In The Parks: Yellow Sky Tower Ride at Disneyland, Fantasy Faire, Refurbishments and Celebrations

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

Tagged: , , ,


Published on January 25, 2013 at 4:03 am with 40 Comments

There’s a ray of light at the Disneyland Resort as the Blue Sky Preview Center in Disney California Adventure opens a new exhibit featuring the new Fantasy Faire Village.  But that isn’t all that is going on.  Refurbishments are common this time of year, especially for the water rides.  Splash Mountain, it’s a small world and Grizzly River Run are all down for their annual clean up.  Big Thunder Mountain is powering through the beginning stages of its nearly year long refurbishment as a massive yellow crane towers high above it all.  But sadly, even after a major overhaul, the Matterhorn is already showing discouraging signs of wear.  Let’s get to it, shall we?


As the progress at the Princess Fantasy Faire plays out behind construction walls, we see the layered, multi textured details being slathered onto this potential gold mine.  Thankfully, they are working the look of it nicely into the overall feel of Fantasyland and the nearby Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.


The Mark Twain Riverboat is still in dry dock refurbishment through March 28th.  Around the dock that also serves as seating for diners for Fowler’s Harbor, large walls have gone up. However, we can still see some of the work which is going into making this show piece of an attraction really shine again.


As construction rolls along on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, a strange phenomenon has started occurring.  Guests have been asking how they get to the big tall yellow ride. We watched in amazement as a cast member had to diplomatically explain to guests that the structure is a crane used for construction, not an attraction. It’s true, some guests really do seem to check their brains at the front gate!

The crane is visible from the Rivers of America.

Fantasyland has a nice view of it too.

It looks like so much FUN! Where do we go to ride it?

In the meantime, work continues at the base of the ride, er, crane at Big Thunder.

Trees obscure the view of Rainbow Ridge and the station.

Tool crates populate the track.

Compressors for welding.

They have modified the construction fences to allow access to this dining platform during the week.

Big Thunder Mountain will be back up within 10 months.


The famous drop down Chickapin hill is currently dry as Splash Mountain is down for maintenance until Friday, February 15.


Another minor side effect of the Fantasy Faire Village construction this week was the shutting off of circulation of the dark water system that flows through Disneyland.  Starting near the Subs at the dock behind Edelweiss Snacks, the trademark, green water normally circulates via underground piping around Matterhorn to the castle moat, past the construction to the entrances of Adventureland and Frontierland, into the Jungle Cruise river ways, through the treehouse and out into the Rivers of America.  That is a lot of water circulation.  But when one link, like the one near the Fantasy Faire Village construction, is broken, then it plugs up the system.  This week it was a necessary move.  But if guests lingered for any period of time near the smaller bodies of water an odorous, almost metallic smell wafted upward.

The castle moat

Floating grunge in the stagnant water.

Speaking of the castle moat, does anyone else miss the swans?

The entrance of Adventureland and Frontierland. lots of leaves and pollen.

The placid Rivers of America.


Bayou Bash will be offered weekends through February 12th. This event offers special foods, gifts, and face painting in New Orleans Square.  But a side effect of the Tiana celebrations along the shore is the collection of confetti streamers that janitorial has to fish out of the nearby tree.  This pic, taken on a Wednesday, shows that even after the final weekend performance ( the show runs Fri-Sun) the streamers remained hi up in the branches.  While not the neatest way to keep things we actually like how colorful and festive it looks (at least before the rain makes it a soggy mess).

The area where the stage is constructed each weekend.

Messy, but darn it, so pretty.


Even after receiving a multi-million dollar refurbishment and brand new bobsleds, the Matterhorn has seen better days.  Well, mainly the vehicles have seen better days.  We took a ride on the new, more painful, and compacted bobsleds and were shocked at the condition of each relatively new vehicle.

We spotted multiple vehicles in which the seats looked nearly identical to this. Chipped, dirt-stained, scuffed and with damaged seats.

It certainly doesn’t help that even for the average-sized guest the seats are a tight squeeze.

Do you think that they should attempt to retool the existing design of the bobsleds, clean them up, or simply return the previous style sleds?

it’s a small world refurbishment

The classic it’s a small world attraction is now having its jingle bells removed after a long run of the holiday version of the ride. Some refurbishment is also likely happening as it doesn’t take 6 weeks just to remove the holiday overlay. The ride will reopen on Friday, March 1st.


Removal of the Wreck-it-Ralph meet and greet has commenced at the Starcade in Tomorrowland.

It is now just an extension of the Star Trader.


What was offered as a normal perk last year is being offered under the banner of Limited Time Magic, Disneyland’s Lunar New Year celebration will return and move to Pacific Wharf at Disney California Adventure.

Happy Lunar New Year Celebration at Disney California Adventure - 10 am — 5 pm, February 8 — 11


This Sunday will be your last chance to see Muppet Vision 3D for awhile.  This attraction flex space will be closed and reopen to screen extended, 4D previews of the new Sam Raimi directed film, Oz the Great and Powerful.  Be prepared to be dazzled by in theater effects like green lights and compressed air.  Oz the Great and Powerful opens nationwide on March 8th.


Blue Sky Cellar has finally gotten around to show us what’s on the way to Disneyland this summer. The exhibit is titled, Walt Disney Imagineering Presents Fantasy Faire.  The familiar cork boards, to the right as you enter, are littered with with “sketches”and “notes” covering the story of this new area’s development.

A clever Clopin music box is also being added to the area.

An interesting piece in the space of the old Magic Map is this texture test wall.  It allowed imagineers to create a variety of textures of similar surfaces to see which looked best:

Test wall. There are 3 styles of wooden beam (realistic, stylized, and a combination of the two), multiple types of brick and stone.

A video regarding the project plays on the giant TV in the screening room area. The video gamely tries to sell die-hard fans on the fact that Walt would have wanted this addition to Disneyland. However, it’s almost humorous when they reference the original Herb Ryman pencil sketch as if it was Walt’s final wish.

Even in this early concept drawing by Herb Ryman (which we’ve enlarged to show you Fantasyland), you will find all of Fantasyland BEHIND castle walls. Although the castle itself is in the back of Fantasyland in this drawing, each of the lands in the park clearly have a gate with the land behind them. We have no problem with the upcoming Fantasy Faire, but it is a bit of a stretch by Imagineering to pretend this was what Walt wanted all along.


The really interesting bit of the exhibit is the model on the platform in the center of the room.  While not as detailed as others which have been exhibited here, it gives a real sense of what the new area in Disneyland will look like.  If we take this model as the guide to how everything will really look, the area will be a fantastic addition.

Rapunzel’s tower is in the center of it all.

Queue structures have been accounted for

The rooftops which we see being built at the top of this update look very close to what we see in the model.

One must also take the time to explore the endless versions that imagineers toyed with before settling on what is being constructed.

We like what we see so far. But what do you all think of the Fantasy Faire expansion based upon the construction progress and models we have shown you today?

MiceAge 10th Anniversary Celebration Feb 1st through 3rd

We look forward to seeing you all during the MiceAge 10 year anniversary celebration coming up next weekend.  Come along and join us as we celebrate together with friends, legends and lots of fun!  See you there!

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.

Browse Archived Articles by

  • NashvilleCat

    Perhaps the “Walt really wanted it this way” mindset can serve a useful purpose in months to come. As in, “Walt clearly wanted to have bobsleds that were comfortable for guests as they zoomed down the slopes of the Matterhorn,” and–at least one can dream–”Walt always wanted a People Mover in Tomorrowland. You can see it in these early design drawings from the mid-60′s.”

  • Trumpet

    Great Update Norman

    The Fantasy Fair is looking good, and will be a fine addition of Disneyland. But they need to stop saying that Walt would have wanted this and that. It is obnoxious.

    I find it very amusing that the guest thought the crane is a new attraction. Maybe it is, and it will open in the summer!

    I went on the Matterhorn last summer, and it was very uncomfortable, and I am not a tall person. Personally, the old cars should return.

    Thanks Again Norman


  • dizneydomenic

    I HATE (repeat HATE) the new bobsleds on the matterhorn. They are definitely more uncomfortable and compress your body into such a tight space…the areas where we knew to “hold on and stifffen are bodies….you know the jerky drops…you can’t anymore. I would’ve thought the suits would have realized this more. I wonder how many more back issues people will have.

  • bamato

    As others have commented, I’m not a fan of the new bobsleds. I was optimistic at first, and hoping that the complaints were mainly centered around larger people. When I visited in October I discovered that even for a 5’10″ athletic build male the sleds were very uncomfortable. Between the pressure points and complete lack of leg-room the whole ride through was unappealing. Really upset me too, as the Matterhorn is iconic and and one of my favorite attractions at the park.

    Any word on what’s to become of the Starcade? So much space there that could be used for something better.

    And as for Muppet Vision being closed for movie screenings…. not a happy camper. But perhaps the “dazzling theater effects” will make up for it… ;)

  • SFDave

    Please bring back the old bobsleds, I can’t ride now because I am 6ft1. It ruins my back for the whole day if I even ride once. This used to be my favorite ride. :(

    • DannyeF

      Oh, my gosh, that is so sad. It’s my favorite ride too, but I am lucky to be at 5’5″. I hope they do change things back then.

  • eicarr

    Great update! Fantasy Faire seems to compliment the castle better than Fantasyland.

    Bummed out the crane is not a Riverers of America bungee jump. :)

    I can’t take anymore depressing ghetto Tomorroland photos. Sad.

  • BigThunder

    Great update! I finally had a chance to ride the new bobsleds this week and now I know what everyone else has been complaining about. They are horribly uncomfortable. From the special, ankle bruising, “foot pockets,” to the tailbone compacting, stress-position enforcing seats, they are a miracle of bad design. They make the rough old track feel twice as rough as before. Unless they do something to improve the design or bring back the old sleds my family and I will not be riding the Matterhorn again. Such a shame to ruin such a classic attraction in this way.

  • MrTour

    I wonder what Walt would say about the location of the Fantasy Faire Village. Probably been said a million times already, but don’t you step through the portal of the castle to enter Fantasyland? Maybe prequels didn’t exist in the 1950′s, so in 2013 a prequel before the opening act is not seen as incorrect. I just think a turn of the century attraction, such as a rumored Poppins attraction, would have been a thematically much better use of the space.

    • brem

      MrTour, very good point. I have never thought about that aspect of the castle and Fantasyland.

    • Algernon

      I absolutely agree. They may as well have the Monorail stop at Main Street Station and the Subs cruise by Sleeping Beauty Castle. But then again, don’t Buzz Lightyear and Nemo really belong in Toontown?

  • Primogen

    I guess that I’m in the minority. I rode in the new bobsled cars last month and thought they were a vast improvement over the originals. I didn’t feel like I was sitting in someone’s lap, and the ride experience was comfortable.

  • napamaninsocal

    I agree with everyone that the bobsleds are horrible. The foot pockets are what kills it for me. It makes my legs feel like they are going to break at the knee since my feet cant move with the turns and my legs can. I hope they bring back the old sleds back and then my daughter would be able to ride too.

  • chesirecat

    There is an error of sorts in this article as the “scuffed up” portions of the interior of the bobsleds are the padding (however minimal it may be), and is meant to be removed from time to time. You can see the concealed special head screws and that the scuffing is only on these ultimately removable bottom and back portions. Obviously, the hard plastic composite of the ride vehicle remains looking good, and it is expected that the padding will get scuffs on it as it is padding, and is meant to be removed/replaced at some interval.

    • There is lots of actual scuffing in the cars as well that we show. As people struggle to get in and out of the cramped compartments, they are damaging the vehicles.

      • chesirecat

        Oh, ok. Makes sense that guests struggling to get in and out would inadvertently “kick” and knock the cars, I can see some shoe marks on the non-padding part of the vehicle, if there is a structural damage to the body of the ride vehicle, then that’s a whole other deal as things are supposed to be virtually indestructible (with the exception of the padding.) Maybe the ride manufacturer messed up big time.

        People need to complain about the bumpiness to City Hall.

  • Algernon

    I guess after seeing all the safety railings on the Casey Jr., Matterhorn; and the newly installed Jungle Cruise safety netting, it’s only natural that some people would think the big, yellow crane would be just another Coney Island-style ride.
    Fascinating paragraph about the dark water system!
    I guess all the scuffs and scratches in the Matterhorn bobsleds are caused by people desperately moving around, trying to be comfortable.
    The Fantasy Faire looks really nice, but we’ll see how well it blends in, being outside of the Castle walls…as they slowly dismantle the old Disneyland, piece by piece…

  • gtsouthard

    oddly enough the 1st time i went To DLR my son was only 8 and there were 2 large cranes there working on something which escapes me right now. he thought they were giant teeter totters. I still bring it up every time we see a crane.

  • Rongo

    I’m only 5’8″ and I found the new Matterhorn bobsleds to be cramped and uncomfortable. This may be the first attraction that has a height restriction in the OPPOSITE direction. Bring back the old cars. Tandem seating not only allowed you to stretch out your legs, but it was one of the little oddities of the park that everyone remembered with a chuckle — I don’t think I ever heard anyone complain about it until just now, in these comments.

  • daveinfontana

    This is a thought . If you wanted to “Kill ” a ride what would you do? Make it an uncomfortable experience , then gather up all negative complaints . Call in the Suits and have C. E. O. read a statement informing the masses that “Due to the negativity of the ride it will be demolished”. …They should just go back to the original Sled cars and be done with it.