Disneyland Big Thunder Under a Crane, Mansion reopened, Grizzly Down

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in Buena Vista Street, Cars Land, Disney, Disneyland Resort, In the Parks

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Published on January 18, 2013 at 4:03 am with 46 Comments

Quite a bit is happening at the Disneyland Resort this week.  Today marks the return of the classic version of The Haunted Mansion since Jack Skellington moved in last September.  We also get another dose of Limited Time Magic in the form of Bayou Bash along the shores of the Rivers of America.  But the big news, literally, is the large crane looming over Big Thunder Mountain as part of a 10 month refurbishment.  Rounding things out we check up on the progress at the Fantasy Faire Village and we stroll through Disney California Adventure and find Grizzly River Run under its winter refurbishment as well as a new paint job for the bridge on Buena Vista Street.

At the front gate, Cast Members continue to work to avert multi-day ticket abuse by taking a photo of each ticket holder and assigning it to their ticket.

Last week, we photographed bland green scaffolding screens shrouding the Main Street Train Station at the front of the park.  Just a day later, the more aesthetically pleasing mural wrap treatment was installed.  It’s these touches that make refurbishments easier to take. According to  Micechat member, lnsemsf, the Main Street Station will be down until March 28, 2013.

Inside the park, Spring is already beginning to bloom in Town Square.

Disneyland maps are no longer sponsored by Kodak as the long time Disney sponsor is slowly removed from the park.  However, Disneyland still uses the back of the park map to promote photos via its own PhotoPass service.  It’s an easy transition that makes a lot of sense.



Looming high above the skies of Frontierland, a massive crane is in place to aid in the 10 month Big Thunder Mountain Railroad refurbishment.  This is a testament to the thorough nature of the overhaul planned for this 34 year old attraction.

The crane towers above the masts of the Sailing Ship Columbia.

Rainbow Ridge still visible… for now.

Caution tape is already up on portions of the track near the station.

You can clearly see the base of the large crane parked on Big Thunder Trail.


On Thursdays Fridays and Saturdays Big Thunder Trail is reopened to help with crowd flow.  However, the base of the crane takes up one half of the walk way.  All of the construction is behind nicely themed walls and not easily visible.



The Mark Twain Riverboat is in dry dock for a top-to-bottom refurbishment through March 28th.  Around the dock that also serves as seating for diners for Fowler’s Harbor, large walls have gone up.

Access ends just around the corner, at the front of the Mark Twain boat.


After nearly 5 months of Halloween/Christmas at the Haunted Mansion, the classic ride finally returns.  No major changes were made to the attraction during the return to the classic attraction.

The pet cemetery is back to normal.

Leotta is stationary at the moment.


You can thank Limited Time Magic for returning Tiana to New Orleans Square.  Bayou Bash will be offered weekends through February 12th. This event offers special foods, gifts, and face painting in New Orleans Square.

The highlight of the celebrations are the two live performances.  The first featuring characters from the terribly underrated film The Princess and the Frog.

Also performing in the area is the WONDERFUL Traditional New Orleans Jazz Band

The show is pure unadulterated joy.  The music is brash, infectious and the performers really give it their all.  In particular the Grand Marshall seems to have boundless energy and was a real stand out.

The area restaurants offer special food items too. Here is the menu from Cafe Orleans.


During the early part of the week the Golden Horseshoe is rather quiet.  But every Thursday through Monday from now until Feb. 4, the Salute to the Golden Horseshoe Revue continues its Limited Time Magic run.  Our review and video of the Tribute to the Golden Horseshoe Review is available HERE.


The nighttime spectacular, Fantasmic, is currently down for refurbishment and is expected to return on Friday, February 15th.

Lots of equipment to be cleaned and refurbished.

Did you realize that those fountain arrays were so complicated?


More details emerge at the Fantasy Faire village.  The future, permanent home for the wildly profitable Disney Princess. They’ll be meet-and-greeting by late Spring 2013.

Aside from the Grizzly River Run refurbishment, all is pretty much back to normal for Disney California Adventure.  In fact, even Cars Land has mellowed out recently with wait times maxing out at 60 minutes for Racers. But there was one little surprise on Buena Vista Street on Thursday.  Let’s look at what’s going on.


Buena Vista Street is starting 2013 off in a regal fashion.  The ornate beauty of this area is plainly visible again without the “clutter” of the holiday decorations.  Months after opening, this is still just as beautiful and impressive.

This week the Hyperion bridge was repainted.  Entering the park, the archways are a bright, off-white.

Shot taken Wednesday, January 16th.

The opposite side is an orange-ish color. Shot taken Wednesday, January 16th.

Photo taken Thursday, January 17th heading into the park.

Compare the above shot with this one from a day before the street opened.

A tale of two towers. It’s certainly a warmer and very different look. Taken Wednesday, January 16th.

Trees have returned to the planter in front of Elias and Company.


The seasonal Grizzly refurbishment continues and will last until mid-march.  We are told this is for normal maintenance and repairs.  No major changes are expected.

The water levels near Pacific Wharf are much higher as this is the storage reservoir for water used on the attraction.

The ride may be closed, but it makes the ducks very happy.


We end our Disney California Adventure tour in Cars Land where things are rolling smoothly and where lines are actually reasonable.  The big E-ticket, Radiator Springs Racers, maxed out at 60 minutes for most of the week. Luigi’s Tires hovered between 5-10 minute waits.

And finally the right hand side of Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree is under a large tent to facilitate refurbishment.  Thankfully the ride has two separately operating platforms and can remain open.

Here we end our Disneyland Resort update for this week.  Don’t miss your opportunity to see the Golden Horseshoe Revue while it’s here, and if that’s not your style, the Ghost Host is back at home in the Haunted Mansion.

Well, that’s what we’ve got for you today, but there’s more from Al Lutz, Dusty Sage and Doug Barnes in the iTunes chart topping MiceChat Podcast. Find out what Al has to say about the recent change in Disneyland park management, the upcoming FastPass+ system and lots more.

Listen to the latest podcast in the player below – OR – find us in iTunes or the direct link to the podcast on our Libsyn Feed.

Check back with us this afternoon as we will update this article with photos and video of the reopened Haunted Mansion as well as the Limited Time Magic show, Bayou Bash. We hope to see you again soon, 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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  • Trumpet

    Great Update Norman

    I personlly think the bridge’s new colour scheme is not as good as the original. Maybe I need to see it in person

    Thanks Again Norman


  • Jeff Heimbuch

    I’m totally bummed that the Mark Twain and Main St Stations are going to be under refurb when I get there in 2 weeks. Aww man!

    Thanks for the update, Norm!

  • Kateyandstitch

    I hate when a big focal point goes under the plastic wrap, but I love the result. Its worth it for a fresh park!

  • BrerBear

    How extensive will the BTMR refurb be? Will we see drastic changes to the ride or is this just part of the regular scheduled maintenance from the abuse, wear, and tear from the mad holiday season? I hope Disney doesn’t “improve” another ride to immolate the rumored BTMR movie. It would be a shame to lose another nostalgic ride like they did with Pirates.

    • second blue teacup

      I think the Fire Marshall would have something to say about them immolating it.

      • BrerBear

        Ha! Stupid auto spell check! Yes burning it to the ground would be bad. But if they emulate the rumored movie it could prove to be a poor outcome as well. Then they might as well “immolate” the ride!

  • judearmstrong

    I’m surprised the Resort didn’t request the crane to be painted a bluish color so it would blend into the sky and you wouldn’t have the yellow eye soar over Frontierland :-P

    • That’s a clever idea!

    • OriginalMousekteer

      You mean “Big Thunder Mine Crane”?


      I’m sure cranes are yellow for legal reasons.

    • Marko50

      Y’know, I was there last weekend and I didn’t notice the crane at all. I don’t know if this says more about Disney or my, um, sleuthing skills. Seems the more I go, the more I become a regular ol’ tourist. ;-)

  • MrTour

    I don’t like the new paint on the Buena Vista bridge. I think it takes away from the LA feeling. NOT true to the original.

  • eicarr

    They need to HURRY and redo Tomorrowland while they have this current creative team in place. The new bridge paint job, the new fantasyland area… Everything they touch is golden.

  • Puck2DaHead

    I like the new paint job to the bridge. If you saw the old one, it was VERY bright. Maybe that was more true to form, but I think the warm colors of the bridge add to the warmth of the rest of the area.

    I really do think that the details of the creative team are FANTASTIC; however, I’m kind of displeased with the attractions that have been installed and created lately. They seem forced and linear,and …unoriginal.

    I’m hoping that something original is created for Tomorrowland when it is finally redone.

  • Mickey777

    That’s one big a** crane…

    The new paint scheme on hyperion bridge looks great though. I always felt like BVS needs a tad more color.

  • I really like the warmer tones on the bridge. Buena Vista Street should feel like a place you want to hang out in – eat, shop, socialize. This simple color change, helps promote that feeling and make the area seem more friendly. The whites and brights are better saved for Tomorrowland.

    REALLY impressed with the detail work on the new Princess Fantasy Faire. While I’ll likely never set foot there, It will look nice from a distance and goes perfectly with the adjacent castle.

    • FlubberZorro

      I hope one day there is a Queen Fantasy Faire. I would love that.

  • napamaninsocal

    I wonder if the orange of the Hyperion Bridge is homage to the Golden Gate Bridge?

    • ayalexander

      o_o golden gate bridge is clay red.

  • DisW

    The metal handrail that state bureaucrats not too long ago forced the Disney Co to install above the traditional bannister in the Golden Horseshoe is ridiculous. Unattractive and silly. But I guess in the over 50 years of running that theater, so many people have accidentally fallen over the edge of the original rail. Also, thanks to Cal/OSHA for making the Alice in Wonderland ride more safe, secure and beautiful too. Quite a bit of lurking danger to workers existed In over 50 years of that attraction’s existence.

    I hope our benevolent overseers in Sacramento next go after the type of food that’s served in the park. Sugar and fat are another danger, and are almost as deadly as the original bannister in the Golden Horseshoe theater!

  • DisW

    The new colors on the Hyperion Bridge make the structure “pop.” In comparison, the original flat white gave it kind of a washed-out look, a less distinctive look. However, I would guess the simpler, plain paint job was more accurate to the way such a bridge would have been handled in real life.

    By the way, has such a large crane ever hovered over an existing attraction in Disneyland throughout its history? Or over any attraction, new or old, period. I would guess so, but I don’t recall ever seeing a photo of such a noticeable sign of construction work in the past.

    • ayalexander

      the matterhorn was constructed with such a crane. other attractions were constructed from smaller cranes.

    • Spongeocto4

      There was a crane when dvc wing in Grand california was being built and/or when world of color was being assembled.

  • Rongo

    Since that BTMRR construction crane is parked on Big Thunder Trail – which is closed during weekdays during construction – can I assume that the crane goes away on weekends, when the Trail is open?

    • Bruce Bergman

      Looks like the initial Grove mobile hydraulic boom crane that got photographed was only there to dig the footing and install the Liebherr tower crane there now. And it went away on the weekends, and now it’s totally gone.

      From what I can tell they put in a permanent footing for The Liebherr tower crane just behind the walkway split-rail fence, and it’s there to stay – buried when they get done, ready to reuse in another 30 years. So if they don’t have “Construction Cruft” in the way they can open the path on the weekends.

      Had we known the plans a few months ago, we could have suggested the Sky Blue paint job – which CAL-OSHA would have summarily nixed.. Spoil-sports…

  • RodeToad

    I think the new paint job does a great job of making the bridge it’s own, distinctive, element on the street, separating it from the stores.

    As the original bridge was never butted up against a department store or a store front (of course) – I think it created a unique challenge – how not to make the whole block look like it was sprayed by the same stucco and paint (Not that I think Buena Vista St. looks like that, but it can be argued that it’s close.) I think this paint job does a good of addressing that, even if it is not exactly authentic. If you want to get picky – the majority of the original bridge was just unpainted concrete… not very attractive for a theme park entrance!

    Nice update.