This week’s Disneyland Resort Update is a tale of gifts given and gifts taken back. While some of what was previously open at the resort has closed again, there were some ‘surprise’ openings as well. And for those who feel comfortable venturing from the safety of home, there are also some big discounts (by Disney standards) to be claimed.
This was also a week that some lucky cast members got to preview Avengers Campus and ride the new Spider-Man attraction! We’ll tell you what we learned from some very excited Disney employees. We’ve also got a quick update on what’s happening at Knott’s and a reader photo contest which will net one lucky photographer a $100 Disney gift card!
So sit back and enjoy our holiday tale . . .
Twas the week before Christmas and all through the parks few creatures were stirring except cats and some shops. The restaurants were closed by the Governor with care in hopes that Covid would stay away there. But the stores remained open at 20 percent while discounts were raised to make dollars and cents. . .
Ho Ho No!
Last Monday started a new safer-at-home order, issued for most of California, as SoCal ICU capacity fell below 10% and overall cases surged to shocking new highs. And while that order ended in-person dining at restaurants, it does still allow for take-out and delivery. Also, most retail is allowed to remain open at 20%. So, what impact did the new orders have on Disney and other theme park offerings in Southern California? Well, Downtown Disney and Buena Vista Street shopping is still open, there are even some restaurants and booths offering take-out at the resort. Guests are simply advised that no food or beverage can be consumed on Disney property and you must wait until you are back in your car before you eat that corn dog or churro. We’ll show you what’s still open below and even a few NEW offerings.
Over at Knott’s Berry Farm, they’ve canceled their Taste of Merry Farm food festival through December 26th (pending further updates from the state) and have replaced it with a shopping-oriented Christmas Crafts Village on weekends. We have photos of their quickly altered offerings for you below as well.
Most other SoCal attractions that were allowed to operate revised offerings have closed. SeaWorld, Long Beach Aquarium, San Diego Zoo and Safari Parks, and all other indoor museums, zoos, aquariums, and family fun centers have all suspended their operations for now.
Buena Vista Street Updates
Avenger Surprise – Some very lucky cast members were able to preview the Avengers Campus upcoming Spider-Man ride this past week. While it will still be a long time before the land is ready for guests, the early word from cast is quite positive about the web-slinging attraction. We only got some vague descriptions of the new ride, but we thought you might want to hear the early word.
The folks we heard from absolutely loved the upcoming Spider-Man ride, which is called: WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure.
The queue and pre-show area have detailed set-pieces, and utilize Tom Holland in the preshow. His image is used in a sort of 3D projection effect similar to Rey in the preshow queue for Rise of the Resistance in Galaxy’s Edge. The ride itself is a mostly screen-based shooter attraction (not-unlike Midway Mania). All said that the ride is better than Midway Mania, but felt shorter.
The ride vehicles were described as being similar to Universal’s Transformers attraction. But, instead of using blasters to sling webs at the targets (Spider-bots), riders will use their own hands. The vehicles sense your arm and you are able to shoot virtual webs from your wrists. It’s an exciting technology that doesn’t require you to touch grimy blasters that thousands of other riders touch each day. It also makes you feel a bit like a real superhero.
The Spider-Man ride is located closest to the parade route and will be the big draw in the land (at least at first).
While the cast were not allowed to roam around the land, here’s what we know about the upcoming Marvel-themed land . . .
All good rides have a shop, and WEBSLINGERS has one too. The WEB Supply Shop will sell Spider-Bots that look just like the ones featured in the ride (catch as many as you can). These are the same bots that were sold in a merchandise event last week and then made their way to Stage 17 and World of Disney.
And, like the lightsabers sold in Galaxy’s Edge, you can “upgrade” your Spider-bot with new skills, sounds and personality . . . for an extra fee of course. Special backpacks and many other items are also available.
On the other side of the land, near Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout, is the Avenger’s store and the PYM Test Kitchen.
The Avenger’s building has the Quinn Jet on the roof and will hopefully one day be the portal to the promised Avengers ride (which has been delayed indefinitely due to the massive revenue losses in the parks this past year).
The Avengers Headquarters and the plaza in front of it are sort of the hub of the land. Guests will encounter various characters in and above this area.
If you are looking for crazy super-hero and Ant-Man inspired food, you’ll find it at the PYM Test Kitchen.
Dr. Strange has a meet-and-greet garden nearby. As “recruits” visit, Doctor Strange will train them by casting spells that interact with lights and items in the area.
We’re looking forward to hearing more soon.
More Shopping – Hollywood Land expanded shopping opportunities this week with the opening of the area in Hollywood land in front of Stage 17. You’ll find lots of merchandise set up outside, but you can’t actually enter Stage 17. The interior of the shop is strangely still accessible only from the Esplanade. We hope that changes soon.
Signs direct you to the Backlot Premiere Shop . . . but that’s not really what this is as you can’t get inside.
Shelves and displays offering mostly Christmas and other merchandise are scattered about the area.
One of the fun things about visiting is being able to see more of the area. The barricades are set up just before you reach Monster’s Inc.
No Captain Marvel, but you can see her jet.
Off The Page – If you tried to visit the other new shop last week, you likely encountered long lines. That seems to have quieted down a bit. On Friday, we were able to visit without any wait at all.
We took a moment to look up above the entry. It’s easy to miss just how ornate this building is.
The store carries one of my favorite gift ideas for the holidays (or any time really) . . . the Robert Olszewski shadow boxes. These little scenes, representing some of Disney’s most popular films and places, are lit from within and framed in the front. They are truly magical.
Buena Vista Street – The boom and bust attendance cycle continues at Buena Vista Street. Our strong suggestion is to visit during the day on weekdays when crowds tend to be minimal to nonexistent. On our Friday visit, we were able to walk right into Buena Vista Street with no wait. Five and Dime had about a 5-minute wait, there was no wait for Off the Page, a short wait for Trolley Treats, and a bit of a wait for the new Stage 17 outdoor shopping area (but likely only because it’s new).
As you can see, the outdoor areas were wide open. Very easy to keep your distance from others.
You can no longer enter Grizzly Peak Airfield since the restaurant has been shuttered.
You can’t enter the Red Car, but you can peek inside.
Keep in mind that ALL of the restaurants and quick-serve locations are closed.
The outdoor vending carts are only selling the popcorn buckets and sippers . . . without the popcorn or soda.
Downtown Disney Updates
It’s been an unusual holiday season at Downtown Disney. Usually, the shopping and dining district is packed full of shoppers and theme park goers (and those returning home), and plenty of people dining at all the restaurants. But things are very different this holiday season. But this week has been very sparsely attended.
Downtown Disney Closed for Christmas
The holidays are usually the busiest time of year at the Disneyland Resort. This year, with all of its anomalies, has wholly disrupted that pattern. so, this week, Disneyland President Ken Potrock announced that the Disneyland Resort would be closed for Christmas for the first time ever. Here’s the message he set to cast members:
What’s Open at Downtown Disney
The governor’s order that took effect this past week dealt a serious blow to the restaurants of Downtown Disney by disallowing indoor and outdoor dining. As a result, some of the restaurants have temporarily (at least we’re hoping so) shuttered until dining can take place again. Other restaurants have converted to take-out only for food, as nothing can be consumed while on Disney property. Some of it is more feasible than others. Here’s an overview of the status of Downtown Disney’s restaurants and eateries:
(ALL eateries listed as “Open” are for take-out only. Consumption of food and beverage is NOT allowed on Disney property at this time)
Earl of Sandwich – open
Asian Street Eats – closed
Starbucks – closed (both locations in Downtown Disney and the one in DCA)
Blue Ribbon Corn Dogs – open for take-out. But who wants to eat a cold corn dog. Buy it and run back to your car.
California Churro – open (both locations)
Jazz Kitchen – closed
Jazz Kitchen Express – open
Tortilla Joe’s – closed
Tortilla Joe’s Taqueria – closed
Sprinkles – open
Splitsville – closed
Black Tap quick-serve window – open – the main restaurant is closed
Uva Bar – closed
Catal – closed
Ballast Point – open
Wetzel’s Pretzels – open (both locations)
Marceline’s – open
Salt & Straw – open
Jamba – open
La Brea Bakery – closed
Diggity Dogs – open
Kayla’s Cakes – open
The lack of crowds make the stroll through the shopping district much more pleasant.
Over at World of Disney, it seems like the mobile queue has been temporarily shelved in favor of standby for our most recent visits. But even still, the standby queue doesn’t seem to garner more than a handful of people at a time.
Have you tried the new “Mobile Checkout” yet? Let us know how it worked for you and if you’d recommend the service to others.
The only stores which seem to gather a wait from time to time are the Disney owned and operated stores like World of Disney, Disney Home, and Marceline’s.
Holiday Merchandise 30% off (plus AP discount)
Here’s something you don’t see every day… Disney deals. Disneyland is currently offering 30% off select holiday merchandise plus the Annual Passholder discount. This means you could be saving up to 45% on that next holiday ornament with a Signature AP!
Part of the joy of the holidays is experiencing the excitement of a new year ahead. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want anything to remember 2020 by, so I’m ready to start snatching up the 2021 merchandise that’s making its way into World of Disney now. We’ll have more info on the 2021 collection in the next few days… In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek of the merch that’s available now:
A Knott-y Holiday Alternative
Downtown Disney wasn’t the only place that needed to make significant changes to operations as a result of the new Safer-At-Home order. Knott’s, which had previously been doing its Taste of Merry Farm food festival (multiple days a week), had to shift course entirely and cancel their tasting event through the 26th of the month (though, at the time of writing, Knott’s is intending to resume the Taste of Knott’s on the 27th). Instead of the usual food crawl through the theme park, it’s been converted into Knott’s Christmas Craft Village. This alteration is free of charge, but requires advance reservations to control capacity. We took a visit to see how things are operating…
Right off the bat, we noticed there was a dramatic decline in guest attendance in comparison to the Taste of Merry Farm event. The security screening zones had no wait to get through.
This event is now strictly focusing on the crafters featured from Taste of Merry Farm, so it’s the perfect place to find a handmade gift for the holidays. The craft stalls in Ghost Town and Fiesta Village are open for business!
The artisans are out and doing their thing. You can see them carving wood from their plexiglass-wall enclosure.
While the open-air craft stalls are generally easy to peruse without any crowding, people have to line up for any indoor shopping. Because retail stores have to limit guests to just 20% occupancy at the moment, you might encounter a very small queue lined up outside the most popular shops.
While this event is craft-centric, there are still a few to-go food options available. The caveat is that you’ll have to wait to eat whatever you order until you leave the property (just like Disney)! During the overhead safety announcements, there are reminders to properly wear masks, maintain distance, and that all food must be taken to-go and cannot be consumed while visiting Knott’s Christmas Crafts Village.
At Sutter’s in Ghost Town, you’ll find some of Knott’s holiday favorites to take home. I’ll take two orders of the Turkey Dinner Bites, please!
Over at the Ghost Town Candy Store you’ll find the usual assortment of sugar-filled goodies. It’s hard to resist that delicious fudge (so many flavors to choose from)…
In order to limit the temptation to break the rules and eat what you’ve ordered, the park has removed tables or put them behind barriers. For the food events, there were tables nearly everywhere you looked, so that was a lot of work for them to accomplish.
Additionally, the various food booths around the park are shuttered and have had their menus removed.
It’s not just the inside of the park that’s been gutted of tables. Out in the publicly available California Marketplace, all tables have been removed as well.
If you’re hoping to walk all around Knott’s during this modified version of events, you’re going to be a little disappointed. The Christmas Craft Village utilizes Ghost Town and Camp Snoopy. However, Camp Snoopy is open solely to enjoy the park’s decorations, so there’s no shopping there. Other areas of the park have been blocked off.
While the holiday activities have been cut back, photos with Santa are still available.
Because the Taste of Merry Farm suffered from a case of festivus interuptus, all the decorations remain up in a state of suspended holiday animation.
Some of the photo ops have been moved from their various places around the park to be within the walkable area of Ghost Town.
That’s it for our trip to Knott’s Christmas Craft Village. Dates are available for next weekend (Dec 19 and 20), and is open from 11am to 8pm. The event is free and no reservations are needed.
We reported last week that the holidays will look very different for Southern California’s attractions. We just covered Knott’s altered version of events, but here’s a quick rundown of other closed SoCal places of interest.
The San Diego Zoo and San Diego Safari Park have been temporarily closed since December 7, with no immediate plans to reopen to the public.
UPDATE: In following the guidance set forth from the Governor’s Office, we are temporarily closed. We remain committed to providing around-the-clock care for the remarkable wildlife at the Zoo during this time. pic.twitter.com/0LOZINwya3
— San Diego Zoo (@sandiegozoo) December 7, 2020
In following the guidance set forth from the Governor’s Office, we are temporarily closed. We remain committed to providing around-the-clock care for the remarkable wildlife at the Safari Park during this time. pic.twitter.com/PZEBIfTWEC
— San Diego Zoo Safari Park (@sdzsafaripark) December 7, 2020
Similarly, SeaWorld San Diego remains closed after starting their holiday-time festivities.
In a more pointed announcement, LEGOLAND announced that California’s stay-at-home order has effectively ended the holidays at the resort. In addition to the SeaLife Aquarium temporarily closing, they would also be closing their two hotels already in operation.
CHOC Virtual Walk Presented by Disneyland
After all that disappointment, here’s something a bit happier. The annual Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) Walk to support the CHOC Foundation to help sick children and their families, will be taking place next year — but it won’t be taking place in the park as usual. Instead, the walk will be converting to a virtual format, with more info to come later. The “walk” is sponsored by Disney, so we hope it will offer views of the closed parks.
All I Want For Christmas – MiceChat Reader Photo Contest
Santa, all I want for Christmas this year is… happy memories of Disneyland! This week, we went a different route than our usual MiceChat reader photo section: we’re holding a contest! We asked the photographers of the MiceChat Facebook group to share their best photos of the holiday things at the Disneyland Resort they miss most. We had some gorgeous responses (responses were limited to 5 submissions each)! Here are some of our team’s favorite photos. The winner (that you will vote on in next week’s update) will get a $100 Disney gift card. If you have a favorite, be sure to mention it below to help them get into the finals next week.
What have you missed the most from Disneyland this holiday season? The answer to that are as numerous as the lights on the Disneyland Christmas tree. Every person has a different response, and there’s no wrong answers.
Covered in ice-white lights, Sleeping Beauty Castle is enchanted with unmelting snow. It’s a winter fairy-tale come true.
We certainly miss seeing the painstakingly decorated tree on Main Street. Covered in dazzling lights and old-fashioned ornaments.
This has been the year without live entertainment. And though we have certain feelings about A Christmas Fantasy Parade, we’re holding dearly to the memories of holiday joy it brought us.
For those with a spookier taste in holidays, the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay on the Haunted Mansion is a perfect blend of scary and merry.
And we can’t forget about the gingerbread display in the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. Although it won’t be opening this holiday season, we’ve got fond memories tucked away in hopes of next year.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our MiceChat photo contest! To see more responses (we wish we could have included more photos!) take a minute and explore the MiceChat Facebook page! Next week . . . we vote!
Save On Future Theme Park Travel
In these uncertain times, we’re all searching for something to look forward to. Our travel partners at Get Away Today are here to help you with that by planning a future trip for you and your family. While the prospect of traveling is up in the air at the moment, Get Away Today is providing an opportunity to lock in incredible value with a travel savings plan.
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And here’s something fun and different: Get Away Today has branched out and now offers face coverings designed for theme park fans, and kids costumes just perfect for holiday gifting (from just $14.99!!!). Take a look at a few of the designs they’re offering (scroll through the gallery below):
Theme Park Face Coverings
Let’s Hear From You
Well folks, we’ve made it to the end of today’s Disneyland Update. Has word of the testing of the Spider-Man attraction got you excited to see it for yourself? What do you think about Disneyland’s closure on Christmas this year? Surprised to see big double-dip discounts on holiday merchandise? Does Knott’s Christmas Craft Village strike your fancy? And be sure to let us know which of the photos above you think should make it into the finals next week. We look forward to hearing from you.