Disneyland is rapidly moving into summer mode, which means the bands are out more often, the sun is shining, and the crowds are gradually growing.
Like April and March, May was a heavy construction month at the Disneyland Resort. But there are also some additions to the park unrelated to Star Wars Land, which have brought some excitement during an otherwise fairly quiet month.
MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU
May 4th is International Star Wars Day, and Tomorrowland was the place to be!
The stormtroopers were out in full force, and the Jedi Training Academy ran shows all day long. At sunset, Disney also hosted a special Star Wars trivia tournament, and Star Wars music played throughout the land all night long. Though it wasn’t much of a pre-announced event, Star Wars Day drew the masses into Tomorrowland, and was a fun but fairly tame tribute to one of Disney’s most popular franchises.
DISNEYLAND THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
Alice Through the Looking Glass premiered yesterday, and Disney took advantage of the event to add some cross-promotion into the parks. Hollywood Land’s smaller theater, previously home to the Frozen Sing-Along, transformed into a strange and mysterious show room. The theater showed an extended trailer of the film, and the entrance featured a jumbo teapot and cup from a merry un-birthday party.
Johnny Depp, a Disney legend in his own right, got in on the theatrics to promote the new film. On May 11, one of the billboards on the promenade featured the Mad Hatter. But this was no ordinary billboard; the Mad Hatter was moving!
Guests crowded around the billboard to find that it was a live video stream of the Mad Hatter, as he interacted with guests from somewhere in Wonderland. Disney has a video of the event here.
MAGIC BANDS ON THE HORIZON
Though there is still no official word from Disney regarding the arrival of FastPass + at Disneyland, all signs point to its upcoming arrival. Recent refurbishments of big attractions, like Pirates of the Caribbean and Thunder Mountain, have included the addition of small kiosks that look virtually identical to the FP+ stations in Florida.
MiceChat managed to capture a photo of the mysterious installation outside Pirates:
For those that aren’t familiar, FP+ is a digital version of traditional fast passes. You book your fast pass ahead of time, and instead of having a printed ticket, you scan your magic band bracelet at a kiosk. Magic bands are also used as tickets into the park, and in Florida, can be a form of payment at shops of restaurants. If FP+ is coming to the parks, surely magic bands will be part of the package.
I’m really excited about the prospect of having magic bands at Disneyland; mine made life so easy during my trip to Disney World! If the rumors are true, my prediction is that an announcement will be coming late spring/early summer about the change. It makes sense that they’d want to have the system fully implemented before the debut of Star Wars Land in spring 2017, as I assume those attractions will be on the system. That way, there will be no mayhem to grab fast passes in the parks, and the distribution of those coveted passes will all be digital.
Star Wars Land construction is ongoing, of course, but there are no significant changes visible from the park. The mounds of dirt and trucks are still very visible from Tarzan’s Treehouse or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but it’s still impossible to decipher any of the land’s shape or pathways.
Turtle Talk with Crush, in California Adventure’s Disney Animation building, now features characters from Finding Dory. The sequel to Finding Nemo debuts in June, but you can get a sneak peek of our new underwater friends in Hollywood Land!
Disneyland hosted Dapper Day on May 9. I was unable to attend this time, but DisneyBound posted an awesome photo gallery from the event.
Frozen Live has finally arrived in California Adventure! The show began regular performances on May 28, with several different casts, depending on the showing. Stay tuned for my upcoming review of the show.
And finally, a piece of Disneyland history is leaving the park. Disney filed permits to demolish the Skyway structure buried in Fantasyland (visible from near the Village Haus). The Skyway has been closed for decades, but the structure remained embedded in the Fantasyland woods. With Star Wars Land encroaching on that region of the park, it’s not a surprise to see the unused building go. No word on official demo day yet, but we can expect to see the last bit of the Skyway leaving the park soon.