First off, lets get to the hard news, not much going on this time of year, but the Anaheim Zoning Battle and related issues are still active.
SunCal wants a "do over"
Tuesday, December 18th, the Anaheim City Council will discuss the request SunCal made for a rehearing of the reversal of the Zoning change for the Frank Family property. The City Attorney, Jack White has wrote a memo to the City Council that states he feels that the SunCal request has no merit, and should be denied. You can view video of the Anaheim City Council meeting both live, and on replay, along with all the documents and related information at www.anaheim.net
Disney admits it is in talks with Prospera Hotels
In related news, Disney has admitted that they are in discussions with Prospera Hotels, which have submitted plans to build two hotels on the East side of the Anaheim GardenWalk project. Sarah Tully over at the Orange County Register got this quote from Rob Doughty, one of the Disneyland Resort spokespersons.
And let me discuss some of my key links that I gather some of the information I report here in this column.
The Orange County Register has an "Around Disney" blog
The Los Angeles Times has just started a new "Funland" Blog that will be handled by Brady MacDonald.
Another site I have used is Red County, this has been a good place to get some of the SunCal news stories and info.
I also use the Google News search feature, which is great for Disney news in general.
Disneyland Resort Attraction updates
The current remodeling of the lower level of Innoventions continues, with plans to try and have it ready by mid-March of 2008. The center area downstairs has been removed. The upper level remains open to guests, and there are plans for the Segway experience (test drive) to go where the Pioneer area was.
A look at the lower level of Innoventions from the Alternative Access path to the elevator.
The New Monorail is getting ready to start its trip to Disneyland, and should be arriving sometime in the near future.
Work continues on the Disneyland Dream Suite in New Orleans Square, which is on schedule to start being awarded to guests most days starting January 31st, 2008.
And there will be no "Rockin' Both Parks" promotion in 2008, both Space Mountain and California Screamin' will remain in their traditional versions for the Spring of 2008.
The River Belle Terrace construction ran a few days past its scheduled return, but should open this Tuesday, December 18th. The changes are very nice, especially the removal of the interior walls that used to be between the serving area, and the dining area.
The new setup has you grabbing your food and drink, buffet style, and then paying at the end. Before the remodel you ordered and paid, then received your food. Also note that the River Belle Terrace will offer fixin' bars for your sandwiches, offering a similar setup to Taste Pilots Grill, where you can add the condiments and extras of your choosing.
The Breakfast Menu will remain pretty much the same, but the Lunch/Dinner menu has been streamlined.
The afternoon menu consists of 4 Sandwiches, 3 Salads, 3 Munch, Inc. kids meals and assorted drinks and sides.
The 4 Signature Sandwiches will be
River Belle's Prime Rib
Mississippi Turkey Breast
Tennessee BBQ Pork
The 3 Entree Salads are
Plantation Prime Rib Salad
Rosemary Turkey Breast Salad
Aunt Polly's Harvest Medley
The 3 Munch, Inc. Kids Meals are
Little Carver's Turkey Sandwich
Little Carver's Prime Rib Sandwich
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
And finally, the vast majority of the tarps in front of the new Toy Story Mania! attraction at DCA have been removed. This attraction is still on schedule for a mid-2008 opening, but of course, everything at Disney is always subject to change.
Disneyland Cast Members face new delays in parking
Due to the fact that the Anaheim GardenWalk is charging $5 a day for employees to park in their parking structure, and the fact that the Guest parking lot entrance isn't that clear. It is on Katella next to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. (2 hours free with validation for restaurant customers). Disney is now posting a Security CM at each lane of the Katella Cast Member Parking Lot entrance, checking both Hang Tags (a.k.a. Parking Permit) and their Disneyland Resort Photo ID, and forcing anyone else to turn around and park elsewhere. The entrance is located directly across the street from the Cheesecake Factory.
Disneyland Resort Tips
One very popular question that comes up on Disneyland related message boards is "How busy it will be?" on a certain date.
Well, Disney does provide two great tools that will let you know how large the crowds will be at the parks.
The first is their operational hours. You can find the next few months of hours posted at www.Disneyland.com. For example, today through Wednesday, the park is open 9 AM to 11 PM, then starting Thursday, December 20th, the park goes to maximum hours of 8 AM to Midnight through Saturday, January 5th (with different hours on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve). Then the park returns to the 10 AM to 8 PM off-season schedule Monday through Thursdays. The 10 AM to 8 PM operating days will be the best chance to find light crowds, but other factors, such as weather and large private groups can make also make a difference. Of course, Disney does add additional hours on Holiday weekends, and the full week of President's Day weekend (the week of February 18th, as many schools are now giving students the full week off).
As for Easter/Spring Break schedule, Disney has expanded hours starting Monday, March, 10th, 2008. The maximum hours (8 AM to Midnight) start Friday, March 14th through Sunday, March 30th.
Then the first 2 weeks of April go back to 11 PM closings, so still very busy, but lighter than the second half of March. The third week of April has the park closing at 10 PM on weekdays.
The second tool is the Annual Passholder Blockout dates, which can be seen by anyone at www.Disneyland.com/ap. Now every weekend is busy at Disneyland, with the large amount of locals that now have a valid Annual Pass. But some Saturdays are busier than others, and looking at the Deluxe AP Blockout dates will show you the weekends that Disney expect larger than normal crowds.
Special Christmas Meals in-Park.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day has the Plaza Inn offering a Prime Rib Dinner as a special item.
Ariel's Grotto in DCA will offer a Traditional Roasted Turkey Dinner as an additional menu choice on Christmas Day.
Of course, many of the Disneyland Resort Hotels and Downtown Disney restaurants will also have special offerings on December 24th and 25th.
House of Blues Anaheim New Years Eve Party
Came across the following ad in the OC Weekly last Friday.
It is interesting to see this ad being allowed for the Downtown Disney District, especially with the fact that Machine Head claimed that Disney forced the cancellation of their band, and other Heavy Metal Acts back in September.
Star Trek - The Tour
Long Beach will be the first stop of a Star Trek Tour, with the largest collection of sets, props and costumes, plus multimedia theater and motion simulators.
The show starts January 18th, and will be offered through February 17th, 2008 and will be held in the old Spruce Goose Dome next door to the Queen Mary. Tickets are now on sale and start at $30 for adults.
And lets end this week's update with a few photos from my recent albums at http://darkbeer.smugmug.com.
Plenty of more Billy Hill and the Hillbillies photos can be found in my December 12th Album
And out front of the Golden Horseshoe, Laughing Stock Co. spreads the Christmas Cheer
And across the River on Tom Sawyer Island, The Bootstrappers are out performing for park guests.
A lot of construction update shots in the December 16th album.
Plenty of Castle shots, along with The Christmas Parade can be found in the December 14th album.
That's it for this week, hope everyone is having a great Holiday Season.