasyland. Good for the Appeals Court for standing their ground.

Barker Bird Changes

The Barker Bird from the Tiki Room is still in the lobby of the Opera House on Main Street, but now they've added a photograph so guests can see what he looked like in his heyday.

If you recall from the previous article, the Barker Bird greeted Disneyland-goers at the front entrance of Adventureland for a brief period, before he was removed. Though he no longer sits on his Tiki Room perch, you can see just where he was located in this vintage photograph. Maybe this means that Disneyland plans on leaving the historical Tiki Room exhibit for quite a while longer.

Closeup of the photo

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

UPDATE: Main Street Starbucks

The Starbucks location on Main Street, USA is finally starting to take shape. As you can see in this photograph, they decided to use the original retro logo to keep in line with the vintage feel of Main Street. A poster on the front door says that construction will be completed in Fall of 2013.

I like the decision to use the old Starbucks logo, to make Main Street's first chain-location seem less intrusive.

On another note, the neighboring Disneyana store is still operating next to the Opera House. No word yet on when it will return to its former location, though we can assume it will be when Starbucks opens.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

California Adventure's Back Entrance Bars Regular Guests

A relatively unknown and never-crowded entrance to Disney California Adventure, located near the courtyard of the Grand Californian Hotel, has recently been changed to disallow regular guests before the hour of 11:00 AM.

This may seem like a minor setback, but it is entirely unfair. I'd love to stay at the Grand Californian, but I already drop $500 on myself alone each year for an annual pass. I live relatively close-by and have no reason to stay overnight on park grounds. So why should I be denied entry?

To be fair, the entrance has always been intended to allow hotel guests easier access to the park, but it has never excluded non-hotel guests. I guess maybe I'm getting a bit riled up over it, especially since the entrance is open to all guests after 11, but I still think this is another ploy to get more money out of us.

Now, if my entering the park in any way interfered with the hotel guests, or made it less convenient for them to get into the park, I would understand. But I tried to get into the park one morning with nobody else in line, and was told to turn around and go to the main entrance. Come on guys, let's be reasonable to the customer.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Mickey-Shaped Pretzel

We've previously covered the Mickey Mouse-shaped frozen desserts sold around the park, but a more filling snack would be the Mickey-shaped pretzels. They are classic salted pretzels, baked on location and delivered fresh out of the oven. Seriously, grab a wad of paper napkins unless you want your hand to be scorched.

The novelty of biting into Mickey's face is a nice touch, but the real selling point of these pretzels is how fresh they are. The jalapeño cheese and cream cheese pretzels aren't bad, but the standard Mickey pretzel is my personal favorite. Ask them to throw in a cup of cheese dipping sauce if you're looking for a richer flavor.

Price: $4.00 (+$1.00 for cheese sauce)
Location: Anywhere

We're Back!

It's good to be back in California. After a brief hiatus (visiting family on the east coast), I have finally returned to Disneyland. So now that we're getting back to business, expect the content to return to its normal pace as soon as possible.