Change is in the air. At long last, Disneyland is about to launch a food and beverage event in California Adventure. And while this is just one little step toward the reopening of the parks, there’s a lot more on the way. Last week, a new Star Wars store opened in Downtown Disney and a much missed old store returned. We have lots of photos and news for you today from inside the parks and out, and a look back at what we were doing almost exactly one year ago. It’s heartbreaking and inspirational at the same time. . .
DCA Food & Wine Event Update!
Last week we filled you in on California Adventure’s upcoming food, beverage, and shopping event, which will be uncorked in Mid March. As is so often the case, we learned a lot more about the event as cast have been offered positions. Here’s everything we’ve learned so far:
Disney initially announced the new food and beverage event directly to its employees via an email from Resort President Ken Potrock. The letter was careful not to call the event a “Festival” and mentioned that it would be a “limited-time ticketed experience” on select dates starting mid-March. Due to the smaller scale of the booth offerings, lack of entertainment, etc., Disney doesn’t want to over-promise by using the “festival” term. 1,000+ cast members have been called back to work the DCA event.
Here’s the initial email Ken Potrock sent on DCA’s 20th Anniversary two weeks ago:
While exact event details have yet to be officially announced by Disney, there are quite a few things we can now tell you (keep in mind that even though this information is being shared by the unions with their members, Disney has NOT officially confirmed most of this with the public yet, but we expect that confirmation VERY soon).
Returning cast have been told that the new food and beverage event will make use of Cars Land, Pacific Wharf, Pixar Pier, Grizzly Peak, AND will include the Buena Vista Street operations as well. That likely means that Buena Vista Street will not be available for shopping by those without an event ticket.
The event will offer just six marketplace booths. But we expect additional park food and beverage locations to be open as well, including establishments such as Rita’s Baja Blenders, beer carts, Cocina Cucamonga (or Boudin Bakery), carts and quick service throughout the park. Servers and bussers have also been called back, so it’s likely that we’ll see at least one more table service option return since Carthay is so popular. We’d love to see Lamplight return since it has so much outdoor seating, both upstairs and down. But Trattoria also has a huge outdoor patio. It’s likely we’ll eventually see both locations open.
One lesson that Knott’s Berry Farm learned after their initial “Taste of Calico” event in July 2020 was that the small number of booths they offered resulted in unacceptably long lines. As a result, Knott’s quickly retooled and expanded the event to offer more than double the booths, and they duplicated popular items across multiple booths to spread out crowds. Regardless of what opens with DCA for the new food and beverage event, we are sure Disney will continue to grow it, as they did with the Buena Vista Street operations.
Additionally, cast are being told that the event is set to be offered 5 days a week, which will likely include weekends. Although the schedule has changed at least once, we believe they are currently planning to run the event Thursday through Monday each week. DCA would be unavailable on Tuesday and Wednesday if this schedule holds.
And, although there were all sorts of rumors to the contrary, cast members have NOT been called back to work Main Street USA at Disneyland. A reopening of shopping there is not in the immediate plans.
Your festival lanyards from the 2020 Food and Wine Festival unfortunately won’t be valid for use at this event. However, help is on the way. UPDATED (Disney updated their Food & Wine Festival event info after we published this article to address this issue. Here’s how you can obtain a refund). Unused Festival tabs will be refunded at $7 per tab. Once a tab has been removed, it loses all value, so hopefully your festival card is still in tact. To request a refund, you can contact Disneyland’s Help Center or call (888) 231–7639.
Keep your eyes open, tickets could become available any time now. We’re looking forward to hearing from you about what you expect from the event, how much you’d be willing to pay, and what restaurants and shops you’d like to see opened for the event.
Downtown Disney News
It was a BIG week for Downtown Disney, which saw waits to get in hit the 3 hour+ mark on multiple occasions. Once inside Downtown Disney, the new Star Wars Trading Post in the old Rainforest Cafe building was forced to use a virtual queue to manage HUGE guest demand. If you didn’t get to Downtown Disney early in the day, the Force was probably not strong with you. But the demand will level out soon enough. Another shop we were excited to see was the reimagined Wonderground. We’ll show you both below.
Keep in mind that Legacy Passholders can save 30% on select merchandise at select Downtown Disney District and Buena Vista Street locations for a few more days (through February 25, 2021). That includes Star Wars Trading Post and Wonderground.
Star Wars Trading Post Opens
Hiding in the jungles of Anaheim is a secret rebel base now known as the Star Wars Trading Post. Wait long enough and you might just get to see it with your own eyes. And, if your eyes don’t deceive you, you’re in for a bit of a Twilight Zone moment when the memory of the old Rainforest Cafe clashes with your new Star Wars vision. There are noticeable bits and pieces of the old restaurant everywhere, but the new Star Wars theme is fairly convincing outside and in.
The Star Wars junkyard look is alive and well in in the exterior portion of the temple.
And some displays will greet you out front before you ever take a step inside.
Inside, the random cables and tarps continue, along with lots of stone and Star Wars props (particularly above the displays).
You’ll find some droids (though not the kind you can make yourself).
Neat thematic elements.
Lightsabers are here too. But you’ll need to take a number to purchase or get assistance with them. Once your number is called, you can take a look at the legacy and pre-made sabers. No build-a-saber here yet either. Though there is PLENTY of space for Disney to create a space to do so.
It’s not Doc Ondar’s, but the level of detail is pretty good considering how quickly this store was put together.
Take a moment to look beyond the merchandise at all the stuff Disney has tucked away here and there.
One of my favorite areas is plush corner. And if you look up, you’ll see animal cages above you.
We’ve placed more of the merchandise into a slider for you below for those who want to see more:
AND, just so you don’t miss anything, here’s a video walk-through from opening day:
A Return to Wonderground
One great side effect of Star Wars moving to a fancy new location is that Wonderground Gallery has returned! The shop is similar to its previous incarnation, with some alterations. The first thing you’ll notice is how much more spacious the store looks now. That’s because the artist booth has been removed to make room for easier guest shopping. The next thing you’ll see is an increased amount of home goods . . . most inspired by works of art that you can also purchase. It’s a neat and very colorful concept, and will probably make Disney a bit more money than the previous version of the store. Let’s take a look:
Artwork interspersed with mugs, collectibles, clothes, and housewares.
Things have mostly been grouped into collections, like Tiki corner here:
I really love the style of the Monorail piece below.
It’s a whimsical and eclectic mix. Although I’ll miss seeing the artists at work, that might still come back. They might even set up an artist station outside to help lure visits into the store.
And some more photos for you in the slider below:
While there’s a bit less art now, the store does feel refreshed and with a wider selection of products. We’ll leave you with this final item from the store that we think will be particularly popular. . . . now this is a fun sipper!
Downtown Disney Shopping Reservations
The hours-long waits to get into Disneyland’s shopping district seem to be taking their toll. It appears that Disney is testing a new reservation-system for visiting Downtown Disney. Guests are being surveyed to see if they’d be willing to schedule their shopping visits in advance. This might actually be necessary to also accommodate those arriving for the new Food and Wine event so guests won’t get held up in long lines just waiting to get in. We think this would be particularly helpful on weekends and holidays, when waits soar into the hours.
New seasonal Jazz Kitchen Beignet (snickerdoodle)
Walk, don’t run, to Jazz Kitchen Express for an amazing new seasonal beignet. . . Snickerdoodle! We were crazy about the previous Mardi Gras version with a delicious almond glaze instead of powdered sugar. As if we haven’t gained enough weight these past 11 months.
Downtown Disney Tidbits
The LEGO Store has a new Chewbacca sculpture, but you’ll have to visit soon to see him, he warps back to his home planet on March 1st. According to Disney, he stands 7.5′ tall, and took 36,540 Bricks and 275 hours to build!
La Brea Bakery has reopened.
So has the main Downtown Disney Starbucks.
Buena Vista Street
We don’t have much news from Buena Vista Street. But that might not be an issue much longer, as we believe it is going to get swept up into the operation of the new DCA Food Event.
We see lots of cast sanitizing tables and things guests touch.
But, since guests can’t get to the food truck in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot (in front of the Captain Marvel meet and greet area), it’s become a filthy mess. I wish someone would write “Wash Me” with their finger on the window of this roach coach. And look at all those dirt streaks rolling down from the roof. But, since this is in plain guest view from behind the ropes near Monster’s Inc, and many folks are taking photos of the areas of the park they aren’t allowed to visit right now, we’d bet Disney would be upset to see photos of the park looking like this making it onto social media. Just takes a moment to power wash on-stage elements like this. The park is built to be easily cleaned. And while it’s likely not necessary to keep the currently off-limit areas pristine, they should at least not appear neglected.
The open areas of the park look pretty good.
The speciality churro here is pineapple with cookie crumbles. We’re not a fan…
We wonder if Stage 17 will go back to being entry from the Esplanade only after the DCA event starts. Otherwise, they might just close it.
Another thing which appears to have been closed is Gone Hollywood. We haven’t caught it open in weeks.
Marketplace Booths should start showing up soon.
Cars Land is slated to reopen for the DCA event (without rides of course).
And we’d be surprised if a Food and Wine event doesn’t take advantage of the park’s winery.
Magic Happened – MiceChat Reader Photos
Think back to this time last year. Disneyland’s newest parade, Magic Happens, previewed on February 27th and officially opened the next day. It was a pretty big deal too, packing the park with guests all wanting to see the newest thing. A brand new parade with original music, all-new costumes, and so many high-tech floats doesn’t happen very often! The Disney magic-themed parade only ran for a short few weeks before theme park closures forced an almost year-long halt of operations. Although many Disneyland fans were unable to see the parade for themselves, we asked the MiceChat Facebook group to share their photos and memories of the parade. Our readers came through with stunning pictures! Let’s take a look at the magic that happened last year.
Whimsical and colorful costumes evoked a sort of magical 80’s club scene.
The parade featured a rare appearance of the Sorcerer and the Stone.
Cinderella and her coach . . . mid-transformation.
Another transformation moment for the Princess and the Frog.
This next photo is really what Disney is all about, it’s it . . .
The technology was impressive. That whole back panel of Moana’s float was a giant LED screen.
Beautiful, colorful, musical COCO . . .
If you weren’t able to watch the parade last year, we’ve got you covered. We were at the parade’s surprise preview and recorded the whole thing. Sit back, relax, and let the magic happen!
Thank you to everyone for sharing their beautiful photos with us this week! Although it’s been quite some time since we’ve seen Magic Happens, getting to relive it through photos and video was a nice treat. We sure do hope we don’t have to wait another year for this parade to return. But until it does, we have these wonderful photos and videos. To see more of the gorgeous pictures of Magic Happens, be sure to join the MiceChat Facebook group!
This & That
And now a few of the other stories from the theme park world this week.
Hong Kong Disneyland Reopened Feb 19
After a tumultuous year, Hong Kong Disneyland has reopened for the first time in 2021. Last year, the park underwent three shutdowns— shutting in January and reopening in June, shutting down again in July to reopen in September, and finally closing down in December to reopen this month. Hong Kong Disneyland will be open just five days a week, closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and limiting capacity in accordance to local guidelines.
Theme Parks Push Reopening Agendas
This week, two SoCal theme parks have been sharing that they’re ready to reopen. Knott’s Berry Farm shared last week that they’re #ReadyToReopenResponsibly as part of the California Attractions and Parks Association’s campaign to attract the state’s attention in order to revise guidelines for theme park operations.
On the other hand, Six Flags Magic Mountain is taking a different approach. While Disneyland and Knott’s have announced altered operations in the form of food festivals, Six Flags is going full-steam ahead by stating they will be opening with rides in Spring 2021. Although there has been no guidance from the state whether that would even be possible, Six Flags has given themselves some leeway by not specifying an actual opening date.
And while we’re on the subject of Six Flags, they’re also doing another drive-thru event inside the park: Cruis’n the Park Car Show. Presented by West Coast Customs, they claim this is the world’s first drive-thru auto show. It is a format similar to how the park did their holiday event. This car show will run Friday-Sunday starting February 26 through March14. Tickets are available now.
The parks seem to be gaining at least some momentum with lawmakers. A state bill with bipartisan support, seeks to allow theme parks to reopen in the Orange Tier instead of the much further out Yellow Tier. While the bill has yet to be debated, it’s definitely a conversation starter within the CA theme park world. Meanwhile, family fun centers, zoos, museums, and aquariums can operate outdoor attractions right now in the Purple tier, and once regions start hitting the red tier (which could be soon), they can begin reopening some indoor exhibits as well.
Update to Disneyland’s “Be Incredible” Safety Campaign
While we’re on the subject of reopening theme parks, if you’ve been around the Anaheim Resort area lately you may have seensome of Disney’s “Together We Can Be Incredible” safety messages featuring characters from The Incredibles. This week, there are two new additions to the safety campaign, Frozone and Violet. This campaign is integral for Disney to show officials that they are doing their part in spreading awareness for health and hygiene all while hoping to reopen safely sooner than later.
Snow White’s Enchanted Wish Updates
Last week, Imagineer Kim Irvine shared some of the updates to Snow White’s Enchanted Wish (remember, that’s the new name for Snow White’s Scary Adventure). The Imagineering team did much of the design work from home last year. In the video, there’s some brief footage of the updated attraction that features all sorts of changes to the classic attraction.
They’ve taken some of the darker scenes, like going through the mines, and stepped it up by adding digital projections and additional lighting elements to add some magic.
The scene with Snow White awakening from her enchanted sleep looks particularly nice with all the sparkles of fiber optic lighting.
And the dwarf’s cottage sequence has been updated with a variety of new props.
Although the ride promises to be less scary than the previous version, there was a look at the Evil Queen’s poison apple that looks spectacular.
You can watch the quick video of some of the new changes to Snow White’s Enchanted Wish below!
Disneyland Day-Parting Results
Last week we explained the concept of day-parting tickets to Disneyland. The special ticketing practice would allow Disneyland to serve more guests in a single day by creating more than one valid session per day. This is an idea that Disneyland is considering and we wanted to know if you’d be willing to help more guests visit the parks by accepting a shorter visit. The results were a resounding yes. Nearly 70% of you were supportive of at least a two part day.
We’re supportive of day-parting in the early days of reopening when capacity will be extremely limited. Instead of just 15,000-20,000 visitors a day to Disneyland, the park could serve 30,000-40,000 per day. That makes it much more likely you’d be able to score a ticket.
25% Discount on shopDisney for Legacy Passholder
If you’re a Legacy Passholder (an AP who had a valid pass when Disneyland closed last March), check your email from Disney. Last week, Legacy Passholders were emailed a coupon code for 25% off of a $75 or more purchase from shopDisney valid February 21-24. The discount code can only be used once, and there are only a few days left to use it. So, if there’s something you’ve had your eye on, now’s a good time to pick it up at a discount.
Speaking of merchandise, we have a whole new Disneyland Merchandise Update for you below from Natalie:
Disneyland Merchandise Update: Stitch, Star Wars, and the Great Beyond
Walt Disney World 2022 Booking Now Open
There have been some big changes in how WDW books vacations. The window has just expanded to a rolling 500 days! Here’s everything you need to know, including currently valid promotions:
2022 Walt Disney World Vacation Packages NOW AVAILABLE!
Let’s Hear From You
Another huge update! We appreciate you sticking through to the end. With the news leaking out about DCA’s upcoming Food & Beverage event, how likely are you to book a ticket? What do you think of the new Star Wars Trading Post location? How does the revamped version of Wonderground look to you, do you like the mix? Are you a bull or a bear on Snow White’s Enchanted wish? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
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