By Jackie Burrell
Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010 at 1:48 pm in Family Travel.
A great big chunk of Walt Disney’s park is under construction at the moment – more than usual, even for the depths of winter. Among the areas that are shut down: the entire Rivers of America waterfront area in Frontierland, including the riverboat and sailing ship Columbia and Tom Sawyer Island. All the water has been drained, and walls erected to screen off the area.
Over in California Adventure, a section of the Hollywood Pictures Backlot is fenced off too, as the park installs a Red Car Trolley system, which will run through the new, retro Buena Vista Street entrance opening in May 2012. The lagoon in front of the California Screamin’ ride is also drained and partially fenced off as the park installs a water and colored lights feature that should make for some showy nighttime entertainment. Also being built: a Little Mermaid ride and an elaborate new “land” modeled after Pixar’s “Cars” movie.
It all makes for some pretty narrow paths for traversing the various parks, especially when the paths are shared by hordes of stroller-pushing families and folks on motorized scooters. We’re talking strollers-on-steroids, the Humvees of the perambulator world. And both the stroller contingent and the handicapped scooters are being driven with such, er, zeal we think Disney ought to consider setting aside pedestrian lanes. We got pretty battered out there. Our toes are still recovering.
The connecting path between Bug’s Land and the Tower of Terror end of the Hollywood Backlot is open, making it significantly easier to get around.
And over on the Disneyland half, there are two new (or new to us, anyway) areas that sound like rides or some kind of interactive yowza, but are actually photo opps. The lines were much too long, even on a drizzly winter weekend, to brave for the princess meet-and-greet near Small World (which has not reopened yet), but we saw scores of delighted kids sporting fantastic face paint afterward.
As for Pixie Hollow — as you face Sleeping Beauty’s castle from Main Street, it’s on the right (photo, above), tucked into an area formerly taken up by … landscaping, we think. The line may not be long, but it moves at a glacial pace. Fortunately, there are adorable fairy houses tucked among the trees and tiny fairies to spot in the landscaping while you wait to enter. Once inside, you can pose with Tinker Bell, Silvermist and whoever else is on hand, and that’s … it. Somehow we’d thought there would be activities of some sort, a sorting into Tinkers and other Fairy varieties or something. But nope. Pose, smile, out you go into the fairy costume shop. If you’re visiting with non-Tink fans, consider sending them off to get Fast Passes for Space Mountain or something while you wait in line.