Resort Updates – July 2015

DISNEYLAND TURNS 60

On July 17th, Disneyland officially celebrated its 60th anniversary! Though the Diamond Jubilee is a year-long celebration, the 17th was a particularly special day, and visitors experienced several different special activities to mark the date.

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First, Disneyland encouraged park visitors to show their “1955 side”, by coming in retro outfits. Guests leapt at the chance, and the park was filled with awesome vintage outfits. Visitors also received commemorative buttons, special edition park maps (with the original park map inside), and guides to all of the anniversary activities throughout the park.

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At 10 AM, Disneyland Resort President Michael Colglazier hosted the 60th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony. The dedication began with a replay of Walt Disney’s original Opening Day speech, followed by a brief speech and acknowledgements and thanks to a few key contributors to Disneyland over the years. Finally, the ceremony ended with composer Richard Sherman and Broadway star Ashley Brown performing “Free the Birds” from Mary Poppins. You can watch the OC Register’s official video of the performance here.

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In addition to launching tons of new diamond merchandise, Disneyland also offered guests the chance to take commemorative photos with brand new backdrops and props. PhotoPass photographers had huge “I was there July 17th 2015” buttons for guests to hold, which matched the buttons passed out at the gate. And the park had six new nostalgic photo spots, with backdrops showcasing classic Disney attractions or scenery. In Tomorrowland, guests could pose in front of Mission to Mars; in Mickey’s Toontown, the Skyway; in Frontierland, the vintage stagecoach; in Critter Country, the Mine Train, in Grizzly Peak, in front of the original Disneyland parking lot and entrance; and in Hollywood Land, the original Disneyland sign.

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The shows also joined in on the celebration. First, the pre-parade honored original, former, and current cast members. Next, the newly revamped Disneyland band made its debut performance. And finally, Tomorrowland and Buena Vista Street each hosted their own dance parties, which celebrated hits of the 50’s throughout the night.

OTHER UPDATES

Though the park has still not announced Innoventions’ replacement, Disney recently received permits for a new Marvel-themed merchandise location, fueling the rumors of S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters arriving in Tomorrowland.

There is a new 60th anniversary photo spot up in New Orleans Square, next to the Haunted Mansion. Unlike the six July 17th photo spots, this one will remain in the park throughout the summer.

And finally, we now know the name of Cars Land’s newest attraction: Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters! No details have been released about the new ride’s premise, but Disney has tentatively listed an “early 2016” opening.

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Pioneer Cemetery

If you’ve ever taken the time to explore Tom Sawyer Island, you know there are tons of trails, caves, and swinging bridges to discover. But did you know that the island has its own hidden gem, buried amid the pirate’s treasure and shipwrecks?

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To find this hidden gem, head to the back of the island, past Pirate’s Lair and Fort Wilderness. At the rear of the fort, up on the hill, you’ll find rows of tombstones and grave markers. This fenced off area is Tom Sawyer Island’s Pioneer Cemetery!

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The Pioneer Cemetery is the last surviving feature of Fort Wilderness, and marks the final resting place of the brave explorers who first discovered Frontierland and its mysterious island.

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Donald’s Boat

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January 1993 – present

LOCATION

Mickey’s Toontown – When you enter Toontown and head up the hill to the main street, follow the main path to the left. You’ll see Donald’s Boat on your left, just after Goofy’s Playhouse.

BACKGROUND

When Mickey welcomed Disneyland visitors into his Toontown neighborhood in 1993, his best friend Donald’s house boat became a popular tourist attraction. Donald’s Boat sits on tiny Toon Lake, and overlooks Mickey’s House, Minnie’s House, Goofy’s House, and the Go Coaster.

EXPERIENCE

Single Rider Line – no

Fast Pass – no

Height Requirement – none

Duration – N/A

Donald’s Boat is a two-story playhouse. The bottom floor has portholes, a display of Donald’s belongings, and a spiral staircase. The upstairs has a balcony, the boat’s wheel, and more portholes to explore. Adults can join in the fun or enjoy the shady adjacent patio, with benches adjacent to the lake and fountain.

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MY RATING: ★★★☆☆

Out of the three play houses in Toontown (Donald, Goofy, and Chip & Dale), Donald’s Boat is the most detailed, and probably the most family friendly. The two levels are both fairly large, with enough room for the whole family to play together, and tired adults can recharge in the rest area behind the boat, which is usually very shady. Donald isn’t usually around to meet visitors, but the boat itself is definitely an attraction worth visiting with the kids; they’ll love setting sail on Toon lake!

VISITING TIPS

Because the boat is a playhouse, there isn’t much of a line to board. On crowded days, your kids might have to wait to play with the wheel or look through the portholes, but generally speaking, there’s no bad time to visit. I’d recommend stopping by if the kids want to play, and the grown ups could use a break; Donald’s Boat has the best rest area out of all the play houses.

TRIVIA

Donald’s Boat is officially named the “SS Miss Daisy”.

Look up at the nautical flags above the boat, and you’ll see some of Donald’s laundry hanging out to dry.

At the front of the boat you can see an ornate Daisy figurehead.

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Frontierland Shootin’ Explosion

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July 1957 – present

Frontierland – When you arrive over the bridge from Main Street USA, keep to the right. You’ll find the Shootin’ Explosion on your right hand side, next to Rancho del Zolcalo.

BACKGROUND

When the park first opened in 1955, Frontierland was the quiet section of the park, with little more than coach rides or picnic areas. But over the next few years, Frontierland gradually became a louder and wilder, and one of its most popular new attractions was the Frontierland Shootin’ Gallery. The Gallery guns fired lead pellets, and shooters aimed at various scenes from the fictional western town of Boothill.

Over time, the pellets caused damage to the scenery. In fact, the targets had to be repainted every single night after the paint chipped away throughout the day. So in 1985, the Gallery underwent a brief refurbishment and the pellets were replaced with infrared beams. To commemorate the new era of Frontierland’s shooting range, the Gallery changed its name to the Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade. And in 1996, the Arcade finally became the Frontierland Shootin’ Explosion, as a nod to the loud sound effects when shooters hit a target.

Today, the Shootin’ Explosion is the only shooting gallery in the park, and is a fan favorite in Frontierland. The Explosion is one of the oldest attractions in western Disneyland, and continues to draw guests of all ages time and time again.

EXPERIENCE

Single Rider Line – no

Fast Pass – no

Height Requirement – none

Duration – N/A

Adventurous travelers can step up to the platform and take a turn firing an old-fashioned rifle. Each target has a glowing red light to aim for, and when hit, the town of Boothill jumps to life. The animals yelp, lights flash, bells ring, and a piano will let out a short song to celebrate every successful shot. After the dust settles, guests can reload and try their luck again, or continue exploring the wonders of Frontierland.

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MY RATING: ★★★★☆

The Shootin’ Explosion is really fun, especially if you compete with your friends. The little town of Boothill is really detailed, and the effects when you hit a target are funny. Even if you’re not normally a person who plays shooting arcade games, try the Shootin’ Explosion at least once; it has stood the test of time in the park for a reason!

VISITING TIPS

Crowds at the Shootin’ Explosion are near impossible to predict. While more crowded days obviously mean more visitors to the shooting gallery, there is no specific time of day that is busier than another. Check out how busy it is as you pass through Frontierland throughout the day, and you’ll definitely find an opportunity to pick up a rifle.

TRIVIA

Like the Haunted Mansion, Boothill’s cemetery has a bunch of tombstones with rhymes or puns. You can see photos and read the inscriptions on the stones here.

The rifles at the Shootin’ Explosion are .54 caliber Hawken rifles.

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Chip ‘N’ Dale Treehouse

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January 1993 – present

LOCATION

Mickey’s Toontown – When you enter the gate to Toontown, turn left and follow the main path, toward Mickey’s House. Keep heading down the street all the way to the end, and you’ll see the Tree House at the corner.

BACKGROUND

When Mickey’s Toontown opened in 1993, each of Mickey’s friends had a designated home. Each character’s home reflected their stories and personalities, and Chip and Dale’s house was no exception. Their tree house, nestled in the rear corner of Toontown, is a quaint abode the perfect size for a pair of chipmunks.

EXPERIENCE

Single Rider Line – no

Fast Pass – no

Height Requirement – none

Duration – N/A

Chip N Dale’s Tree House is a play area for kids, much like Goofy’s Playhouse on a smaller scale. The tree house has several levels, each with chipmunk wall décor and a few have interactive gags. When visitors have climbed to the top of the tree house, they can head down the back staircase and onto Chip and Dale’s patio.

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MY RATING: ★★★☆☆

The tree house is definitely the most unique home in Toontown, and kids absolutely love climbing up the different levels. But the tree house is very, very small, so not many kids can play inside at once. I am 5’7, and felt like I could barely fit in the tree house, so this is definitely not a space meant for kids and adults to play together. But if parents need to sit and take a breather while the kids want to play, the tree house is a great spot.

VISITING TIPS

Generally speaking, the traffic in Toontown gravitates toward Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin and the Go Coaster, so there’s generally not much congestion near the tree house. If you are visiting on a holiday, during the summer, or on a busy weekend, the earlier you visit in the day the better. But if you’re not at the park on a particularly crowded day, there is no bad time to visit Chip and Dale.

TRIVIA

Chip and Dale do not hold Meet and Greets at their home; instead, they generally stroll around Critter Country and/or Frontierland.

The small roped off-space to the right of the tree house was once part of the attraction, called the Acorn Crawl. The Acorn Crawl was a giant ball pit with acorn-shaped balls, meant primarily for children under 5. However, the Acorn Crawl closed in 1998, due to “health and cleanliness concerns” (a.k.a. tons of kids throwing up and peeing in the pit!).

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