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 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!


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.


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.


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.


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


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?


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.


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.


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.


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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  • dmomof4

    Three Kings day will be celebrated at Festival Arena this year

  • OriginalMousekteer

    The major point of the refurbishment of Minnie’s house was to add a back door for Minnie to come and go. They cut a door from the house into her garden, and then in the back wall from her garden to backstage, which requires steps (I forget which cast amenity was relocated). Then it’s a short walk down the alley to the ToonTown character department which contains all the heads and costumes for characters in the rear and westside of the park.

    It’s always fun backstage to see one or more characters coming backstage while their replacements are passing them to go on.

    • Thank you so much for your comment. VERY helpful info!

  • Skimbob

    Indiana Jones was open for testing today and I got to ride it. The ride was great and it looked like they added a few little touches but I could be wrong since I don’t know the ride like many of the other fans do. I am just happy to have the ride back running.

  • Quentin

    The video of Indiana Jones does not work. It says “this video is private” wtf?

  • CandyPandora

    I thought Nemo was the most expensive ride to maintain… Could this be a myth?

  • jjmaneja

    I would love to get some advice on how to approach the Candlelight Procession, as I am traveling there next weekend. Any place we should consider sitting for the best view? How early should I arrive there to get a solid view?

    • Monorail Man

      Even for a Friday night, there was plenty of standing area in front of Mr. Lincoln for both the 5:30 show and the 7:30 show, and it was a busy Friday night. While the seated areas were full, most had a good view. The line had formed by about 4:30.

  • ayalexander

    The “WDW” stands for Walkway Distribution Water. It was welded for the 3rd shift cast that need to know which water main is made for the hoses, because sometimes they use the wrong water main. Disney uses reclaimed water for the walkways, but sometimes cast get confused and maybe use the emergecy hydrant pipes.

  • darkamor

    Another great update … filled with awesome pictures … it almost feels like I’m back @ the Happiest Place On Earth :-)

    C J