Though forced to shut its doors a year ago due to the coronavirus pandemic, Disneyland has hardly been Dormantland.
From the installation of a (prince) charming finale in an original attraction to endowing guests with web-slinging powers, Imagineers have been busy updating some rides and creating new ones since Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure Park closed in March 2020.
The spread of COVID-19 slowed but did not stop progress on construction, and now that California has given Disney the OK to reopen as of April 1, the parks will reopen April and welcome back California guests April 30.
Here is what’s happened while you’ve been away.
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Urban renewal: Toontown is getting a much-needed boost with Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, due to open in 2023. Riders board a train that whirls out of control through a cartoon landscape in this trackless ride. The attraction features a blend of animatronics and projections to immerse guests in a make-believe world fraught with cartoonish dangers, from getting caught in a tornado to going over a waterfall. The ride, Disney’s first to be based on its eponymous rodent, opened a year ago in Disney World.
Disney World: See Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway in Florida
From fright to delight: It used to be Snow White’s Scary Adventures, a dark ride fraught with dangers that would send even the bravest of toddlers screaming for (and through) the exit. Now it’s Snow White’s Enchanted Wish, a cheery attraction that’s been sprinkled with large handfuls of pixie dust. There’s new music, laser projections and a gem-studded mine where each of the seven dwarves could be called Happy. While the old version ended with a witch’s scream, Enchanted Wish ends on a princely kiss, which may send purists of the original 1955 attraction screaming toward the exits.
A new Snow White figure twirls in Snow White’s Enchanted Wish, and update (and softening) of Snow White’s Scary Adventures. (Photo: Christian Thompson / Disney Parks)
Rumble in the jungle: While the 2020 “Jungle Cruise” movie (starring Dwayne Johnson) may not have made much of a splash, it may well have inspired Imagineers to take another look at the pun-filled ride upon which it was based. Work is continuing on an update adding a storyline that starts with a sinking boat and mischievous chimps. Skippers will continue to narrate the tour, so puns are hardly dead in the water.
Jungle Cruise: Disney World, Disneyland to update Jungle Cruise’s depictions of Indigenous people
The Jungle Cruise attraction at both Disneyland and Disney World is getting an update. (Photo: Rendering courtesy of Disney)
A new celebration: In a change perhaps was long overdue, Disney is scrubbing one of its most popular rides of a tie to one of its most unpopular movies. Splash Mountain soon will feature “The Princess and the Frog,” a 2009 animated film featuring Tiana, the studio’s first Black princess. That’s a far cry from the ride’s longtime association with “Song of the South,” a 1946 film troubling for its racist undertones (and one of the few films in the Disney archive not available on its streaming service, Disney+). The redesigned attraction includes scenes from New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou, picking up where “The Princess and the Frog” left off as Tiana prepares for her first Mardi Gras performance.
California Adventure Park
After a yearlong closure due to coronavirus, Disney’s California Adventure reopens with limited capacity on April 30. (Photo: Christian Thompson / Disney Parks)
Marvel-ous addition: Superheroes step to the entertainment front lines when Avengers Campus opens later this year. The centerpiece, WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure, blends a ride with a video game where guests will use hand gestures to hurl virtual webs at runaway spider-bots. Guests can drop in on Doctor Strange who will be happy to demonstrate his mysterious powers thanks to some Disney magic. At the Pym Test Kitchen, diners will see super-sizing is taken literally (note the gigantic soda cans and condiment containers). When villains come calling, much of the action will take place near the Avengers’ Quinjet parked above the campus. Disney also has teased an acrobatic Spider-Man robot that will take the show to a new level. An opening date has not been announced.
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