I’m a huge fan of Disneyland. Really huge. I’ve even written a book about it.
So I thought with the summer season starting this week, it might be fun to do a guide showing what’s arriving at, or coming back to, Disneyland in summer 2017.
Truth be told, there isn’t a whole lot that’s new to the original magic kingdom itself, but it’s a different story for the park across the esplanade. Disney California Adventure (DCA) will be taken over by superheroes, so expect to see a bunch of characters in tight, Spandex costumes (maybe you expect that already).
Over at Disneyland proper, you’ll find the return of some old favorites, plus additions to existing attractions and some new food selections.
Ready? Here’s what’s happening at the Disneyland Resort summer 2017.
Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: BREAKOUT!
Some of you hardcore Disney fans may already know that the DCA ride formerly known as the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror will officially open as a Guardians of the Galaxy-inspired attraction this week. (I talked about it in a live video from the park I recorded earlier this month.)
Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: BREAKOUT! is the cornerstone of Disney’s big Summer of Heroes promotion (more on that in a sec). It’s not a new ride, exactly — the ride operation is the familiar elevator drop-style from Tower of Terror. The theming, though, from outside to inside, is entirely different.
The story is now centered around the Collector, who is holding the Guardians hostage in his fortress. Rocket Raccoon has escaped and needs the help of those visiting the fortress to rescue his friends.
There has been a lot of talk in the Disney fan community about the change from haunted hotel theme to what is now essentially a ride promoting a summer movie. Time will tell on if GoTGM:B will become a classic Disney attraction. For the time being at least, expect this one to be crazy-crowded with long lines.
Details: Opens May 27. Guests must be 40″ tall to ride.
Summer of Heroes
As I mentioned above, the Summer of Heroes is Disney’s big promotional push for the summer. It runs May 27 to September 10, and in addition to the Guardians ride, will include various meet-and-greet and (of course) shopping opportunities.
• Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Dance-Off
A couple of years ago, Disney realized it was short on things to do in the Hollywood Land area of DCA. It opened up one of its show buildings, tossed in a DJ and some characters, and created a dance party. It was a perfect opportunity for tired parents to sit as their kids, hopped up on sugary theme park treats, tired themselves out.
The GoTG: Awesome Dance-Off kinda sounds like that, but with characters and music from GoTG. Star-Lord, Gamora, and Groot will be around for this one.
Details: For kids and tweens. Apparently Groot will be available for photos, but not the other characters.
• Avengers Training Initiative
If you’ve ever seen the Jedi Training at Disneyland, you already know what this is about: kids ages 4-12 sign up to be trained by Black Widow and Hawkeye from the Avengers. I always enjoy watching the Jedi show, so hopefully this one will be as fun.
Details: Availability is limited. Sign up first thing in the morning when the park opens to get your kid a spot for this. Show times throughout the day will be listed on the Disneyland app.
• Black Widow Heroic Encounter
It’s about time Black Widow got her own meet-and-greet; Captain America and Spider-man have been in the park for awhile now.
Unlike those other Avengers, Black Widow is getting a grand entrance: apparently, she rolls up to her designated photo spot in an armored vehicle. You can still meet Cap and Spidey, too (they all have separate lines, so be prepared to stand there for each character for some time).
Details: Check the Disneyland app for Black Widow’s appearance schedule in the Hollywood Land area. (Seriously, if you haven’t downloaded the app, do it now. It’s pretty handy for entertainment schedules, character times, and restaurant menus.)
• Hero Action Center
From Disney: “Ever wonder what you have in common with your favorite Super Heroes? Discover which heroic qualities you possess by taking a revealing interactive quiz.”
Sounds like a quiz on Buzzfeed, but I assume in person it’s way more fun?
Details: There will also be a superhero photo opp (you in front of a background) and a chance to buy comic books.
• The Collector’s Warehouse
Obviously this is not a new ride — in fact, it’s the opposite. The classic version of this ride, which turns a healthy 40 years old this Saturday, returns June 1 after a stint as Hyperspace Mountain. The Star Wars-themed overlay was part of Disneyland’s Season of the Force promotion, which took over Tomorrowland in 2015.
The classic version will run until the Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy overlay takes over during Halloween time at the park, which starts in September.
Main Street Electrical Parade
Again, this one is not new so much as a return.
You’ve probably seen the commercials for the return of the Main Street Electrical Parade, which made its return to Disneyland in January of this year.
The MSEP was a very popular parade at Disneyland from 1972 to 1996, when it was moved briefly to Disney World before coming back to California in 2001. It then ran from 2001-2010 at Disney California Adventure before being shuttled back across the country to Florida, and then again to California for its limited-run engagement at Disneyland.
That’s right, the Electrical Parade is here for only a short while – until August 20, 2017, to be exact.
• Mickey’s Soundsational Parade
This day-time parade down Main Street U.S.A. was on hiatus but has recently returned. This is a fun, musical-themed parade (aren’t they all?) featuring your favorite characters, including Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Mary Poppins, who is the best. Check the Disneyland app for parade times.
• Pixar Play Parade
This cute, Pixar-themed parade went on hiatus in 2016 to accommodate the Food and Wine Festival at DCA, but is now back. If you love Buzz, Woody, Flik, Sully, or any of the Incredibles, this is the parade for you (I love it). Again, check the app for times.
This spring, two attractions were added to the FASTPASS system: Toy Story Midway Mania in DCA and the Matterhorn.
If you don’t know, FASTPASS is a ticket system that allows you to essentially save your place in line. You show up to a FASTPASS-enabled ride, look for the ticket distribution kiosk, insert your admission ticket, and out pops a ticket telling you to come back at an assigned time later in the day.
Not all rides have it. At Disneyland, FASTPASS is installed at:
• Space Mountain
• Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters
• Star Tours
• Indiana Jones Adventure
• Haunted Mansion
• Splash Mountain
• Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
• Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin
At DCA, you can find it at:
• California Screamin’
• Soarin’ Around the World
• Grizzly River Run
• Radiator Springs Racers
• Goofy’s Sky School
• Toy Story Midway Mania
• Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: BREAKOUT (coming soon)
What’s also new to the FASTPASS system is that you can only enable one FASTPASS at a time per park. Before, you could get a FASTPASS at Disneyland and then walk over to DCA and get one there. Not anymore. Now, you won’t be issued another FastPASS until your assigned ride time, or two hours from when you were issued the FASTPASS — whichever comes sooner.
• MaxPass Introduction
Later this year, Disneyland and DCA will start employing something called MaxPass, which will allow you (at a cost of $10 per person per day) to reserve a FASTPASS from anywhere within the park on the Disneyland app.
This means, if you want a FASTPASS to Space Mountain, you can reserve one on your phone from Main Street without having to walk all the way over to Tomorrowland for a paper ticket (though paper FASTPASSES will still be available for those who don’t want to pay the $10).
No official word yet on the launch date of MaxPass, but you can already see the scanners installed at many of the FASTPASS locations, so it won’t be long.
In 2016, Honda became the official sponsor of Autopia (the previous sponsor was Chevron). At that time, the cars were repainted to reflect colors of Honda cars. In April of this year, a little more flair was added to the ride in the form of Asimo.
Remember Asimo? He was the walking robot that appeared in Innoventions (which is currently Star Wars Launch Bay for those of you playing along at home).
Well, now he and his pet bird, I guess, is appearing in scenes along the Autopia roadway. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. Seems that money could have gone toward making those lawnmower engines in the cars electric, but that’s none of my business …
This is probably my favorite thing returning to the parks.
As you may or may not know, Disneyland is in the middle of constructing a new addition to its roster of themed lands. Starting in 2019, you’ll be able to visit a completely Star Wars-themed land (for reasons unknown, the park has not announced an official name for this land yet), located near Frontierland. (See video of what’s planned for the Stars Wars land here.)
Since 2015, the Rivers of America has been mostly inactive due to this construction. Certain attractions and shows have been closed, including the Disneyland Railroad, the Mark Twain, the Columbia, Pirate’s Lair at Tom Sawyer’s Island, Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes, and Fantasmic.
However, earlier this month, Disney announced that Fantasmic! will return on July 17 — with some changes. Aladdin and Jasmine will now be appearing on their magic carpet during this night-time show. The rumor is that they are replacing Pinocchio and his marionette friends. Also rumored to go: Snow White and Prince Charming, who will be replaced by characters from Tangled, and Peter Pan and his crew, who will be replaced by Pirates of the Caribbean characters. Also, The Lion King has been added to the show.
Pirate’s Lair at Tom Sawyer Island is now re-opened. The rest of the river attractions — and the Disneyland Railroad — will be back in action on July 29.
Red Rose Taverne
Earlier this year, the Village Haus restaurant in Fantasyland was re-themed to coincide with the premiere of Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast. The restaurant got a new menu and all-new décor — a welcome change, in my opinion.
The Red Rose Taverne is still operating, so far with no announced end in sight, so if you want to “try the gray stuff,” get there before it magically changes back to the Pinocchio-themed pizza joint it used to be.
Also new in food:
• Pork Belly Skewer
Bengal Barbecue in Adventureland has added a pork belly skewer to its menu. It features Hoisin sauce, picked carrots, daikon, and cilantro, and is pretty tasty.
• Dole Whip with Rum
If you love the Dole Whip Float but wished it was boozier, you’re in luck. The coffeehouse located at the Disneyland Hotel is now serving a Dole Whip Float with a splash of rum in it (FYI, you don’t have to be a guest of the hotel to visit).
And there you have it: everything that’s arriving at, or returning to, the Disneyland Resort in summer 2017. Remember to download the Disneyland app before you go (it’s free and will come in handy), and make sure to check ticket prices.
What are you looking forward to most this summer? For me, it’s a toss-up between Fantasmic! and classic Space Mountain.