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.
Even though it’s the busy summer season, the Disneyland Resort still has the usual mix of construction and refurbishment taking place. The workers are leaving New Orleans Square and heading behind Main Street, USA or inside the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. Let’s take a look.
New Orleans Square Looks Renewed And Reinvigorated
Since we last looked at it in June, the tarps and scaffolds have come down and New Orleans Square (NOS) looks better than ever. The exterior walls and railings are freshly repainted and the whole land looks renewed and full of life.
Though mostly complete, a few finishing touches are still being added to the perfume shop.
The shop near the NOS bathrooms that was dedicated to pins has been reassigned to bath and style products.
New Rooftop Railings Have Been Installed
The entire southern roof perimeter of NOS has a new decorative railing, extending from the Pirates of the Caribbean (POTC) exit to the train tracks. It reminds me of the handrails CAL-OSHA forced Disney to install on the exterior of the Alice in Wonderland ride.
In this satellite picture, you can see where the new safety rails have been installed. This imagery is over a year old and doesn’t show the updates to New Orleans Square, but you can get the general idea. The rails secure the area on top of the POTC show building, which runs behind all the shops on the South side of NOS.
I figure the rails were installed for one of two reasons:
The State of California made Disney install the rails to protect workers on top of POTC from falling off the building.
Disney is going to build a rooftop patio or fireworks viewing platform on top of POTC, with great views of Fantasmic on the Rivers of America.
I consider the second option to be the more likely answer, because it fits into management’s new strategy of extracting more money from Club 33 members via new locations like the jazz club expansion and Lounge 1901. Maybe they’ll call it the ‘Southern Terrace.’
Such a prime location could easily be rented out for weddings and special occasions for a premium without disrupting normal park operations below.
You Can See Club 33, But You Still Can’t Go Inside
In the refurbished New Orleans Square, everywhere above you is now Club 33. You can see the ‘secret’ hallways and corridors across the entire second story of the land.
While I’m happy to see NOS looking great, it makes me sad to know that I won’t be able to go into the Court of Angels anymore. From every angle, it’s been locked off and covered up.
Here we can see the two main arched entrances to the Court are blocked by fancy art-deco gates and the. Above, a side door into the area is covered with frosted glass, covering the new Club 33 elevator installed just outside.
The new door to Club 33 sits in the middle of one of an arch, painted to match the rest of Royal Street and blend into the background.
A decorative face-gate sits in the middle of the door, so that Cast Members can talk to those wanting to enter the club without giving up its secrets unnecessarily.
Above the entrance is a frosted glass window with the new Club 33 logo in the middle. There is also an electronic intercom next to the door, also emblazoned with the logo.
I happened to be lucky enough to catch some guests entering the club and was able to get a picture behind the door. It looks like the thick archway has been partitioned into a separate entry room.
You can see a painting on the wall to the left of the door, with what looks like a New Orleans jazz band with straw hats.
I squeezed out a few pictures through a crack in the fancy new gates. You can’t see much, other than some bushes and a cast-iron patio set. There are some great images from inside the Court itself, as well as the newly refurbished Club 33, over on the Davelandblog. Make sure to check them out.
The Mickey-shaped Beignets (proper pronunciation is ben-yays, but we affectionately call them beg-nets) are a wonderful treat, any time of the year. I think that we have gotten them almost every time we’ve been to Disneyland, either gobbling them up while we walk around the park or sitting down to eat them leisurely while watching the Royal Street Bachelors play a set.
Dish: Mickey-shaped Beignets
Location: Mint Julep Bar, New Orleans Square, Disneyland, California
Warm, sweet, slightly crisp on the outside, and soft and chewy on the inside. Doughy, happy, Mickey-shaped goodness!
Orders are in three or six and the beignets are about the size of a coaster. The dough is shaped to look like a classic Mickey and deep-fried.
Once the beignets are cooked, they drop them into a white paper bag and pour a cup of powdered sugar on top.
I recommend giving the bag a hearty shake. Even though this creates a cloud of icing sugar dust, it gives the beignets a better coating.
Is It Easy To Eat?
The service at the Mint Julep Bar isn’t very quick and each batch seems made-to-order. Therefore the beignets are hot, so watch your mouth!
Each little doughnut is about three to four bites big, so they’re not too hard to get into your mouth. Let the beignets cool just a bit to take the burn off, but then dig in while they’re still warm and soft. We’ve waited too long to eat them in the past and when they’re cold some of the magical, tasty goodness wears off.
Quick tip: Don’t inhale while you’re biting into the beignet, otherwise you’re inviting a powdered sugar induced coughing fit.
Beware of hitchhiking sugar! I tend to favor darker clothes, so after eating the Mickey-shaped beignets I always end up with a sheen of powder marks on my shirt and pants. Hold the beignet out from your body and lean forward to try to bite it without repercussion.
As I said above, this is a messy snack, but the plain batter of the beignets, with the added powdered sugar make this a big hit with my son. He’s into the bland stage where he only wants plain, starchy foods like spaghetti and hash browns, but of course like any other kid he digs on the sugar.
For this reason I don’t just hand a whole beignet to my toddler and let him go at it. Also, I think all that sugar is too much for his little body to take (or for me to have to deal with when he comes down from a massive sugar high!). I like to tear off little pieces for him to munch on, with most of the powder dusted off. It’s a sweet little treat that keeps him happy and we are at the Happiest Place on Earth after all!
In moderation, this is a fun snack for kids to enjoy. Plus, mommy gets to eat the rest and lick the powdered sugar off her fingers!
One major logistical challenge with the Mickey-shaped Beignets involves the bag. Being freshly fried, the grease from the doughnuts soaks into the paper and can make a real mess. On one trip, we placed the hot bag on the shade liner of our stroller and it left a big stain on the fabric. Either hold the bag or try putting them in a different container, like the storage method we discussed for the Cinnamon Crisps.
A 3-pack of Mickey-shaped Beignets runs $4.19 and a 6-pack at $6.19. At Cafe du Monde in New Orleans, the world beignet authority, you can get three for just over $2. These great little treats are definitely priced at an inflated, vacation level. Compared to other similar snacks in the resort, the beignets stand up pretty well. A 6-pack could satisfy 3-4 adults, whereas a churro feeds only 1 and costs more than half the amount.
Other than the cost difference, the comparison to restaurants in New Orleans is spot on. After you finally get your nondescript paper bag of hot, doughy, sugary wonderful-ness, take a stroll down the streets and alleys of NOS and bask in the Southern glow.
Like a hot bowl of jambalaya or a savory Monte Cristo sandwich, the beignet adds the perfect accent to the New Orleans Square theme.
In conclusion, I urge you to brave the sometimes painful lineup and try the Mickey-shaped Beignets. They are one of our favorite things to eat at the Disneyland Resort and, because of the messiness quotient, it usually encourages us to slow down and sit for a moment.
The ambiance of New Orleans Square, along with the Royal Street Bachelors playing all contributes to the enjoyment of this ‘snack break’. Relax under the shade of the awnings, make a mess with the powdered sugar, and dig-in to the classic New Orleans treat with that magical Disney flair.
Have you had the Mickey beignets? 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!
“Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America…” – Walt Disney
Since its creation in 1955, Disneyland has become renowned as a particularly American institution. All over the world, for better or worse, people associate the idea of the park’s streets, names, and magical atmosphere as a representation of the basic American dream. Walt Disney believed in that dream himself and you can see the results of his patriotism painted in the themes that create his beloved park.
A perfect example of Walt’s enthusiasm for his country is the many flags in the park. Disneyland has American flags all over the place. Upon entering the park, Old Glory waves to you from high atop the Main Street Train Station and follows you from different locations from Town Square, down the entirety of Main Street, USA, and all the way to the castle hub. Keep on reading!
Construction on the new addition to Club 33 has New Orléans Square (NOS) almost completely walled off, with all of her back streets inaccessible. So, for a taste of what’s to come on your next visit, here’s a few pics to prepare you for your trip to the ‘Most Magical Place on Earth.’
Your main entrance to New Orléans Square, Royal Street is home to the exit for Pirates of the Caribbean (POTC), as well as the entrances to both the Blue Bayou and Club 33. All of the back streets beyond POTC are walled off, so that construction of the new entrance to the club, in the Court of Angels, can proceed unhindered.
There’s also lots of rooftop and facade construction going on, though whether that’s for Club 33 or just convenient refurbishment, I don’t know. Plan on Royal Street being very crowded, because it’s essentially a cul-de-sac now.
Zoomed view of rooftop construction for Club 33 in New Orleans Square, Disneyland.
A construction sign routing traffic around walled off backstreets in New Orleans Square, Disneyland.
The exit to Pirates of the Caribbean is covered in walls and a themed scrim.
Esplanade Road fronts the Rivers of America and basically represents the New Orléans waterfront. While there isn’t any construction on the road itself, the adjoining buildings surrounding Cafe Orléans are under refurbishment.
Other than the walls, Cafe Orléans sports a pretty themed scrim that helps to limit instances of ‘bad show’ caused by the scaffolds behind it. Operations along Esplanade Road, as well as service in Cafe Orléans, should be normal.
Another themed construction scrim above Cafe Orleans, New Orleans Square, Disneyland.
Construction continues above Cafe Orleans as well, covered in decorative tarps.
The middle entrance to the back streets of NOS, Orléans Street is made completely impassable by, you guessed it- construction walls! Shops on either side of the street can still be reached, but you have to look carefully for their doors because they almost blend into the scenery.
Much of the facade on the French Market is hidden behind scrims and scaffolds, but service there remains much the same. The only downside I found with the French Market, is that the little grouping of tables that used to sit opposite the entrance on Orléans Street are hidden behind yet more walls. This leaves you without anyplace to sit without receiving the full effect of musical acts that frequent the area (Royal Street Bachelors, et al).
The Northeast side of the French Market is covered in an un-themed construction scrim.
Walls and scrims cover the entire Northeast side of the French Market in New Orleans Square.
Some of the construction scrims are peeling back, exposing bare walls behind them.
Front Street normally runs between Court of Angels, along the West side of the French Market to the New Orléans Square Train Station, but as you can see it’s pretty bottled up at the moment. Almost the entire new addition to Club 33 lies above the buildings in this area of NOS and everything is tightly under wraps.
In the back of this corridor of temporary walls, lies the only bathroom between the Enchanted Tiki Room and the Hungry Bear Restaurant (that about 1/10 of a mile), so tons of people jam themselves into this dead-end to find relief. Also, the Disneyland Railroad dumps its passenger load here as well, about every ten minutes, so expect Front Street to be busy.
Even the beignet window at the French Market isn’t immune from the encroaching construction walls.
The side of the French Market in NOS, closest to the train station, is covered in construction tarps and walls.
Scaffolds cover the rooftops next to the New Orleans Square Train Station, DL
Construction continues in New Orleans Square, next to the Louisiana State Flag.
Thanks for riding along with me on this construction update for New Orléans Square. Stay tuned tomorrow and for the rest of the week for more detailed reports on the rest of the Disneyland Resort.
Have any construction reports or pictures of your own? Let me know in the comments below and make sure to sign up for our free weekly newsletter so you won’t miss future construction update posts (or any of our other great content). See ya’ real soon!