Walt Disney Theme Parks
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(1/15/18) Downtown Disney Construction Update (MORE...)
(11/21/17) Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire VR Preview Review (MORE...)
(10/27/17) Disneyland Resort Sets Official New Plans To Add Parking Structures and New Resort Hotel
(10/11/17) Disneyland Looking Creepy As Fires Rage in Anaheim (MORE...)
Ticket Pricing - (2/13/17) Another year... another Disney theme park price increase has gone into effect. It's become as inevitable as death and taxes and as long as the Disney theme parks are packed like sardines in a can all year long, clearly the general public is willing to pay whatever it costs to get their fix of Disney's theme park magic again and again. The increases went into effect on Sunday at both the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World theme parks.
At the Disneyland Resort the cost of both the SoCal Annual Passes are said to have gone up $10 to $339 for the SoCal Select and $469 for the SoCal regular APs. The Deluxe AP went up $20 to $619, Signature Pass now runs $849 and the Signature Plus will cost you a whopping $1049 for the year.
A 1-Day/1-Park ticket went up $2 to $97 on "value" days and maxes out at $124 for "peak" days. A 1-day Park Hopper ticket will also range between $157 - $174 depending on the day you visit.
General Resort News - (10/11/17) Terrible wildfires are raging around California this week, including some in the Anaheim area that are filling the skies over Disneyland with smoke and some ash.
A collection of pictures taken within the park, as well as photos of the devastation being caused by the fires outside the park, can be found here.
(9/29/17) On a fun note, I’m told that the longest working cast member at all of the Disney theme parks retired this week after serving the mouse for 60.5 years in the Disneyland Resort. Who is this remarkable cast member? Oscar Martinez, otherwise known as Chef Oscar, who began his long career at Disneyland back in 1956. Congratulations on your retirement and an epic career.
(8/5/17) A reader sent in a video link showing off some construction taking place at the Disneyland Hotel. From what I can see, it looks like they have tore up the "Magic Kingdom Lawn" area that is often rented out for Weddings and other outdoor special events. This has also caused the temporary closure of the hotel's Fitness and guest Laundry center, as there is a sign up directing guests to use the facilities at the Paradise Pier Hotel instead. So far it doesn't look much like work on a new structure is taking place, so this may be more of a landscaping project in order to give the Magic Kingdom Lawn area a new look.
(5/14/17) DisneyGeek has posted a quick look at the renovations taking place to the pool area at Disney's Grand Californian hotel. Currently one pool and spa area are now open while the waterslide and section closer to the DVC wing are still closed.
2017 - MaxPass FastPass - Announced - (7/14/17) A quick reminder that Disney's new premium pay queue service, MaxPass, will launch on July 19th at the Disneyland Resort parks, with an introductory price of $10 a day. For $75 Annual Passholders can add MaxPass that will be good for the life of your current pass. Visit the official site for all the juicy details.
(1/12/17) While Disneyland resort guests have been waiting for the company to roll out a more digital version of their FastPass program, much like the FastPass+ system at Walt Disney World, what the Disneyland Resort announced today may not be what most were hoping for.
Introducing MaxPass… a way for Disneyland Resort guests to access the parks FastPass systems with their mobile devices while in the park, eliminating the need to travel to the attraction and swipe a ticket for a paper FastPass ticket. The good part is that MaxPass will work just like the current paper FastPass system, allowing guests to make one single FP reservation at a time, with no advanced reservations made months in advance, you can only make your FP reservation once you are in the parks. This eliminates a lot of the headaches caused by the advanced reservation features of the FastPass+ system at Walt Disney World, along with the unnessary MagicBands.
Now for the bad news… MaxPass comes with a per ticket cost of $10 per person / per ticket. While one user will be able to make FastPass reservations for their entire group all at once, much like you can do with FP+ at WDW, it will cost you an extra $10 per person in the group to do it. For example, while the Father of a family of 5 can enjoy the ability to use his phone to make FP reservations at the parks for the day, Disney is going to charge you $50 for the convenience of it all. (Have you read our article about the many new Cash Grab programs that have gone into effect at Walt Disney World over the past 3 months?)
On the positive side, in addition to gaining access to MaxPass, your $10 fee will also grant you unlimited digital downloads of photos taken in the parks with Disney’s PhotoPass system. However, this comes with a big negative for families where you would really only need one of the unlimited PhotoPass plans for the entire family, and will now find yourself paying $10 for every member of your group if you opt to the MaxPass.
This has left many Annual Passholders wondering just how MaxPass is going to affect them, many of which who already have unlimited PhotoPass downloads through their Annual Pass program. So far Disney has not been able to answer those questions about how much MaxPass will cost for AP holders, and has only stated that those answers will be come at a later along with more information about the program's launch.
While it is great that Disneyland is finally launching a mobile version of FastPass, I'm thinking this is just the wrong way to do it. After all, a mobile version of FastPass can help eliminate the need to have so many physical FP kiosks in the parks, cut back on the maintenance of them, the staffing needed to run them, and not to mention eliminate much of the waste that comes from paper FastPass tickets. In light of these potential cost savings, and the fact that mobile access to FastPass at Walt Disney World is free for everyone, it just kind of rubs me the wrong way that they want to charge a fee for this system, along with the completely unnecessary PhotoPass perk thrown in for value's sake. I'd rather have a free mobile FP system and the option to pay $10 for PhotoPass if I want it.
This also makes me wonder if a fee is in the works for Walt Disney World's mobile system in the not too distant future.
One important final note I have to mention however is that MaxPass will NOT be your only way to access Disney’s FastPass system at Disneyland and California Adventure, the old paper ticket FastPass system isn’t going anywhere and will remain free for everyone to use at the various kiosks within the parks, working just as it always has before. In addition to that, Disney did confirm that they would soon be adding FastPass machines to The Matterhorn in Disneyland and Toy Story Mania at Disney California Adventure.
Late 2017 - Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire from The Void - (11/21/17) A great article and preview review of the new Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire VR-style attraction from The Void coming to the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts by mid December has been posted to The Verge. You can also check out a little teaser video all about the new attraction as well just below.
(8/7/17) The Void... an ultra intense VR experience that has been gaining steam and popularity... longtime readers will remember me talking about how cool looking their Ghostbusters experience that opened at Madame Tussauds in New York appeared to be, as well as lamenting about how their HQ was all the way in the middle of nowhere... UTAH. I've so very much wanted to experience what The Void has to offer and now according to the latest Disney Parks Blog announcement, The Void will be behind a new "Hyper-Reality Experience" coming to Disney Springs at Walt Disney World and to Downtown Disney at the Disneyland Resort that will be called, "Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire".
According to the posting, Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire will open to virtually transport guests into the Star Wars universe through the amazing technology of The Void, where you will interact with that galaxy far far away through "sight, sound, touch, smell and motion" as well as through the use of some Haptic feedback in places to allow for the environment to be felt as well as seen. Look for this to open sometime "this holiday season" on both coasts.
2018 - Splitsville - (1/15/18) A photo update showing off the refurbishment work and construction taking place in Downtown Disney was posted to DisneyGeek this week, including the progress on the new Splitsville location that looks to be close to being finished up.
(7/3/17) A new look at the Splitsville Luxury Lanes attraction coming to Downtown Disney in California has been posted by the Disney Parks Blog with concept artwork showing off what the finished building will look like.
(6/26/17) A couple of pictures of the new Splitsville attraction under construction in Downtown Disney can be found at DisneyGeek this week.
(1/1/17) A couple of close up photos of the House of Blues demolition were sent in by DisneyGeek this week. You can see a whole collection of photos taken at both parks, including a look at the Guardians/Tower transformation, Rivers of America and Star Wars construction if you follow this link.
(12/28/16) Now that House of Blues has left Downtown Disney (set to reopen in the nearby Anaheim GardenWalk in early 2017) Disney has begun the process of demolishing the old HoB location. One of our readers sent in a photo of the site as crews work to carefully bring the structure down, meanwhile the permits filed by Disney indicated that they intended to keep a "basement" level under the building intact, and Disney has already announced a deal is in place with Splitsville to bring a new 40,000 sqft 20-lane location to the site that will also feature a lounge and 625-seat restaurant.
2019 - New Parking Structures - Confirmed - (10/27/17) New changes are coming to the Disneyland Resort's future expansion plans. For starters, Disney has confirmed that, for now, the plans for the "Eastern Gateway" entrance and 6,800 spot parking structure are now cancelled. Instead, a new plan is being put into action immediately that will see a 6,500 spot parking structure built on the location of the current Pinocchio surface lot right next to the existing massive Mickey & Friends structure. Construction on the new structure will begin in February 2018 and be complete sometime in 2019.
The interesting thing here is that the various businesses along Harbor Blvd who were complaining about how the previous plans for a parking structure with pedestrian walkway over Harbor would hurt traffic flow to their locations will now find themselves in an even worse pickle. The Eastern Gateway project would have split up the guests arriving to the Disneyland Resort between the two parking structures on either side of the resort, and still allowed for guests to have a reason to be on the Harbor Blvd. side of the Disneyland Resort, either on foot, or driving as they arrive or depart the Eastern Gateway structure. Now we see Disney putting BOTH of the parking structures in the same basic location on the opposite side of the resort, which will essentially divert most of the vehicle traffic away from Harbor Blvd. entirely, and with the hotels and Downtown Disney all on the same side of the resort as the parking structures, Harbor Blvd. which once served as the "entrance" to Disneyland a long time ago, will now suddenly find themselves all sitting away from all the action, all alone in Mickey's backyard. At least until more of them start to go under and Disney quietly gobbles up the various parcels to add to what they already own, and then maybe they'll revisit the idea of an Eastern Gateway in another decade or two when they own the majority of it.
Oh... and apparently a second parking structure is also planned to go up after this behind the Paradise Pier hotel that will provide dedicated parking for all on-site resort guests as well.
2021 - New Resort Hotel - Confirmed - (10/27/17) Disney has announced all new details about the planned new resort hotel project opening in 2021. This will be a new Four Diamond resort hotel with 700 rooms that will take over and transform the western end of the Downtown Disney area. The new project will have a unique and new design to it that will also add new dining and entertainment options along with some stunning water elements to create a sort of "resort oasis". The new resort property will also include a dedicated platform inside the hotel for the Disneyland Monorail, offering direct transportation into Disneyland itself. Along the top of part of the structure, Disney will also build an upper-level restaurant and lounge area, perfect for catching a fantastic view of the Disneyland fireworks at night.
With the main part of the resort elevated above the ground level, the actual ground level portion will contain new shops and restaurants through various pathways that will also connect to the other Disneyland Resort hotels.
To make way the new hotel will be taking over the locations used for ESPN Zone, Rainforest Cafe, AMC Theaters, Earl of Sandwich and the nearby Starbucks location, though I would count for the later two to likely reopen in new locations nearby or possibly even within the new hotel project. Look for the new resort to be ready for guests by 2021, with construction set to begin by Summer 2018.
(6/8/16) The Disneyland Resort has announced plans to build a 4th luxury resort on property, taking advantage of a new tax incentive program from Anaheim for new luxury hotels. The resort has yet to set a theme or even a name yet, but the proposal is for a 700-room 4-diamond resort and parking structure to be built on a 10-acre site at 1401 Disneyland Drive, at the north end of the Downtown Disney parking lot.
The new hotel is earmarked to open in 2021, with construction starting sometime in 2018. While the design is still in flux, the plan is for it to feature a large rooftop viewing area where hotel guests will be able to sit and enjoy the nighttime fireworks from Disneyland.