Oh boy. If ever there were a month for which I did NOT want to do a recap, it would be this one. Disneyland drama comes in waves, and this month’s wave flooded the beach. So let’s take a deep breath, and try to sort out the chaos of May 2017. If you stick with me until the end, I’ll reward you with some happy springtime pictures I snapped around the park!
STAR WARS – TREATS & CONSTRUCTION
Starting off on a high note, May brought a whole bunch of Star Wars surprises in celebration of two major events: Star Wars Day (May the Fourth) and the 40th anniversary of the first film. Park visitors enjoyed light side (blue) and dark side (red) churros in lightsaber paper, had access to an exclusive photo spot in Tomorrowland, and could purchase limited edition 40th souvenir sippers.
On the other side of the park, the Rivers of America are starting to come back to life as Star Wars Land construction continues. Observant park visitors noticed the back section of the waterfront is filling back in, the first sign of life for Tom Sawyer Island. Disney Parks Blog recently released concept art for the new railroad track, which includes new waterfalls, and the railroad’s first left turn!
Happy news for nostalgic Disneyland fans like me – the Indian Village will survive! It has just been moved toward the eastern side of the river, as opposed to directly north of Tom Sawyer Island.
You can read the full announcement for the waterfront track here.
TINKER BELL HALF…MINUS CHARACTERS?
This month, the resort also hosted a Tinker Bell-themed runDisney event, with a half marathon, 10k, and 5k. However, the event created quite a stir on social media. The first races of the weekend angered runners when they found that there were no characters along the race route. Tons of runners turned to social media demanding an explanation and a refund, to which Disneyland responded that the character absence came as a result of “guest complaints”.
….Sorry, but there’s just no way that’s true. Runners pay hundreds of dollars to participate in this event because it is a Disney race, through the parks, with characters.
Well, Disney quickly came to its senses, as runners reported characters along the routes for the remaining weekend races. With some speculating this was an “experiment”, runDisney fans are now worried that future races may be more generic than magical, even with the Disney price tag.
The next announcement this month came with mixed reviews: Fantasmic! will return this summer with many new elements replacing old favorites. Some look incredible, like an illusion of Aladdin and Jasmine flying through the clouds:
Overhauls of fan favorites have some fans excited, and some very disappointed. Here are the rumored replacements:
Snow White–> Rapunzel Pinocchio–> Aladdin Peter Pan & Crew–> Jack Sparrow & Crew
These have not officially been confirmed by Disney, but many different (and very reliable) Disney news sources have all reported the same info, so it seems very likely. But you can check out the official Disney Parks announcement here.
GRAD NITE + MEMORIAL DAY + SOCAL TICKET + MARVEL = NIGHTMARE
If you visited the Disneyland Resort this month, especially in the second half, you know it was crowded. Disneyland actually hit capacity two days in a row, and neared capacity on several other days. Why so many people? A few different things at play here:
- Grad Nite – Each May, Disneyland hosts graduating high school classes for a celebratory night in the park. This event used to be after-hours, but now Disneyland admits Grad Nite during regular operation.
- Memorial Day – A long weekend right before summertime? Memorial Day weekend is always crowded at the resort.
- SoCal Ticket – For a while, Disneyland offered a special discounted multi-day ticket for Southern California residents. This was the last month to use these tickets before they expire (with Memorial Day weekend being the last weekend).
- Marvel – The Summer of Heroes is now officially in full swing, including a brand new attraction (Mission: Breakout!, more on that in a moment).
It was a perfect storm, which made for absolute nightmare crowd levels.
Most of these crowds were in line for Mission: Breakout!, with wait times exceeding 5 hours in the days since its opening.
So what’s going on with this new attraction?
Mission: Breakout! opened on May 27, with a huge celebration including fireworks and several of the movie’s actors & producers.
Zoe Saldana hanging out with some of the Collector’s greeters!
The premise of this ride is as follows: the Guardians of the Galaxy have been trapped by the Collector, and you have to help them escape! The attraction features different music every time you ride, and features a new projection screen inside. I have yet to hop on, so stay tuned for my review.
Here’s a look at the new fast passes:
But the biggest buzz around the attraction is the Collector’s gallery, found inside the main level of the building. Guests spotted many Disney Easter eggs in the collection, including:
The original Matterhorn yeti
And a symbol for another gang of Marvel superheroes…
There are tons of other Easter Eggs, including audio snippets from the Haunted Mansion, a Disneyland souvenir map, even a huge botanical garden called the “Gardens of the Galaxy”. Visitors are discovering new treasure inside the collection every day! Despite my enormous reservations around this attraction, I’m very excited to find the Easter Eggs, and it gives me hope that this ride will not be lacking in detail.
Disney Junior – Live on Stage! has reopened as the Disney Junior Dance Party. The puppet show is now an interactive dance party that encourages audience participation.
Indiana Jones has reopened after a month-long refurbishment, which included much needed repairs to the queue effects. The man dangling from the rope now has enhanced audio, and the “falling roof” trick is now actually working!
The Skyline Lounge is now open to Disneyland visitors. The premiere fireworks experience seems to have a mixed reception, with some saying it’s fantastic, and others reporting it’s way overpriced. But the biggest complaint? You don’t get a refund if the fireworks are cancelled. In fact, on its opening night, the fireworks were in fact cancelled due to high winds.
Space Mountain celebrated its 40th anniversary this month with exclusive merchandise, including souvenir t-shirts, art, hats, and collectibles. The attraction lost its Hyperspace overlay at the end of the month, and has resumed operation as “classic” Space Mountain.
…Whew. We made it! As a thank you for reading through this monster post, here are a few pictures I snapped on my last trip to the park. Aren’t the first springtime flowers just the best?
I’m so glad May is over. On to June, and hopefully calmer seas!