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Disneyland to Close Carnation Gardens Plaza, Relocate Swing Dancing Out of Park

Carnations Plaza Gardens is an area of Disneyland that is close to its heart. It is literally adjacent to the hub and figuratively one of the places that was blessed by Walt and personally enjoyed him and Lillian Disney. Many of the couples who danced at the plaza, even through the late 2000’s, had met Walt personally and shared stories of how he felt swing dancing should always have a place there.

The Plaza started as Magnolia Park and was basically a place for Disneyland to store that gazebo that was blocking the view of the castle from Town Square. The band would occasionally play there and the idea formed to turn it into a more permanent grandstand. Since 1956 millions of guests have danced, performed, or just enjoyed a quite mid-day moment in the Plaza

Now Disneyland has announced that as of April 30th, the plaza will be no more. It will eventually be replaced by a character meet and greet area called ‘Fantasy Faire.’ This strikes me, and many others, as a poor use of space so central to the park.

Rumors had been circulating that it had been removed from the chopping blog, but it is not to be. Yes, Fantasy Faire will contain an area for big bands and dancing at night. And, as long as swing dancing returns to the park, it is probably a more efficient use of the space, but it is also a 55 year bit of history just being thrown aside when other other space in the park exist that might be better for meet and greets. Swing Dancers who remember Disneyland’s history of treating them poorly, hope that the temporary location in Downtown Disney is just temporary, instead of a permanent relocation.

More at the OC Register.

Previously: Rose & Dubby, swing dance couple, join Walt.

11 thoughts on “Disneyland to Close Carnation Gardens Plaza, Relocate Swing Dancing Out of Park”

  1. I haven’t been to Disneyland yet, but it sure seems a shame to get rid of it for a meet & greet. In the same vein, I hate that they are tearing down Snow White for a meet & greet. Seems like there HAS to be another spot for that!!! I don’t LOVE the ride, but it is a classic. And I just don’t understand why they couldn’t find a spot in Fantasyland expansion for meet & greet. So again – though I haven’t been, I’m sad it will be gone when I do get there!!! :(

  2. This is a big disappointment and huge mistake. We always looked forward to spending our evenings listening to the great big bands – and the place was always crowded with people – both listening and dancing. Most were “young people” who have learned to appreciate the music – just just “old folks”. I hope Disney really rethinks this one!

  3. I can’t help but feel like Disneyland is catering to young people so much so to the point of pushing older guests away. There are a number of people [including younger swing dancers] who loved and looked forward to swing dancing there on every Saturday night. Also, all the bands who performed there and needed those extra hours of pay will now be out in the cold. Don’t they have enough Princess meet and greets? I seem to recall that Walt’s hope was that Disneyland would be a fun place for both children and their parents [or grandparents]. Don’t return Disneyland to a place where the parents sit on the bench and watch the kids have fun!!!

  4. BAD Move!!! I think you are destroying the Image that That Walt Disney wanted. My dad owned a Music store in the area,He would take us to Disneyland in the past to see the Big Jazz Bands play there. It inspired me to play trumpet and piano. as I got to see Lionell Hampton/Louis Armstrong/Buddy Rich and many more on that stage. and Yes Even me.. I got to play on that stage with the 7th Grade Concert /jazz band.
    Yes I believe It`s a Bad Move.. For all those future schools to miss out on playing at the Original Carnation Plaza Gardens.

  5. Again? For quite some time now, Disney seems to be going backwards.
    About 15 years ago, Disney dropped some great attractions in tomorrowland then left it with a cheap makeover. About 10 years ago, Disney turned a perfectly good parking lot into a failed amusement park. (still trying to fix their big mistake). Yesterday Disney
    closes Carnation Plaza Gardens. Very unpopular. Disney, try shifting from “R” to “D”.

  6. We unexpectedly (and joyfully) twirled across this beautiful gazebo (Carnation Gardens Plaza) with an awesome dance floor October 2011 and joined up with the dancers donning black and white (lots w/ Mickey Mouse ears) for some fun, fun swing dancing to a fab little big band. We decided, that we would come back in fall 2012 to join up again with the dancers/band and spend some more time in the park (and enjoy all the other wonderful attractions both inside and outside the park)! So sad to hear about the closing of the grand icon! We’ll have to re-think returning to the park in fall 2012 without the Plaza and dancing as this would have been a big pull for us. We vote for keeping big band and swing dance alive within the irreplaceable Plaza, an icon of music and dance from the past (Mr. and Mrs. Disney are a testament to this) that blends to perfection young and “mature” folks dancing up a storm on the floor! Thank you for your time and consideration, Ted and Katy Ryan (Northern California)

  7. My wife and I went to Disneyland several years ago and danced here. It’s a shame that this type of nostalgia is gone.

  8. This is the absolute worst refurbishment decision Disney has ever made.
    I am so devastated that an icon of historical turn-of-the-century style architecture intended to be part of Main Street USA and enjoyed for over a half a century by all ages is being gutted to make way for a more-of-the-same meet-and-greet Fantasyland village. How myopic can they be?!

    I agree that Carnation Plaza was the heart of what Walt created Disneyland to be…a nostalgic, idyllic place mulitiple generations could enjoy together. I also agree the present administration seems to be taking away the things most cherished by the older generations and replacing them with just more youth-oriented stimulation.

    Bring back the Americana-themed bandstand in its original form. Disneyland is no longer Disneyland without it. It is not simply a ride or attraction…it represents the heart of what Main Street USA is about, and what Disneyland was created by Walt to be! There are many like my husband and me who have been enjoying the Big Band music and dancing here for decades! Swing Dancing in a Princess tent just doesn’t make sense!!! It seems to be escaping the proponents of this soulless abomination that the NOSTALGIC American historical setting is what made Swing Dancing here so magical. Walt would never have allowed this. BRING BACK CARNATION PLAZA…move it to another part of the Main Street area if you must, but PLEASE rebuild it and give generations to come the historical setting for enjoying the quintessentially American music and dance we and previous generations have enjoyed.

    We, too, will not be renewing our passes until this is resolved, as Saturday Swing Dancing Date Nights were our main reason for getting them all these years!

  9. John-Michael Mahnke

    Hi, I use to live on the central coast of California. I`ve been to Disneyland five times in my life. I sang in the High School Choir and we went on tour to Disneyland and stayed at the Disneyland Hotel. I performed with the Choir at the Carnation Plaza Gardens and got videotaped.I was looking up Carnation Plaza Gardens on my computer one time, I saw that it was closing and being tranformed into fantasy faire. I`de hate to see the the Carnation Plaza Gardens stage be transformed into something else. To me they should have found the room to put the Fantasy Faire someplace else. I think Walt Disney would be very apalled by it being transformed. I think it would be too sad to see it be transformed into something else, its like an artifact that cannot be replaced. I think that they should keep the Carnation Plaza Gardens have the swing dances and the performance on the stage too. Id would be a nice spot to relax from walking around. I think Disneyland would not be the same without Carnation Plaza Gardens. I think they should rebuild it.
    John-Michael Mahnke (Safety Harbor Florida)

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