Welcome to the 2014, Disneyland Year in Review. This is a collection of the top 20 stories from 2014 as determined by you, the reader! In years past we would look back on the year by collecting just about every story and by sharing some of the thousands of photos I shot, but this year we’re mixing things up a bit.
Below you’ll find the 20 most popular Disneyland news articles from DlandLive.com. Everything from Frozen mania, and the massive changes to New Orleans Square, to the Captain America addition in Innoventions, and major refurbishments!
We start our countdown with the announcement of a new runDisney Half Marathon Weekend for the Disneyland resort. In May 2014, Disneyland announced the Star Wars Half Marathon would take place in January 2015. This announcement brought the number of annual Half Marathon Weekends for the Disneyland Resort to a total of four!
A New Interactive Show, ‘Legends of Frontierland: Gold Rush’, is Coming to The Golden Horseshoe at Disneyland
In June Disneyland announced a new interactive show for the Golden Horseshoe. In reality, the show in the Golden Horseshoe was only a small part of the experience. The ‘Legends of Frontierland: Gold Rush’ slowly took over most of Frontierland as guests joined teams, looked for outlaws, collected gold and schemed to become key political figures in this interactive roll playing adventure. The game itself proved popular and had a regular following of guests playing each day. The adventure only lasted a few months before becoming part of Disneyland’s history.
Our first Disneyland Photo Report to appear on our countdown was just recently published. In November we began to see the Holiday decorations installed across the Disneyland Resort. This photo report also included a look at the new Jingle Cruise decor and a special visit to Universal Studios Hollywood’s upcoming Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
The next most popular Disneyland Photo Report focused on the newly unveiled New Orleans Square changes. The Club 33 remodel had a huge, damaging effect on the way guests would forever view, and interact in New Orleans Square. Also, we learned of a new interactive game, The Adventure Trading Company.
In early March, Captain America joined Thor and the Iron Man Tech exhibit in Innoventions. Captain America: The Living Legend and Symbol of Courage officially opened on March 7, 2014. The exhibit featuring Captain Rogers is a barebones meet and greet with a few prop replicas. It basically resembles a very small version of the museum exhibit seen in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
The only other Disneyland Photo Update to hit our top 20 stories of 2014 also focused on the Club 33 expansion and the massive changes to New Orleans Square. The Legends of Frontierland also kicked off it’s limited time run.
The yet-to-be-released Brad Bird film, ‘Tomorrowland‘, shot a few scenes this past year at both Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom in Florida. The science fiction movie filmed at some of the original New York World’s Fair attractions still in existence. The Carousel of Progress at Walt Disney World, and “it’s a small world” here at Disneyland. The filming took place outside of guest view and prior to park opening, but the set up was visible in the days leading up to the shoot.
Frozen mania continued to dominate the popularity of stories on DlandLive.com this year. The Frozen pre-parade was announced just prior to the 2014 summer season at Disneyland. In what turned out to be an overlay of the Holiday parade Mickey and Minnie ice skating float, the Frozen pre-parade started each showing of Mickey’s Soundsational Parade with both Anna and Elsa as well as a crude Olaf animatronic. The appearance of these popular characters meant many more guests could see them without waiting in the extremely long meet and greet lines. The Frozen pre-parade will resume in 2015 at the end of the Holiday season.
After being covered in what was called a “temporary solution” for the previous 5 years, Alice in Wonderland finally underwent a refurbishment to address the perceived safety issues with the external vine. But a big surprise awaited guests when the Fantasyland attraction reopened in July. The interior show elements underwent a major refurbishment and upgrade which saw the implementation of projection technology. Walt Disney Imagineering integrated the projections to compliment the classic show elements very well. The attraction upgrades proved to be a real hit and it looks like most of the Fantasyland dark rides may be receiving the same types of upgrades in 2015!
At the end of 2013 Disneyland made a very sad announcement. The 21-year run of the extremely popular music and comedy act, Billy Hill and the Hillbillies, would end in 2014. At the time the hope was that Disney was freeing up space in the entertainment budget to bring something amazing to the Golden Horseshoe, a return of the Golden Horseshoe Revue perhaps. At year’s end we had yet to have received a replacement, but the Hillbillies live on a few miles up the road from Disneyland at Knott’s Berry Farm as “Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies”.
In mid-February the Disney Gallery moved the Tiki Tiki Tiki Realms exhibit out to make way for the Mechanical Kingdoms replacement. The exhibit, which was still in place at year’s end, is full of great Steampunk inspired Disney concept art, models and props. Most of the art was produced by Walt Disney Imagineering during the designing of Tokyo DisneySea, Discovery Bay at Disneyland, and EPCOT Center.
We were all ready for this by early 2014. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad closed the previous year for a major refurbishment. During the 14-month closure the attraction received all new track, paint and a new effect in the last scene. The announcement was made in March that the attraction would reopen following a series of Annual Passholder previews.
Elsa and Anna’s … err … Anna and Elsa’s Boutique was announced as a replacement for the Downtown Disney store, Disney 365. Despite the strange name swap in the title and the delayed opening, Anna and Elsa’s Boutique has proven to be popular. We know this story was popular here on DlandLive.com, making it all the way to number 8 on the most popular stories here on the blog.
Even though it had been rumored since the end of 2013, in February Disneyland officially announced the next 24-hour event for both Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom. For 2014 the event was centered around the short lived #DisneySide event. This was the third year Disneyland hosted a 24-hour event and it seemed to go off quite well. Will they do one for 2015 and the 60th Diamond Anniversary of Disneyland? It’s a safe bet!
This story remains a rumor for now, but a strong one. Just as the rumor mills started to heat up in late October, Disney sent a refurbishment schedule out to travel agents and web sites containing a nearly year-long closure of Luigi’s Flying Tires. The original Cars Land attraction is set to close for “refurbishment” starting January 21st and remain closed through at least December 1, 2015. Disney has officially remained hush, hush on this one, but all indications point towards a quick replacement after the attraction has failed to live up to expectations.
In December, Disneyland management announced Frozen Fun would take up residence at Disney California Adventure’s Hollywood Land. The event, along with the Freeze the Night Dance Party, would replace the 2 – 1/2 year-old Mad T Party. Or would it? Well, the fate of the Mad T Party may still be in the balance. Some rumors are still circulating that it may return in the spring. Nevertheless, Frozen Fun moved in and took over the entire outdoor space, as well as the Muppet Vision 3D, the Stage 17 Building, and even some parts of the Animation Building.
The extreme popularity of Fantasyland’s Frozen meet and greet, officially called the ‘Royal Reception’, forced Disney to come up with a better solution than merely using a stand-by line. Guests showing up to meet and take a photo with Anna and Elsa from Frozen were routinely met with three to four hour long lines! Guest Relations received a lot of feedback on this one in 2014 and in September management responded. A FASTPASS type system was implemented to provide guests with a return time. Of course this change wasn’t without controversy. Guests arriving later in the day would show up to find all of the return times distributed for the day. By year’s end the Royal Reception was moved to the Frozen Fun event in Disney California Adventure.
Announced during the small 59th Anniversary Celebration in July, this lackluster announcement hit with a small thud. Yeah, we got to see the new logo for the upcoming 60th anniversary celebration, and a select few got their hands on early release merchandise, but most of us were expecting some major announcements. Disney has already tipped their hand that a new night-time parade is in the works, and we are expecting to see a new fireworks show and much more announced in the first few months of 2015!
Disney begun making these changes as recent as September, but the story quickly rose to the top of the popularity pile. Fans got fired up once word got out that those charming seats were jackhammered out and safety enhancements were made to the most famous icon of all Disney parks. In the end, the changes appeared subtle, but still very noticeable if you were use to the classic look of Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.
This was the most popular story on Dlandlive.com by far! Page views were counted in the six figures, and it was ‘liked’ on Facebook over 58,000 times. This story took the cake as the most popular.
Disney did it again, but was that really a big surprise? The hike in Disneyland ticket prices has become somewhat of an annual tradition, typically occurring in the late spring. What made the 2014 increase more interesting was the lack of an official announcement and the suspension of new Southern California Annual Passport sales. It seems that this category of AP’s just grew too big and Disney needed to curb the weekend attendance levels. The funny part, most that couldn’t renew their SoCal AP’s seemed to jump into the Deluxe category. I wonder if we will see sales halted for other AP’s as well. In any case, you can bet we will see a Disneyland ticket price increase again this spring as we get closer to the 60th anniversary kick off. Renew those passes before then!
2014 was a roller coaster type year for the Disneyland Resort. We saw a lot of small events, a continuation of the ongoing safety enhancements, major changes in New Orleans Square, and the suspension of new sales of an Annual Passport category. In 2015 Disneyland will celebrate it’s 60th anniversary and it is sure to be a big, big year.
Did we miss any big stories for 2014? Share what you thought was the biggest story in the comments below!
Happy New Year!