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“A New Year. A New Disney”
Now that we are almost a month in to 2018, Disneyland is definitely going into off season mode with refurbishments, scaffolding, and updates around every corner. Though the crowds are still strong in numbers, you can definitely feel a little bit more space around you as you roam through the park gates into the magic that awaits.
There are a few obstacles to keep in mind before the fun can begin though. The previously announced updates to the Main Street track and central hub are now underway, creating a tight squeeze for everyone going in and out of the park. In tradition with years past, this time of year is best for major updates and maintenance that are more difficult to get away with during major holidays and crowd surges.
The usual suspects are down such as Grizzly River Run, Splash Mountain, and The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. Though this year we are also seeing updates to the area around It’s A Small World, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, and Paradise Pier. Pixar Fest and Pixar Pier are just around the corner and the party can’t begin until some major work can be completed.
Still, upon roaming the parks, the scaffolding and walls don’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits. Photos are still being taken along Paradise Bay, wait times are holding strong, and people are eager to see what’s to come.
As sad as I am to see Paradise Pier fade off into the sunset, it is interesting to see all the work that is underway for Pixar Pier. Due to the tall nature of the design, it makes it a lot harder to hide the renovations. This means we will get a front row seat to the updates from start to finish. It’s sobering and exciting at the same time.
When I pier up at the remains of California Screamin’ and Mickey’s Fun Wheel, I will forever see the memories shared with the past forms that are now being transformed. Yet, getting to see that transformation first hand is powerful and uniquely intriguing in a way I didn’t quite expect until I got to see it all for myself.
Rose gold colored glasses aside, this brief moment of the “off-season” is not just about walls and construction. There are plenty of other fun surprises that will be worth taking a closer look into. Star Tours is a great example. For those who haven’t been on it since the release of The Last Jedi, new scenes have been thrown into the mix that take you to the mineral planet, Crait, as well as a sneak preview of Galaxy’s Edge.
The initial scenes have also been tweaked to be more consistent with the new trilogy timeline that feature Rey, Kylo Ren, and Poe Dameron. Since the beginning of Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, we have been used to random locations from cross the entire Star Wars saga. This new format creates the potential for an update that makes more sense.
Currently, you could jump from being confronted by Darth Vader to almost ramming into Jar Jar down on Naboo. Another jump could have you racing down the slopes of Hoth during a battle with the Empire only to find yourself rushing through another intense battle above Courscant during The Clone Wars.
Rather than jump from the prequel era to the original trilogy, and then back again, there is an opportunity for Star Tours to be era specific. Each trip will focus on key scenes from each era, staying within the same timeline, but allowing the element of surprise since there are three separate eras you could find yourself in. With the large assortment of various scenes, we can create a more uniform story.
I can only hope I wasn’t the only one who imagined that possibility. The focus for the time being will remain on both The Last Jedi and ultimately, Galaxy’s Edge. For those eager to jump into the Star Wars’ theme land, thankfully, there is more to be seen over the walls in Frontierland.
The towering spires of the newest land are starting to come into view and construction is well under way. Once completed, there will be plenty of incredible adventures to embark on. For the time being, we will have to focus on some other new distractions while we wait. These come in the form of new entertainment in Downtown Disney.
Along the Star Wars theme, the newest VR experience can be found in Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire. Fans can jump right into the story and complete a walk through of custom made puzzles, battles, and choices leading up to a classic Star Wars finish. Reservations and advance ticketing for the venue are made available online, which can be viewed at https://www.thevoid.com/dimensions/starwars/secretsoftheempire/
Just around the corner, guests will also get a chance to knock down a few pins at the soon to open, Splitsville Luxury Lanes. Once the ribbon is officially cut, all are welcome to venture in to explore the over 20 bowling lanes, state of the art kitchens, and California themed hot spots.
The venue will be using a fixed price structure for play, rather than a more traditional setup. Time slots are also predetermined based of party size rather than per a set number of games.
Plenty of food options will be available that range from traditional burgers and fries to a more wide assortment of cuisine. To get a closer look at all the details, menus, and pricing, visit their website link below:
Despite closures and construction, there is still a lot to discover and to do around the resort area. It’s going to be a fun ride and one I look forward into the new year.