Theme Park Bits: A New Character Breakfast In Disneyland, The New Home For An Old Pixar Ride, And More!

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • The Disney princesses have an exciting (and expensive) new character-breakfast home at the Disneyland Resort.
  • New details about the Jurassic World-themed water attraction have emerged.
  • Heimlich's Chew Chew Train has a new resting place after having been shut down.
  • And more!
  • As you probably know, last year, the Disneyland Resort introduced a brand-new area to Disney California Adventure. Pixar Pier, the re-themed version of Paradise Pier, has largely been a success, but in redesigning the area, the Imagineers removed a character-dining option. Previously, the pier's flagship restaurant was Ariel's Grotto, at which you could meet the Disney princesses like Ariel, Belle, and more. But the arrival of Pixar meant that, yes, they were booting out your beloved princesses. (Just imagine Sheriff Woody as the vicious landlord kicking Ariel and friends to the curb.) So, for about nine months, there hasn't been a character-dining location with just the Disney princesses. But that changes on March 30, with the Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures character-dining at Napa Rose.

    This is pretty exciting news, as Napa Rose (located in Disney's Grand Californian Hotel) is arguably considered one of the best restaurants in Southern California. Using this location for character dining is somewhat surprising, but it almost certainly assures the food will be as good as the company, if not better. If you're familiar with Napa Rose, though, you won't be shocked that the price is, uh...a lot. $125 per person, that is. Yes, even kids. But for that cost, you can meet Belle, Ariel, Jasmine, Tiana and more princesses, plus eat food like shepherd's pie, pork belly, and "an egg custard served in its shell with parmesan crisp and ketchup caviar." As I prepare to make reservations, I'll just let you all try to imagine what ketchup caviar looks like.

    Moving on, let's go to Orlando. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Josh, there's no way you could find another Disney story related to princesses that involves a trip expense as expensive as this character-dining thing." You're right. I just found another Disney story related to princesses with a trip expense that's even more expensive! It's a VIP tour at Walt Disney World called "World of Dreams"; it's 12 hours long, for up to six guests, and costs – cue Dr. Evil voice – twelve thousand dollars. For that cost, what do you get? Backstage access, a tour of the Cinderella Castle Dream Suite, access to any WDW restaurant, front-of-the-line access to attractions, and more. My favorite part of this new tour is not that if you do the tour for more than one day, each additional day's cost is $10,000. No, it's that there are "many more possibilities based on guest request". Just think – for the right price, you can request to go Jet-Skiing with Mickey! Now, for all of you moneybags out there, get inventive and reserve your tour today.

    Let's hop back to Southern California, and shift focus to Universal Studios Hollywood. I hate to remind you, but the wonderful Jurassic Park river ride is currently closed because it's being overhauled to incorporate...sigh...the Jurassic World films. Considering how much money the new movies made, it's not shocking, but still a bit disappointing to read stories like this one, in which it's heavily intimated that the new ride's climax will not feature one piddly little T-Rex jumping out at the audience, as was the case in the previous ride. No, this time, there will be a T-Rex fighting the Indominus Rex! While I'm sure the ride will still be a refreshing way to get wet, seeing the new ride emulate the idea of sequels just being more of the same is a bit of a letdown. The new ride's opening in a few months, so we'll see what the spectacle of two dinos fighting ends up looking like in real life.

    There's something fitting in the source for our next story. Just as the story itself is about a sad departure, it comes courtesy of Lee Unkrich, who himself is departing Pixar for projects unknown. Recently, Unkrich shared a picture on Twitter of the homecoming of part of the Heimlich's Chew Chew Train ride vehicle from Disney California Adventure. The train was a major part of the Bug's Land section of DCA, which was recently closed so the Imagineers can build out a Marvel-themed land to go with its Guardians of the Galaxy-themed attraction. A Bug's Land, and the Chew Chew Train, was well designed while also being deliberately very kid-friendly. Seeing it return to Pixar feels appropriate, though I still miss riding on the train with my toddler son.

    For our last story, let's go back to Disneyland. With the upcoming arrival of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, Team Disney Anaheim is justifiably expecting big crowds. Like, really big crowds. Like, massively big crowds unlike anything they've seen outside of major holidays. But whatever else is true about Disneyland (and I love it so), this much is also true: Disneyland doesn't handle massively big crowds that well. How is TDA aiming to fix this? Through something called Project Stardust, which is basically the group's way of saying it's going to try and minimize visitor congestion as much as possible. This means moving ride queues (lines), eliminating planters, and more. I'm fascinated to see how this all shakes out, because Disney has managed to get bigger and pricier without attendance dropping over the last few years. Maybe it's a good thing to be too popular, but I wonder if Project Stardust is just a band-aid on the larger problem of visitor congestion and overpricing. We'll all find out when Galaxy's Edge is unveiled this summer.