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When Will ‘Star Wars Land’ Open At Disneyland?

When Will 'Star Wars Land' Open At Disneyland


When can I book my Star Wars vacation? That’s the big question on the lips of every Disney fan.

We’ve taken a look at where ‘Star Wars Land’ will be built and what it may look like. In this post, we’ll try to figure out when we’ll finally see the new area debut at Disneyland.

Let’s start with what we do know and move on from there.

Harry Potter Brings Competition To The West Coast

Hogwarts Castle - Wizarding World Of Harry Potter Universal Studios, FL
Hogwarts Castle – Wizarding World Of Harry Potter Universal Studios, FL

There are many reasons why Disney wants to build ‘Star Wars Land’:

  1. Their wish to ‘mine more gold’ from the lucrative Star Wars franchise.
  2. As a way to expand the total area of Disneyland, addressing the overcrowding issue.
  3. It’s a cheaper, short-term alternative to building an entirely new theme park in Anaheim.
  4. To satisfy their recent agreement with the City Of Anaheim to invest $1 billion in exchange for no gate tax at Disneyland.
  5. The need for creative people to build something new.

However, these are all internal motivations and there’s one more big reason this huge area is being pushed into production: competition.

And by competition I specifically mean the Universal Studios chain of theme parks and a little boy named Harry Potter, their deadliest weapon to date.

Since the Wizarding World of Harry Potter first opened in 2010, the growth in visitors to Universal Studios Florida has been double that of Disney World. The trend continued in 2014, allowing Universal to become a first-day park destination and a reason for people to visit Orlando at all.

Now people travel from all over the world not just to visit Disney World, but just to see the Wizarding World.

Wizarding World Coming To California

Disneyland To Universal Studios Hollywood

In December 2011, Universal announced that not only would it be expanding the Potter franchise in both of its Florida theme parks with a Diagon Alley expansion, it would also be building a brand-new Wizarding World at Universal Studios Hollywood.

With new threat to their theme park dominance, now in their own backyard, Disney had no choice but to get serious about their own construction efforts. Increased competition with Universal brings increased benefits for the Disney fan, thus we get ‘Star Wars Land,’ among a whole slew of other expansions.

It Won’t Be Built As Fast As The Original Disneyland

Disneyland in 1954 v. 1955

One thing that’s for certain about ‘Star Wars Land’ is that it won’t be built as fast as the original park.

When Disneyland was built, the first shovel of dirt flew on July 16, 1954 and the world’s first theme park opened to the public exactly one year later. It wasn’t the park we know today and some of the rides didn’t work yet, but it was there for all to enjoy.

This kind of rapid expansion is almost unheard of in America today and unlikely to happen with ‘Star Wars Land’ for a number of reasons.

  1. Immense cost
  2. More building restrictions than in 1955
  3. Greater complexity of attractions and themed areas than in 1955
  4. Higher expectations of modern-day park guests
  5. Large number of simultaneous Disney global construction projects
    1. Pandora: The World Of Avatar (Disney’s Animal Kingdom)
    2. Toy Story Land (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)
    3. Extensive refurbishment of Disneyland Paris Resort for its 25th anniversary
    4. ‘New’ Fantasyland (Tokyo Disneyland) and new Arendelle port (Tokyo DisneySea)
    5. Huge new hotel (Explorer’s Lodge) and the Iron Man Experience (Hong Kong Disneyland)
    6. Shanghai Disney Resort (theme park, hotels, lake, infrastructure)

Other Disney ‘Land’ Construction

In order to get an idea of how long these large-scale construction projects take for Disney to carry out today, let’s look at two contemporary lands: Carsland and ‘Avatar Land.’

Carsland

Carsland At Disney California Adventure
Carsland At Disney California Adventure

One of the newest Lands in the Disney empire, Carsland is similar in many ways to ‘Star Wars Land’ (based on what we know now).

The area is surrounded by a highly themed, breathtaking man-made berm, which we also expect to see around ‘Star Wars Land.’ Carsland also has its own massive E-Ticket attraction, as well as several other smaller rides that complement the feel of the area.

The level of detail on the buildings, paths, props, and furnishings is staggering and make you feel like you’re actually walking into the movie. According to Disney CEO Bob Iger,

We are creating a jaw-dropping new world. We’re bringing Star Wars to life in a big way. …These new lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will transport guests to a whole new Star Wars planet.

Sounds like a similar experience to me and I think we can reasonably expect the build time to be similar.

At around 10 acres, Carsland is a good 4 acres smaller than ‘Star Wars Land’ will be and it took 35 months to build.

Pandora: The World Of Avatar

Pandora: The World Of Avatar outline at Disney's Animal Kingdom
Pandora: The World Of Avatar outline at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Originally announced as ‘Avatar Land’, Pandora: The World of Avatar is also of similar size and scope as ‘Star Wars Land.’

Huge berm-like structures? Check. Immersive environment? Yep. Unheard-of E-Ticket attractions? Three for three, you win the prize!

Also of note is the size of Pandora, right around 14 acres (the same as ‘Star Wars Land’).

Originally, construction was supposed to begin in 2012, with the land opening in 2015. However, this is largely seen as a knee-jerk reaction to announce anything new in the wake of the Wizarding World’s success in 2010/2011.

The real ground-breaking ceremony for Pandora was in January 2014 and, as of the recent D23 Expo, the area is now slated to be complete in early 2017.

Depending on which number you look at, this gives us a construction period of between 38 – 55 months.

Putting It All Together: When Will ‘Star Wars Land’ Open?

So we’ve put together some reasonable numbers for the time to build ‘Star Wars Land.’ It definitely won’t open a year from now and will probably take 35-38 months to complete, beginning January 2016.

We also need to consider the marketing angle to all this.

There are really three major Disney construction projects in America right now (Pandora, ‘Toy Story Land’, and ‘Star Wars Land’) and I’d expect them to extract as much press as they can from each debut.

What does that mean for our timeline?

I don’t expect Disney to unveil more than one of these new lands in a single year, not to mention compete with their international debuts as well. So here’s my prediction of what we’ll see in domestic theme park construction for the next few years:

  • Winter 2016: Construction begins on ‘Star Wars Land’ at Disneyland
  • Fall 2016: Third track for Toy Story Midway Mania opens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Spring 2017: Pandora: The World Of Avatar opens at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  • Spring 2018: Toy Story Land opens at DHS
  • Spring 2019: ‘Star Wars Land’ opens at Disneyland

I say sometime around March/April 2019, just in time for Spring Break and the busy Summer season, we’ll all journey into ‘a galaxy far, far away.’ This leaves about 38 months for construction, which is certainly an achievable goal for Disney Imagineers based on their record to date.

While it will leave Harry Potter to run amok on the West coast unchallenged for three years, it will also give Disney time to expand its parking and backstage infrastructure to accommodate this and future growth.

Of course, this timeline only covers construction in the United States. Disney is also finishing up the resort in Shanghai, as well as expanding or extensively refurbishing each of its other international resorts in the next few years.

Conclusion

It looks like Disney has already learned from past mistakes by getting a jump on construction this coming January. Only time will tell what happens to the construction schedule for ‘Star Wars Land,’ and the premiere could easily slip by several months (like Shanghai) or years (like Pandora: The World Of Avatar).

However, I think it’s unlikely that Disney managers will tolerate any large delay. Harry Potter is set to open just down the road as early as March 2016 and it seems like Universal is announcing future expansion plans almost daily (Fast and Furious Supercharged, Nintendo ‘World,’ Jimmy Fallon’s Race Through New York).

Exciting times ahead for theme park fans! Leave me a comment with your thoughts on this ‘Star Wars Land’ timeline. Thanks for reading and we’ll see ya’ real soon!

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What You Need To Know About ‘Star Wars Land’

Current Disneyland Boundary With Projected Star Wars Land Outline

A long time ago in theme park really, really close…

… Disney CEO Bob Iger unveiled a new ‘Star Wars Land’ for Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. In this post, I’ll dive into everything we know about this new Disney ‘Land’ here in California, including a few educated guesses on how it might look.

What Is ‘Star Wars Land’?

The characters and storylines from your favorite sci-fi epic are invading Disneyland. A new 14 acre section full of droids, aliens, and adventures is being carved out from a sleepy corner of the park.

‘Star Wars Land’ will be a completely new ‘Land’ at Disneyland, similar to Frontier ‘Land’ or Adventure ‘Land.’

What Rides Will It Have?

According to the latest from Disney, there will be two ‘signature attractions’ in the new land.

One will be ‘an epic Star Wars adventure that puts you in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.‘ The second will allow you to ‘fly’ the Millennium Falcon on a secret mission.

Without any more details from Disney on exactly what the new rides will look like or how they will function, its hard to form much of a theory.

I will say this – based on the description of the ‘signature attractions’ alone, I think either one could work for a relocated Star Tours. However, the Star Tours debate is a whole other topic and I’m writing a separate article for it. Stay tuned.

What Planet Is It?

'Star Wars Land' Concept Art © Disney
‘Star Wars Land’ Concept Art © Disney

The new ‘Land’ will feel like a remote trading outpost and won’t represent any particular planet we know from Star Wars movies, books, or comics. I think this is a great choice of theme for several reasons.

First, it will be easy to blend the theme of the new ‘Star Wars Land’ land into the existing feel of both Frontierland and Fantasyland from that section of the park.

Also, since the ‘trading outpost’ will be a completely new fictional place, there should be a lot less of the inevitable nit-picking by hard-core Star Wars fans (though this certainly won’t be the case with the Millennium Falcon on display).

Where Will ‘Star Wars Land’ Be Built At Disneyland?

Current Disneyland Boundary With Projected Star Wars Land Outline Zoom
Current Disneyland Boundary With Projected Star Wars Land Outline

The new land will be located at the rear of the park, encompassing Big Thunder Ranch and some areas beyond the berm.

In the image above, I’ve roped off part of the park that fits the area and description of the land provided by Disney. It encompasses 14 acres, overlaying Big Thunder Ranch and a large chunk of the Disneyland backstage. This includes the Pope House and Circle D Ranch.

The horses from the ranch will live off-site, while the Pope House will be relocated elsewhere. In fact, the permits to move it have already been approved.

I have an article taking an in-depth look at everything in the likely site of the new ‘Star Wars Land’. Check it out -‘Where Will ‘Star Wars Land’ Be Built At Disneyland?

What Will ‘Star Wars Land’ Look Like?

'Star Wars Land' Concept Art ©Disney
‘Star Wars Land’ Concept Art ©Disney

Other than concept like the image above, we don’t have a lot to go on when it comes to the design of ‘Star Wars Land.’ However, I’ve given some thought about how the entrance might look.

It will undoubtedly have a sunken entrance that takes you below the Disneyland Railroad, similar to the one for Mickey’s Toontown.

As you approach from the Rivers Of America, I’d expect to see something with a Southwestern/Tatooine feel. You’ll have Big Thunder Mountain on your right and they won’t be able to hide it easily without spoiling the view from both the path and the ride. I’d expect Imagineers to work the feel of the mountain into the entrance theme.

The entrance space should be pretty wide, swallowing up everything from the ‘photo wagon’ by the Rivers of America to the Big Thunder Ranch BBQ. I think this should allow enough space to vary the theme slightly across the width of the entrance to accommodate the shifting themes from the adjoining lands.

When approaching from the Fantasyland side, guests will step almost directly from Pinocchio’s Village into a galaxy far, far away. The current transition between the village and BTR is helped by some large, plain, wooden doors, concealing the backstage areas behind Big Thunder BBQ and breaking up the competing themes.

I’d expect those doors to stay, they grant Cast Members access to the inside of the park and the backstage area of Big Thunder Mountain. However, I would like to see the ‘Fantasyland side’ of the entrance be more whimsical than the other ‘hard-bitten’ Frontierland side, possibly with some characters from the film. Imagine a big BB8 rolling around and checking out the scene?

Will ‘Star Wars Land’ Be It’s Real Name?

Hopefully, Disney Imagineers will come up with a better idea than just tacking ‘Land’ onto the end of a valuable franchise, though you never can tell what they will call things in this modern era.

Welcome To Cars Land Sign In Disney's California Adventure
‘Welcome To Cars Land’ Sign In Disney’s California Adventure

Over in California Adventure, Disney stuck with the “highly imaginative” name ‘Cars Land’ instead of changing it to something more magical like ‘Radiator Springs’ or ‘Route 66.’ Mercifully, they have changed ‘Avatar Land’ in Disney’s Animal Kingdom to the nicer and more mysterious ‘Pandora: The World Of Avatar.’

On the flip side,  Disney has also announced a ‘Toy Story Land’ for Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which they may stick with or change slightly to ‘Toy Story Playland’ to match the one in Hong Kong.

I’m hoping Disney will be bold and choose a name like ‘Planet/Outpost What-cha-ma-call-it: Galaxy of Star Wars’ and then 10 years from now, when it’s sunk sufficiently into society’s collective consciousness, drop the last part.

How Will You Get To ‘Star Wars Land’ In The Park?

Access paths to 'Star Wars Land' at Disneyland
Access paths to ‘Star Wars Land’ at Disneyland

If it’s one thing Disney is an expert at, it’s traffic control. So this begs the question- how will they accommodate the increased flow of traffic back into this sleepy, hardly used corner of the park?

One of the many innovations Walt Disney made when constructing Disneyland was to give it a single entry/exit point. Instead of parking on one side, exiting on the other side, and having to walk miles around back to your car, all traffic flows in and out from a single point.

If you look at the location of ‘Star Wars Land,’ it’s actually closer to the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure than it is to the front gate. That make me wonder:

Will Disneyland build a second entry gate for ‘Star Wars Land’?

I’m going to say no for several reasons:

  1. It’s much easier to control traffic from a single entry point.
  2. It’s tradition.
  3. It also will stamp out the complaining from people who won’t be able to use the gate, like the problem Disney has at the DCA gate from the Grand Californian Hotel.
Two Paths To Star Wars Land At Disneyland
Two Paths To Star Wars Land At Disneyland

So, assuming that you’ll have to reach the ‘Star Wars Land’ from the front of the park, there’s only a couple of ways to do it- left or right around Big Thunder Mountain.

  1. Go through sleeping Beauty Castle, past the line for Peter Pan’s Flight, around the King Arthur Carrousel, and on to ‘Star Wars Land,’ or
  2. Turn left at the hub, through Frontierland, and hook right on the path around Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Either path will take you to ‘Star Wars Land’ and it will be interesting to see which one works out better, especially first thing in the morning.

The Fantasyland route is slightly shorter, but it bottlenecks through the castle and area just beyond. There will also be fleets of strollers to contend with going this way.

The Frontierland path, while a bit longer, has a wider path and is far quieter when the park first opens (at least right now). I’m betting it will be overall quicker and more sane to take this route to ‘Star Wars Land’ than to rush through Fantasyland.

There is, of course, a third option, which would involve construction of a new path behind Fantasy Faire in still more backstage area.

Alternate Path To Star Wars Land Through Fantasy Faire Backstage Disneyland
Alternate Path To Star Wars Land Through Fantasy Faire Backstage Disneyland

A new route through Fantasy Faire would only be slightly shorter than the one through Fantasyland, and would also limit Cast Members backstage access, so I find it unlikely that such a route will be built.

When Will ‘Star Wars Land’ Open At Disneyland?

At the most recent D23 Expo, it was announced that construction on the new land wouldn’t begin until 2017. In reality, construction has already been announced to begin on January 11, 2016.

This is another massive topic for discussion, so check out my post When Will ‘Star Wars Land’ Open at Disneyland for more information.

How Will ‘Star Wars Land’ Compare To The Rest Of Disneyland?

Nine 'Lands' Of Disneyland Including 'Star Wars Land'
Nine ‘Lands’ Of Disneyland Including ‘Star Wars Land’

According to Bob Iger, the new land will fill up about 14 acres. While I’m sure at least part of the area will be new backstage area (off-limits to guests), I thought it would be interesting to compare that number with the rest of the Disney ‘Lands’ to get a mental picture of just how large the new land will be.

Original Disney ‘Lands’

When Disneyland was first built, there were five original ‘lands.’ All of these areas have grown in one way or another in 1955, leaving us with the existing boundaries we know today.

In this table, you’ll find the current size of the original ‘Disney lands.’ These numbers are based on what I call ‘guest areas,’ or the section of the park that we can all enjoy and not including backstage or support areas.

LandCurrent Size (acres)
Main Street, USA6.3
Adventureland6.7
Frontierland15
Fantasyland13.3
Tomorrowland14.2

As you can see, ‘Star Wars Land’ will be around the size of Frontierland, Fantasyland, or Tomorrowland. It’s hard to picture the size it just with these areas as a reference though.

The size of Frontierland includes much of the Rivers of America, most of which you can’t see from any one place. The main section of Fantasyland behind the castle is easy to imagine, but then it hooks around the Matterhorn and all the way back to It’s A Small World and the Fantasyland Theater.

Tomorrowland can feel massive, but like its western brother across the hub, you can’t see half of it with Autopia winding out into the trees beyond.

The concept art we have of ‘Star Wars Land’ shows a more open layout. If so, I’m sure it will feel huge and otherworldly, no doubt what Imagineers have in mind.

Added Disney ‘Lands’

LandCurrent Size (acres)
New Orleans Square6.4
Critter Country3.7
Mickey’s Toontown3

The size of later ‘Land’ additions to Disneyland hardly compares to the first ones. ‘Star Wars Land’ will be roughly twice the size of New Orleans Square. This is good news to me, because NOS feels massive when you’re in it.

A lot of the reason behind this is through the use of forced perspective in the streets and back alleys of NOS. I’m sure Disney Imagineers will utilize this concept with ‘Star Wars Land’ to its utmost potential.

Conclusion

What we don’t know about the new ‘Star Wars Land’ far outweighs what we do.

  1. Location: Back, left corner of Disneyland
  2. Size: Approximately 14 acres
  3. Rides: At least two
  4. Construction Timeline:
    1. Demolition: Begins 1/11/16
    2. Completion: Who knows?

Disney has so much construction going on around the world that it feels like the first half of Michael Eisner’s reign as CEO, when theme parks and resorts were popping up like daisies and there wasn’t anything that couldn’t be accomplished.

I’m going to keep a close eye on this new ‘Star Wars Land’ and write more as new details are revealed. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for up-to-the-minute news about this and all of information on everything in the Disney universe.

Are you as pumped as I am about ‘Star Wars Land’? What excites you the most? Leave me a comment below. As always, thanks for reading and we’ll see ya’ real soon!

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Where Will ‘Star Wars Land’ Be Built At Disneyland?

Backstage Areas Being Removed For Star Wars Land?

Backstage Areas Being Removed For Star Wars Land?
Backstage Areas Being Removed For Star Wars Land?

The world of Star Wars is heading to Disneyland, starting next year.

Let’s take a look at it’s likely location and what will need to go in order for us to visit a galaxy far, far away.

What Will Be Removed For ‘Star Wars Land’?

Disney has already announced the removal or relocation of several developed areas. The following locations will definitely be going:

Big Thunder Ranch

Big Thunder Ranch Will Be Demolished For Star Wars Land In Disneyland
Big Thunder Ranch Will Be Demolished For Star Wars Land In Disneyland

Big Thunder Ranch will be demolished to serve as the gateway to the new ‘Star Wars Land’ beyond the berm. It will have a similar function to the area between It’s A Small World and the Fantasyland Theater- a sunken pathway below the Disneyland Railroad.

It will be interesting to see if Imagineers leave the trees along the berm in place, blocking the view from behind Big Thunder Mountain into the new area. I think they’ll leave them or erect some other natural looking barrier, to avoid a conflict in theme with the nearby Frontierland and Fantasyland areas.

The goats, donkeys, and other animals from the petting zoo will be relocated to new homes, outside of Disneyland.

Owen Pope House

Owen Pope House Backstage Inside Star Wars Land
Owen Pope House Backstage Inside Star Wars Land

We also know that the Pope House will be relocated backstage. In fact, the building permits have already been filed and approved.

Owen Pope House Will Move To Team Disney Anaheim Parking Lot
Owen Pope House Will Move To Team Disney Anaheim Parking Lot

The only structure remaining from before Disneyland’s construction, the house will move to a new foundation in the Team Disney Anaheim (TDA) building guest parking lot and supposedly serve as a Cast Member conference room.

Team Disney Anaheim Parking Lot Next To TDA Building
Team Disney Anaheim Parking Lot Next To TDA Building

I think the most likely place for the house will be on the East side of the lot, next to TDA auditorium.

Circle D Ranch

Circle D Ranch Backstage Inside Star Wars Land
Circle D Ranch Backstage Inside Star Wars Land

One of the more unfortunate backstage removals will be the Circle D Ranch. Home to all of the real animals at the Disneyland Resort, including the horses that pull the Main Street Trolleys, Disney has announced that the ranch will be moved off-site. It looks like they’ll move the horses by truck each day to their new home.

I’m curious to know where they’ll move the secretive ‘Disney cat’ feeding stations, which are rumored to also be in the area.

What Else Will Be Removed Backstage For ‘Star Wars Land?’

Other than the well known areas we’ve already discussed, a large number of Disneyland backstage facilities will also need to be demolished, their services relocated elsewhere.

If our guess on the projected area of ‘Star Wars Land’ is correct, this will include the following:

Disneyland Environmental Services

Environmental Services Backstage Inside Star Wars Land
Environmental Services Backstage Inside Star Wars Land

Once you cross over the berm, the first facility you come to is the Disney dump. This facility must either be removed or avoided. It would be possible to build the guest area on the East side of this site, but the smell alone would be hard to mask and I imagine they’ll just move it elsewhere.

Transportation Service Garage

Transportation Service Garage Backstage Disneyland Inside Star Wars Land
Transportation Service Garage Backstage Disneyland Inside Star Wars Land

The maintenance area and coordination facility for the Disneyland Resort shuttles will have to move. In this picture, you can see an extra tram parked outside, as well as what looks to be some Autopia cars in the parking lot.

Just across the street to the South is the maintenance building for the resort attraction vehicles. I wonder if they’ll combine these two functions in one location. Spare parking lot trams could be parked outside the perimeter fence in one of the parking lots.

Operations & Maintenance Costuming

Maintenance Costuming Building Backstage Inside Star Wars Land
Maintenance Costuming Building Backstage Inside Star Wars Land

Next door to the garage and backstage Cast Member entry gate, this building provides uniforms for Disneyland Resort transportation, security, horticulture, and custodial staff.

Horticultural Services

Disneyland Horticultural Services Backstage Inside Star Wars Land
Disneyland Horticultural Services Backstage Inside Star Wars Land

This building houses the equipment and personnel responsible for plants across the resort, primarily consisting of replacing dead and damaged plants. You can see rows of seedlings and planting materials surrounding the building.

Parade Storage Building

Parade Storage Building Backstage Inside Star Wars Land
Parade Storage Building Backstage Inside Star Wars Land

The information I have says this is a parade storage building for Disneyland. Look closely, there seems be at part of a float on the right side of the building.

Route From Parade Storage Building To North Staging Area
Route From Parade Storage Building To North Staging Area

It still makes sense to have the storage building in this area of the park, so that floats can be pre-positioned at the beginning of the Disneyland parade route near It’s A Small World. However, if the building is going to be in the way of the new ‘Star Wars Land,’ I see a couple of relocation options.

Option 1: Move the parade storage into the adjacent Entertainment Building. It’s already being used for performer rehearsals, so why not share the space? Perhaps the building could be remodeled to house the floats on the ground level, with training and warm-up rooms above?

Parade & Entertainment Buildings Backstage Disneyland
Parade & Entertainment Buildings Backstage Disneyland

Option 2: Move the storage building behind Space Mountain. The parade goes backstage in two locations, so demolish the two existing buildings behind Main Street, USA and store the floats next to the South end of the parade route.

Possible Southern Location For Parade Storage Building Disneyland
Possible Southern Location For Parade Storage Building Disneyland

Magic Music Days Building

Magic Music Days Building Backstage Inside Star Wars Land
Magic Music Days Building Backstage Inside Star Wars Land

This building houses rehearsal facilities for the Disneyland ‘Magic Music Days’ performing arts programs.

What Won’t Be Removed For ‘Star Wars Land?’

With all the buildings that need to give way to progress, there are a few spots I don’t expect Disney to touch.

Fantasmic Dry Dock

Fantasmic Dry Dock Next To Star Wars Land
Fantasmic Dry Dock Next To Star Wars Land

The launch facility for the Fantasmic floats sits next to Big Thunder Ranch on the Rivers of America. It’s also the starting point for the Disneyland ‘dark water system.’ I expect the ‘Star Wars Land’ entrance won’t touch this area.

Indian Village

Indian Village Along The Rivers Of America In Disneyland
Indian Village Along The Rivers Of America In Disneyland

The friendly Indian Village has sat on the banks of the Rivers of America since 1955. Not only will this stick around, I expect the surrounding trees to stay intact as well, to separate this Frontierland spectacle from a different galaxy not so far behind it.

Fantasyland Theater Backstage

Fantasyland Theater Backstage Area Next To Star Wars Land
Fantasyland Theater Backstage Area Next To Star Wars Land

Behind Big Thunder Ranch, but still inside the berm, is a backstage area that suits a number of purposes.

  1. It provides backstage access through the berm into the interior of the park.
  2. It serves as an access conduit to the backstage area behind the building housing Snow White’s Scary Adventures.
  3. It services the Fantasyland Theater.
  4. It houses the garage and repair facilities for the Casey Jr. Circus Trains.

The new entrance to ‘Star Wars Land’ may slice off a portion of this area, but it should stay basically intact.

Conclusion

Things will be shaken up for a while as construction of ‘Star Wars Land’ begins in earnest in January 2016. After the first year, when the Disneyland Railroad and Rivers of America are restored to us, I’ll bet guests will hardly know anything is happening.

We’ll walk by construction walls for years and, behind the berm, Disneyland backstage buildings will be shuffled around and combined. Then, one day years from now, the walls will come down and we’ll all be transported to a strange new world that sprang up like magic.

I can’t wait to see what it looks like.

That’s all for now. Leave me a comment. I’d to hear your thoughts on my thoughts about the new ‘Star Wars Land.’

Make sure to check out my other article this new land, which expands on everything we know thus far. When will ‘Star Wars Land’ open at Disneyland? I’ve got an article about that too.

Thanks for reading and we’ll see ya’ real soon!

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Are Kim & Kanye Taking Over Disneyland?

Sleeping Beauty Castle with Walt Disney

Sleeping Beauty Castle with Walt Disney

Disneyland fans may be alarmed to hear that on Monday, June 15th, the entire park will be closed. The rumor is that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have rented out the entire park for the day to celebrate their daughter North West’s second birthday.

Let me put your fears at rest. I can report, as confirmed by Disney, that these rumors are false. Disneyland will be open during regular park hours to all ticket guests and Annual Passholders.

The couple may indeed by spending the day at the Disneyland Resort, but as with most celebrity visits they will most likely try to fly below the radar. They may be allowed to rent out a certain restaurant for a time, like what happened during Holly Madison’s wedding in 2013.

After hours events are also possible, so the rumor could be referring to this. However, a 2-year-old wouldn’t be fun on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at 2 in the morning.

Renting Out The Park Isn’t Feasible

There are too many problems involved with renting out the entire park for a limited number of guests. Just a few of these are (in no particular order):

Shutting out vacationers during the busy summer season

Schools are letting out and folks are travelling from all over the world to visit Disneyland, only to be turned away with little-to-no notice for someone’s birthday? I don’t think so.

Closing the park to Annual Passholders on non-blockout days

AP’s pay for the privilege of accessing the park a pre-determined number of days per year. Remove one of those days and they need to be compensated, possibly with another day available day during the year. That alone would be a nightmare of paperwork and pissed off customers for Disney.

Also, what would you do for Premium or Disney Premier AP’s, refund them a day on their pass? Not likely.

Immense cost involved

Even if Disney would put up with all the above, the costs involved would be huge, especially considering it would all be for a single day. Which leads us to our next question…

How Much Would It Cost To Rent Out Disneyland?

Curious to see the price of my own “Disneyland day,” I crunched some basic numbers. There are almost endless scenarios you can run, but I took a simple look at the number of 1-day, single-park ticket guests you’d have to cover the expenses of, as well as a food and merchandise allotment for each guest.

Based on my numbers, I estimate it would cost between 7 million on a slow business day to over 15 million dollars at maximum capacity for the park, which is a consideration for this time of year.

Conclusion

Maybe Kim and Kanye have that kind of cash to drop. Given their extravagant tendencies, maybe they would pay millions for a private day at Disneyland. At any rate, I don’t see Disney making this option available for them or anyone else.

Hopefully I put your mind at ease on this issue. Enjoy your next visit to the park. Thanks for reading and we’ll see ya’ real soon!

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At Least 7 Facts You Didn’t Know About The Real Sailing Ship Columbia

The Sailing Ship Columbia, Disneyland, CA

The Sailing Ship Columbia, Disneyland, CA
The Sailing Ship Columbia, Disneyland, CA

The Sailing Ship Columbia had been a Disneyland staple since it first opened in 1958. For this Memorial Day, I’ll look a little deeper into the history of the real ship this classic attraction is based on and give you some food for thought on your next voyage around the Rivers of America.

1. First American Ship Around The Globe, But Not First Ever

Magellan Expedition's 1522 Route Around The Globe
Magellan Expedition’s 1522 Route Around The Globe

The Columbia was not the first ship to sail around the world. The honor for the first circumnavigation of the world goes to the expedition of Ferdinand Magellan in 1522. In fact, there were around 30 earlier voyages (that we know of).

However, as it says on the ride, the Columbia was the first American vessel to sail around the planet. But why did it go? The reason is simple and ultimately American- money.

Circumnavigation Route Of The Columbia Rediviva 1778-90
Circumnavigation Route Of The Columbia Rediviva 1778-90

To be fair, probably every voyage around the world, or just about anywhere else, is and has been for profit. Listening to the spiel at Disneyland makes it seem like the motives for the trip were more egalitarian.

The voyage began several years after the Revolutionary War, at a time when the new America was still recovering economically. The Columbia sailed to what we now call the Pacific Northwest, to open a fur trade with the far off country of China on behalf of New England investors.

2. Not First Around The World, But First Up A River

Columbia River
Columbia River

After completing its voyage around the Earth in 1790, the Columbia turned right around and went out to sea again. It just so happens that upon returning to the Pacific Northwest in 1792, the Columbia ‘discovered’ and named the Columbia River, which runs along the border of modern-day Oregon and Washington.

This would become a major fur-trading river on many charts, including English ones. Years later in 1818, when the border between the US and Canada was established at the 49th parallel, Queen Victoria chose the name ‘British Columbia’ for her territory along the West coast, previously labeled ‘North Columbia’ on maps.

3. Named After A Saint

Saint Columba
Saint Columba

The Sailing Ship Columbia is actually supposed to be a replica of the Columbia Rediviva. “Columbia” most likely refers to Saint Columba, an Irish priest widely credited for spreading Christianity in Scotland. “Rediviva” is latin for renewed, which was likely added to the name after an extensive refurbishment just before its globe-trotting voyage.

Note that there no ‘USS’ before the ship’s name because it was a private vessel and not property of the United States Navy.

4. Famous Namesake In It’s Own Right

Space Shuttle Columbia launching
Space Shuttle Columbia. Courtesy NASA

The Space Shuttle Columbia was named after the Columbia Rediviva, as well as the Apollo 11 Command/Service module. It’s interesting how nautical terms and vessels translate directly to the exploration of space.

Columbia - Apollo 11 Command Module
Columbia – Apollo 11 Command Module

5. Anti-Pirate Paint Scheme

Columbia Rounding Tom Sawyer Island On The Rivers Of America, Disneyland
Columbia Rounding Tom Sawyer Island On The Rivers Of America, Disneyland

Ever wonder why the Columbia sports a bright yellow paint scheme?

Back in the 1700’s, ships could either be oiled down to finish them, which would eventually turn black, or be painted yellow. Yellow gave the impression of a newer, faster ship and therefore deterred pursuit from pirates on the open seas. Who knew?

6. “Connected” to the Boston Tea Party

Boston Tea Party
Boston Tea Party

The keel for original Columbia was laid in the North River shipyards in Massachusetts and it just so happens that another ship, the Brig Beaver, was built nearby at nearly the same time.

This ship would go on to be one of the 3 ships involved in the Boston Tea Party in Boston Harbor on December 16th, 1773. This would lead to the “Intolerable Acts“, among them the Tea Act, which pushed America even further toward what we know as the Revolutionary War.

7. 1787 Saw The Birth Of America As We Know It Today

Original American flag from 1777
Original American flag from 1777

Above, we see what the American Flag looked like that the Columbia sailed around the world in 1787. Elsewhere in 87′:

  • The Constitutional Convention convened in Philadelphia to revise the first working charter of the United States, Articles of Confederation. After months of deliberation, they eventually ratified the Constitution we know and enjoy today.
  • Later that year, Delaware would ratify the Constitution and become the first state in the new Union.
  • American settlers were fighting against local Indian tribes for the territories surrounding the Great Lakes in what would become known as the “Northwest Indian War.”
  • John Fitch’s steam-powered ship completes testing, years before Robert Fulton’s Clermont.
  • The French Revolution began, though the ultra-violent period wouldn’t begin for several more years.
  • The ‘First Fleet’ left England with shiploads of convicts to found the first penal colony on Australia.

Conclusion

Columbia in a Squall
Columbia in a Squall

Coincidentally, the publishing date of this article happens to be on the birthday of astronaut Sally Ride! Like the sailors of the original Columbia, she too was a pioneer as the first American woman in space.

Happy birthday, Sally.

Sally Ride - First American woman in space
Sally Ride – First American woman in space. Courtesy Florida History Network

After researching this post, I know the next time I ride the Sailing Ship Columbia at Disneyland will mean even more to me. On one hand, I now have an idea of the many hardships her crew had to face.

On the other, I feel so lucky that Walt had her replica built for us all to enjoy today. I hope you enjoyed learning a bit about America’s past. See ya’ real soon!

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Ham & Cheese Quiche from Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe | Food Friday

The savory and moist Ham and Cheese Quiche from Jolly Holiday Cafe in Disneyland.

The savory and moist Ham and Cheese Quiche from Jolly Holiday Cafe in Disneyland.
The savory and moist Ham and Cheese Quiche from Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe in Disneyland.

The Ham & Cheese Quiche is a savory favorite that makes for a great lunch or a light dinner. Enjoy the quaint atmosphere of Main Street, USA while you dig in to this Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe treat!

Food Facts

  • Dish: Ham & Cheese Quiche
  • Location: Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe, Main Street USA, Disneyland, California
  • Price: $7.79 USD
  • Cuisine: American, Comfort Food
  • Seasonality: Year-round
  • Ease of Eating: Sit-down, Knife-and-Fork
  • Allergy Considerations: Quiche: Milk, Eggs House Salad: Nuts, Milk, Cranberries
  • Jamie’s Opinion: Tasty quiche with an outstanding crust
  • Mom-in-Chief Scale: 3.3 out of 5
  • Envaluator Scale: 5 out of 5

What’s It Taste Like?

The Ham and Cheese Quiche tastes exactly as its described. You bite in and your mouth fills with the salty, savory taste of ham. The eggs are moist and fluffy, and the cheese has that nice cheddar tang to it.

The pastry is absolutely delicious. Living up to their name, the Jolly Holiday Bakery does not disappoint. I’m not usually big on the pastry part of a quiche or pot pie, but in this case I think it’s the best part of the dish. It is light, flaky, and delightfully buttery.

Is It Easy To Eat?

In my opinion this is a fork and knife dish, but, if you have the skills, you might be able to walk while taking bites. I’d save yourself the effort and enjoy a nice sit down. We had the same wax paper problem here as with the Harbour Galley baked potatoes and Breakfast Burritos from Tomorrowland Terrace, so I recommend removing the paper and eating off the plate to save yourself from the chunks of paper that may end up in your forkfuls.

The Ham & Cheese Quiche does break down into nicely bite-able chunks, so it’s a quick easy meal. Along with the side salad, you can get by forking away, or picking up little pieces with your fingers, but keep some napkins handy.

Mom-in-Chief Jamie’s Opinion

The house salad, a side dish option of the quiche, comes with pecans, cranberries, tomatoes, and goat cheese.
The house salad, a side dish option of the quiche, comes with pecans, cranberries, tomatoes, and goat cheese.

If you have your little one seated securely, the Ham & Cheese Quiche can be a very good option for mealtime. The ingredients are a hit, with the always popular egg and pastry crust. The cheese and ham are also usually well received so all-in-all we’ve got a winner.

Breaking the quiche down into bite-able chunks is easy to do with a fork and then you can spoon-feed or offer bits to your toddler, or let them feed themselves without too much mess. There will be more crumbling so keep that in mind, but in general this messiness quotient is controllable.

The appeal of the salad will depend on your little one’s tastes. If they like cranberries, there are some on the top, and the cherry tomatoes are actually quite sweet, if your kid goes for veggies.

Chief Envaluator Alex’s Opinion

Like the Caprese on Focaccia Bread, the quiche perfectly fits the theme of both Main Street USA and the world of Mary Poppins around the Jolly Holiday. You can see the Banks family politely consuming this savory dish and making indifferent, disinterested conversation.

The value of this dish is great too. Compared to the Jolly Holiday Combo, another simple meal served at the same restaurant, the quiche is almost two dollars cheaper for almost the same amount of food! If you’re looking to fill up on warm, savory comfort food, this is the perfect entree.

Conclusion

The Ham & Cheese Quiche is a light, enjoyable meal, served in an ideal location to enjoy a pleasant moment of rest while you can still feel connected to the hum and buzz of the park.

Have you tried the Ham & Cheese Quiche at the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe? Let me know what you think in the comments below and sign up for our free weekly newsletter so you won’t miss future Food Friday posts (or any of our other great content). See ya’ real soon!

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Caprese on Focaccia Bread from Jolly Holiday Cafe | Food Friday

Caprese on Focaccia Bread from Jolly Holiday Cafe at Disneyland.

Caprese on Focaccia Bread from Jolly Holiday Cafe at Disneyland.
Caprese on Focaccia Bread from Jolly Holiday Cafe at Disneyland.

Enjoy the humming activity of Main Street USA while you savor the fresh flavors and tasty pastries of the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe. On this Food Friday, we’ll take a closer look at their Caprese on Focaccia Bread, made up of sliced yellow tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and lettuce. The sandwich is seasoned with a creamy citrus aioli dressing, basil vinaigrette and balsamic glaze, and served with homemade potato chips.

Food Facts

  • Dish: Caprese on Focaccia Bread
  • Location: Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe, Main Street USA, Disneyland, California
  • Price: $9.29 USD
  • Cuisine: Italian/American
  • Seasonality: Year-round
  • Ease of Eating: Sit-down
  • Allergy Considerations: Milk, Eggs, Wheat
  • Jamie’s Opinion: Great, fresh flavors, but really difficult to eat
  • Mom-in-Chief Scale: 2.2 out of 5
  • Envaluator Scale: 2.3 out of 5

What’s It Taste Like?

Hold on tight to the Caprese on Focaccia Bread sandwich or you'll lose the insides.
Hold on tight to the Caprese on Focaccia Bread sandwich or you’ll lose the insides.

The inside of this sandwich is very tasty. There are generous portions of fresh mozzarella, all springy and savory. The slices of yellow tomato are juicy and the fresh basil is woodsy and complimentary. Having pesto in the aioli is a nice addition, as it really brings out the flavors of the cheese and tomatoes.

Delicious balsamic dressing and vinaigrette round out the palate, completing a great caprese salad inside two pieces of overly large, dry, crumbly focaccia. The bread is the only disappointing part and aside from trying to fit the whole sandwich into my mouth a couple of times, I had to give up on the bread completely and just enjoy the contents.

The chips don’t have a huge amount of flavor, but are crunchy and very potato-y, which is just how a chip should be. They aren’t too greasy or soft and they don’t have the ‘fryer-smell’ so typical of homemade chips.

Is It Easy To Eat?

The yellow tomato in the Caprese in Focaccia Bread sandwich is very slippery
The yellow tomato in the Caprese in Focaccia Bread sandwich is very slippery.

The Caprese on Focaccia Bread sandwich is huge! It’s too tall and not very mouth-size appropriate. At first I tried to cut it into pieces, but the bread just crumbled apart. I then tried squashing the bread so that it would fit into my mouth better, but it was too springy.

I’m not sure if this is how anyone else feels, but this is a recurring problem I have with focaccia. It’s not personal, it’s just too much bread for me. Focaccia looks really fancy, but it makes for a very messy sandwich.

Leftover slabs of thick focaccia on the Jolly Holiday Caprese sandwich
Leftover slabs of thick focaccia on the Jolly Holiday Caprese sandwich.

During my first bite, the mozzarella squeezed out and the creamy dressing dripped all over my hands. It was way easier just to deconstruct the sandwich and eat the middle bits.

Be careful with the wax paper when you ‘fork and knife’ the contents though, because is shreds just like with the baked potato at the Harbor Galley. It’s better just to take the paper off your plate before you get started.

Unlike the ‘wicker’ plastic bowls that you get with the baked potato, the Jolly Holiday has nice solid plates like the ones you get at the Plaza Inn. You can even ask for a plastic lid if you wanted to take your plate to-go.

Mom-in-Chief Jamie’s Opinion

A juicy slice of ripe yellow tomato in the Caprese on Focaccia Bread sandwich.
A juicy slice of ripe yellow tomato in the Caprese on Focaccia Bread sandwich.

The sandwich as a whole is not appealing for a kid, mainly due to the size. However, I have given it a higher rating due to the contents. Once you tear it into bite size pieces, you’ve got bread that you can give your toddler to munch on, though you might need to cut off the parts that have dressing on them.

The inside of the sandwich has cheese, always a kid favorite, and for your more veggie friendly tots, the yellow tomato slices are mild and tasty. My son Jack really liked the chips. The simple salty potato flavor had him hooked and he happily chomped away with his new little teeth.

You can eat the chips on the go, but given the messiness quotient of this sandwich, and the effort that it requires to deconstruct it, I would recommend that you grab a table and secure your little one in a high chair before you get started. They could probably manage the pieces that you cut up for them on their own without too much of a disaster, but I wouldn’t recommend letting them go at it on their own.

Chief Envaluator Alex’s Opinion

A moist, savory slab of mozzarella cheese in the Caprese in Focaccia Bread sandwich.
A moist, savory slab of mozzarella cheese in the Caprese in Focaccia Bread sandwich.

Let’s be honest: the Caprese on Focaccia Bread is overpriced. Some cheese and lettuce on bread with a slice of tomato isn’t worth $9.29. A simple assembly of pre-made ingredients is the only effort required to produce this item. Also, considering that the focaccia bread makes the sandwich as a whole inedible, the value of this dish lowers even further.

I kind of felt taken for a ride after eating this sandwich. If it were served as a generous caprese salad with a side piece of bread, things might be different. That would also be a cooler and more refreshing way to serve the dish on hot summer afternoons.

The sandwich ranks a little better on theme though, because it kind of reminds me of a Mary Poppins type of dish. Though she didn’t cook in the film, it feels like something the cook would have cut up and served as finger food on little trays to Jane and Michael in the nursery (which is another idea for Disney to ‘plus’ this offering).

Conclusion

Once you take away the focaccia, the rest of the sandwich is refreshing and delightful. A cool, savory meal on a warm day, or a light, health-conscious choice to ease your conscious on an indulgent holiday. However…is a sandwich still a sandwich if there is no bread? You tell me! 🙂

Have you tried the Caprese on Focaccia Bread at the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe? Let me know what you think in the comments below and sign up for our free weekly newsletter so you won’t miss future Food Friday posts (or any of our other great content). See ya’ real soon!

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Review of Admiral Joe Fowler: The Lost Interview

Admiral Joe Fowler and Walt Disney aboard the Columbia at Disneyland.

Admiral Joe Fowler and Walt Disney aboard the Columbia at Disneyland.
Admiral Joe Fowler and Walt Disney aboard the Columbia at Disneyland.

More than any other person, except for Walt and Roy Disney, we have Admiral Joseph William Fowler to thank for creating Disneyland and Walt Disney World. He was an amazing man with a singular view on how both resorts came to be, as well as tons of insight about Walt Disney Company operations from the 50’s on.

Luckily, due to the generosity of some die-hard Disney fans, we’re all able to get a taste of what it was like to actually build The Happiest Place On Earth©, not to mention work with some of the most creative minds this country has seen, in an audio file called Admiral Joe Fowler: The Lost Interview.

 Joe Fowler: An Everyday American Hero

I bought the Fowler interview from ImagineeringDisney several months ago. It took me a while to listen to it, but boy am I glad I finally did. Right off the bat, the audio track puts you in the mood with a few seconds of 60’s, classic Disney-sounding audio straight out of the Carousel of Progress. It whets your appetite for the vintage insider info you’re about to receive.

My heart started beating faster in excitement, like walking toward the tunnel under Main Street Train Station and catching those first notes of the soundtrack. You find your pace quicken and you have to fight breaking into a run. That’s what the beginning of this interview is like.

The first thing beyond the short musical intro that struck me about this interview is how humble and self-effacing Admiral Joe is straight off the bat (from here on, by Disney tradition, I’ll refer to him only as Joe). A Naval Academy graduate, Joe not only had a distinguished Navy career, but he personally had a huge hand in the construction of the American icons that are the Disney theme parks. From listening to him speak about it, you’d think he’d just done okay in life.

In the interview, you’ll learn about Joe’s early naval career and his service in World War I. Later Joe went to Imperial China, where he was stationed outside Shanghai with orders to build six gunboats during the civil war involving Chiang Kai-shek. I looked up where the shipyards were and they’re only about 10 miles from the new Shanghai Disney Resort! It’s a small world after all.

Kiangnan Shipyard, where Admiral Joe Fowler assisted the Chinese in building six river gunboats, in relation to Shanghai Disney Resort.
Kiangnan Shipyard, where Admiral Joe Fowler assisted the Chinese in building six river gunboats, in relation to Shanghai Disney Resort.

The Man Who Built Disneyland

Joe was eventually transferred back to the US, where he helped with the effort of overhauling naval vessels for the Pacific during World War II. He eventually rose to command the San Francisco Naval shipyards entirely, with over 40,000 people working under him. Based on his past occupations, you can tell why Walt would want to have such a man in charge of building his new entertainment enterprise in Anaheim!

Without giving too much away, Joe talks about:

  • Where the name ‘Disneydendron,’ the species of tree for Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, came from.
  • How Fowler’s Harbour got its name and what Walt really called it.
  • How the operational structure of Disneyland and future Disney theme parks came about.
  • How Joe found the Alweg monorail and brought it to Disneyland.
  • How classic Disneyland attractions like the Matterhorn and Submarine Voyage through Liquid Space came about.
  • Behind the scenes events on the opening day of the Mickey Mouse Club Circus at Disneyland.
  • The methods used and just how secret the Florida land purchase for Walt Disney World really was.

One thing that I really love about this interview is the sense of who Walt Disney really was, told first person by a man who knew him for years. I love all the stories about how Walt wanted a specific thing, like the Monorail, Joe found one, and Walt just said, ‘buy it.’ No vacillation, no checking with the bean counters, just move forward. This is always something I’ve loved and found personally kindred with Walt.

Another interesting thing I learned was that sometime shortly after the opening of Disneyland, Disney Productions bought a controlling interest in ride manufacturer Arrow. In fact, this was a helpful part in the deception surrounding the Florida land-grab for WDW. Arrow had built an elevated train for Busch Gardens in Tampa, so Disney execs could fly there, ostensibly look over the Arrow construction, but actually checking out the Florida real estate market.

As far as the recording itself goes, sometimes its hard to hear the interviewer, so turn up the volume a bit. I had to scroll back in a few spots to hear the actual question being asked.

Conclusion

This interview can be summed up thus: a great, detailed, insider interview on the birth of the Disney theme park, told by a supremely humble and knowledgeable man who made a lot of it happen. I’ve already listened to it several times and it’s definitely a must-have audio track for any Disney fan. Make sure to listen all the way to the very end for more Carousel of Progress audio goodness.

Thanks to the folks at ImagineeringDisney.com for sharing it with everyone. It’s definitely worth the meager price of $3.00 USD. That’s all for today, we’ll see ya’ real soon!

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Finding Nemo Submarines Still Running Dry at Disneyland

Finding Nemo Submarines with Space Mountain in the background at Disneyland.

Finding Nemo Submarines with Space Mountain in the background at Disneyland.
Finding Nemo Submarines with Space Mountain in the background at Disneyland.

The once mighty subs of ‘Liquid Space‘ still sit docked and dry at the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. While it stinks that we can’t go on the ride, it does give us an opportunity to see what really lies beneath the waters of the old mermaid hangout.

Let’s dive in and take a look.

Nemo Submarines Are Boxes Underwater

The Neptune and Mariner subs sit in dry dock in the Disneyland submarine lagoon.
The Neptune and Mariner subs sit in dry dock in the Disneyland submarine lagoon.

One interesting thing you can see in these construction pictures is the real shape of the submarines themselves. I always pictured the subs having a completely rounded vessel for a body, like a traditional sub has.

Side-view diagram of real submarine. Notice the rounded, tube-like shape of the entire body, allowing the vessel to slip through the water.
Side-view diagram of a real submarine. Notice the rounded, tube-like shape of the entire body, allowing the vessel to slip through the water.

But right below the waterline, you can see that the smooth curve changes to an angular box, which is what you actually sit in during the ride. Score one for the Imagineers who designed the subs. They really drew me into the story.

Construction bridges cross the dock of the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.
Construction bridges cross the dock of the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.

The boxy underside of the Finding Nemo Subs is revealed below the water line.
The boxy underside of the Finding Nemo Subs revealed below the water line.

Maintenance walkways lock the Finding Nemo Subs into their dry dock.
Maintenance walkways lock the Finding Nemo Subs into their dry dock.

Subs Are More Like A Trains Than Boats

The track and switching mechanism for the Finding Nemo Subs at Disneyland.
The track and switching mechanism for the Finding Nemo Subs at Disneyland.

Not only are the subs not shaped like the real thing, they don’t move like it either. You can see the track system hat guides each sub on its voyage to the ‘briny depths’. You can also see the switching mechanism that shunts the vehicles between the main and standby tracks.

Colorful strands of plastic seaweed sits on the dry floor of the Disneyland submarine lagoon.
Colorful strands of plastic seaweed sits on the dry floor of the Disneyland submarine lagoon.

Even though I know the subs are on a track, like the Mark Twain and Columbia, I still like to pretend that they’re floating free and independent; masters of their own destiny that will take me on great new adventures.

Dry lagoon and ride tracks for the Finding Nemo Subs.
Dry lagoon and ride tracks for the Finding Nemo Subs.

All of the exterior ride animatronics, like the seagulls, crabs, and scuba divers have been removed and are probably being refurbished backstage. The seaweed is still in place though, looking very much like clumps of plastic party leis strewn across the rocks.

The Finding Nemo Submarine track winds through rocks and seaweed.
The Finding Nemo Submarine track winds through rocks and seaweed.

You can see some black plastic garbage bags full of yellow kelp, presumably waiting to be installed.

A dry submarine lagoon in Disneyland.
A dry submarine lagoon in Disneyland.

Bags of neon colored seaweed and a popup tent sit in a dry submarine lagoon.
Bags of neon colored seaweed and a pop up tent sit in a dry submarine lagoon.

Conclusion

A sign on the construction wall of the Finding Nemo Subs.
A sign on the construction wall of the Finding Nemo Subs.

The Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage is scheduled to reopen September 27, 2014. It will have been closed for almost ten months, starting January 6th.

There have been a lot of rumors about the fate of Submarine Voyage, the most popular of which had it being re-themed to a Star Wars themed ride. How would you like a Jar-Jar-Binks styled Gungan ride through the oceans of Naboo? Count me out.

As you can see from the images above, the Star Wars rumor is definitely false, at least for now. All of the tiki statues and multi-colored kelp patches are still very much in place. I say let’s bring back Nemo and friends, but this time add something other than LCD screens and static models with flashing lights. Hopefully the Imagineers will pull a out a few exciting tricks that capture the magic the original ride had.

The Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage still sits behind construction walls.
The Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage still sits behind construction walls.

It took two days to drain the 5 million gallon submarine lagoon last January, so if the reverse is true you can expect to see it filling back up around September 25th. Even with the weakly themed Nemo parts of the ride, this attraction is still pretty awesome and I look forward to seeing what the next version has to offer.

Thanks for reading and we’ll see ya’ real soon!

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