Walt Disney Theme Parks
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(10/5/15) Disneyland Resort Rasises Annual Pass Prices For Second Time in 2015 (MORE...)
(9/3/15) Plans for JW Marriott Submitted Nearby (MORE...)
(8/13/15) Say Goodbye To The House of Blues (MORE...)
(8/6/15) Disneyland Resort Launches New SmartPhone App (MORE...)
General Resort News - (10/5/15) Disney Passholders were in for a little bit of a shock this weekend as Disney opted to increase the price for their Annual Passes at both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts for the second time in 2015. Annual Pass prices along with regular day passes all went up back in late February 2015, while yesterday's increase only affected Annual Passes. Based on your own renewal date, you may be in for more sticker shock than some others.
It is worth noting that this new batch of property connects right up to the backside of this year's previous purchase of the Carousel Inn to the West, and connects right up to Disney's existing Pumbaa parking lot.
The most expensive new option for the Disneyland Resort would be the Disney Signature Plus Annual Passport for $1049 which will get you into both California Disney parks with no blackout dates and includes unlimited Disney PhotoPass downloads. Below that would be the Disney Signature Annual Passport for $849 which includes about the same options but it also has blackout dates for the Christmas holiday time frame.
Parking at the Disneyland Resort has also risen from $17 to $18.
(9/3/15) According to the local news a developer has finally submitted plans to build a 4-Diamond JW Marriott hotel at the Anaheim GardenWalk, taking advantage of a generous subsidy offered by the city. The $150 million project would be 12-stories tall with 466 rooms, meeting rooms, ballrooms and more... all within easy walking distance of the Disneyland Resort.
(8/4/15) Very interesting news from California came out a few hours ago, as it was announced that Disney had just closed a $48 million deal to purchase two large parcels of land near the park, 1515 and 1585 S. Manchester Ave.
For now, it seems Disney plan is to use the large building for office and warehouse space, and the future of the Pumbaa parking lot is currently destined to become the next giant parking structure for the Disneyland Resort as well, through probably mixed in with some of this new land purchased as well. But if you pull back to look at the bigger picture, taking in all of the land Disney now owns in Anaheim, there is one interesting target I see all by itself, that would perfectly connect up the new parcel and Pumbaa lot, to the large parcel Disney already owns to the south once earmarked as the site for a future 3rd park, that is currently used for overflow and cast member parking.
What is catching my eye is the Anaheim Gardenwalk mall site which looks ripe for the picking if Disney was so inclined. The small retail mall has been in the news on and off for awhile now as having financial problems, and never was fully built out to what it promised to be. In fact, just this past June the local news mentioned that Anaheim couldn't ever lure in hotel developers to the site with a $158 million in subsidies for the taking before they expired. It would be interesting to see if Disney gobbles up this project as well... either to scrap or to mix in as another Downtown Disney style retail wing with future hotel projects.
(7/10/15) As predicted, the Anaheim City Council voted to extend the existing ticket tax break for the Disneyland Resort for another 30 years in exchange for the promised investment of at least $1 billion into new attractions and parking.
(6/27/15) The Disneyland Resort has proposed the spending of $1 Billion to expand and improve itself over between 2017 and 2024, and in exchange they have asked the city of Anaheim for a tax exemption on admission tickets over the next 30 years. While the exact nature of the $1 Billion expansion isn't known yet, Disney did confirm that it would include not only new attractions, but major infrastructure improvements such as a second large parking structure that would hold at least 5,000 more cars. Disney did confirm that the funds would not go to open a 3rd theme park however, but be focused on the expansion and improvement of the existing parks and facilities.
It is interesting to note that the tax exemption Disney is asking for is already currently in effect and has been so since 1996, but was set to expire on June 30, 2016. The first one marks off the time period that Disney set in motion the plans to expand and build the California Adventure park and all the improvements that came with that, and what followed. Personally, I would be surprised to see the city turn down another similar offer of huge growth for the Disneyland Resort in exchange for a small tax break. Look for more information when they hold a public hearing on the issue on July 7th.
In other news, Disney's theme park division has confirmed a new company wide ban on Selfie Sticks that will go into effect that their US theme parks starting Tuesday, June 30th, and will expand to the international parks on July 1st. The Selfie Stick has been becoming more and more of a problem over the past year and while I'm told that this decision has been in the making for quite some time, the public shutdown of the California Screamin' coaster earlier this week after a thoughtless guest pulled out a Selfie Stick in mid-ride looks to have been the final straw, which will now see them banned entirely from the property.
(5/1/15) Disney made an interesting move in Anaheim that was revealed today… the $32 million purchase of the Carousel Inn across the street from Disneyland on Harbor. Blvd. According to the article, Disney has an opportunity to buy it, and took it, as the options to buy up new property near Disneyland are few and far between. As of this time, the intention is to continue to run the Carousel Inn as-is, making themselves as simply nothing more than a “landlord” for the 131-room hotel, which will keep it’s current management. As of this time, Disney says they have no long term plans for the site as well, it was just an opportunity they couldn’t pass up.
Downtown Disney News - (8/13/15) An interesting bit of news dropped from the OCRegister, who claims that The House of Blues at Downtown Disney is ready to close up shop, and instead if looking to open an even bigger site across the street at the nearby Anaheim GardenWalk by Summer 2016, taking over the current UltraLuxe Cinemas location which is closing down at the end of this month.
It's not that Downtown Disney is a bad location, rather the House of Blues has been a victim of their own success, claiming that they need a bigger location for their popular concerts. The current HoB lease with Disney will expire in early 2016. For now we’ll have to wait and see what Disney plans to do with the location next.
???? - FastPass+ - Development - (8/6/15) Screamscape had heard back in May that Disneyland may be preparing to test the paper-free FastPass+ mobile based ride reservation system in the future, minus the whole MagicBand thing. Well, a brand new Disneyland app launched online for iOS and Android smart-phones will already tell you the current wait times, but also allow you to "Link a Pass" to the app, so you can use your phone instead of your pass-card. While there is no mention of FastPass+ in the app yet, the design appears to be very similar to the Disney World app, and even includes the Mickey-Head icon that guests use to scan their RDIF enabled passcards and MagicBands with. So this is likely the first step towards the eventual arrival of FastPass+ in California.
(5/25/15) The LA Times reports that according to Disney's COO Tom Staggs, Disney's MagicBands from Walt Disney World will not be coming to the California parks anytime soon. As the Disneyland Resort has many more local resident guests who are single day guests, or many of which only drop in for a few hours at a time, the MagicBand system just wouldn't work well with the California demographics. The MagicBand system was really designed from the ground up with Walt Disney World in mind, where the typical guests are there as part of a multi-day vacation experience, with a good percentage of them actually staying at an on-site WDW Resort hotel, where they can use the MagicBands not only for theme park admission, but also as their hotel room key in addition to making cashless purchaces anywhere on Disney property.
That said however... I have still heard that Disneyland and California Adventure may be looking to test out the FastPass+ system from the Florida parks however, which would replace the paper FastPass ticket machines with a new entirely electronic system guests can access from anywhere through their SmartPhones and even make certain attraction reservations up to 90 days in advance through a website as part of their on-site resort travel package, an option that was also opened up to annual passholders as well later on.
(1/12/15) Is the MyMagic+ / FastPass+ system coming to the Disneyland Resort? According to the OC Register, Disney’s own Tom Staggs mentioned that the new high-tech reservation system would be rolled out to Disneyland as well as other Disney parks around the world in the near future. Of course, no timeline was given as to when we might see this rolled out at Disneyland, but having finally experienced it at Walt Disney World myself last month, I will say that there will have to be some tweeking of the system before they can roll it out in California.
Of course, the system has been under review and constant tweaking in Florida since it first rolled out to all the parks last year, and once it does, it is bound to frustrate a lot of Disneyland Resort guests to no end at first. As someone who still misses the old FastPass free days of visiting Disney parks, I always had a distaste for the original FastPass system. It took away a bit too much from my self-given education I had built up over the years as a Theme Park Commando, by leveling the playing field a bit. But there was a method to the madness, and you could still find loopholes in the original FastPass system and ways to "work the system" to your advantage if you knew how.
With FastPass+, you can pretty much flush all that knowledge down the toilet and be prepared to start all over again from scratch my Padawan. That isn't to say that there aren't way to "work the system" in your favor anymore... because there are, but if my first day with FastPass+ is a typical reaction, most of you may find yourself incredibly frustrated to no end by the new system, and it's limitations. As I said, it's a whole new game with new rules to play by, but it can be played... so have patience and we'll see how this works out if they bring it to Disneyland.
One thing I know they will likely have to address is the park-hopping limitations of the current WDW system, which requires you to book your 3 FP+ reservations at once, all in the same park, which does you no good if you had planned to park hop during the day, once or twice. In Walt Disney World, the parks are far enough away that some guests don't park hop at all, but with the entrance to California Adventure a few steps away from the entrance to Disneyland, I think this issue will have to be addressed first.
???? - Third Theme Park - On Hold - (3/25/15) I hate to say this, but apparently the development of any 3rd park for the Disneyland Resort has been put on indefinite hold according to Bob Iger. It seems they have different ideas now to expand Disneyland instead, plans that don’t involve adding a third gate. It seems a safe bet that those plans may involve adding that long rumored Star Wars Land perhaps. Though I’m not giving up hope that California will never see a third park... from what I’m hearing a new opportunity might open up in the future that could be perfect for a third park... it just might not be connected physically to the existing Disneyland Resort property, but still close enough to all make sense. We’ll just have to wait a few years and see how things play out.
(3/23/13) A new report from SlashFilm reports that the Disneyland Resort has been sending out surveys to passholders to ask, “How interested would you be in visiting a Star Wars themed land at the Disneyland Resort?” (For more on that, make the jump to the Disneyland page.)
With the rumors of mini Star Wars Lands being designed for Disneland Paris and now Walt Disney World it only makes sense Disneyland would get in on the action as well. While they could find a way to fit it into Disneyland, I have to admit that I had heard long ago that a Star Wars themed land was being considered as a major land for Disneyland’s 3rd Park.
A lot has probably changed since then since Disney didn’t even own Star Wars when I first heard that rumor, as they had bought Marvel at the time and I believe had just inked the Avatar project for Walt Disney World. Back then the one idea being expressed about Disneyland’s 3rd Park concept was that they wanted the overall concept of the park to be about Heroes and Adventure, full of heavily themed new worlds to explore.
With Marvel freshly purchased at the time, it seemed like a no brainer to add some of the various themed from the Marvel Universe to the park. Whatever they came up with for the Avatar project in WDW, a copy of Pandora could also fit right into California’s 3rd Park too. Now with Star Wars now fully owned by Disney and plans for new films in the works, it would also seem very possible that we could not only see a Star Wars Land built here, but one themed to whatever new and iconic locations are being developed for the next series of films as well. Of course while a park with lands themed to Marvel, Star Wars and Avatar may seem a bit like a teenage boy fantasy come true, it does make me wonder what they could add as well to soften it up for the girls and smaller children. Keep in mind that the plans for the 3rd Park are being worked on and likely in a constant state of change, but with that it also seems clear that the project is getting closer to being funded and moving forward. WDI has their hands full right now with Shanghai and other projects around the world, but sooner than you think they will focus their efforts at last on that old Strawberry field location down the road.
(6/27/12) Could Disneyland be making it’s first serious steps towards designing a third California park? According to MiceAge, WDI has been drawing up plans for a full scale Marvel comics themed park that would feature more thrill rides and fit perfectly into the available acreage, as well as serve as a template for future parks in Paris, Hong Kong and Shanghai. There are lots of other infrastructure issues to be dealt with before this can happen, such as making room for new resorts, and adding the extra parking spaces that will be needed with a way to transport guests and employees to all three parks.