Summer at Disneyland is here as Big Thunder Mountain refurbishment continues

Written by Andy Castro. Posted in Dateline Disneyland, Disneyland Resort

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Published on June 10, 2013 at 5:05 am with 37 Comments

About Andy Castro

Andy is a Southern California native, raised with Disneyland and a life-long fan of Disney theme parks and animation. Andy wrote the long-running weekly Dateline Disneyland photo, news and opinion blog here on MiceChat from 2007-2016. Andy continues to make occasional special guest contributions on MiceChat.

Browse Archived Articles by

  • DCAfanatic

    The disneyland resort Is looking beautifully as it reaching its almost 60th anniversary in a couple of years great job disney!

  • What on earth are they doing to the Buena Vista Street windows and why does there appear to be no show control?

    When Buena Vista Street opened one year ago, these were the best themed windows in the resort. Now they are a jumbled mess. Memo to Imagineering, the Merchandise team is destroying your windows.

    Would be nice to see things reverted back to the Imagineering approved look in time for the one year anniversary.

    • disneylandfan8

      I totally agree with Dusty. The mannequins are u-g-l-y.

    • DLFreak71

      If they were aiming for cheap 5 & Dime looking mannequins, they’ve achieved it. Come on Disney, we’ve seen what great quality you can do.

  • eicarr

    I’m not normally a germ phobe but holding that frame that everyone touches all day seems a bit risky.

    Great update! If the show more of what they actually sell in Buena St. Shop windows, I might try out some of those mystery stores again.

    • Soulquarian

      Can’t be any more risky than touching any handrail, turnstile, ride vehicle, or anything else in Disneyland… Actually sounds LESS risky the more I think about it lol

      • JulieMouse

        How long do you think it has been since the seat belts fasteners were sanitized? They get touched every few minutes all day long!! BTW, not much to really worry about, I touch everything, go to DL at least 3 times a month, and very rarely get sick (maybe once a year). 🙂

    • Susan Hughes

      Photopass wouldn’t have to resort to cheesy gimmicks to sell their photos if they did one simple thing…hire “real” photographers.
      The average park guest can take a photo with their iPhone that looks good enough to keep. And all for FREE. So if Photopass wants to convince a guest to buy their photo, they need to show that they can take a pic much better. And that comes with an experienced photographer who understands lighting, composition, etc.
      Photopass photographers are merely “point and shoot” photographers with a nicer camera.

      • DLFreak71

        And now Disney has that Magic Memories app that allows you to put Disney Characters in your photos that you take from your phone (haven’t tried the app).

  • ttintagel

    I like the mannequins. They add authentic midcenctury atmosphere to the shop windows.

    • Stinkerella

      Yes, they are authentic looking “mid-century” mannequins. However, isn’t Buena Vista Street supposed to be centered in the 1920’s. Perhaps marketing could find a more authentic representation and tone down the clutter. Whatever happened to “less is more”?

  • CandyPandora

    Those mannequins are hilarious! Thanks for bringing this very funny matter to our attention.

    • Westsider

      I agree. The clinically depressed manequins are hilarious, and yet so sad.

      Who on earth thinks this is a good idea? Someone needs to check the air conditioning filters in TDA, I think there’s something funny going on in the yellow building.

  • Disneylandfan85

    Is there a chance that they will fix up the Big Thunder sign on the mining building where you board your trains? It looks all faded out. Or is it meant to be like that?

    • dfan07

      It looks as if someone ran a sander over it, to prep it for painting.

      • DisWedWay

        I hope WDI Lighting reverts back to the old original Deitz Hooded Inspector Lanterns on the Big Thunder entrance sign and not those 1940 gas station goose neck lights that they also used On Grizzly Rapids and look so out of period. The vendor replacing a lot of the worn out lights knows the difference. I also hope they get the color strata variations like the magenta in the rockwork which it originally had in 1979. They should hire it’s creator Tony Baxter to watch over that. Theyshould put the signage back on the plaster face of the Mineral Hall.

  • 13MinuteWait

    I agree with ttintagel. The mannequins do appear time specific. People being photographed didn’t smile because being photographed was a rare event and they took it seriously. The mannequins of that era were a 3-D form of how people appeared in photographs. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

    • Dreamagineer

      I agree. Those are definitely antique mannequins. True, the windows look like crap, but the wonderful mannequins are not the problem.

    • CCS

      You’re talking about people being photographed in the late 1800’s. The mannequins are pathetic, and what young girl had painted-on eyebrows.

      • DisWedWay

        The mannequins resemble the 1950’s N2S2 Nevada A Bomb site mannequins a bit as in Mullholand Falls the movie. I will have to go back and watch the 1960’s Time Machine movie and see how they looked in the 1900 to1920’s from his work shop window, while sitting in his time traveler. Maybe they should be more Gibson like as at Paris Disneyland’s Mainstreet. Harrison Ford’s girlfriend in Blade Runner would be a great mannequin model with the perfect facial makeup and hair for the 20’s. A lot of attention was given to facial and eye makeup on men and women then in looking in my research file.

  • gtsouthard

    can anyone tell me where i can go in the parks to get the vantage points depicted in the shots of big thunder. visiting on thurs and fri and thats my gf favorite ride. She would like to see the progress in person.

  • Big D

    I was going to say the same thing, I imagine the mannequins are accurate for the 1920’s. This might be a case where it would have been better to go with a more stylized fantasy version of a 1920’s mannequin rather than an authentic version. I remember the old Twilight Zone episode where the mannequin’s came to life (I think those were 1950’s) and none of them were smiling either as far as I can remember.

  • Carmatts

    The displays are much more noticeable than before, but not in a good way.

  • red014

    How long before that Native American gets his Tonto overlay?

  • airick75

    A. Mannequins are generally creepy. Especially in this context. And I don’t care if mannequins smiled in the 1930s or not, those kids do look sad and miserable.

    B. The Compass Quest is AWFUL!!! I can’t believe it wasn’t discussed more. Many of the compasses are not actually in any of the three described options. My group and many others around us found themselves not knowing which option to scratch off because none of them applied. This also made finding the compasses doubly difficult. “Is that a lampost or a sign…because there is a lamp on it…and it’s not really designated as “Rapunzel’s Room” It was a MESS! THEN, you go to get your reward which is just a silly, generic compass sticker that goes right on the map!! We thought it would at least be a cheap button or something. A sticker!!?? It doesn’t even say Disney on it or anything!! I can’t believe we wasted any time with that. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

    • Westsider

      To be honest, I can’t believe anyone over the age of 7 would actually consider doing it.

  • airick75

    P.S. The link to the Tiki Room event is wrong and takes you to the Magical Map post instead.

    Otherwise, Happy Monday, sorry to be so crabby this morning! Last week we also had lunch with Oscar at the Carnation Cafe – that was awesome! And we’re going on the Walk in Walt’s Footsteps tour later this month. Can’t wait! And the magical map show itself was pretty good – we enjoyed that they used slightly less popular, but still great, songs and movies!

  • dlpostcardguy

    I’m not sure I dislike those mannequins. They kind of harken back to by-gone era. (However the upset child comment is hilarious.) To me the windows actually look better than they did a few months ago though not as nice as when BVS first opened. Maybe it’s the way they did it on BVS but if you look at the windows on Main Street they are full of current merchandise mixed with authentic items from the past. Why aren’t we complaining about those??

    • SoCalFan

      The BVS windows don’t look nearly as well put together as the Main Street windows. The Main Street ones seamlessly blend period specific props with current merchandise and actually make sense with the store they are outside of; for example, why is there a mannequin in a window for a repair shop…that just doesn’t make sense. I will say the Five and Dime windows now look better than some of the previous changes from the original. This is very poor showmanship in comparison to Disneyland, and I am a huge DCA fan, so it hurts to say it. I think all us fans understand the need for actual merchandise in the windows, but what they have done is not tasteful or even thought out at all. It’s haphazard and thrown together.

      I think it would be an extremely interesting if perhaps the writer of this column (or another MiceAge columnist) put together an article that showed side-by-side comparisons of the windows on Main Street, and how they display a well-planned out balance of merchandise and propping, and the ones on BVS, and how thrown together they look in comparison. Heck, if I get down to the parks soon, I volunteer to put together the article. It’ll definitely help show why so many of us are upset about the window changes and are confused as to why we can’t see similar set-ups to what is on Main Street.

      Oh, and if merchandise sales is a problem, here’s an idea, sell better merchandise people want to buy. There’s a reason that Cars Land, with its plethora of unique, land-specific, found nowhere else merchandise (especially in Lizzie’s), has had huge success in sales.

  • peanutj

    I agree with a few of the others here that the mannequins are actually a good idea. However, those kids have got to go. They look miserable. It’s as if their parents have just told them that their trip to Disneyland has been cancelled and that they have to go to summer school.

    About the ugly frames: I wonder if they serve the same purpose as blue screens in the movies where an image of another frame is superimposed over the blue one?

    • LoonAZ

      Chroma-Key (blue screen, green screen) would only really be beneficial if it replaced the background (think of your local weather person and their weather maps/graphics behind them). Something in the foreground (i.e. the custom frame or graphic) can easily be overlaid on top of the original photograph. In fact, you can already do things like adding frames and graphic overlays to PhotoPass pictures on the website.

    • DisWedWay

      They should be repainted and some life put in their eyes. The Indian Chief on his horse on Tom Sawyer Island has more expression in his face do to paint finishes.

  • Spongeocto4

    Thanks for the update

  • Dizzey

    Here’s may favorite quote of the article:

    “You’d probably look like this if you were trapped in these clutter-filled windows, too.”


    The little girl mannequin has an expression that’s somewhere between plaintive and concerned – like she’s witnessing Godzilla starting to stomp around on BVS. Maybe that is the period-specific look they were hoping for! Come on, people, these look bad.

    Seems to me that they have had a long time to fix this. Get a couple of imagineers and a couple of marketing guys in the same room for a while and do something tasteful that doesn’t detract from the ambiance. OR reinstall the original windows and start to produce and sell “real” versions of the props – like the cool retro-cover books that they had there. That would be specific to the area and downright cool.

  • 4Apples4Disney

    Fantastic update!

  • Freddie Freelance

    Maybe they just need happier mannequins…


  • disneylandanddcafa

    You say Disney’s PhotoPass photographers have now taken to carrying around big, cheap frames and have guests hold up when posing for photos.
    Every opportunity to be negative is not missed… why not just say Disney’s PhotoPass photographers have now taken to carrying around big, blue frames and have guests hold up when posing for photos.
    Why throw in cheap??? Followed by you think the guests like them, even more reason not be negative, then toss in you wouldn’t want you picture with the frame… then don’t take it with the frame. JEESH
    And mannequins with unhappy faces… my kids have never once commented on a mannequin and I must admit I rarely look at their expressions. This is probably a good thing because many times they don’t even have heads.
    Keep up the 99% excellent work you do however. Really enjoy Dateline and use it for much information.