Disneyland has announced the temporary closing of 5 classic attractions, one night-time spectacular, and the permanent closure of an entire area. The major announcement will effect an entire side of Disneyland park for at least a year, according to some reports.

The closures are being implemented to facilitate the first construction phases of the upcoming Star Wars Land, which was announced in August at the D23 Expo.

Star Wars Land will be located on 14-acres behind the Rivers of America, in an area currently used for back-stage facilities. The new land will also take over the existing Big Thunder Ranch area behind the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad attraction. Disney made the announcement on their blog this past week that the following attractions would close after January 10, 2016:

  • The Disneyland Railroad, which includes all stations.
  • All attractions along the Rivers of America, which include:
    • Mark Twain Riverboat
    • Sailing Ship Columbia
    • Tom Sawyer Island
    • Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes
  • Fantasmic! Night-time spectacular

The Disneyland Railroad the and Rivers of America currently reside along the back of Disneyland, where Star Wars Land will be constructed. This may impact their current pathways.  © Bryan Pugh

The Disneyland Railroad the and Rivers of America currently reside along the back of Disneyland, where Star Wars Land will be constructed. This may impact their current pathways.  © Bryan Pugh

A lot of the construction will take place along the back side of the Rivers of America, where the Disneyland Railroad currently passes through. What Disney didn’t make clear was the planed duration of the closures. Once source, MousePlanet.com, is reporting the closures could last more than a year. The construction of Cars Land at Disney California Adventure lasted nearly three years, although it had little impact on the operation of that theme park. Disney also confirmed in a statement to the OC Register that the Rivers of America will be partially drained during these closures. The water will be sent back into the Orange County water system for storage, as Disneyland typically does when they drain large amounts of water for maintenance.

The Rivers of America and Disneyland Railroad closures are temporary, however Big Thunder Ranch will close for good on January 11, 2016. This includes the Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue, The Big Thunder Ranch Petting Farm and The Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree (which hasn’t been open since this past summer).

Speculation is already beginning that the year-long closures of the Rivers of America and the Disneyland Railroad may point to plans to alter both attractions. The railroad tracks and edges of the river may be changed during the construction of Star Wars Land, however this remains to be seen.

UPDATE (9/30): Disneyland has confirmed via their official in-park Twitter account that the Rivers of America will have a new route when it reopens. The Disneyland Railroad is also expected to have a new route.

There’s no doubt that most Disneyland fans are excited for the addition of Star Wars Land, and over the next few years it seems it will definitely have an impact on the park operations and guest experience. Your last opportunity to sample some BBQ at Big Thunder Ranch or ride along the Rivers of America is January 10, 2016 before the closures take place.

Slide show of the Rivers of America:

YOUR THOUGHTS

Is this going to impact your decision to visit Disneyland in 2016? Perhaps even renew your Annual Passport? Share your thoughts and let’s get a discussion going on how this will effect your visits to Disneyland.