October 2000 Update
During a work trip out to Irvine, I spent a Monday and Tuesday night/evening at Disneyland. The Monday 8pm closing was extended to 9pm giving a precious extra hour to my already time limited visit.
Many attractions were down. Rocket Rods is now closed, though they claim a reopening in Spring of 2001. Columbia was docked and the area around it (the former Harbor Galley and rumored soon to be McDonald's) was boarded up with construction walls. Most of Frontierland is walled off, reminding me of the extensive walls found during the New Tomorrowland rehab a few years ago. Roger Rabbit was closed with walls around the FastPass queue, and Big Thunder Mountain was down. Over near the Haunted Mansion the area around the "smoking section" fountain has walls and some fresh plywood is up near the end of the side queue for the Mansion. A Mouse Planet report indicates this is for FastPass. It's a Small World is down and drained while they theme it for the holiday season. I think most everything else seemed up and in working order, but I'm sure I missed out on a few things.
Is off season normally this "off"?
Man, is this place starting to look great or what? Sure, it will just be a souped up carnival, but it will be a Disney-style carnival. The theming looks really great. Maybe Californian Disney fans will finally see the problem Florida folks face -- nothing will ever live up to the original. At Walt Disney World there are now four theme parks and none come close to the number of attractions that the original Magic Kingdom there has to offer. And, that Magic Kingdom has even less to do than the original Disneyland. I wonder how DCA will compare to the WDW extra parks? It does seem that each new U.S. park has less to offer than the previous ones.
Mint Juleps and Other Experiences
There are many items at Disneyland that I enjoy during my visits not strictly because I enjoy them. For instance, the hot dogs from Coke Corner are certainly nothing special, but enjoying one on Main Street USA while the park winds down for the day can be very pleasant. The atmosphere and "just found here" ambiance of Disneyland still creates a special magic to this day.
One of the places I originally read about on the 'net (or was it from GEnie?) was the Mint Julep Bar. I'd never heard of a mint julep though I understand it to commonly be a mixed drink. I'd also never heard of this location in Disneyland so I made a visit and tried this minty beverage. Admittedly, the glowing green drink does taste a bit like toothpaste, and I doubt I would be a fan of this drink outside of Disneyland, but I enjoy one every visit I make. The location is around the back of New Orleans Square near the train station. The location also serves coffees and pastries. One interesting observation about the julep drink is that it comes in a rather heavy duty plastic cup, which makes a great addition to "cheap drinkware" back home. I have a small collection of these cups, actually.
During my last two visits to the park, I arrived late enough in the evening that the bar had already closed. The only other locations that serve this drink is the "reservations suggested" Blue Buyou restaurant and the outdoor eatery next to the bar itself. Disappointed, I made due with a soda from the Royal Street Veranda. Normally I get a bowl of spicy steak gumbo or clam chowder to enjoy with my mint julep. On Tuesday night, I whined a bit as I ordered my gumbo about how I missed my mint julep this visit. In an example of wonderful Disneyland Guest Services, Nancy arranged to have someone go get me a mint julep, complete with cherry and mint leaf! I am sure this type of "hey, could you get me something from a place that is already closed?" thing doesn't and can't happen all the time, but it sure did make my visit special and complete. Thank you, Nancy, and whoever else helped get me the mint julep. I really enjoyed it.
On a side note -- did you know you can order most bread bowl soups sans the bread bowl? If you are like me and never eat all that bread anyway, ask for it in a plastic bowl and you'll also save a bit of money. I believe the chili at the Golden Horseshoe can be ordered this way as well. (On a side not to the side note -- ringing up gumbo without the bread bowl and a beverage now turns into $6.66. I don't recall seeing that before, so prices indeed have changed.)
Pop corn shrimp?
Another favorite item of mine (also discovered by reading newsgroup postings years ago) is the popcorn shrimp formerly found at Harbor Galley. Now that this location is destined to be rethemed as a McDonald's food location, I wonder if that cajun shrimp will return elsewhere?
The gallery finally has a new display. Gone are the New Tomorrowland exhibits and New Autopia room. In their place is an art exhibit. The most interesting item to me was a concept rendering of the E.P.C.O.T. Africa Pavillion which was featured in the opening TV special but never built. You can see the area later built for Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida has some inspirations from these original paintings.
Cool Pirates and Mansion Stuff
Call Disneyland now and place your order for some very large (perhaps 4-5 feet tall?) reproductions of the stretching portraits from the Haunted Mansion. They are available in deluxe frames ($$$) or separately for $35 each.
There is plenty of Pirates of the Caribbean booty to be found as well, including some "3D image shifting" post cards ($12) of various scenes. These cards are the type that appear to move when you look at them from different angles -- very nice.
The fiber optic Disneyland jacket is now apparently sold out, as reports the Disneyana Store on Main Street.
Attention to details...
Have you ever noticed all the little things that change from visit to visit? The Partners statue at the hub now has some metal "flower" arrangements "planted" around it -- how long have they been there?
The outside show building for Indiana Jones has a railing along the top now with a metal framework that appears to be a mountainscape in progress. In one of the View from the Hill reports at Mouse Planet, Jim Hill mentioned seeing them testing some jungle theming on the outside a few months ago. Apparently this is underway now, and will make the view from that side of the new Californian Hotel a bit prettier (at least this new in-park DCA hotel won't have many views overlooking parking lots).
The Main Street Magic Shop is now well stocked with tricks. During a visit a year or so ago, their inventory was pretty pathetic. The prices at this location are actually cheaper than the magic shop I used to visit in my local mall, and Erik does an excellent job presenting the various tricks.
More updates may be added to this page if I think of anything else I missed. During the limited hours of this visit I mostly took new pictures. I believe the only attractions I actually rode were Pirates, Mansion, Space Mountain, and Indy. The lines were all very short (and in some cases non-existant) in spite of the lowered capacity of the park due to ride closures.
Thanks for reading!