Today, not even a full 24 hours after the Rivers of America at Disneyland closed for approximately 18 months, Disney released the first concept art for the redesigned backside of the Rivers of America.
While we wish they had released this a few weeks ago to contain some of the online fervor going on it's definitely nice to see some of what they have planned for this area of the park.
While we were always confident they would do great things and it wouldn't just be a "wall" on the backside of the park we even have to admit we're pretty blown away by what they came up with.
(click on any of the pictures below for a larger version)
Now, to be fair, this is only "concept art" and the final product probably won't look exactly like this (as pointed out by FB fan Alan, the water is far too blue for the river) we are nevertheless going to look a bit closer and see what appears to be changing and what is staying.
Goes without saying that all of the artwork is Disney property.
As we look to the bottom left of this picture we do see a canoe off the shore and what looks like a Tom Sawyer raft. This could indicate that the rafts to Tom Sawyer Island will be moving or again, just part of the concept art.
Towards the middle left of the picture we see the train tracks and assume that this is right after the train has gone by the Hungry Bear.
Fans of the Disneyland Railroad will also notice that there aren't enough cars on the train, but again, concept art.
The trestles and waterfalls are a brilliant touch. We'll get into that a bit more as we move down the road a bit.
As we move down the middle of the picture we see a much larger DLRR trestle with some rock-work and waterfalls behind it, presumably to block the RoA from what's behind (namely Star Wars). Think of this as the new berm in this area of the park.
Down at the bottom we see the Keel Boat still a part of the river, although moved from it's current location (see below).
Also at the bottom we see what looks like Fort Wilderness which we predicted would be leaving the Island, but if not let's hope they do some work and reopen it on the Island. Let's also hope that Tom Sawyer's Island comes back without Pirate stuff (but with a new Pirate movie coming out that would be anybody's guess).
Towards the middle it also appears that the Settlers Cabin is still there, but again, concept art.
The last 3rd of the picture looks to be the most interesting of all though.
First off, as we guessed in our article last week (read it if you haven't) the Indian Village is indeed staying although obviously in a new location.
This area also has much more rock-work which looks to be hiding a tunnel for the Railroad.
Up in the top right corner we see some kind of bridge which could eventually be the entrance to Star Wars Land and some kind of transition from Frontierland to the new land.
So while this isn't ALL of it, it's a good start and will hopefully serve to alleviate some of the fears that many in the online community had regarding the changes to this area of the park.
The amount of rock-work being done has us very hopeful as Disney is pretty good at that when you look at Frontierland/Big Thunder/CarsLand/Expedition Everest ... the list goes on.
At the end of the day, whether or not this concept art is 100% of the finished product we feel that Disney, more than anybody has earned the respect and honor of us taking a "wait and see" approach before we complain about the final product. So that's what we're going to do.
What are your thoughts on this concept art? Does this help to see where they are going with this area of the park? Are you convinced that Disney is going to deliver a great finished product? Let us know in the comments below.
Today we have a special Throwback Thursday as we take a final look at the Rivers of America at Disneyland which will be closing to make way for Star Wars Land.
Because apparently it doesn't matter that it's only closing for 18 months, that all of the attractions are actually coming back and it will give the park a chance to do some much needed work on the backside of the river.
Written by Gregg Condon
We're also apparently supposed to tell you all this is the worst thing ever, that Star Wars should be it's own park and that Big Thunder BBQ was the best place to eat and play with goats ever (well, the goats part is actually true). That's how this whole blogger thing works right?
Wait, is that the river the Falcon is flying over?
That bit of fun aside, here's what we know as of right now. The River IS indeed closing. It IS going to be closed for approximately 18 months as both the river and the railroad are rerouted to make room for Star Wars Land (no, Star Wars Land won't be open in 18 months). There have been no official blueprints, concept art or anything released for this part of the project.
So obviously according to most Disney online sites, this is the worst thing ever.
Never mind that this is Disneyland, the park people profess to love so much and has 60+ years of history of doing pretty awesome things in their back pocket. Because now, suddenly, they are going to forget all that and completely ruin the west side of the park.
The re-routing of attractions at Disneyland to make room for something is nothing new for this park. Both the Jungle Cruise and Monorail were re-routed to make room for Indiana Jones and we think that turned out pretty well.
Danger, they are moving stuff again and there's absolutely no history of them ever doing that before. =)
So today, even though it's still open for another few days, we take a look back at the way the river was, and soon we'll see the way the river will be and it will still be awesome.
We'll hopefully inject a bit of sanity into a subject that has gotten WAY too much coverage for something it's not.
Let's start off on the front side of the river, you know, the part that everybody see's unless they ride one of the boats or Railroad. Also, the part that will pretty much look exactly the same in 18 months.
(note: Due to no longer having Disneyland AP's these pictures are actually a few years old, so it technically is still a Throwback Thursday ... ;) )
The front side of the island. Still going to have Fantasmic and boats and canoes.
Will it look EXACTLY like this? Who knows. Nobody knows. Some changes aren't out of the question and wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.
Anybody remember what they did to the river when they put in the crowd favorite Fantasmic?
You can actually find some great pics of Fantasmic Construction on Bear-ytales.
So again, this is not an unprecedented thing for Disneyland.
Lafitte's Anchor ... probably won't be moved at all.
Ok, the ducks and cats will have to find a new home for awhile. They'll figure it out. They always do.
18 months of dry dock for the Columbia and Mark Twain is definitely going to be a good thing. Remember, these ships are 60 (Mark Twain) and 57 (Columbia) years old now and have had millions upon millions of riders.
So now let's take a look at what is changing. And see what all the hubbub is about.
But of course, this is only pure speculation because again, nobody knows exactly what is staying and going.
Moving towards the back-side of the island, which is reportedly going to be smaller when it reopens and no fort.
Not going anywhere
Prime opportunity for some upgrades to the Hungry Bear.
Based on rumors, the changes will begin on the other side of Hungry Bear and this portion of the river will go away.
Remember when this used to be on fire? Or when it almost ACTUALLY caught on fire?
How ... How are people so upset over this?
While sure, this is one of the most peaceful and tranquil parts of the park, in a park as stacked as Disneyland, this area has been ripe for change for a LONG time.
Something also tells me that this will somehow still be around, but obviously not in this spot. It's not like they are just going to build a wall on the backside of the riverbank.
Would people be as upset if this was being removed for Discovery Bay?
The fort has been closed for years (from the public) and is unlikely to return.
Anybody remember when this was actually an attraction? Sure, it's missed, but we've moved on.
It will be interesting to see what stays and what goes. But again, we have faith that Disney will do an amazing update to the river. This IS Disney we're talking about here.
Let's be serious for a moment ...
Are we all a bit sad that this part of the park is going away? Of course we are. We aren't completely heartless. And we do feel bad that so many people are sad about this, including some very close friends of ours.
Sure Star Wars could be it's own park (which wouldn't work). There ARE people out there who don't like Star Wars. What then?
It could be a part of DCA or a 3rd park along with Marvel and a few other things, but we aren't the ones who get to make those decisions. Despite all the $$ fans give Disney, it's just a drop in the proverbial bucket. At the end of the day, the people who are paying for it get to decide where it's going to go.
In our opinion, no IP, whether it be Star Wars, Indy, Cars, Avatar, Marvel, whatever, should have a bigger footprint than what is currently happening with Star Wars Land. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
After 60+ years of making themed attractions I hope it's safe to say that Disney has earned our trust and we can step back and let them do their thing. If we're wrong and the naysayers are right, we'll be the first to admit we were wrong. But we aren't going to sit here and bash something we haven't seen yet in order to drive website revenue. That's not anything we've ever done and we're not going start now.
So instead of mourning what's still there, how about let's just go and enjoy the last weekend of the existing river, and then in 18 months we'll reconvene and enjoy the first weekend of the new river. And I bet we have a great time.
Renée and Morgan made a couple of trips to Walt Disney World over New Years week so we've got a great update for you below.
First we'll spend New Years Eve-Eve at the Magic Kingdom for a look at the all new Skipper Canteen and the New Years Eve Fireworks (they do them both nights).
Then we'll hop on over to Disney's Hollywood Studios to say goodbye to the Osborne Lights.
Click on any of the pictures below to see a larger version
Tonight we're braving the holiday crowds for a few hours at Magic Kingdom. At least our monorail was empty @WDWToday
Even at 9pm, the line to meet Mickey Mouse is 85 minutes long!
Main Street is packed but manageable, and it's snowing!
The newly expanded hub area in front of the castle gives everyone some extra space.
Jingle Cruise was also an 85 minute wait, but we cruised right aboard with fast pass. Happy Gnu Year!
Escaping the crowds for a bit to try out the newest restaurant Skipper Canteen. We only waited 15 min!
The menu at Skipper Canteen looks great and different from most theme park cuisine.
I tried one of Skipper Canteen's signature drinks, Punch Line Punch. Fruity and delicious!
We came for dessert at Skipper Canteen and they're amazing! We tried the sugar crusted congee pudding and Kungaloosh
Skipper Canteen has 3 different dining rooms, all packed with original theming inspired by Jungle Cruise
There are tons of amazing little details all over Skipper Canteen. It's impossible to see it all in one visit.
Albert Falls even has an office upstairs at Skipper Canteen.
The DJs in Magic Kingdom are already getting the crowd pumped with a pre-New Years Eve party.
With heavy crowds expected, Disney is always organized well to handle them.
We opted to leave Magic Kingdom to view Fantasy in the Sky from the TTC and it's still a great view!
The finale is incredible!
With the Osborne Family Lights ending a few nights ago at DHS, we stopped by to say goodbye to them #osbornelights
Crowds packed the Streets of America to see the dancing lights they love one last time.
It could take hours to find all 80+ Hidden Mickeys in the lights. Some are more obvious than others.
The purple cat has been on the move throughout the lights all season!
Fans of Once Upon a Time can see Mr. Gold's shop decorated with lights
It's so much fun to take in all the little details that are put into the display
The Peace on Earth globe sends a nice message to all, in hopes that we can achieve it in the new year
The Osborne Family Lights will be missed by all, as it has created wonderful holiday memories
After the lights danced for the last song, they're turned off for the night.
Thanks again to Renée for the great update. Remember, if you see any tweets from us from the FL parks, they're from her. Make sure you follow along to see all the great FL coverage she provides.