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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  • Tinkbelle

    I’ll have to see the way the bridge looks in person. i thought before it went well with the Carthay and now there is more contrast.

    That crane is an eyesore. I hope it isn’t there for long. Nothing can be quite as bad as when the castle was under tarps, though.

    • mratigan

      it may be there for a long time
      that is the main way to drop in and take out the track

  • DisneyDrums

    Good show today. The side of Mater’s in the tent really needed to get some serious attention. I’m glad for that. 60 min for Racers? The first time I got to see it, it was around 65 min, so that’s awesome! Hopefully, my next trip will be when it’s FINALLY baseball season again, and the Oakland A’s are at the Angels. GO A’S!

    • Chesire

      Glad to see there’s a fellow A’s fan here! : )

  • Gregg Condon

    Great update!!!

    How is Fantasmic going to come back on Feb 15 when the Mark Twain is in Dry Dock until March 28?

    • They do a stage number instead of using the boat. Happens all the time.

    • Bruce Bergman

      Fantasmic! has an alternate ending on the stage when the Twain is down. It’s… Different. :-|

      It’s the Columbia they can’t really work around, when it’s down for repairs the show normally goes down with it – without Peter Pan’s high-wire work and Hook swinging off the fantail as Tic-Toc the Croc looks on hungrily, it makes the show pointless.

  • Cappy

    I saw the bridge yesterday and thought it looked great! I also saw the crane at Big Thunder and it is HUGE. Jopefully it won’t be there all summer.

  • Malin

    I also wonder if Disney will add references to the in development Big Thunder TV Series like WDW is doing on its own Big Thunder Mountain attraction. Also glad I’m not the only one who feels Princess and the Frog is terribly underrated.

    • The music in particular is upbeat, fun and just perfect for New Orleans Square. Some version of this show should always be used on busy days.

  • weeble

    absolutely lovey photos of buena vista street and carsland!

  • 4Apples4Disney

    Another great update!

  • bfdf55

    I’m wondering what they are doing to Mater’s that requires a TENT? Is the work so significant
    that they don’t want ANYONE getting any sort of look at what’s going on?

    • Spongeocto4

      I thought the repair work involved ripping out the concrete.

  • Spongeocto4

    Thanks for the update

  • OriginalMousekteer

    “No major changes were made to the attraction during the return to the classic attraction.” (Haunted Mansion)

    Well, yeah–except for replacing the brass chains in the Portrait Hallway with shiny ones and polishing the bat finials. Also opening the wheelchair gate in the middle of the load belt and installing a new lock/unlock switch on the front console. It remains to be seen whether this will speed up the load cycle for wheelchair parties (which include service animals who walk in/not carried).

    In addition, an arbitrary clampdown on safety regulations (related to “suspicious noises”) has resulted in numerous written safety violations at the Mansion (which impose a mandatory 18-month restriction on promotion or transfer on the cast member), including two working leads, one of whom quit on the spot. I’m sure it has nothing to do with coming negotiations for the Master Services Contract (governing the four major unions at the resort).

    Fortunately management has no clue about the animal carcass buried under the pet cemetary by a former cast member.

  • JMazz

    Wow. That crane seems overly large. I assumed a crane would be on site, but i didn’t imagine it would be this soon, and wouldn’t be that large. I guess a big job needs a massive crane. It isn’t the hight that strikes me, it is the length. I guess it needs to reach from BTtrail all the way to the backstage area near the second lift hill. In a way, despite those who say it is an eye-sore, I hope it is there in a month or two when I go back. I want to see it myself!

    I like the idea of the contrasted paint job on the bridge, but they have the faux finish/texture all wrong. I hope it is just the first layer. Using that technique, it needs to be done a few more times with decreasing opacity and/or needs a paint washed finish. Right now it looks like a shabby job someone tried to replicate after seeing an episode on HGTV.

  • diva98ri

    At least you can enjoy limited magic #3 -the Bayou Bash @ Disneyland

    Enjoy this video from the first shows of the series. Really fun shows.


  • Athlonacon

    California Adventure is a theme park, not a museum. If they want to paint the bridge so it looks better and bolder inside a theme park, go right ahead. I couldn’t care less about authenticity in that park, as long as it looks good… which it does (at least in pictures, not sure about real life).

  • Bruce Bergman

    On the Multi-Day Ticket abuse – Perhaps we need separate Turnstile lines for AP’s Only, or some other method to herd all the potential Abuse Cases to one set of turnstiles. Because no matter which line you pick they ALL stall at random as they hit one of these parties.

    I applaud that they are Finally getting serious about this – but it messes it up for everyone too.

    Wouldn’t bother me if they permanently installed Cameras at every turnstile, then it would capture that tracking picture and link it to that ticket media automagically on their first entry.

    And they could have a system that pings on obvious mis-matches of AP photos, too. It’s not unheard-of to have Passbacks