Refurbished Magic at the Disneyland Resort – Indy Reopens!

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in Disneyland Resort, In the Parks

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Published on December 07, 2012 at 5:02 am with 30 Comments

Refurbishments, ride closures, and upkeep are all part of the life of any well-maintained theme park.  Disneyland has been maintaining things nicely ever since the 50th anniversary and it is to be commended.  It’s all that upkeep that keeps a nearly 60 year old park looking like new. Today, we anticipate the return of Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye after a major six month refurbishment. Are there any major changes that can be seen or was all the work under the hood? Meanwhile, other parts of the park have come out from behind the refurb screens as Minnie’s house looks fresh and pretty and Big Thunder Trail has reopened for passage as well. Through all of this, Candlelight continues at the front and only entrance into the 57 year old theme park.

INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF
THE FORBIDDEN EYE SOFT OPENS

Indiana Jones is scheduled to officially reopen to guests tomorrow morning. However, construction walls are now down and the ride soft opened around 9:30am. Since opening, the ride has been up and down, so if you intend to ride today, you should be aware that the soft opening could be concluded at any time. The attraction has been down for an extensive, and much needed, refurbishment.  As was expected, the major work on the attraction is not readily apparent to park guests.

This morning, the construction walls were down and cast members line the entry. Since we took this picture at opening the ride has soft opened to guests!

Crowds build around the stand-by entrance.

Then, after 9:30am the first guests finally enter the temple.

The attraction has been cleaned up, retouched and repainted. Most notable are the lightning strikes in the first scene where Indy is holding back the two large doors, clearer bug room projections relit snake room, and a restored hallway mural in the dart room.

We apologize ahead of time for the poor quality of the photos.  This is a particularly difficult ride to capture as it is dark and turbulent.

The ride begins.

The multiple door effect is back up and running in tip-top shape.

The variable effects seem to be operable again.

LOOK! Both eyes smoke again!

The lightening strikes in the first large chamber room.

The lighting on the cobra is distinctly different.

The ending scene is slightly darker.

But the ride vehicles themselves benefited from the most substantial refurbishments.  The attraction, the most expensive one to maintain in Disneyland, had literally been shaking itself apart with its rough, daily routine. A more thorough repair of the entire fleet of jeeps was what the bulk of this refurbishment was about.

No, the ride’s rougher edge has not been restored. The movement is still considerably muted compared to what it was when it opened in 1995. You can’t feel the heat from the flames in the Mara statue. Don’t even think about looking for the restored falling ceiling effect that broke just months after the attraction debuted. While major in scope, that wasn’t the point of this refurb. They addressed the issues with the vehicles and all are just like new again. But in the process they also updated key scenes to enhance the attraction. Nice work Disney!

BIG THUNDER TRAIL

After a very efficient refurbishment, Big Thunder Trail has reopened. The area was closed to allow for a replanking of the bridge connecting the trail to the rest of Frontierland.  The smell of fresh polyurethane still lingers and the boards are tightly placed.  Everything is aged and you’d never guess that major work was just completed here.

More of Big Thunder Trail, including the rock work near the exit of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, are emerging as well.

ZOCALO PARK

Disney has announced that Three-Kings-Day will return to Disneyland Park on January 4th, 5th and 6th. But, as of now, nothing is happening in the area.  Although, there are some lovely terra cotta pots to enjoy.

MICKEY’S TOONTOWN

Back in ToonTown, Minnie Mouse’s home and wishing well have been revealed. But that isn’t even the big news. Sure the filling station is looking better than ever.  But Bennie, we repeat, Bennie the Cab is back above the entrance to Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin. What took you so long pal, we missed you?!

On our way over to Minnie’s house we noticed these red holiday ribbons on the light posts.

Strangely obtrusive, we saw two separate guests brush them with their heads while not paying attention.

Minnie’s home is back and just as beautiful as ever. The wishing well near the house sparkles and the paint and plantings nearby are beautiful.

Now, if they could just paint the shabby walls behind her house.

It went unnoticed before, but we also have to commend the work done on the filling station restroom buildings.  The colors seem to really pop with the radiant ink and paint feel that the area aims to achieve.  very nice work.

Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin finally has its resident cab back in his rightful place above the entrance.  The bright, yellow, and animated figure teeters back and forth precariously over guests as they enter.

Glad to see you too buddy!

The tire is even spinning.

FANTASYLAND THEATRE

The archway above leading to the Fantasyland Theatre is behind scaffolds.  The last vestiges of the Princess Fantasy Faire are finally being removed.

SPACE ODDITY

While visiting the park for the MiceChat noon meet last weekend, a fellow MiceChatter brought a very strange thing to our attention.  Near the entrance to Tomorrowland there is an odd walkway cover.

Is One Disney covering this now too? Or is this a secret portal to Orlando?

FILMING ON MAIN STREET

On Wednesday, filming took place for an upcoming Christmas special.  Patrick Warburton sat atop the final parade float used in the Christmas Fantasy Parade. He portrayed a silly, Warburtonesque, Santa while waving to the crowd.

CANDLELIGHT AND MAIN STREET

Six nights in and Disneyland has yet to experience any of the gridlock conditions we were worried about with 20 nights of Candlelight.  Despite a few cancellations, the actual performances have been going wonderfully.  Operationally speaking, there isn’t much to report on at the moment either.  From the several cast members we spoke with, things are going smoothly so far, in part due to a major crowd control effort.  The only notable change behind the scenes is that the Pumba Cast member parking area has been handed over to the volunteers for the performances.

Surprisingly, the guests seem to be taking the traffic pinch in stride. During last nights performance featuring Edward James Olmos, a respectable sized crowd watched as the traffic in and out of the park flowed around them.

Looking down Main Street towards the front of the park. Traffic out was kept on the sidewalks to the right.

Guests entering the park flowed in on the opposite side of the street.

Day guests that wanted to stop and watch the performance were allowed to do so, inside the viewing area of course.

The entire set of doors leading into the Disney Showcase were closed to help with crowd control.

In the end, the weekday performances seem to be smooth sailing thanks to the crowd control Cast Members who work to keep things moving.  The real test will be what may happen over the coming weekends or during the shows featuring more popular celebrities.


Disney California Adventure continues its record breaking holiday season with unprecedented attendance and an impressive amount of polish. While there aren’t any major refurbishments going on in this park, there are a few tid bits of note.

MORE INTERESTING MERCHANDISE

Oswald the Luck Rabbit isn’t new, but he is very popular. We found his vintage looking plush back in stock this week along with a few new, tasteful t-shirts.

He can be yours for the low, low price of $31.95

This shirt is actually pretty cool. Love the retro look.

Here’s another retro style piece.

And don’t forget to pick up your Prep and Landing Vinylmation figures.

GARLAND REMOVED FROM THE FF&P

In a strange change, the garland above the counters at the Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Cafe have been removed. They once represented the Three Little Pigs with a garland of straw, a garland of twigs and a garland of brick.

Let’s hope it returns soon.

What a week. Indiana Jones has returned, Candlelight moves forward, and the park gamely entertains thousands a day. Just another average walk in the park at the Disneyland Resort.

Have you been enjoying the holiday season in the parks?

About Norman Gidney

Norman Gidney, also known as Fishbulb, produces and edits many of the articles on MiceChat. Tune in every Tuesday for the Orlando Parkhopper and every Friday for In The Parks. But you'll also find his photos in the Weekly Round Up, SAMLAND, and numerous other columns on the site.

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30 Comments

Comments for Refurbished Magic at the Disneyland Resort – Indy Reopens! are now closed.

  1. It’s such an amazing sight to see so much work going on at Disneyland. The Park is 57, but you wouldn’t think it. The one Disney slogan fails so much. Because while many parts of WDW look tired and dated. Disneyland looks fresh and modern. And has an exciting future ahead.

  2. We saw Candlelight on Wednesday evening and we were shocked by the lack of crowds. Disney did an awesome job. Kurt Russell gave a special Happy Birthday nod to Walt which was very moving and receved a great amount of applause. Indy was still behind walls as of noon yesterday. I will be over there again this afternoon and hopefully I get to ride it. Crowds have been very comfortable compared to September when we came down for the Halloween Party. Benny the cab looked great. I tried also to get a view of the Fantasy Theater from the train. They were working on the roofing of the booth but it doesn’t look like there is any action going on at the stage area.

  3. Could that “WDW” cover be “Walt Disney Water”? I had heard on the news, a cast member working at DCA siad it snows there. Did she mean it snows at DL, or do they have something at DCA as well?

    • It snows for a bit during the band’s performances during Mad T Party at DCA as part of the holiday additions for that event. Towards the end of the performance, they do a couple of Christmas songs (which change for different sets) and the snow happens then.

  4. I am surprised the fire department allows Disney to block doors from their stores during operating hours. Seems like a huge lawsuit if anything were to happen just to allow a select few to see a candlelight show.

  5. the doors seem to just be closed and not locked and the stores have other alternatives for exits so i don’t think it would be an issue

    • Of course it’s an issue. If the “alternatives” are blocked by an emergency, and these merchandise racks are blocking the other exits, what do you suppose happens?

      In the age of Disney putting up rails and safety precautions everywhere, I am surprised this is allowed to get by.

  6. I can confirm that is indeed a portal to WDW. I was kind of hoping it would stay a secret but I guess all good secrets get out sometime. I was told it’s not publicized because it can not accommodate handicapped or plus-sized guest; in fact it is not listed as an official attraction and most cast members will plead ignorance or deny it’s existence. It is certainly a nice way to expand your vacation, I know it’s saved us lots and lots of money in air fare!

  7. Thanks for a great update on my 2 favorite Disney Parks!

    With the constant peeling paint issue on the Toontown backdrop, they need to come up with an alternative method/material. I’m glad to see more Oswald merchandise being added(it was too sparse this summer).

  8. I’ve just updated the article. Indy has now soft opened! I’m ready to look into the eyes of the idol!!!

    • And updated again with a few iPhone photos from Fishbulb.

    • And we have even more photos from Fishbulb added to the Indiana Jones coverage. Video on the way.

  9. Fantastic photos and update.

    And yep, definitely a portal to Orlando. It’s just big enough for them to send me a Citrus Swirl…

  10. I can see from the pictures that there are safety railings on the old Peoplemover track. A lot different than when it first opened and they had all those people standing up there, with no railings. Now maybe they can put some up along Main Street. Somebody might step off a curb, you know.

    Why don’t they just change the name to Coney Island and get it over with, as they continue to ruin the place with their scatter brained ideas (can anybody say Tarzan’s Treehouse?). And, by the way, Nemo and Buzz Lightyear belong in Toon Town, not Tomorrowland–and Michael Jackson belongs nowhere…

  11. It is very cool to have Indy back. I loved the update. Thanks.

  12. Let’s start with a positive – I love the retro merchandise! It brings me back to my youth when I visited The Park with my extended family.
    However, in Disneyland, can we get merch that doesn’t have the “RESORT” on the logo? As in merch that just says “Disneyland” instead of “Disneyland Resort”. That is a big reason I do not buy new t-shirts and sweatshirts, coats, etc now. I’m in Disneyland, can I buy something that reminds me of which park I was in? Isn’t that the purpose of a souvenir? The Resort concept is lost on me and I don’t like it.
    Let’s finish with a positive. I love the Cars Land merch and bought some of that on our last trip in October 2012. With the addition of Cars Land, I feel so much better about all the additions to DCA and it’s really made a huge difference with our family. We’re planning another trip next summer and there was quite a bit of discussion whether to go from Seattle to WDW or back to DL. Cars Land was the difference maker and hopefully when we go this summer, we can buy some park-specific t-shirts and sweatshirts that remind of our trip to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.

    • @InspiredByWalt
      “However, in Disneyland, can we get merch that doesn’t have the “RESORT” on the logo? As in merch that just says “Disneyland” instead of “Disneyland Resort”. ”

      The problem is that the intellectual property attorneys insist on adhering to the technical requirement that “Disneyland”, as a trademark, is an adjective and requires a noun to follow, i.e., “Park” or “Resort”.

      I share your displeasure, but my personal pet peeve is on the closing spiel. It now says “we hope you have enjoyed your visit to the magic kingdom” instead the traditional “Walt Disney’s magic kingdom. There are several magic kingdoms, only one of which is formally named Magic Kingdom. But only one was EVER Walt Disney’s magic kingdom.

  13. I’ve seen the WDW cover thing before, sure I have a picture of it somewhere. It’s been there for AT LEAST a year, if not more. I don’t know if that’s the only one.

    The resort looks great, sad that your pictures are the only way we’ll get to enjoy it for awhile. :D

  14. I was there all day yesterday. I pretty much stayed away from the front of the Park while Candlelight was going on. Just before the choir came out from backstage and made their turn down Main Street we were able to stand right at the rope and watch them, which was pretty neat. The only impact for me is that several cast members told me the Castle lighting would be at 7 PM. At 7:15 I asked the CM at the wait time board and he said that was what they had been told but now no one was answering his calls. If it was going to happen it had to happen before the next Candlelight performance. Well it didn’t. So we went to see the projections on Small World. Waited for 30 mins and that didn’t happen either and no one knew why. Went back to the Castle and the lighting finally occurred after the end of Candlelight. So that is the only way these performances effected me. If it had just been me, it would not be a big deal but I had a friend with me who has never been to Disneyland at Christmas time and wanted to see all of this.

  15. I wanna be there right now.