One of Disney’s cardinal rules that it has more or less lived by across their theme parks has to do with sticking to the story of a particular land. For example, you’ll never find a Ronto Wrap for sale in Toy Story Land, and you wouldn’t see a Tomorrowland Cast Member walking around in their costume in Adventureland.
However, those principles were put to the test in 2021, when Disneyland welcomed guests back to Disney California Adventure with A Touch of Disney.
What did Disneyland do that broke its own mold?
When Disneyland announced that A Touch of Disney would serve classic Disneyland dishes over at California Adventure, we were all a little more than shocked! While we were thrilled to eat some of our favorite Disneyland food items for the first time in over a year, it felt a little like we were breaking some sort of rule!
By offering location-specific food outside of their home location (or home park for that matter), Disneyland wound up bending their own rules when it comes to “exclusivity.” Just a few examples include the classic Pineapple Dole Whip (California Adventure has famously served what is essentially a Lemon Dole Whip at Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats at Pixar Pier, but not their classic pineapple flavor!), the Monte Cristo Sandwich from Blue Bayou, Walt’s Chili from Carnation Cafe, the Toasted Cheese Sandwich from Jolly Holiday Bakery, and even the Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings from Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar!
Once Disneyland reopens, it’s likely those dishes will go back to the places from whence they came and become more location-specific again, but A Touch of Disney could be setting a precedent for “bending” the rules that Disneyland has stuck to for so many years.
Where else are we seeing Disney re-write their own rule book?
Much of these changes have come out of necessity due to the unprecedented nature of the park closures, but we’ve seen Disney make these sweeping changes in other areas around Disneyland!
Perhaps the biggest and most shocking change came when Disneyland wiped the slate clean with their Annual Passholder Program. Disney CEO Bob Chapek later said in a question and answer interview that eliminating the Passholder program at Disneyland would have been considered “heresy” prior to the pandemic.
While all of Disney California Adventure is closed off to only ticketed guests now, there was a period of nearly four months where Buena Vista Street was wide open for the general public to visit for FREE. Imagine if Disney World opened a portion of one of their theme parks at no cost whatsoever — bonkers, right?!
And while there was an extremely select amount of merchandise from Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge available for purchase in and around Tomorrowland prior to the closures, Disney made another big move by offering essentially all of their Galaxy’s Edge merchandise — items that, when the land opened, were meant to be exclusively available “on-world” in that location — at the new Star Wars Trading Post in Downtown Disney.
The Trading Post, found in the former location of Rainforest Cafe, is a more permanent version of what Disneyland offered at WonderGround Gallery. Now, you don’t have to wait to visit Galaxy’s Edge to purchase lightsabers from Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquities — you can pick one up on your way out from Downtown Disney!
If there’s anything we have learned from the past year, it’s that Disney as a company has been forced to pivot in its operations, and at times make some unprecedented decisions in how to shape the guest experience. We can surely expect more of these changes to come as 2021 continues, so be prepared for the unexpected! Also, be sure to follow along — we’ll make sure you have the most up-to-date information when it comes to Disneyland’s reopening (THIS FRIDAY!!), as well as Disney World’s continued phased reopening!
Do you live in California and are planning on visiting Disneyland soon? Let us know in the comments!