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

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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.

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  • disneyFREAK242

    Fix the new sleds :D I LOVE the new bobsleds, and I am 6’1″! I could ride it all day if I wanted to. 6 times in a row on an early entry day, and it was fantastic every time.

  • JiminyCricketFan

    I hate the new bobsleds. I am 6 ft and they are painful to get into. The old bobsleds were never a problem. I think it is an accident waiting to happen with the new sleds. Just one person throwing their back out would cause a major law suit. Those seats are not designed properly.

  • indianajack

    New bobsleds are horrendously uncomfortable. I’m a bit over 6 foot, but a thin build and it was incredibly cramped. What were they thinking? Please bring back the old ones.

  • lighttragic

    I wonder if the number of injuries have gone up on the new matterhorn vs the old matterhorn…
    I personally have not ridden the Matterhorn since the changeover. I am 6ft three and I imagine it would be horribly painful.

  • Suppin Falls

    The confetti in the trees in New Orleans Square actually make it look more like the real New Orleans.

  • TodAZ1

    I think Disneyland should put a bobsled just outside the entrance to the Matterhorn and let people sit in it. If they’re uncomfortable, then they know not to stand in a 30 to 60 minute line. Will also free up line space for people who really want to ride.

    But, long term, yeah, they should get rid of the new ones.

  • brian11811

    Heck, I’m only 5’5″ fairly thin and I was uncomfortable. Taint the length of leg room, its the area near your sitting area (pun intended).

  • WDWizard

    If I saw that crane at Six Flags I might confuse it for an attraction too.

    Also, good idea to file your complaints about uncomfortable bobsleds at City Hall as well as here, sometimes they actually listen.

  • airick75

    Let me add my name to the petition regarding the Matterhorn bobsleds. I thought the ride seemed really rough last time I rode, but wondered if I was imagining it or just forgot how rough it was. Honestly, it frightened me a bit because it really felt like the sled was going to rip the tracks right up out of the mountain!

    Also – our car was a mess as well. It looked at least 10 years old, if not 20.

    So, basically, ditto everything written and said.

  • 22branch

    The Matterhorn: to sum up the changes, DISAPPOINTED. I’m a big coaster enthusiast and the Matterhorn was/is my favorite ride at Disneyland. I have trouble saying it is still my favorite ride because the new sleds changed everything I loved. I remember riding the Matterhorn as a kid with my brother, sharing a seat. And now that I have my own kids one of my best Disneyland memories is sharing the sled with my daughter. Not to mention the old sleds provided a smooth and gentle ride (it wasn’t perfect but still much smoother than the current ride).

    I rode the “New” Matterhorn last fall with my daughter (who fearfully sat by herself) and at six feet tall my legs jammed into the front of the sled at least nine or ten times during the ride. I remember getting off the ride and complaining that my back hurt.

    I don’t understand why Disney would spend so much time and money to create a worse ride experience. A refurbishment should result in an even better ride experience with noticeable improvements. Disney has achieved the opposite. It make me nervous to see what will happen to the Big Thunder.

  • 4Apples4Disney

    Great update! I agree with most..the new sleds are terrible.

  • ralzap

    The bob sleds are painful, and no one without children cares about meet and greet area’s. This why I did not renew my pass. Disneyland needs a new e-ticket non Marvel attraction. Since when did Disneyland base lands on Movies.
    A new tomorrowland
    A new Frontierland experince
    and a new e-ticket attraction.

  • mondo

    Question: For tall guests, where is the best place to sit in the Matterhorn sled?

    • dizneydomenic

      Id say he back seat of sled..umfortunately it felt to be the roughest ride experience too….ugh my back. The front seat seemed to have even less leg room.

  • brianpinsky

    I posted this video in the forums:

    It is a tour the Blue Sky Cellar by a castmember during CM orientation. Chase, the CM’s name, did an excelent job of describing the location to us.

    I think that it’s time to replace the Matterhorn sleds. My butt hurts everytime i ride it and I’m 5 ft 7 my feet fit and I don’t mind my legs but I am shorter then most people. From what I understand the vechiles were designed by a racecar company, and you know the racecars are not designed for comfort. And Disney bought them because they were under bid.

  • Kurtoon

    Disney… do not miss this opportunity.
    Install some old skybuckets on the end of the crane…and fling guests into the Rivers of America …like a trebuchet.
    “You must be this (insert word for check brain at the gate) to ride this ride”