Disneyland raised prices today on some single- and multi-day tickets as well as all annual passes as the Anaheim theme park prepares for the grand opening of the Marvel-themed Avengers Campus this summer.
Ticket prices increased 3% for the top tier daily admission, up to 5% for parkhopper tickets and as much as 13% for annual passes. The lowest-priced tickets for one-day single park and parkhopper tickets remained unchanged.
Since 2000, the price of admission to Disneyland has more than tripled from $43 to $154, the new single-day ticket price on the park’s busiest days.
With the latest round of price increases, Disneyland broke its former three-tier ticket system into a new five-tier plan. Gone are the value, regular and peak tickets. In their place: Tier 1 through 5 pricing. Disneyland will employ the Tier 1 pricing on the slowest days of the year and Tier 5 pricing on the busiest days.
Disneyland’s new Tier 1 ticket remains the same price as the former $104 value ticket. The new $154 Tier 5 ticket represents a 3% price increase compared to the former $149 peak ticket.
An apples-to-apples comparison of the former $129 regular ticket is more complicated. The new Tier 2 costs $114 — 11% less than the old regular ticket. The new Tier 4 ticket costs $139 — 8% more than the old regular ticket. The new Tier 3 ticket falls in the middle at $124.
Disneyland’s highest-priced single-day parkhopper ticket broke through the $200 price barrier with a 5% increase of the former $199 peak parkhopper to $209 for the new Tier 5 parkhopper. The lowest-priced single-day $159 value parkhopper ticket remained the same price as the new Tier 1 parkhopper. The mid-priced single-day $179 regular parkhopper stayed the same compared to the new Tier 3 parkhopper.
Single-day parkhopper tickets provide admission to both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure on the same day.
Starting in 2016, Disneyland switched to a demand-based pricing system with tickets divided into “value,” “regular” and “peak” days. The new Tier 1-5 system is the latest evolution in Disney’s attempt to spread visitorship throughout the year — away from busier days during the peak season to slower days in the off season.
Multi-day tickets saw similar spikes. Two-day, one-park tickets rose to $235 (from $225) while two-day parkhoppers climbed to $290 (from $280). Three-day tickets now cost $310 for single park per day access and $365 for the parkhopper.
Disneyland offers discounts for Southern California residents during the off season. SoCal locals can currently purchase $199 three-day single-park tickets that allow access to either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure or $254 three-day parkhopper tickets that will get them into both parks on a single day. The SoCal discount tickets can be purchased through May 18.
Annual passports, which offer year-round access to the parks on select days, saw some of the highest price increases. The lowest-priced “select” annual pass, which has the most block-out days, jumped from $399 to $419. The “deluxe” pass rose 4% to $829 while the “signature” pass climbed 4% to $1,199. The “premiere” pass, which offers unlimited annual access to all Disney parks in California and Florida, skyrocketed 13% to $2,199.
The new “flex” annual pass jumped 8% from $599 to $649. Flex passholders make advance reservations to get into Disneyland and Disney California Adventure on busy days.
With the latest increases, Disneyland continues to use ticket pricing to manage attendance and spread visits from peak periods to slower times of the year.
“A visit to our parks is the best value in entertainment bar none, and we offer flexible ticket choices to enable families to choose what’s best for them,” Disneyland officials said in a statement.
Disney ticket price increases typically have a ripple effect, with theme parks such as Universal Studios, SeaWorld and Knott’s Berry Farm raising admissions soon after to keep pace with the industry leader.
Oregon Ducks football players visiting Disneyland for a Rose Bowl event ended up getting stuck on a roller coaster during their first ride of the day at the Anaheim theme park resort.
University of Oregon football players were temporarily stranded on the Incredicoaster at Disney California Adventure on Thursday, Dec. 26 while visiting the park during a Rose Bowl pre-game media event, according to 24/7 Sports.
The Incredicoaster at Disney California Adventure experienced a brief downtime on Thursday, Disneyland officials said.
The first ride of the day at the Disneyland Resort wasn’t quite as fun as the Ducks players had hoped it would be.
Oregon linebacker Mase Funa posted video to social media of himself and fellow teammates temporarily stranded on the Incredicoaster after the ride broke down on a hill covered by the attraction’s distinctive noise-reducing “scream tubes.”
“Stuck on our first ride,” Funa posted on his Instagram account with a skull emoji.
A Disney cast member can be seen standing on the stairs next to the Incredicoaster track speaking to the stranded riders in the video posted by Funa, a former Mater Dei High School football player.
I didn’t expect to be smiling from ear to ear on the new Rise of the Resistance attraction coming to Disneyland as I was captured aboard a Star Destroyer, marched to a jail cell by a First Order officer barking commands and menacingly chased by Star Wars villain Kylo Ren.
But I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face as I rode the new state-of-the-art E-ticket attraction four times on Tuesday, Dec. 3, during a media preview in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida.
Rise of the Resistance will leave you wondering again and again how Walt Disney Imagineering pulled off one visual illusion after another, with each scene somehow outdoing the last. Disney’s new Star Wars attraction redefines what E-ticket stands for: Extraordinary.
The highly anticipated Rise of the Resistance debuts Thursday, Dec. 5, at the Orlando-area theme park to out-of-this-world expectations and at every step of the way the attraction exceeds them with a ride experience unlike anything anyone has ever encountered in a theme park. A carbon copy of the ride opens at Batuu West in Disneyland on Jan. 17.
First Order Stormtroopers await guests as they arrive in the hangar bay of a Star Destroyer as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disney)
Guests dodge turbolaser cannons as they attempt to escape a First Order Star Destroyer as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disney)
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Poe Dameron’s X-wing starfighter, Black One, appears in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, opening Thursday, Dec. 5 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. Poe escorts guests off Batuu as they attempt to rendezvous with General Leia Organa in this groundbreaking new attraction inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. (Photo by Kent Phillips, Disney)
A First Order Stormtrooper stands guard in a Star Destroyer hangar bay beneath a docked TIE fighter in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. Guests enter the hangar bay after their ship is caught in the Star Destroyer’s tractor beam. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disney)
Guests race past massive AT-AT walkers aboard a First Order Star Destroyer as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disneyr)
BB-8 greets guests inside the makeshift briefing room as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disney)
Lieutenant Bek, a Mon Calamari Resistance officer, speaks with guests aboard an Intersystem Transport Ship as they blast off Batuu in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Kent Phillips, Disney)
Fifty menacing First Order Stormtroopers await guests as they arrive in the hangar bay of a Star Destroyer as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)
Guests board a First Order Short-Range Evacuation Vehicle – otherwise known as an escape pod – in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 1 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Steven Diaz, Disney)
First Order troops and stormtroopers patrol the hangar bay of a Star Destroyer in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disney)
Guests board an Intersystem Transport Ship to blast off Batuu alongside other Resistance recruits as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, opening Thursday, Dec. 5 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. The groundbreaking new attraction inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge takes guests into a climactic battle between the Resistance and the First Order. (Photo by Kent Phillips, Disney)
As guests move through the queue in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, they see flight suits and other military equipment inside the Resistance encampment. The queue sets the stage for the new attraction, opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida Jan. 17, 2020, at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disney)
First Order R5-series astromech droids pilot troop transports onboard a Star Destroyer in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Kent Phillips, Disney)
As guests move through the queue in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, they see flight suits and other military equipment inside the Resistance encampment. The queue sets the stage for the new attraction, opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disney)
Guests see Poe Dameron’s X-wing starfighter, Black One (foreground), and board an Intersystem Transport Ship (background) as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17, at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Kent Phillips, Disney)
Fifty menacing First Order Stormtroopers await guests as they arrive in the hangar bay of a Star Destroyer as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disney)
Guests flee First Order Stormtroopers onboard a Star Destroyer as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disney)
Fifty menacing First Order Stormtroopers await guests as they arrive in the hangar bay of a Star Destroyer as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disney)
Guests race past massive AT-AT walkers aboard a First Order Star Destroyer as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disney)
First Order Stormtroopers await guests as they arrive in the hangar bay of a Star Destroyer as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland Park in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disney)
Guests come face to face with First Order Supreme Leader Kylo Ren as they stumble into the bridge of a Star Destroyer in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Steven Diaz, Disney)
The ride, billed as four attractions in one, lasts an astonishing 15 minutes but rarely slows down during the epic interstellar journey. Unfortunately, 15 minutes is not enough. You’ll wish Rise of the Resistance was twice as long.
I constantly found myself wondering if the Stormtrooper aiming his blaster at me was an audio-animatronic figure or a digital projection. Blaster fire sliced through the air right in front of me, just like in the “Star Wars” movies. The laser blasts exploded with flying sparks all around my ride vehicle, seemingly blowing pieces out of the walls and ceiling right before my eyes.
Imagineering’s goal was to put riders in the middle of a “Star Wars” movie and they achieved this at every turn. BB-8 rolls out to greet us. Rey appears in a hologram message. Towering AT-ATs fire at us as we flee. Lightsabers carve holes in the ceiling. Rise of the Resistance is everything Star Wars fans have been hoping and waiting for. And then some.
Riders meet Kylo Ren in several forms throughout the ride — from animatronic figures to digital images to a startling stalking special effect that makes it look like the masked villain is heading right for your ride vehicle with his crossguard lightsaber drawn.
The journey begins with a realistic ride aboard a Resistance transport shuttle with a floor that rattles and tilts as the ship takes off from the Star Wars planet of Batuu, the setting for the twin Galaxy’s Edge themed lands in California and Florida. The swift departure plays out on screens at both ends off the ship that riders can wander around and explore during the off-planet flight.
I could almost reach out and touch the lifelike Lt. Bek animatronic that sat in the cockpit of the transport ship. The amphibious Mon Calamari creature peers at riders with bulbous eyes that protrude from either side of its fish-like head.
Before long, the transport shuttle gets trapped in a tractor beam and captured by a First Order Star Destroyer. Riders are deposited on the Star Destroyer and greeted by a Disney cast member playing a First Order officer. The ill-tempered and downright rude officer is unlike any Disney employee you’ve ever met in a theme park, trading smiles and niceties for insults and orders.
The captured “Resistance scum” is marched out of the transport into a Death Star hangar bay that will simply make your jaw drop. I found myself repeating one simple exclamation each time I entered the hangar: Wow. A 100-foot-wide space window serves as an interstellar backdrop to rows of approximately 50 stormtroopers, about 40 percent of them animatronic. The shock troops stand at attention as a few of them seemingly follow your movements as you head off to a jail cell.
Everywhere you look is Star Wars. The entire attraction is a 360-degree scene out of a movie. It feels like you’re really on a Star Destroyer in outer space. The illusion is complete. Imagineering has recreated the look and feel of a Star Destroyer — right down to the droid ports where astromechs can plug into the ship. And you can reach out and touch it all.
After escaping the detention cell — I won’t tell you how, so as not to spoil the surprise — the Resistance-recruits-turned-prisoners hop on a dark ride vehicle in a daring attempt to escape. Unlike most dark rides, you’ll have to buckle up. You’ll find out why later. But for now, let’s just say this is not your average dark ride.
The dark ride portion of the attraction takes you past booming cannons, through the legs of towering AT-AT walkers and up to the bridge of the Star Destroyer.
The Kylo Ren animatronics are amazing feats of engineering. It’s rare that you see a full-figure animatronic from his head to his toes. But you can see the character’s feet move and you’ll be left wondering how Imagineering created such a nimble animatronic figure.
The finale drops riders into an escape pod — the reason for that seat belt. I won’t spoil the experience except to say that the fourth and final ride element combines a Star Tours-like motion-base simulator with a drop similar to Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout. See if you can figure out how Disney did it. I couldn’t.
The biggest surprise comes at the end as the ride vehicle slips outdoors to unload riders inside the carcass of a massive crashed spaceship.
If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself wanting to linger in each new space you encounter in Rise of the Resistance. Every scene has so many visuals to drink in that you can’t see them all in a single ride. The experience moves at such a quick clip that you can’t see everything. Which is what makes a great ride — and the kind of problem you’d like to have. You’ll just need to get in line again.
A new documentary series takes an unvarnished look behind the curtain at Walt Disney Imagineering and its secretive creative laboratory where the theme park magicians design and create Disney’s fantasy worlds and attractions.
“The Imagineering Story” documentary series debuting on the new Disney+ streaming service on Nov. 12 traces the 65-year history of the Disney artists and engineers who design and build Disney theme parks and attractions around the world.
The first episode of “The Imagineering Story” documents the successes and failures of what skeptics called “Walt’s Folly” and the creative team that dreamed up and built Disneyland with a blend of artistic skill, risk-taking spirit and high drama.
“The Imagineering Story” might be too esoteric for casual fans if it appeared as a series on ABC or dropped all at once on Netflix, but Disney+ is the perfect venue for the documentary. Hardcore Disney fans will eat it up and pore over every frame looking for new wrinkles in the often-told story and hidden secrets revealed in the footage about what’s next.
The six-part docuseries offers a rare behind-the-scenes look at Disney’s secretive creative studio and features interviews with Imagineers Bob Gurr, Alice Davis, Rolly Crump, Tony Baxter, Joe Rohde and many others.
The documentary takes viewers on a six-decade journey as Imagineering forebearer WED Enterprises creates Disneyland and every Disney theme park in Florida, Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
The first episode of “The Imagineering Story” covers what will be fairly familiar ground for most Disney fans — the conception, birth and early years of Disneyland. The debut episode follows a story arc that spans from early plans for the park, its frantic construction and a disastrous grand opening to the 1959 E-ticket expansion, 1964 World’s Fair and Walt Disney’s untimely death.
What separates the debut episode of “The Imagineering Story” from other Disneyland retrospectives are the detail, depth and magnitude of the material. The first show is full of never-before-seen construction footage of the park being built in an Anaheim orange grove.
A helicopter flies over the earthen berm surrounding the park. Walt Disney rambles by in a Jeep along a rutted path. A 1950s station wagon travels along the Jungle Cruise route void of water and foliage. The Tomorrowland TWA rocket gets trucked into place. Crews hurriedly install the teacups. The Mark Twain riverboat takes shape.
The docuseries tells the story of Imagineering through the growth of Disney parks around the globe and the groundbreaking attractions that accompanied them.
The first episode of the docuseries captures the wonder, ingenuity and courage of the Imagineers as they embarked on Walt Disney’s grand experiment to create a theme park unlike anything the world had ever seen.
Nothing went according to plan during the lead-up to Disneyland’s grand opening in 1955. Record rainfall turned the denuded former orange groves to a muddy muck. The Rivers of America leaked and remained stubbornly dry.
The star-crossed opening of Disneyland that became known as “Black Sunday” and the chaotic days and weeks that followed play out in all their calamitous details. The Dumbo elephants had to be unloaded with step ladders, the overloaded Mark Twain nearly sank, the tea cups fell apart and needed to be welded back together.
The trackless Autopia course was surrounded by dirt. Gleeful grade schoolers T-boned each other with the cars. The Tomorrowland motorway devolved into demolition derby madness.
“They all had the attitude that they were going to ride those cars no matter what,” Imagineer Bob Gurr says in the documentary. “Instead of waiting in line like they should, they were jumping over the fence, running up the track and commandeering cars coming back into the load area and pulling people out of the cars and taking over the cars themselves. Nobody had anticipated this and it was a complete madhouse.”
There are also lighter moments. Walt Disney glides past in a Skyway bucket or takes the wheel of an Autopia car. Mermaids sun on a rock in the lagoon as the military gray submarines sail past. The short-lived but always-beloved Flying Saucers bounce on a cushion of air in Tomorrowland.
But much of the mood is darker than you might expect from a Disney-backed production. Midway through the first episode, Walt Disney provides a foreboding quote that anticipates the dysfunction and disarray that will soon follow his untimely death.
“I told them I said, ‘Look, the old man is getting old here,’” Walt Disney says in the documentary. “If anything did happen to me where I might become incapacitated in any way or anything would happen where I wouldn’t be here tomorrow, that thing has got to go on ahead or a lot of people would be hit. I’ve got to find a way.”
During the segment on the 1959 expansion, the documentary presents fascinating footage of the submarine voyage, monorail and Matterhorn mountain under construction. Imagineers in business suits and hard hats take stripped-down Matterhorn cars on test runs along the coaster track through a warren of steel girders that would eventually form the frame for the faux mountainside.
The highlight of the first episode has to be Imagineer Bob Gurr’s behind-the-scenes tour of the long-rumored, rarely-seen basketball court inside the peak of the Matterhorn mountain. Gurr sinks an underhanded free throw and adds his signature to a wall filled with the names of virtually every ride operator who has worked on the attraction.
Imagineer Rolly Crump recounts the birth of the Enchanted Tiki Room and tells a decidedly un-Disney story about Walt’s colorful concerns about early plans that conceived of the bird show as a restaurant.
“Walt always wanted a tea room, but instead we’re going to do a little restaurant,” Imagineer Rolly Crump says in the documentary. “John Hench was asked to do a rendering and in there he had birds in cages. Walt took one look at it and said, ‘John, you can’t have birds in cages.” John says, ‘Why not?’ Walt says, ‘Because they’ll poop in the food.’ That’s exactly what he said. We all cracked up. John said, ‘No, no, no. Maybe they’re little mechanical birds.’ And Walt said, ‘Oh, little mechanical birds.’ And that’s how it all got started.”
Imagineers program the movements of early audio-animatronic figures for the Carousel of Progress at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Costumeless animatronic dolls await their international attire inside It’s a Small World. The overwhelmed Imagineers try as they can to get the glitchy one-of-a-kind Abraham Lincoln animatronic figure to work in time for the World’s Fair.
“Lincoln would go into a complete spastic fit,” Gurr says in the documentary.
The most bizarre scene in the first episode of “The Imagineering Story”: A motley crew of Pirates of the Caribbean animatronic figures standing in the back of a stake-bed truck as they speed down the freeway bound for Disneyland.
The closing scenes of the first episode offer a glimpse of what’s to come in the next installment: Project X, as Disney World was known around the Imagineering offices.
The show ends on a low note. Walt Disney’s death visibly chokes up Rolly Crump and Bob Gurr — still to this day.
“We all went down to a restaurant and celebrated his life and had a few drinks,” Crump says in the documentary. “We all kind of looked at each other like, ‘What’s our next assignment?’ We really didn’t know. And John Hench made the strongest statement of all. He said, ‘Now we’ll know how much of our work Walt did for us.’”
At a table set with linen napkins, sparkling stemware and place cards the menu reads, “Dinner in The Wine Country.” The evening begins with a bountiful bread basket and continues with a four-course tasting menu paired with California wines.
It’s everything a diner might expect from Napa Rose at the Grand Californian in the Disneyland Resort: pressed watermelon salad with black garlic vinaigrette, paella, Chocolate Bliss cake and the granddaddy of all California chardonnays — Chateau Montelena.
But that’s not the stunner.
All the items served, including a parade of appetizers from Disneyland, Disney California Adventure and the resort’s banquet menu, are entirely plant-based.
And here’s the real wow, it’s not just for upscale diners with special dietary needs. A new food and beverage program with choices for those who eschew meat, dairy, eggs and honey will roll out on Oct. 1 (major quick service eateries) and Oct. 3 (table service restaurants) at Walt Disney World Resort. It’s coming in spring 2020 to the Disneyland Resort where there are 26 table service and 112 quick service restaurants as well as 23 nightclubs, lounges and outdoor bars.
“We do a lot of work to bring more flavor, innovation and creativity to our menus; our menus change all the time. And one of the key things that drives that is the feedback from the guests,” said Cheryl Dolven, a manager in Health & Wellness, Food & Beverage at Walt Disney World Resort, addressing guests at the dinner on Sept. 17. “Our guests have enthusiastically embraced all the plant-based dishes that we have across property today. And it’s really inspired us to add even more.”
It’s a sea change from the days when a trip to America’s favorite amusement parks meant hot dogs and ice cream. Walt Disney himself had simple tastes. He loved cold wieners, chili and fried chicken. But the Slow Food movement has turned into the age of the foodie and the alterna-eater. With vegetarian and vegan diners proliferating, Disney has taken notice and taken it to heart.
For a few years now the company has been developing recipes from coast to coast, some headed up by Dolven, a registered dietician, and Gary Jones, a Disney culinary dietary specialist, in the 7,000-square-foot Flavor Lab on a back lot at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. But it’s really a massive team effort as chefs and food and beverage experts in the parks, hotels and restaurants have educated themselves and experimented. Now they’re ready to dish up the results.
Disney has pledged that one or more “plant-based” items will appear on the menus of all table service and all major quick service restaurants throughout the parks. Those items will be tagged with a green leaf icon and a description saying that those dishes are prepared “without animal meat, dairy, eggs or honey. “
With this designation Disney is pushing beyond meatless and even beyond vegetarian into the realm of veganism. But that term will not be used. These dishes, prepared with fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and popular name-brand meat substitutes will merely be labeled “plant-based.”
“Our guests are going to be able to choose from literally hundreds of fun, flavorful, satisfying, plant-based dishes,” Dolven said.
Hold the carousel horses.
How did this wonderland of indulgence, brimming with chocolate-coated Mickey-shaped macarons, ginormous turkey legs and deep-fried, powdered-sugar dusted Monte Cristo sandwiches trek into the broccoli forest?
It wasn’t as difficult as you might imagine, says John State, Culinary Director of the Disneyland Resort. “Disneyland, for the longest time, really clung to the tradition of what we were known for,” he said. “But a few years ago we started changing things and guests were like, ‘This is great, keep going.’ And there wasn’t any moment where we felt like we jumped the shark. Our guests are very diverse now. They’re not all looking for the corn dog.”
So how do you get chefs trained in culinary schools that teach classic French recipes loaded with red meat, butter, eggs and cream on board?
“They really put their arms around this and, and I think one of the reasons why is because it was a new challenge,” Dolven said.
Chefs are creative types and they jumped at the chance to shine, State said. Field trips to farms, newsletters filled with information about what top chefs in big cities were up to and expos that brought in vendors helped.
“The expo that we hosted here was excellent. It was a great eye-opener to bring in 15 different vendors, suppliers and producers of plant-based ingredients,” State said.
Chefs are actually fired up. “I love tempeh,” said Ralph Stuhlmueller, chef de cuisine, Disneyland banquets. “You can do so much with it. It marinates and soaks up flavors really well. It’s got a little more flavor than tofu and I like the texture.”
At the opening reception he presented a dish of chili glazed tempeh stuffed into tender leaves of Little Gem lettuce with jewel-like citrus sections that added arresting pops of tartness. “They also serve a dish quite like this here, at the Craftsman Bar, with marinated tuna. This would be a plant-based kind of alternative,” he said.
Such dishes are already gaining traction in the parks. At Lamplight Lounge, potato flautas are a best seller at brunch. During a media preview at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the Felucian Garden Spread was a hit, even with meat eaters. A plant-based kefta-style meatball provides a salty, beefy protein which contrasts with creamy hummus. It’s served in warm pita bread with a refreshing tomato-cucumber relish.
State says it has soared like the Millennium Falcon. “It’s really a dish that’s taken off quite well over there,” he said.
The tweaking, tuning and inventing continues as chefs bring hundreds of dishes to life. Some are already here. Rongo Salad at Tangaroa Terrace Tropical Bar & Grill at the Disneyland Hotel brings together tender chunks of tofu, green papaya strips, cherry tomatoes, edamame, gooseberries and togarashi, a Japanese spice blend, in a zippy miso vinaigrette. The Cauliflower Sandwich, at Red Rose Taverne in Disneyland, stars a bronzed cauliflower “steak” on artisan bread with oven-dried tomato and chili-lime aioli.
Others are arriving soon. Mushroom Lobster-Style Salad lands at Coral Reef Restaurant at Epcot on Oct. 3. A Hot Link Smokehouse Sandwich will be served at the Flame Tree Barbecue in Disney’s Animal Kingdom beginning on Oct. 1.
That’s not to say that ice cream and turkey legs will be going away. But for now, don’t expect to see a leaf on a churro stand. Yet, it’s in the works.
“In the outdoor vending and the carts and the kiosks, guests should certainly look for the leaf because there will be plenty of options,” said Dolven.
“There’s no boundary we’re not going to explore,” said State. “Think about it. You’re walking with your friend. Your friend says, ‘I only eat plant-based.’ And you say ‘Oh, I gotta get a churro,’ and your friend says, ‘Oh I can’t.’ Well, we want everybody to enjoy everything. So, we’re still in discovery mode.”
Seeing the mandible tips of the 100-foot-long Millennium Falcon poking into view in the open backstage elephant doors nearly made my heart skip a beat as I stepped into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge for a preview tour of Disneyland’s highly anticipated newest themed land.
“Pretty cool, huh?” said Disneyland vice president Kris Theiler.
Pretty cool doesn’t begin to describe the feeling of seeing the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy standing before me in all its battle-scarred glory. Try somewhere between hyper-ventilating and cardiac arrest. Thank goodness most people entering Galaxy’s Edge will have to make their way through a warren of winding walkways before coming face-to-face with Han Solo’s famed starship. Otherwise Disneyland might have to install defibrillators at the entrances of Galaxy’s Edge.
Earlier this week, Theiler took a small group of local media on an exclusive tour of Black Spire Outpost on the Star Wars planet of Batuu, the setting for the 14-acre Galaxy’s Edge themed land set to debut May 31 at the Anaheim theme park.
The Millennium Falcon sat in front of Ohnaka Transport Solutions, a shady interstellar shipping company that serves as a front operation for a clandestine smuggling operation. Towering 135-foot-tall spires formed a dramatic backdrop behind the ship, which serves as the marquee to the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run flight simulator attraction. An E-ticket ride so advanced that it may require Disney to come up with a new F-ticket classification. F as in Falcon.
“Obviously this is the Falcon and this is the Smugglers Run attraction,” Theiler said. “The cast are doing ride testing right now.”
The Millennium Falcon plays the role of Sleeping Beauty Castle in Galaxy’s Edge. What Walt Disney would have called a “wienie” designed to draw you deeper into the land. Galaxy’s Edge visitors will have to hunt awhile before they come upon the famed Corellian YT-1300 light freighter at the back of the land. And hunt they will because they know it has to be somewhere in Galaxy’s Edge. But the Falcon doesn’t reveal herself right away.
The Smugglers Run ride will be the only operating attraction in Galaxy’s Edge on opening day. In order to manage crowds and expectations, Disneyland will require reservations to enter the Star Wars land between May 31 and June 23. FastPasses won’t be used for Smugglers Run during that period, but the park plans to employ a single rider line starting on opening day. Expect the reservation-period queue to stretch backstage as fans rush to be the first to add their names to list of pilots who have flown the Millennium Falcon. Han, Chewie, Lando, Rey and now you. Disney really ought to sell t-shirts that proclaim, “I flew the Millennium Falcon.” No need to send me royalty checks. I’ll take an extra large.
I was fortunate to visit Galaxy’s Edge in February during a construction tour for a small group of media. At that time, the place was a hive of hundreds of construction workers climbing scaffolding, operating cranes and pouring cement. On Monday, it looked like Galaxy’s Edge could open at a moment’s notice. There was merchandise on shop shelves. Cast members, Disney speak for employees, were busy training in the build-your-own droid and lightsaber shops. And Walt Disney Imagineering, the creative arm of the company, was putting the finishing touches on audio-animatronic characters and stage-setting props throughout the land.
“We’re really in the punch list mode, just finalizing all of the details,” Theiler said. “We have WDI crews in here still doing the final finishes.”
A full-size Sienar-Chall Utilipede-Transport ship sat atop the cylindrical-shaped Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo quick-service restaurant. The food freighter serves as an intergalactic food truck that makes regular deliveries of alien delicacies to the food hall-style restaurant.
“I’m excited about the menu,” Theiler said. “Our chefs did a great job trying to think of traditional comfort foods in a Galaxy’s Edge way. You’ll see something unique and different with every single dish.”
Galaxy’s Edge is about exploration and discovery. It’s like an onion. You have to peel back the layers. The more you look, the more you find. And like peeling an onion, it’s not always easy. Many of the shops won’t have signs out front. At least not in English. It helps if you know a bit of Aurebesh and Huttese. The signs carved into the facades over the shop entrances will need to be translated using the Galaxy’s Edge Data Pad found within the Disneyland mobile app. Unless you happen to be fluent in the Star Wars languages.
Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities is just such a place. From the outside, you’d never know what to expect when you walk through the arched doorway. Inside, visitors will find an animatronic hammerhead alien who deals in black market goods. You can even barter with the dangerous 245-year-old Ithorian if you feel brave enough. Just don’t expect a discount.
“He’s been creating a collection for years and years and years,” Theiler said. “You can come in and get lots of different and unique offerings from the galaxy.”
A group of costumed cast members poured out of a Batuu building on a tour of their own. The walkways were empty except for the occasional cast member dressed in Black Spire villager garb. The vast land is designed to envelop visitors in an immersive atmosphere from a galaxy far, far away.
A team of Imagineers was busy adjusting an animatronic droid who has the thankless and tireless job of turning a spit of “space meat” at Ronto Roasters. The food stand sells sausage wraps and turkey jerky prepared by a smelter droid named 8D-J8 who labors endlessly over a fire stoked by a massive podracing engine. A caged meat locker stood nearby filled with alien delicacies collected from throughout the Star Wars galaxy.
The open-air Ronto Roasters leads directly into the Black Spire Souk, which draws inspiration from the outdoor marketplaces of Istanbul, Turkey and Marrakesh, Morocco. Lanterns hung from the open-air rooftop shaded by what looked like air conditioning coils. A stall at the end of the marketplace displayed a collection of Star Wars blasters. Imagineers huddled under a black pop-up tent poring over plans for the land
“There’s villagers that are living up above,” Theiler said. “This is going to be a busy marketplace down below.”
A short queue weaved inside Kat Saka’s Kettle, a space popcorn stand that will serve a savory and spicy take on the theme park staple.
Plush dolls of Ahsoka Tano, Lando Calrissian and Jabba the Hutt lined the shelves of the Toydarian Toymaker. A silhouette of a winged alien named Zabaka will flit around the back of her workshop amid toys, dolls, games and musical instruments inspired by the Star Wars universe.
Oinking Puffer Pigs, tongue-flicking Worrts and vibrating Rathtars collected from across the Star Wars galaxy stuffed an alien pet store in the marketplace. The Creature Stall was crammed to the rafters with cute and cuddly animatronic beasts that filled hanging cages.
The marketplace souk spilled into a secret rebel base camp in a wooded area on the edge of the Black Spire village, where the heroic Resistance was hiding from the villainous First Order. Imagineering crews were testing the sounds of starship engines spooling up before takeoff during our tour of the land. Every once in awhile you could hear the distinct sound of a X-wing streaking overhead. The newly planted trees are so lush I couldn’t see the massive Rise of the Resistance that boasts four rides in one attraction. Disney calls the trackless dark ride its most ambitious to date.
At a clearing in the forest, a military outpost will sell merchandise to Resistance loyalists. The shelves were already filled with fighter pilot helmets and the distinctive orange and white flight gear of the rebel forces. Beverage stands selling the distinctive “thermal detonator” Coca-Cola bottles exclusive to Galaxy’s Edge had yet to installed.
Deeper into the forest, a rebel gun turret stood at the entrance to the Rise of the Resistance attraction. The dark ride, which won’t open until later in the year, will take riders on a journey to outer space where they will be imprisoned on a Star Destroyer and have to figure out how to escape.
A full-size X-Wing and A-Wing sat docked across from the Rise of the Resistance entrance.
“We’re going to activate this space with entertainment and characters,” Theiler said.
Down around the bend stood the Critter Country entrance to the land. I couldn’t see even a hint of Disneyland in any direction I looked. In fact, Galaxy’s Edge is a hermetically sealed space bubble that doesn’t let in any whisper of the real world, let alone the Happiest Place on Earth.
Heading back into the Black Spire village, a collection of astromechs stood sentinel in front of the droid-building shop near the Frontierland entrance to Galaxy’s Edge. A broad-shouldered yellow and red droid looked like a short but stout body builder. The sad EG-series power droid seen in the belly of the Jawa Sandcrawler in the original 1977 “Star Wars” film joined the lineup in front of the Droid Depot shop.
Across the way, a trio of landspeeders sat in a garage awaiting repairs. A Tatooine landspeeder similar to the one used by Luke Skywalker was parked next to a Jakuu Raider model seen in “The Force Awakens.”
“It’s a location for all the space vehicles that are coming in and need work on them,” Theiler said.
Following a set of droid tracks in the cement took us into an intimate courtyard covered by a sail-like canopy. A red R5 and a yellow R2 were getting an oil bath behind the Droid Depot shop. Across from a well-labeled restroom, a worker tinkered with a drinking fountain with a glass cistern attached that will occasionally be populated by an animatronic dianoga beast. The one-eyed garbage squid that nearly drowned Luke Skywalker dwells in the pipes of Galaxy’s Edge, according to the backstory for the land.
A menacing full-sized TIE Echelon starfighter lurked near the Galaxy’s Edge entrance from Fantasyland. Talk about a dramatic transition. The Red Fury flags of the First Order’s 709 Legion hung from the Galaxy’s Edge buildings. First Order stormtroopers will patrol the sector of Black Spire village that lays just a few steps away from the genteel Dumbo the flying elephant ride and the regal Sleeping Beauty Castle.
“This is really a big First Order statement right here,” Theiler said. “We’ve got a First Order shop over there. They are really trying to sign up recruits and make sure they know they’re going to bring order to the land and help everybody live a more disciplined life.”
The last stop on the tour took us to Oga’s Cantina, the wretched hive of scum and villainy that will be the first public location in Disneyland to serve alcohol. The copper dome-topped cylindrical building was built into one of the many petrified tree spires dotting the village. A double take revealed “cantina” spelled out in a futuristic font above the arched doorway. The bar menu will include a Jedi Mind Trick cocktail, Bad Motivator IPA beer and Imperial Guard red wine.
“It’s highly themed and very immersive,” Theiler said. “There’s a lot of neat little touches by our Imagineering team.”
Off in the distance, the Millennium Falcon came into view again beyond a curved archway.
“The long shots in the land are really beautiful,” Theiler said.
The sight of the Falcon’s cockpit once again quickened my pulse. The heart palpitations returned. As I said farewell to the Falcon and Galaxy’s Edge.
READ MORE about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland
Visitors to Disneyland’s new Galaxy’s Edge themed land will be able to browse through clothing inspired by movie wardrobe pieces, but Disneyland’s strict costume policy means they won’t be able to wear some of the clothing they buy within the Anaheim theme park.
The new 14-acre land opening May 31 at Disneyland will be set in the on the Star Wars planet of Batuu in the remote outer rim village of Black Spire Outpost.
An apparel shop in the Black Spire marketplace will sell a line of handmade robes, tunics, hooded scarves and belts based on wardrobe pieces from the “Star Wars” cinematic universe. Disney’s merchandise team worked closely with Lucasfilm’s archives division to turn movie wardrobe pieces into authentic-looking clothing.
Visitors over the age of 13 will not be able to wear the Star Wars robes and some other Galaxy’s Edge merchandise in the theme park, Disneyland officials said. Disneyland currently sells stormtrooper helmets and other items that violate the costume policy and can’t be worn in the park.
Disneyland visitors 14 and over are not permitted to wear costumes into the parks although “Disney bounding” is permitted. Disney bounders dress in color schemes and design patterns that mimic the look and style of their favorite characters. Visitors of all ages can wear costumes during some separate-admission after-hours events at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.
“We believe that our current costume policy allows a lot of Disney bounding and opportunity to come and live your story,” Disneyland Vice President Kris Theiler said.
Disneyland employees will wear costumes that place them into three distinct camps in Galaxy’s Edge: First Order soldiers, Resistance rebels or Black Spire Outpost villagers.
Employees dressed as villagers will get to choose from a mix-and-match collection of costumes that can be assembled into 80 combinations. Cast members will get to pick their own pieces from a selection of tunics, wraps and vests as well as accessories like necklaces, scarves, hats and belts.
The First Order and Resistance looks will be more pre-determined for employees. The bad guy First Order soldiers will wear sleek military-style uniforms. The good guy Resistance rebels will wear flight crew gear with a jacket, vest and goggles on their hat.
Walt Disney Imagineering, the creative arm of the company, has created an immersive and interactive environment in Galaxy’s Edge designed to let every visitor live their own Star Wars hero story.
Visitors will play a role in a continually developing storyline that evolves and progresses throughout the day. Fail in your mission aboard the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run attraction and a bounty hunter might tap you on the shoulder looking for a vengeful space pirate’s lost loot.
Hardcore Star Wars fans heading to Disneyland for the May 31 grand opening of Galaxy’s Edge or on June 24 — the first date that reservations won’t be required — will also have to brave an overnight lineup just to get into the Anaheim theme park.
The reservation-only soft opening gives Disneyland an opportunity for a controlled introduction of Galaxy’s Edge and a chance to understand how visitors react and respond to Black Spire Outpost on the Star Wars planet of Batuu, the setting for the new 14-acre themed land.
Disneyland will restrict access to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge between May 31 and June 23 to visitors with reservations. Each registered guest staying at the Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel or Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel during the initial 24-day window will receive one reservation to Galaxy’s Edge. A limited number of theme park visitors not staying in one of the three hotels will be able to make reservations for Galaxy’s Edge. Disneyland has not yet released details on how the free reservation system will work.
It will be difficult to do everything in one visit to Galaxy’s Edge during the initial 24-day reservation period. Visitors should expect hours-long waits for the lone attraction operating on opening day, the intimate must-see cantina and the boutique build-your-own experiences.
Disneyland will reassess the need for reservations at Oga’s, Savi’s and Droid Depot after June 24, when reservations will no longer be needed to access Galaxy’s Edge. A virtual queue system in development for Galaxy’s Edge will allow visitors to wander around other areas of Disneyland while waiting to enter the new Star Wars land. The digital system won’t be instituted until after the soft opening period.
Disney’s rival Universal Studios had one of the largest grand openings in theme park history with the 2010 debut of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure in Florida, which generated 10-hour lines just to get into the themed land on opening day.
The Avatar: Flight of Passage flight simulator at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida generated 6-hour queues when it debuted in May 2017 before settling down to 2- to 3-hour average wait times.
Touring Plans, which uses big data and statistical analysis to calculate daily crowd sizes and ride wait times at theme parks, anticipates visitors could encounter 6-hour waits for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run on opening day of Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland.
Wait times for the marquee Millennium Falcon attraction will be affected by two key factors. First, Disneyland will not offer FastPasses for the ride during the soft opening period. Second, Rise of the Resistance, the other major attraction in Galaxy’s Edge, won’t open until later this year, reducing the overall ride capacity for the new land.
Fortunately, Disneyland has vast expertise in attraction queue management.
Disneyland plans to offer atmosphere talent, mobile app games and snack vending options for those waiting in line for Smugglers Run. Riders waiting in the Falcon queue will be able to get a bathroom pass and rejoin their party at the FastPass merge location in the attraction. Disney plans to eventually offer the same bathroom relief in the Rise of the Resistance queue when the attraction opens.
A Disneyland initiative dubbed Project Stardust — a mash-up of Star Wars and pixie dust — has been preparing for the massive crowds expected to descend on Galaxy’s Edge by taking a comprehensive park-wide look at operations, infrastructure and crowd management with an eye toward improving efficiency, traffic flow and access.
South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa is offering two Disneyland Resort ticket deals through May 23. Visit any concierge location to purchase a 3-day, 1-park per day ticket for $60 or $70 per day depending on the package you choose. The mall is open 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Sunday at 3333 Bristol St. For more information, including block-out dates and purchase limits, call 714-435-8571 or go to www.southcoastplaza.com.
Disneyland held an after-hours party just for cast members Tuesday night — and they got to be the first people to see some of the uniforms that will be appearing soon in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Most people know that Disney’s building a new Star Wars land near Frontierland that’s expected to open in June, but this was the first time anyone had seen uniforms that will be worn by people working the attractions. In Disneyland, most attractions and areas have their own specially designed uniforms that enhance the fantasy world inside the park. For example, the Jungle Cruise skippers look like they’re ready to take off down the Nile.
But now there will be good guys and bad guys in the new land — and you can tell them apart by how they’re dressed. There will also be villagers roaming around the Black Spire Outpost, which is the smuggler’s village on the Planet Batuu where the new Star Wars land is supposedly set. (Spoiler alert: It’s not a real planet.) And, of course, there will be storm troopers and droids, not to mention alien species. Note that the First Order bad guy uniforms are modeled after those that appeared in the “Star Wars” film series. And note the “code cylinders” on the chest that carry encrypted information.
Cast members were eagerly looking forward to arriving in Tomorrowland for their private party from 10 p.m. to midnight, especially the costume reveal scheduled for 10:30 p.m. at the Tomorrowland Terrace. Popcorn, fountain drinks and the chance to ride a few attractions were also in store.
The costumes revealed showed mix-and-match styles including four tops, five bottoms and, for the first time, accessories, according to a tweet by @shyhoof
Disneyland President Josh D’Amaro showed off his new name tag, revealing that Star Wars name tags will have names in English and Star Wars language Aurebesh.
Disney will be revealing Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge costumes to cast members later this evening, but we’ve just been tipped off that this is the Rise of the Resistance uniform Keep following us for more from the edge of the galaxy and beyond #StarWars#Disneylandpic.twitter.com/nSLfEE4lzj