February was one of the busiest months at the Disneyland Resort in recent memory. Tons of refurbishments are underway, Star Wars Land is officially under construction, and the resort hosted a number of holiday events and celebrations. With the weather dramatically swinging from heavy downpours to 80 degrees and sunshine, February was as busy as it was unpredictable.
This month, the Disneyland Resort offered a brand new experience available exclusively to annual pass holders: AP Days. The event lasted throughout February, with each week having a different theme and offering different activities and treats for pass holders. Some of these activities included a chance to chat with the resort’s social media team, some rare character meet and greets (including Jiminy Cricket), private screenings of animated shorts, park recipe cards, and exclusive buttons. Pass holders could also join in specialty pin trading in California Adventure:
AP Days gave annual pass holders extra incentive to visit the parks despite all of the current refurbishments and closures. Speaking as a pass holder, it was nice to see the park show us a little extra appreciation, especially since the price of passes has jumped three times in the last 18 months!
LUNAR NEW YEAR
One of California Adventure’s largest and most popular annual events is its Lunar New Year Celebration. Every year, the western side of Paradise Pier transforms into a fairground, complete with face painting stations, Chinese dancers, a meet and greet with Mulan and Mushu, and a specialty outpost selling commemorative souvenirs and Chinese Art.
The garden patio transformed into a red and gold wonderland, with almost every available space adorned with paper lanterns. The restaurants along the patio sold specialty Chinese food items, and garden visitors even got the chance to see a Chinese dragon pass through. The four-day event marked the beginning of the year of the monkey, and ushered in the first signs of spring at the Resort.
CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE TURNS 15
On February 9, California Adventure turned 15! To celebrate its birthday, the park hosted a miniature ceremony and celebration on Buena Vista Street just after the gates opened. Cast members handed out commemorative buttons while Mickey, Minnie and Goofy arrived on the street dressed in their finest. Everyone’s favorite mouse couple celebrated alongside California Adventure’s band and dancers, before heading off to enjoy a day of parades and meet and greets.
The Buena Vista Bugle also released a special edition marking the park’s 15th birthday:
California Adventure’s birthday celebration was not only much smaller than typical Disneyland anniversaries, but it was also largely unadvertised. As the number attached to each anniversary grows larger, California Adventure will undoubtedly follow in it’s neighbors footsteps and have much larger celebrations.
A CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL
To celebrate Black History Month, California Adventure hosted a special celebration in its Hollywood Land soundstage: Celebrate Gospel! This event brought gospel performers into the park, for live solo and choir performances on a brand new tiered stage.
The special gospel stage reused some of the preexisting elements (from when this space was part of Frozen Fun, including the backdrop, snowy cabin-style roofing, and rustic ornamental details. The walls of the soundstage featured a series of plaques and vintage photos, detailing the history of gospel and showcasing some of the most famous and beloved gospel performers. Celebrate Gospel was a popular event in California Adventure, and was the Disneyland Resort’s largest gospel performance event in the park’s history.
Disney partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation this month to raise money for the nonprofit, which grants “wishes” to children suffering from all kinds of illnesses. Disney fans on every social media platform were encouraged to post a photo wearing Mickey ears, and to use the hashtag #ShareYourEars. For every photo paired with a hashtag, Disney has promised to donate $5 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
After the overwhelming success of the social media campaign, Disneyland also debuted a limited edition ear hat celebrating the Foundation:
100% of proceeds from these ear hats also go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The hats will be available through March (or while supplies last), so if you want to support the Foundation, buy a hat during your next visit to the park!
THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY: DISNEYLAND 60
On February 21st, ABC aired a brand new television special, celebrating Disneyland’s 60th anniversary. The two-hour spectacular included performances or introductions from a massive list of stars, included choreographed routines to classic Disney songs (one filmed inside the park!), and a bunch of sneak peeks into upcoming Disney projects and movies. Host Derek Hough led viewers through a nostalgic look back at Disney’s accomplishments over the last 60 years, while at the same time giving fans a peek into the future.
My opinion of the show? It was a fantastic celebration of Disney, but it was not a Disneyland special. We saw awesome performances of Disney songs, video montages of beloved characters, and a few trailers for upcoming movies. All of that was very cool, but it had absolutely nothing to do with the park. I expected to learn lots of behind-the-scenes info of the park, get a little more info about its creation 60 years ago, or even learn about the things Walt liked to do at Disneyland. Instead, the bits about the park were as short as they were scarce. Even the most heavily advertised segment, the Star Wars Land “reveal”, shared a lot of concept art and tidbits that were already released months ago. Like I said, this special was a must-see for any Disney fan, but I think it was falsely marketed as a Disneyland program.
This month, Disney announced that California Adventure will be bringing back an old favorite – the Food and Wine Festival! This festival, which runs through the month of April, is a food-focused affair celebrating the best of California cooking. Guests can sample food from a series of mini markets, attend culinary demonstrations and guest events with celebrity chefs, and participate in a few seminars all about west coast foods & cooking styles. More details about the festival will be released in March.
And finally, Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters finally has an opening date: March 7th. This highly anticipated attraction in Cars Land is definitely going to be one of the most talked about rides in the next month. Stay tuned for my review!