No parades at Disney’s California Adventure for most of 2011

One classic part of the Disney theme park experience – the afternoon parade – will be missing from Disney’s California Adventure for most of next year.

The Pixar Play Parade can be seen at the park through Jan. 3, but then it’s not expected back until November. The hiatus is a result of a major overhaul of Disney’s second California theme park.

The Orange County Register reports that Disney will have roaming street shows, called Pixar Pop-Ups, in the parade’s place. The mini-shows will feature characters from popular Pixar movies such as The Incredibles and Monsters, Inc.

The overhaul at Disney’s California Adventure is expected to be complete in 2012. Disney is spending $1 billion on the project to makeover the theme park. For most of next year, the major projects will be worked on.

What does that mean for visitors? Lots of construction walls, and temporary closings of corridors, eateries, shops and other venues at the park. While Disney regularly closes rides and venues for refurbishment, these kinds of major interruptions are always a risky business, because many potential visitors may decide to delay a trip to Anaheim until they can see the finished project.

[Image credit: Flickr user HarshLight]

Duffy the Disney Bear – New face to see (and buy) at Disney Parks

If you are planning at trip to Disneyland Resort or Walt Disney World at the holidays, you will likely encounter Duffy the Disney Bear.

And when you do, I imagine you will likely think, “Hey, who the heck is this?”

No, you’ve never seen Duffy in a Disney movie. He’s never been in a Mickey Mouse cartoon or a Pixar animated short. And he’s not the star of a new series for preschoolers on the Disney Channel.

Duffy the Disney Bear is the first character conceived and introduced solely in Disney Parks. That’s right – Disney made him so that they could sell you another souvenir.

Duffy’s “backstory” is that he was sewn by Minnie Mouse as a present for Mickey, to accompany him on his travels around the world. We here at Gadling told you this summer how many grown men take teddy bears on business trips, I suppose grown mice need a stuffed animal to cuddle on their business trips, too.

Duffy was introduced as a costumed character at Epcot and Disney’s California Adventure this fall after six years of popularity at Tokyo Disneyland Resort. In Tokyo, Duffy is such a craze that young women line up outside Disney stores when a new Duffy outfit is released.

And just in time for Black Friday shopping, he is being sold in three sizes at Disney’s Florida and California theme parks, along with a variety of outfits, Duffy keychains and other souvenirs. The Orlando Sentinel reports that about three dozen Duffy items are expected to arrive in the coming year.

In addition to his souvenirs, Duffy has a shiny new Facebook page with more than 5,000 fans.