Disneyland Resort Announces Which Attractions Will be Running When Parks Re-Open

The Disneyland Resort has announced which attractions, restaurants and shops that will be operating and which ones that won’t be when Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure re-open to guests on April 30th.

Disneyland Attractions That Will Be Open –

  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Astro Orbitor
  • Autopia
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Casey Jr. Circus Train
  • Disneyland Railroad
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Gadget’s Go Coaster
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • It’s a Small World
  • King Arthur Carrousel
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Main Street Vehicles
  • Mark Twain Riverboat
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Pinocchio’s Daring Journey
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
  • Snow White’s Enchanted Wish
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Star Tours — The Adventures Continue
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • Tarzan’s Treehouse
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
  • Surprise character sightings

Disneyland Dining That Will Be Open –

  • Bengal Barbecue
  • Cafe Orleans
  • French Market Restaurant
  • Galactic Grill
  • Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor
  • Jolly Holiday Bakery Café
  • Little Red Wagon
  • Market House
  • Milk Stand
  • Mint Julep Bar
  • Plaza Inn — with modified service and menu
  • Red Rose Taverne
  • River Belle Terrace
  • Ronto Roasters
  • Ship to Shore Marketplace
  • Stage Door Cafe
  • The Tropical Hideaway
  • Churros, popcorn and ice cream carts

Disneyland Shops That Will Be Open –

  • Adventureland Bazaar
  • Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique — For merchandise only, no makeovers
  • Black Spire Outfitters
  • Candy Palace and Candy Kitchen
  • Creature Stall
  • Cristal d’Orleans
  • Crystal Arts
  • Disney Clothiers
  • Disney Showcase
  • Disneyana
  • Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities
  • Droid Depot
  • Emporium
  • First Order Cargo
  • It’s a Small World Toy Shop
  • Kaman’s Art Shoppe
  • Le Mascarade d’Orleans
  • Little Green Men Store Command
  • The Mad Hatter in Fantasyland
  • Main Street Magic Shop
  • Pieces of Eight
  • Pioneer Mercantile
  • Savi’s Workshop — Handbuilt Lightsabers
  • The Star Trader
  • Toydarian Toymaker
  • Balloons and glow carts

Disney California Adventure Attractions That Will Be Open –

  • Games of Pixar Pier
  • Goofy’s Sky School
  • Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout
  • Incredicoaster
  • Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind
  • Jessie’s Critter Carousel
  • Jumpin’ Jellyfish
  • Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters
  • Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
  • Pixar Pal-A-Round
  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Silly Symphony Swings
  • Soarin’ Around the World
  • The Little Mermaid — Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
  • Toy Story Midway ManiaTurtle Talk with Crush
  • Games of Pixar Pier
  • Goofy’s Sky School
  • Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout
  • Incredicoaster
  • Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind
  • Jessie’s Critter Carousel
  • Jumpin’ Jellyfish
  • Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters
  • Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
  • Pixar Pal-A-Round
  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Silly Symphony Swings
  • Soarin’ Around the World
  • The Little Mermaid — Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
  • Toy Story Midway ManiaTurtle Talk with Crush

Disney California Adventure Dining That Will Be Open –

  • Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats
  • Angry Dogs
  • Award Wieners
  • Carthay Circle Lounge — Alfresco Dining
  • Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill
  • Cozy Cone Motel – Cones 1-3
  • Cappuccino Cart
  • Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café
  • Flo’s V8 Café
  • Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop
  • Hollywood Lounge
  • Lamplight Lounge
  • Pacific Wharf Distribution Co.
  • Poultry Palace
  • Rita’s Bajas Blenders
  • Senor Buzz Churros
  • Smokejumpers Grill
  • Sonoma Terrace
  • Studio Catering Co.
  • Churros, popcorn and ice cream carts

Disney California Adventure Shops That Will Be Open –

  • Bing Bong’s Sweet Stuff
  • Collector’s Warehouse
  • Disneyland Backlot Premiere Shop
  • Elias & Co.
  • Kaman’s Art Shoppe
  • Kingswell Camera Shop
  • Knick’s Knacks
  • Off the Page
  • Paradise Pier Sunglass Cart
  • Ramone’s House of Body Art
  • Rushin’ River Outfitters
  • Seaside Souvenirs
  • Studio Store
  • Trolley Treats
  • Balloons and glow carts

Disney also included a full list of attractions that will be closed across the Resort on opening day, many due to refurbishments.

Disneyland Closed Attractions –

  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
  • Chip ‘n Dale Treehouse
  • Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes
  • Disneyland Monorail
  • Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
  • Donald’s Boat
  • Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
  • Frontierland Shootin’ Exposition
  • Goofy’s Playhouse
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Main Street Cinema
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Mickey’s House
  • Minnie’s House
  • Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
  • Sailing Ship Columbia
  • Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough
  • Star Wars Launch Bay
  • Storybook Land Canal Boats

Disney California Adventure Closed Attractions –

  • Animation Academy
  • Bakery Tour
  • Blue Sky Cellar
  • Disney Junior Live on Stage
  • Golden Zephyr
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Red Car Trolley
  • Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
  • Sorcerers Workshop

Based on rumors as to what types of attractions the State of California was going to allow to be open, the list of open attractions is much larger than I had expected.

Is there any one particular attraction that you missed the most and are really looking forward to experiencing?

Disney Legend Jim Cora Dies at Age 83

Disney Legend, who began his Disney career at Disneyland in 1957 as a part-time attractions host polishing 3D glasses at the Mickey Mouse Club Theater and retired 43 years later as chairman of Disney International, passed away on March 21st at the age of 83.

Cora’s influence at the company was vast,  stretching around the globe from Disneyland to Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris, so much so that it took multiple windows dedicated in his honor on Main Street U.S.A. to capture all of his contributions.

According to the Orange County Register, Cora credited his rapid rise to company founder Walt Disney who set his career path in motion with a promotion into a training and development role. The boss sent the teenager over to the Disneyland administration building to find Disney University founder Van Arsdale France with the admonition: “Tell him Walt sent you. I think he may have something for you.”

Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products and former Disneyland resort president Josh D’Amaro called Cora one of the company’s last connections to Walt Disney.

Very few people have a Disney legacy that reaches as far and wide as Jim Cora,” D’Amaro said in a statement. “His dedication to bringing Disney magic to people around the world was only matched by the passion he exuded throughout his career and for the many years that followed. I always loved hearing Jim’s thoughts about our business. He was one of our last connections to Walt Disney and he will be missed dearly.

In 1971, Cora instituted the “Disney Way of Leadership” program at the Magic Kingdom with the opening of Walt Disney World.

Prior to the 1983 opening of Tokyo Disneyland, Cora was named managing director of operations for the that theme park.  He was then promoted to vice president of Walt Disney Productions Japan, overseeing Disney’s operational and design standards.

After Tokyo Disneyland, Cora was put in charge of master planning and site research for Euro Disneyland, which would later became known as Disneyland Paris.

In the 1990’s, Cora was responsible for the creative direction of Tokyo DisneySea. He retired as chairman of Disney International in 2001. Cora was named a Disney Legend in 2005.

Disneyland Resort to Re-Open on April 30th

Earlier today, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek announced on CNBC that both of Disney’s theme parks at the Disneyland Resort will re-open April 30th.

According to the new guidelines issued by the State of California, theme parks will be able to operate at between 15% and 35% capacity depending on levels of COVID in the area . For reference, Walt Disney World re-opened in last July at a 25% capacity.

In the announcement Chapek stated –

We’ve seen the enthusiasm, the craving for people to return to our parks around the world.  We’ve been operating at Walt Disney World for about nine months, and there certainly is no shortage of demand.

I think as people become vaccinated, they become a little bit more confident in the fact that they can travel, and stay Covid-free,” he added. “Consumers trust Disney to do the right thing and we’ve certainly proven that we can [open] responsibly whether it’s temperature checks, masks, social distancing, [or] improved hygiene around the parks.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa will re-open April 29th with limited capacity ahead of the parks. The Vacation Club Villa at the Grand Californian will re-open on May 2 and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel and the Disneyland Hotel will re-open at a later date.

Disneyland Resort will manage attendance through a theme park reservation system that requires all guests to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance. In order to enter a park, both a park reservation and valid admission for the same park on the same date are required for guests ages 3 and up. Theme park reservations will be limited and subject to availability and, until further notice, only California residents may visit the parks in line with current state guidelines. Disney says that more details about this new reservation system will be available soon.

Prior to the full public opening on April 30, Disneyland Resort will invite cast members and members of the local community as part of a soft opening.

Re-opening Disneyland will return more than 10,000 Cast Members back to work.

“The day all of us have long been waiting for is almost here,” said Ken Potrock, president of the Disneyland Resort. “We’re excited to have more than 10,000 cast members returning to work as we get ready to welcome our guests back to this happy place.”

 

Bob Chapek Announces Disneyland Resort Will Re-Open in Late April

During today’s Annual Shareholder Meeting, Bob Chapek announced that Disney is planning for late April for the opening of both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. Theme parks can re-open starting April 1st, but Disney is choosing to use some additional time to prepare the parks for guests.

Bob Chapek said further details on the full re-opening of the Disneyland Resort will be shared at a later date.

California Governor Newsom Updates Guidelines Clearing the Way for Disneyland Resort to Re-Open

The State of California has indicated that California theme parks, which includes the Disneyland Resort, will be able to re-open as early as April 1st.

Under the new guidance rules, theme parks will be able to operate at 15% capacity once the county they operate in are in the Tier 2 Category.  Orange County, the home of the Disneyland Resort, expects to reach this level possibly next week.

According to the Orange County Register, initially entry will be restricted to California residents. It was explained that this is because of the statewide travel advisory that remains in place.

Ken Potrock, President, Disneyland Resort issued a statement –

“We are encouraged that theme parks now have a path toward reopening this spring, getting thousands of people back to work and greatly helping neighboring businesses and our entire community. With responsible Disney safety protocols already implemented around the world, we can’t wait to welcome our guests back and look forward to sharing an opening date soon.”

It is important to mention that this means that the Disneyland Resort CAN open as early as April 1.  It does not mean that it WILL

When do I think that the parks will open?

There are a number of things to consider.  Some people have stated that the parks could  open in early April.  My guess is that it may not be until mid-May.

How do I come to this date…or period of time?

First of all, back on February 23rd Disney Vacation Club announced that the villas at the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa would re-open on May 2nd.  Now, I know that initial entry will be restricted to California residents, but it should be noted that a good portion of DVC Members at this resort probably are California residents.  I believe that Disney would like to have the villas available for the re-opening of the parks.

More importantly, Disney needs to recall laid off Cast Members.  And since they’ve not been working for nearly a year, they will need to be re-trained.  This all takes time.  I just don’t see this happening in the next 3-4 weeks.

I know there is pent up demand for the Disneyland Resort and that the resort will initially be restricted to California residents, but let’s look at the re-opening of Walt Disney World.  Disney announced re-opening dates of July 15th on May 27th last year.  That was about 6 weeks.  The DVC resorts at Wall Disney World re-opened on June 22nd.  That was about three weeks ahead of the parks re-opening.  Granted, the DVC presence at the Disneyland Resort is much smaller.

Based on all of the above factors, I still think mid-May looks good to me.  If I’m wrong and the parks in California open sooner, I’ll be happily wrong.

Disney Making Changes to Jungle Cruise at Both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney Imagineering announced today that Disney plans on updating the Jungle Cruise.  With these new additions they want to add “more humor, wildlife and skipper heart.  and also reflect and value the diversity of the world around us.”

For the first time, the Jungle Cruise will have a continuous story to go along with updated scenes

D23 sat down with Disney Imagineering Creative Portfolio Executive Chris Beatty to get all the details on everything coming to the Nile…

The Jungle Cruise has evolved over the years—maybe more than any Disney Parks attraction.

I think the Jungle Cruise everybody remembers now is the Marc Davis version, which has a little, well, a lotmore humor when the skippers really get going. That attraction is really all about the skippers, if you think about it. They bring that attraction to life; they are the heart and soul of it. So you couple that with Marc Davis’s renderings and the characters he brought to life along the river’s edge, and it’s really just a win-win. That’s what gives the attraction its DNA. It’s what makes it a classic in so many ways. And you’re right: over the years, it has changed. Think about the piranhas we added at Disneyland into the Amazon or the exploding barrels as you enter Africa. We’ve added some really great moments that bring new magic to that attraction through the years. So we’re excited about this update—bringing new magic to our guests and giving it a fresh take.

Can you talk about why you decided to make these new updates?

We are constantly evaluating ways to enhance attractions and experiences in our parks. We want to make sure everybody has the best time—that guests from all over the world can connect with the stories we share and that how we bring those to life are respectful of the diverse world we live in. And when they get off the attraction, they know that we have done our homework because these are the details that matter. When you look at the Jungle Cruise, as it is today, there are just a couple of scenes that don’t do that and needed a refresh. But I want to make sure people know we are not changing the whole Jungle Cruise. This is not a re-envisioning of the entire attraction. It’s the Jungle Cruise you know and love, with the skippers still leading the way, and at the same time, we’re addressing the negative depictions of “natives.” So that’s one of the scenes we’re going to go in and change.

So let’s talk about some of these changes…

We want to make sure that we take this as an opportunity, right? So as we look to clean up a lot of the challenges that we have in the attraction, we want to make sure we go in and add all the humor that Marc Davis gave it, all those years ago. Anything new we add will be in that tone. And for the first time, we are actually linking scenes together.

So if you think of the famous rhino pole scene, with the team of explorers who have somehow camped that night and then been run up the pole by the rhino and a group of other animals… that will really kick off the storyline. Did you ever wonder who those explorers were or where they came from? What’s their backstory? As part of the enhanced storyline, each one of them will have their own story and cultural heritage. There’s a birdwatcher, an entomologist, a wildlife painter, and a photographer, and each one will have a different reason for being on the expedition. And, of course, they did one of the things you’re never supposed to do, which is leave the boat. And one of the things we’re adding to the attraction is an animatronic skipper, who’s been chased up the pole by the rhino, along with the other explorers. They each have great personality, and I think our guests will connect with these characters in new ways. So we’re not really re-envisioning that scene, we’re just adding a narrative and storytelling to bring things to life and connect that moment with other happenings along the river.

And you may ask yourself, Wait, what happened to their boat? And we find out that the front of the boat has been beached upon these rocks. We wanted to put something here that feels like Marc Davis had a hand in it, that has a bit of humor in it. And we wanted the animals to have the last laugh. So you’ll see that the family of chimpanzees has moved in. And we don’t currently have chimps on this attraction—all of these amazing animals have been brought to life through the years on the Jungle Cruise and yet we’ve never had chimpanzees. The family of chimpanzees jumps on the wreckage of the boat and they are almost making fun of us. One is wearing the skipper’s hat and is on the microphone. The mother chimp has opened up all the maps and it looks like she’s reading them. A little chimp has gotten into the wildlife painter’s supplies and has made a mess with paint everywhere. It’s the animals really getting the last laugh in this cute scene—these silly explorers really came in and invaded their world.

Disney has not said anything about a timeline of when the changes will be completed, but has indicated that it will be coming “later this year.”

Disney Legend Ron Dominguez Passes Away at Age 85

Disney Legend  and former executive vice president of Walt Disney Attractions, Ron Dominguez,  passed away early today, January 1, 2021. He was 85.

Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Josh D’Amaro released a statement –

We are saddened to have lost a very dear member of our family, Ron Dominguez.  Ron’s contributions to Disneyland are nearly incalculable. He was well-known among the cast and community throughout his tenure at the park and continued to show his support long after his retirement, guiding and mentoring leaders, including me, for decades. I am personally grateful for all that he has done for Disney, and want to express my deepest condolences to his family on behalf of every Disney Parks cast member around the world.

Known as a “native Disneylander,” Dominguez’s family originally owned and lived on 10 acres of the orange grove-covered property that was purchased by Walt Disney for his theme park in 1954.

Ron Dominguez retired in August 1994 after 39 years of service to The Walt Disney Company.

He was inducted as a Disney Legend in 2000 and has a window on Main Street, U.S.A at Disneyland park.

Disneyland Resort Cancels Oogie Boogie Bash for 2020

On Friday the Disneyland Resort announced that they were canceling this year’s Oogie Boogie Bash.

On the Disneyland website Disney made the announcement with this brief statement –

We have made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s Oogie Boogie Bash – A Disney Halloween Party.

The OC Register has reported the news that event has been canceled by Disneyland officials, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event was expected to start in September and run through Halloween.

Park officials addressed this by stating –

“Given theme park guidelines have yet to be released by the state, and Oogie Boogie Bash requires a substantial amount of planning and coordination, we are unable to bring the event back at this time.”

The park’s announcement came as Governor Gavin Newsom issued new safeguards for the state’s essential workers impacted by the deadly global pandemic, including cashiers and kitchen staff.

To many, this didn’t come as a huge surprise, though I’m sure to many this is disappointing.

Walt Disney World canceled their Halloween event, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, a few weeks ago, so it really isn’t much of a surprise that Disneyland canceled as well.

Both Disney and Universal said they plan on bringing back their Halloween events in 2021.

Walt Disney World Committed to Open on July 11th…Releases Commitment to Health and Safety Measures

Today in the Disney Parks Blog Walt Disney World stated that they are committed to opening the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom on July 11th and then Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15th.

This came in a personal address by Dr. Pamela Hymel, the Chief Medical Officer for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products where she lays out Disney’s commitment to the health and safety of both guests and cast members for the Walt Disney World Resort and the Disneyland Resort.

In the announcement Dr. Hymel states –

As we continue the phased reopenings of our parks and resorts across the world, promoting health and safety for our guests, cast members, and the larger community is a responsibility we take very seriously.

On Saturday, we will continue the phased reopening of Walt Disney World Resort, marking the first of our domestic theme parks to welcome guests back to the magic. While we await California guidelines for reopening Disneyland Resort, and will adjust as necessary, we wanted to share more information on our approach to health and safety in the Disneyland and Walt Disney World theme parks. 

We remain deeply committed to focusing on your well-being when you visit or work at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts. From increased cleaning and disinfecting across our parks and resorts, to updated health and safety policies, we have reimagined the Disney experience so we can all enjoy the magic responsibly. We implemented our health and safety measures after considering the guidance of government and local health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in addition to the U.S. Travel Association and Disney’s team of health experts.

Together, we are a Disney family, and while COVID-19, and the risk of contracting it, is present in public places, there are many important ways that we can all help promote each other’s safety.  As we implement our guidelines at our parks and resorts, we want to thank our guests and cast members for all they do to care for one another by doing their part.

1.  Health & Wellness

At Disney, our approach emphasizes a combination of measures to help reduce risk in the carefully managed environment of our parks and resorts. 

  • Limited and carefully managed attendance: All guests will be required to make advanced ticket purchases and reservations.
  • Reduced capacity and physical distancing: We’re reducing capacity by letting fewer people enter our parks and are adjusting experiences to allow for physical distancing, a key measure reinforced by the CDC. This includes physical distancing in dining experiences, attractions, queues and other locations. Additionally, physical barriers have been installed in areas where physical distancing may be difficult to maintain, like cash registers.
  • Temperature checks: Quick temperature checks are required for all guests at entry to our theme parks.
  • Face coverings: We will be requiring both cast members and guests ages two and older to wear a face covering – unless swimming or when eating or drinking – and enforcing this policy across our parks and resorts.
  • Handwashing and hand sanitizer: We have increased the number of hand sanitizer locations and handwashing stations throughout our parks and resorts.
  • First Aid locations: Our first aid locations are staffed by experienced nursing staff and have updated their protocols for responding to symptoms of illness.

2. Cleaning & Disinfecting

We’ve updated our already high standards for cleanliness across our parks and resorts, with a special emphasis on areas such as attractions, queues, dining, lobbies, transportation and other common spaces.

  • Increased cleaning & disinfecting: We’re increasing the frequency of cleaning, especially for frequently-touched surfaces and high-traffic areas. Following park close, each park will receive an enhanced cleaning before guests arrive the next day.
  • New procedures for resort stays: In addition to increasing cleaning in areas such as elevators and escalators, handrails, tables, handles, and restrooms, we’ve updated our procedures for guest rooms at our owned-and-operated Walt Disney World hotels. Before arrival, every room will be given an enhanced cleaning and a light cleaning service (including removal of trash and replenishment of towels and amenities) will be offered every other day during the stay.

3. Technology Solutions

We are tapping into Disney innovation to help promote health and safety for our guests and cast members.

  • Disney apps: With the My Disney Experience and Disneyland apps our guests already know and love, guests can view hand sanitizer locations, explore digital menus, and more.
  • Limited-contact options: From Mobile Order and cashless payments, to Walt Disney World’s MagicBands and online check-in at select locations, we’re offering technology solutions that can make it easier for our guests to minimize contact and maintain physical distancing.

4. Cast Member Training & Workplace Safety

Safety starts with our cast, and we’ve adopted a number of new policies and practices for cast members at work. 

  • Training: Cast members are receiving additional training on both new measures and the continued importance of personal health and hygiene, such as handwashing and of course, staying home when ill. For some, this includes training on how to help everyone who visits to follow new health and safety measures, including wearing a face covering and maintaining physical distancing. 
  • Workplace health and safety: We’ve increased the frequency of cleaning in work areas, adjusted our work practices to promote physical distancing, and introduced new protocols for temperature checks and face coverings. 
  • Health screenings: Cast members will self-screen for temperature and symptoms of illness before each shift and will stay home if they are not feeling well.

5. Working Together

Because each of us shares a responsibility for the health of our community, we’re making resources available to make guests aware of our new policies, so they too can do their part.

  • Guest communication: We’re proactively sharing information with guests about what to expect ahead of their visit to support their planning. In our parks and resorts, we have added signage about personal health and hygiene measures, physical distancing, and more. 
  • Following our guidelines: A special group of cast members will also be present in the parks to explain our new procedures, answer questions guests may have, and encourage everyone to follow these measures to promote the well-being of us all.
  • “Together We Can Make Today Incredible” campaign: In June, we introduced “Together We Can Make Today Incredible,” a health and safety campaign that spotlights healthy behaviors featuring fan-favorite characters from the Incredibles animated movies. The campaign emphasizes that everyone has an important role to play in health and safety while engaging guests in a uniquely Disney way.

We’re looking forward to upholding this plan each day, and to the return of our guests and cast members to our parks and resorts. 

The Disney Parks Blog also included a short video summarizing Disney’s commitment.

Commitment and announcements like this is what makes Disney special and why I love this company and the parks.  I hope this sets your mind at ease if you have a trip planned in the near future.  We have a trip planned for early September and it does a lot for my family.

Splash Mountain at Disneyland and Walt Disney World to be Re-Themed to “Princess and the Frog”

Earlier today Disney announced that Splash Mountain at both the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland will be re-themed to “Princess and the Frog.” The version of the attraction located at Tokyo Disneyland will retain the “Song of the South” theme…for now.

From the Disney Parks Blog where the announcement was made –

The theme is inspired by an all-time favorite animated Disney film, “The Princess and the Frog.” We pick up this story after the final kiss, and join Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure – featuring some of the powerful music from the film – as they prepare for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance.

Tiana is a modern, courageous, and empowered woman, who pursues her dreams and never loses sight of what’s really important. It’s a great story with a strong lead character, set against the backdrop of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou. In 1966, Walt himself opened New Orleans Square when it became the first new “land” added to Disneyland park, so it feels natural to link the story and the incredible music of “The Princess and the Frog” to our parks

The voice of Princess Tiana and Tony Award-winning actress, Anika Noni Rose, shared, “It is really exciting to know that Princess Tiana’s presence in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom will finally be fully realized! As passionate as I am about what we created, I know the fans are going to be over the moon. The Imagineers are giving us ‘The Princess and the Frog’ Mardi Gras celebration we’ve been waiting for, and I’m here for it!”

Charita Carter, the senior creative producer leading the project at Walt Disney Imagineering shared, “Like Princess Tiana, I believe that courage and love are the key ingredients for wonderful adventures. I am delighted to be a part of bringing this fun-filled experience to our guests.”

As part of the creative development process, conceptual design work is well underway and Imagineers will soon be able to conduct preliminary reviews and develop a timeline for when the transformation can start to take shape.

According to reports, Disney Legend and former Imagineer Tony Baxter, who designed the original Splash Mountain, will be brought out of retirement in order to serve as a creative designer on the new “Princess and the Frog” attraction. “Following conversations with Imagineering’s leaders about the new attraction’s scope and resources, I had a great sense of reassurance, the attraction will be one to be proud of, bringing to life places, characters and music from the animated classic The Princess and the Frog…I look forward to being a part of a new adventure in Disney magic and fun!” said Baxter about the overhaul.

Imagineer Scott Trowbridge, lead on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, stated on Twitter that he’s “been stealth working on this for quite a while and happy to finally share!”

While the current attraction has been controversial at times, mainly because the attraction is themed to a movie that many, if not most younger guests have never seen and Disney has refuses to re-release in any form in the United States, the re-theming will also likely be controversial.  While it is comforting to see that key imagineers like Carter, Trowbridge and Baxter associated with the re-theming, there is probably going to be a certain portion of the Disney fan base that will say that Disney is buckling to protests.  As stated above, Disney says that this is not the case, but I’m not sure that will placate some people, especially with the timing. There is also a certain portion of the Disney fanbase that are as we shall say, “reluctant to change.” These fans aren’t likely to be happy.

Though on the other hand, a lot of people will be very excited about this news.  The movie is very popular.

The one problem that I see is that Disney appears to be solving one theming problem with a new theming problem.  They’re replacing a controversial theming of the attraction with a theming of the attraction that isn’t controversial, in fact very popular, but will the theme fit into the respective lands that it will reside in.  Does this theme fit into Frontierland…maybe, but what about Disneyland’s Bear Country?

Because Disney is still working on a timeline for the re-theming, we’re don’t know if the current attraction will open when the US parks re-open.  Will fans of the current theme be able to get a “final ride” before it goes away to be re-themed.

How do you feel about this announcement?

Me…I’m cautiously optimistic.  I think “Princess and the Frog” is a wonderfully fun movie.  I’m sure Imagineering will do a wonderful job. I’m sure it will be beautiful.  I’m just a little confused as to the why.