Resort Updates – February 2015

Love was in the air this month at Disneyland, and guests celebrating Valentine’s Day found hearts and pink accents scattered throughout the park. Most noticeably, Main Street USA, Buena Vista Street, and Downtown Disney offered specialty Valentine desserts, heart window displays, and romantic medleys from the Dapper Dans.

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My friend and I hanging out on a Main Street USA heart bench!

LUNAR NEW YEAR

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California Adventure hosted a three-day Lunar New Year celebration (Feb 19th-22nd) in the bayside gardens, where Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta and Paradise Garden Grill sit. In addition to special menu items and drinks, guests could enjoy all kinds of entertainment, including:

  • Live performances
  • Face painting
  • Photo ops with Disney characters in special costumes
  • Limited edition souvenirs

For more information about this year’s Lunar New Year festivities, you can check out the Disney Parks event page here.

REFURBISHMENTS CONTINUE

As the park enters its third month of major refurbishments in anticipation of the 60th anniversary this summer, refurbishments are full steam ahead all over Disneyland and California Adventure. Most noticeably, the castle has been completely covered, as it receives a new diamond overlay for the Diamond Jubilee festivities.

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Since the castle is completely closed off, the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough has also been closed, although the attraction itself is unlikely to see any significant changes. The image displayed over the castle is original concept art sketched in the 1950’s, which is on display full-time in Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World. On the plus side, the castle moat is now full once again, so the castle scenery is slowly getting back to normal.

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Critter Country and Condor Flats are still completely closed, and some high profile attractions are in the midst of long closures to be in top shape for the summer. The list includes Peter Pan’s Flight, Grizzly River Run, and the Matterhorn, just to name a few. Many guests have expressed frustration at so many attractions being closed, especially with the recent ticket price increases, but the refurbishment list is roughly the same as it typically is this time of year.

OTHER UPDATES

While the details of the new World of Color show are still heavily under wraps, Disney has released one major component of the show: host Neil Patrick Harris! Neil and Mickey will guide guests through the story of the Disney parks, complete with a musical tour of the park’s most iconic and beloved attractions. You can read Disney’s full announcement here.

After some back and forth in the last few months, Luigi’s Flying Tires finally closed its doors for good on February 16th. Though the park has yet to announce its replacement, Disney has confirmed that it will still be a Luigi-themed attraction, which will debut in 2016.

Silly Symphony Swings

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June 2010 – present

LOCATION

Paradise Pier – Whether you arrive in Paradise Pier from Grizzly Peak, Pacific Wharf, or Cars Land, follow the main path along the right side of the bay, toward Mickey’s Fun Wheel. You’ll see the Silly Symphony Swings on your left, across from Goofy’s Sky School.

BACKGROUND

When California Adventure originally opened in 2001, the swings were part of a slightly different attraction, the Orange Stinger. The ride quickly became a fan favorite, and was soon an iconic part of Paradise Pier. But when California Adventure began its major expansion and renovation, Paradise Pier took on a Victorian boardwalk style, and the Orange Stinger no longer fit into its surroundings. The ride finally closed in 2009, and the Silly Symphony Swings opened one year later.

EXPERIENCE

Guests can board onto single swings or tandem swings, all of which float outward when the ride begins. As the symphony starts, the swings lift up and take off on a trip around Paradise Pier. After roughly a minute and a half of flying, the symphony ends, and riders return safely to the ground.

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MY RATING: ★★★★★

This is one of my favorite attractions in California Adventure. While swings are fairly common for a theme park, there’s still something special about the Silly Symphony Swings. You can see all of Paradise Pier, plus some of Pacific Wharf and Cars Land during the ride, and the swings go surprisingly high and fast. My friends and I affectionately call this attraction the “Peter Pan” swings, because if you stick out your arms, you feel like you’re flying!

Note: the swings are much more intimidating to ride than they look. Be weary if you are afraid of heights; I’ve seen small children leave crying, and my mother (who loves Radiator Springs Racers) is petrified of this ride.

VISITING TIPS

Generally speaking, the Silly Swings never seem to have too much of a wait. During crowded days, you can probably still get on in fifteen minutes or less. With that in mind, there is no better or worse time to visit; work a stop anywhere in your touring plan and you should be fine. Keep in mind that the Silly Swings load fairly quickly, so don’t be intimidated if the line extends beneath the stairs. The upper platform has a very short waiting area, which means the wait downstairs is most of the line.

TRIVIA

The Silly Symphony Swings take their name from Silly Symphonies, a series of animated shorts produced by Disney between 1929 and 1939.

Before the Silly Symphony theme was chosen, Imagineers also pitched an idea for a Pinocchio theme, where the swings would be attached by marionette strings, and Geppetto would control the riders.

The lower level of the platform is a viewing deck for World of Color, and is not part of the actual attraction.

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Hidden Path To Fantasyland

If you’re a frequent park visitor, you probably know all the pathways of Disneyland inside and out. (Remember the days when you needed a map?) Real Disneyland pros know all of the short cuts, how to avoid parades, and the best ways to navigate fireworks or show traffic. But did you know there is a hidden pathway direct from Main Street USA to the center of Fantasyland? No, it’s not through the castle drawbridge, it’s the Hidden Path To Fantasyland!

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To find this quiet route to Fantasyland, head toward the entrance to the Disney Princess Fantasy Faire. Before you actually cross into the Fantasy Faire, look to your right; you’ll see a small walkway and bridge crossing the moat.

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At the end of this scenic pathway, you’ll see a stone archway leading under the castle. If you cross through to the other side, you’ll be right by the entrance to the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough.

So if you’re looking for a quieter route to Fantasyland (or want to show off your inside scoop to your friends), try the Hidden Path to Fantasyland. This walkway isn’t just a handy shortcut; it’s beautiful and has a great angle for taking photos of the castle without people in the background.

Tiki Juice Bar

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LOCATION

Adventureland – Given its size and location at one of the busiest corners of Adventureland, the Tiki Juice Bar is easy to miss. You can find the Juice Bar just beyond the main entrance to Adventureland, next to the Enchanted Tiki Room, though the line often extends toward Aladdin’s Oasis.

EXPERIENCE

The Tiki Juice Bar is a tiny tropical oasis that offers guests a taste of island life. Guests can choose from an array of Dole Whip drinks and floats, all of which are exclusive to Disney parks. Whether you’re looking for a treat as you enjoy the Enchanted Tiki Room or looking for a pick-me-up as you explore the park, the Tiki Juice Bar is a fan favorite in Disneyland.

CONCEPT

Service Type – quick service

Seating – none

Reservations – no

Entertainment – none

Menu

MY RATING – ★★★★★

To be honest, I don’t understand the obsession with Dole Whip; I just don’t like the taste. But every single person I know that has tried this famous snack obsesses over it, so I defer to their ratings and give this quick service spot five stars. If you’re into Dole Whip, the Tiki Juice Bar is heaven, but if you aren’t a fan you’ll want to skip this stop.

MY FAVORITES

  • None

TRIVIA

The Tiki Juice Bar shares its theme and patio with the Enchanted Tiki Room, but guests can visit the two separately.

As you might have guessed, Dole sponsors the Tiki Juice Bar and all of its Dole Whip concoctions.

Clarabelle’s Hand Scooped Ice Cream

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LOCATION

Buena Vista Street – Clarabelle’s is tucked in a busy corner of Buena Vista Street, making it easy to miss. Follow the main walkway, keeping to the right, and turn sharp right when the street opens up into a circle. You’ll find Clarabelle’s inside, just beyond the double doors, next to the Fiddler, Fifer, & Practical Café.

EXPERIENCE

Guests exploring the cheerful Buena Vista Street often look for something sweet to complete their trip, and Clarabelle’s is a fan favorite. Clarabelle’s offers tons of ice cream flavors, waffle cones, and even a souvenir sink to take home! If you are looking to indulge in something sweet as you make your way through Buena Vista Street, Clarabelle’s is the perfect stop.

CONCEPT

Service Type – quick service

Seating – indoor dining room, limited outdoor tables

Reservations – no

Entertainment – none

Menu

MY RATING – ★★★★☆

Clarabelle’s has great ice cream, and I use my kitchen sink bowl all the time at home, but the portions are amazingly large. I can barely finish a single scoop without feeling full, and the only times I’ve ever had a sundae, I shared with two other people and we still didn’t finish. If you want a big dessert or want to share with friends, Clarabelle’s is a great dessert option, but if you just want a small sweet treat, head to the neighboring candy shop instead.

MY FAVORITES

  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Hot Fudge Sundae in Mickey’s Kitchen Sink (only when sharing!)
  • Cookies & Cream Waffle Cup
  • Chocolate Chip Waffle Cup
  • Chocolate Dipped Waffle Cone

TRIVIA

Clarabelle’s is named after Clarabelle Cow, one of Mickey and Minnie’s lesser-known friends.

The Parlor is adorned with Art Deco finishes; be sure to check out the ornate door before you leave.

Don’t confuse Clarabelle’s with the similarly named Clarabelle’s Frozen Yogurt, which sits all the way in Mickey’s Toontown.