Walt Disney Theme Parks
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(5/29/2023) Disneyland Hotel DVC Tower and Pixar Place Hotel Updates
(4/30/2023) Hotel and Downtown Disney Construction Update (MORE...)
(3/13/2023) Thoughts On That Avatar "Experience" In Development (MORE...)
(2/12/2023) Iger Wants Avatar Experience at Disneyland Resort (MORE...)
General Resort News - (4/30/2023) Some new construction pictures from the Disneyland Resort can be found over at DisneyGeek this week. This includes a look at the construction of the new DVC Tower at the Disneyland Hotel as well as the conversion of the former Paradise Pier hotel into the new Pixar Place Hotel. They also have posted a few pictures of the new construction taking place on the site for the former AMC Theater building in Downtown Disney.
(3/12/2023) Disney’s D23 website has now posted a big teaser, claiming that a new ‘Avatar Experience” will be coming to the Disneyland Resort. For all the hype, there is still a lot they aren’t saying. There is a lot of talk from the actors about how they love the version in Walt Disney World and are excited for an Avatar experience to come to Disneyland, but for all the talk about the land and attractions already built in Florida’s “PANDORA” land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park, Disney isn’t willing to call what they have planned for California anything more than an “Avatar Experience”.
After all, they haven’t even committed to if whatever this is will be going into one of the two theme parks, or if it will be something added to the Downtown Disney area. While it would be nice to see at least the Flight of Passage ride come to one of the California theme parks, for all we know this could be some early hype for a temporary walk-through “experience” attraction, not unlike the one currently being offered to guests at Shanghai Disneyland.
Given the massive success of both Avatar films, with more on the way, you would think that Disney would be ready to get behind this movement and build something large, impressive and long-term for one of the two theme parks. Stay tuned… hopefully we’ll know more before too long.
(2/12/2023) While talking about the idea of expanding Disney theme parks, Bob Iger mentioned that due to the global success of Avatar: The Way of Water they were looking to bring an Avatar themed experience to Disneyland. Nothing more specific was mentioned, and when you think about bringing Avatar to Disneyland, Id say you would have to consider the entire resort, and both theme parks and not just a way to shoehorn a clone of the Pandora: The World of Avatar from Florida into Disneyland.
After all, bringing an Avatar “experience” to the west coast may not be another ride… it could be something more simple and quick, such as a conversion of the old Star Wars Launch Bay area in Tomorrowland. After all, a walk-through exhibit similar in nature was announced for Shanghai Disneyland not long ago. Even that could be used as a temporary stepping-stone while they could build a copy of the popular Avatar: Flight of Passage attraction from Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Unlike the Florida theme parks however, space is always at a premium at Disney’s two existing California theme parks, so they’ll have to get creative with exactly what and how they will bring it to life, so we’ll have to wait and see. After all, remember just how long it took from when Avatar or Galaxy’s Edge were first announced to when they were finally ready to open?
(1/11/2023) Disneyland has announced that starting on Feb. 4th, if you have a Park Hopper ticket or annual pass, you’ll be able to swap between parks starting at 11am. Currently park swapping is not allowed until 1pm.
Now for Good News / Bad News time. The good news is that the Disneyland Resort has announced that “nearly two months worth” of dates fearing the lowest tier ticket price of $104 will be added to the reservation calendar. The bad news… the reservation calendar is still in effect. So you can expect those cheap-tier pass dates to get gobbled up very quickly.
On the plus side… if you do get into the park’s, they’ve also announced that starting on Feb. 4th and through to rest of the Disney100 celebration event, Disney PhotoPass digitial downloads captured on any PhotoPass attraction during your park visit will be complimentary.
And now for some good news for your stomach… the popular Earl of Sandwich eatery will be returning to Downtown Disney this February, located temporarily inside the current La Brea Bakery location which will be shutting down.
(1/3/2023) According to a news report the Disneyland Resort has filed construction permits for a planned $5 million renovation and upgrade to the existing Downtown Disney area. This will be a new build that will take over the cleared site that was formerly home to the massive AMC Theater building that will feature 8,300 sqft of new retail space, with room for five different shops plus a new restroom and a backstage cast-member break room.
(11/26/2022) According to TheStreet, Disney has quietly changed some of the language about their Genie+ service. Previously changes were made so that guests at Walt Disney World were unable to purchase the Genie+ service until the day of their visit, as it seemed that some days the service was being overbooked. The problem of having too many guests trying to use Genie+ was far worse at the Walt Disney World parks compared to the Disneyland parks, where I believe advanced purchase is still allowed.
At the time this happened earlier this year, it was predicted that this change was being made in anticipation of a future change that would limit the number of guests able to use Genie+ on any given day. According to TheStreet, this change may be coming sooner than later as Disney has now added fineprint on their website that says “Please note that there may be days where day-of Disney Genie+ sales are stopped based on demand for the service.”
This new disclaimer has replaced the previous one that simply said that Genie+ was subject to “limited availability and is not guaranteed”. Previous efforts to limit the number of guests using the Genie+ service were based on raising the price of the service on any given day as a deterrent.
With all this in mind, if you really want to ensure you’ll have access to Genie+ during your visit to the WDW parks, you’ll probably want to sit up until midnight and grab it as soon as it is available just to ensure it doesn’t get sold out. Obviously this isn’t a perfect concept for everyone. If it were me, I’d think that the best way to make sure everything is fair would be to make guests wait until they actually enter the park itself before allowing the Genie+ service to be purchased.
(9/22/22) After years of staying as far away as possible from it, it was confirmed this week that Disneyland will be adopting the new MagicBand+ system for the Disneyland and Disney California Adventure theme parks this fall. Guests to the California theme parks will be able to purchase and use the wearble wristbands to gain admission into the parks, check in at your Lightning Lanes attractions, for Photopass use, and like in Walt Disney World, they’ll blink along after dark in sync with some of the parks’ nighttime spectaculars. Oh, and for Star Wars fans, you can use them with a mobile device to play the new Star Wars: Batuu Bounty Hunters games. .
Ticket Pricing - (10/14/22) Guests to the Disneyland Resort theme parks will now find their tickets a bit more expensive. As before, Disney has priced admission into the park at various tiers (1-6) based on how crowded they expect the park to be on any given day. The old range of price tiers ranged between $104 to $164 per day for a ticket into the Disneyland or Disney California Adventure theme parks. The new price range for Tier 1-6 tickets now appears to be between $114 to $179, reflecting a huge price increase of $10 to $15 per ticket, though Disney says they are adding a new “0” level Tier for the slowest days where tickets will remain at $104 on those rare days.
If you are looking to get a single-day park-hopper pass, get ready for a $15 to $20 price increase on average, with the park-hopping single-day tickets now running anywhere from $169 to $244 per ticket.
On top of ticket prices going up, Disney is also said to be increasing the cost of Disney Genie+ from $20 per day to $25. No word on if the cost of the individual Lightning Lane access passes are going up further or staying where they are for the moment.
(11/27/21) We saw this happen in Florida last week and now the Disneyland Resort is halting the sale of two of their four new “Magic Key” annual pass options. Just lille in Florida, it is now the top two tiers that are now officially ‘sold out’ for the time being. Only the two lowest tier annal passes are now available, the lowest of which (Imagine Key @ $399) is actually only available to Southern California residents, so for everyone else, this leaves the $649 ‘Enchant Key’ as your only option.
Given the number of stories I’ve heard about passholders buying the tier tier passes, only to find annual pass reservations unavailable, while day tickets are still wide open, your best bet right now may be to stick with day tickets as the annual pass situations still appear to be a bit unreliable.
(10/26/21) Disneyland raised ticket prices to the California theme parks on Monday. As usual, there are different price tiers based on how busy they expect the day to be, so prices for the various levels are said to have risen between 3% to 9%. While there used to be 5 tiers that ranged from $104 to $154 for a one-day / one-park ticket, Disney added a 6th tier this time around, so the prices now range from $104 to $164 for a one-day / one-park ticket. Want to park-hop during your day? A top tier one-day park hopper pass will run you $224.
The Disneyland Resort has also increased the price of parking to a whopping $30 per car, which is sure to irritate all the park fans who are still irate that Disney is still not running trams to the parking structures, so everyone has to walk both ways. On that note however, Disney did try to address the issue by stating that the Trams would be returning soon, though the early rumor is that you probably can't expect to see them return until the busy winter holiday season begins. Others say not to expect Tram service to begin until sometime in 2022.
There is one other fun note… the Disneyland Resort has announced that the top-tier “Dream Key” annual pass is now unavailable and officially ‘sold out’. It is interesting timing that the Dream Key level, which was the only one to include free parking, is now sold out, just as they increased the price of parking.
(2/7/19) When it comes to the price of admission, how much is too much? Surprisingly, despite what your initial take is, when you get down to it, this really is more of an individual choice question. Doubly so when it comes to Disney fans and the price of admission into Disney theme parks which have steadily been on the rise each year for the past several decades. This week I decided to take a look at past price increase trends from Disney and even predict where the price is going between now and 2030, based on past increases, all in my latest article for BlooLoop.
2023 - Pixar Place Hotel - (5/29/2023) Some new construction photos showing off the progress on the conversion of the Paradise Pier Hotel into the new Pixar Place Hotel can be seen over at DisneyGeek this week.
(5/1/22) The Disneyland Resort confirmed rumored plans to update the Paradise Pier Hotel to have a new Pixar theme to it as part of a multi-million update to the existing resort tower. This will see extensive renovations come to both the inside and outside of the resort, along with the addition of your favorite Pixar characters and themes. They also mentioned a new pathway will be built to give guests direct access into the Disney California Adventure theme park.
It is worth mentioning that the Paradise Pier Hotel USED to have exactly such a pathway entrance from the hotel that went right to a private gate into the theme park years ago. You know, back in the days when the Maliboomer tower ride stood tall over this section of the park. Guests would walk along a bland-pathway past Goofy’s Sky School (which was called Mulholland Madness back then) and enter through a private gate just across from the Golden Zeyphr ride, somewhat hidden from view by a shop. The private gate for Paradise Pier did not last long, as it was said to have been shut down in late 2004, but you can see what it looked like over at Yesterland. As much of the old open space around the retired path was taken up the expansion of the Grand Californian Resort it should be interesting to see if they try to re-use any of the old path or construct something entirely new.
As part of a presentation of other enhancements coming to the Downtown Disney area it was revealed that a number of new restaurants, as well as improvements to existing ones are also on the way. This includes:
Din Tai Fung - A new dim sum restaurant is coming to the area that was formerly home to the AMC theater and Earl of Sandwich.
A new Mexican inspired restaurant from Chef Carlos Gaytan will replace the Catal & Uva Bar.
Jazz Kitchen will soon launch a new menu and see indoor and outdoor improvements.
Earl and Sandwich will return as a pop-up location for now.
2023 - New DVC Hotel Tower - (5/29/2023) Some new construction photos showing off the progress of the new DVC Tower at the Disneyland Hotel can be seen over at DisneyGeek this week.
(10/23/22) A set of new pictures showing off the construction progress on the new DVC Tower at the Disneyland Hotel can be found at DisneyGeek this week. Meanwhile a related photo set shows off crews finishing the repainting the existing Disneyland Hotel structures around the rest of the resort.
(8/28/22) DisneyGeek has sent in some new reports from the Disneyland Resort this week. In particular they have updates showing off the latest construction on the new DVC Tower going up at the DIsneyland Hotel and the repainting of the existing three hotel towers that is also taking place.
(8/6/22) New construction photos from around the Disneyland Resort have been posted by DisneyGeek this week. This includes new shots of the DVC tower being added to the Disneyland Hotel, some paint and refurb of the existing Disneyland Hotel towers, and ongoing work in the Downtown Disney parking next door.
(7/17/22) DisneyGeek dropped by the Disneyland resort this week and posted some new pictures of the new DVC Tower under construction at the Disneyland Hotel. They also reported that work crews were site clearing the closed flat parking lot for Downtown Disney that sits between the hotel and mega-structure.
The last time I can remember that Disneyland mentioned doing anything with that particular property was to earmark it as a possible future expansion land for Disneyland itself as part of the “Disneyland Forward” initiative posted back in early 2021. In similar fashion, the parking lots located south of the Disneyland and Paradise Pier hotels were also earmarked as a possible expansion site for the Disney California Adventure theme park as well.
(1/25/20) A piece of concept art was released for the new expansion tower now planned to be added to the Disneyland Hotel by 2023. It will feature about 350 new Disney Vacation Club rooms, a spa, meeting space and more.
(11/23/19) While the Disneyland Resort canceled their last on-site hotel project (which was probably for the best, as it was a little funky in my opinion), the company has now submitted a new plan to the city of Anaheim for a new 12-story, 350-room hotel tower next to the Disneyland Hotel that would be for the Disney Vacation Club. This new DVC hotel may be the first dedicated DVC structure at the Disneyland Resort, though they do have a section of rooms within the Disney’s Grand Californian. With just half the rooms of the previously proposed hotel project, the new tower would be located on a grassy area next to the Frontier Tower along the backside of the current Disneyland Hotel property, which I believe is called the “Magic Kingdom Lawn” on some hotel maps. I believe the tower would take up some of the lawn and replace a current laundry facility building already on site which would be relocated. Essentially the plan would really just add a fourth similarly sized tower to the existing resort which currently has a total of 990 rooms and suites.
If everything goes as planned, we could see this new hotel tower up and running by the end of 2022.
Disneyland Forward - (3/28/21) While the concept art Disney posted for the Disneyland Forward initiative is said to just be an example of the kind of upgrade plans that they might create in the future, one interesting item was noticed on the plans. The tweet itself shows off best what appears to possibly be a Blank Panther themed Wakanda area that looks like it would fit into the small parking lot behind the movie theater building at Downtown Disney, which would also be removed. The large panther carving sticks out quite well when you zoom into the overhead layout art.
Is this a guarantee it will get built? Nope, but it’s fun take this as something that Imagineering had in mind at one point, even if it doesn’t get built. But it would great if it did make it into the final design. Wakanda Forever!
(3/27/21) The Disneyland Resort surprised everyone with the announcement of a new future initiative and growth plan called Disneyland Forward. According to Disney, the last time they established the future growth plans of the Disneyland Resort was 25 years ago, back when there was only one theme park at the resort and Disney California Adventure was still just a dream.
Back then the plans they set with the City of Anaheim established various “districts” or zones if you will, that would only allow for the development of various things in specific places. Parking here, shopping there, new hotels way over there, and so on. 25 years later, Disney now feels that they have reached the limit of those plans, which are now restricting future concepts of growth now expected from more current and integrated theme park resort concepts. As such, Disney would like to explore new growth opportunities that could see mixed use concepts arise in all new locations going forward.
As Disney well put it, “Without broadening the uses allowed within each district or demolishing and replacing many beloved theme park attractions, further integrated development and theme park investment are not possible.”
While nothing is set in stone yet, the artwork examples Disney is showing explores the possibility of expanding both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure to plots of land on the other side of Disneyland Drive, to the north and south of the Disneyland hotels that are currently used only for parking. Much like how foot traffic crosses over Disneyland Drive via a massive and well landscaped foot bridge that makes it just look like a regular pathway to the guests. Similar connecting pathways could be constructed to link up the theme parks to these parking lots, likely branching off from the backside of Critter Country inside Disneyland, and from the west side Paradise Pier somewhere between Inside Out Emotional Whirl and Boardwalk Pizza inside California Adventure.
The former parking lots would be transformed into all new theme park lands for each park. Again, no formal plans have been made, but the Disneyland Forward website does mention concepts like adding lands and attractions themed to Frozen, Tangled and Peter Pan to Disneyland (similar to plans now under way at Tokyo Disneysea) and adding other attractions like the new Zootopia land (under construction at Disneyland Shanghai), the TRON coaster (Shanghai and under construction at Walt Disney World) and a Toy Story Land (like the one at Walt Disney World) to Disney California Adventure.
The future plans also include ideas like adding a mini Disney Springs style retail and dining area to the land Disney owns South of the theme parks on Harbor and Katella, but this version would also integrate a brand new Disney Resort hotel into the complex as well. It also looks like DIsneyland is ready to revive their previous plans they put on hold to build another parking structure on the other side of Harbor that would lead guests over Harbor via another large footbridge and directly into the esplanade between the entrances to the two theme parks.
Based on past Disney history, you might think that the Disneyland Resort would be seeking some kind of tax incentive deal from Anaheim for all this future growth, but actually the truth couldn’t be further. Just as we saw Disneyland tell Anaheim that they were requesting the city to cancel two of their existing Tax Subsidies (a 20-year 70% hotel tax rebate and a 45-year exemption to taxes on theme park tickets) because they felt the existing deals from a previous political climate had become increasingly “divisive” and had made for a “difficult working relationship” with the current city of Anaheim.
According to Disney’s own statement, “We are at the very beginning stages of the process. While the project will be refined over time, we hope to explore the creation of integrated experiences featuring new theme park attractions, dining, retail, hotel, and more. Right now, we don’t have any specific projects planned for the future. To be clear, Disney is not seeking any public funding for DisneylandForward, nor are we seeking additional square footage or hotel rooms beyond what is currently approved and allowed. Rather, we are simply asking to update our existing approvals to allow for integrated development to be located and built on Disney properties.”
The timing of this announcement is especially interesting, as the California resort is now preparing to finally reopen to guests at the end of April after being closed due to COVID-19 for just over a year’s time. The fact that Disney is coming forward with these huge growth plans is a great sign that they feel very confident in the future growth potential of their California property, to say nothing of the huge potential for job growth from the planning, construction and staffing of these expansions going forward.