There is a lot of news for us to share this week from the Disneyland resort. First and foremost, there has been a major show scene change at Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye in Adventureland.  Last week, we told you that Imagineers have been toiling away after hours on the attraction. Now we get to see the result of their hard work.  Next up, we’ve noticed that Halloween has begun moving into Main Street’s Disney Showcase store. Yesterday, we caught the store in transition, but today it should be all spooked out. Finally, we have photos of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad refurbishments and the usual reminder about the upcoming closures of both Space Mountain and Hauinted Mansion for their holiday overlays.  Oh, there is one more thing . . . did we mention that Starbucks is coming to Downtown Disney? We’d better get this show rolling.



As we hinted at last week, some major changes came to the Indiana Jones Adventure this week. The antagonistic deity, Mara, has a whole new way to dare you not to look into his eyes. After pulling away from the load platform, and making a sharp right, the vehicle chooses one of three doors to go through.





All doors are the same as before, the Chamber of Earthly Riches, The Fountain of Youth, and the Observatory of the Future. But, as the vehicle approaches the doors a new voice announces the usual spiel. “You seek the treasure of Mara…” or the like. But in a new less thunderous, more gender-nuetral voice. Hmmmm.



Entering the Mara Chamber, digital mapping projections bring the existing Mara statue to life. Its eyes open and suddenly the wraith of the idol is directed at the vehicle and his/her appearance begins to violently transform depending on which “room” the vehicle has entered. The old voice of the idol was James Earl Jones. The new voice sounds to be that of a woman. Does this mean a gender change for Mara?

The rest of the attraction appears to be unaltered. Overall, everything looks spectacular. And all this without pulling the attraction down for a major refurbishment.

This is, by far, one of the most significant show improvements to the attraction since it opened. And except for what many are calling a lackluster new audio track, the projections bring new life to a pivotal character and better draw attention to the major plot point of the ride. The changing doors at the beginning of the ride were all working perfectly this week, reinforcing the illusion that there are multiple paths through the temple. The audio on the vehicles, however, still isn’t fully synced with the initial path chosen for you. On each of our four trips through the temple, Sala offered to assist us with strollers at the exit (which is just one of the possible three endings). A minor issue that we hope they’ll be able to correct.

If there is a sour note, and not all will agree with me, it’s that the menacing and thunderous voice of James Earl Jones has been replaced by a more androgynous, somewhat shrill and diva-like narration. In my opinion, it comes across a bit awkward compared to the bold and dramatic video animation. But that is just my opinion. What do you think? Does the new voice work for you? I’d really appreciate your comments below regarding both the new digital effects and audio.


This time tomorrow, Halloween will have fully moved into the Disney Showcase store at the front of Main Street. Yesterday, Merchandise was already in place and the windows were mostly dressed.












There appears to be a bit of work going on in Fantasyland. Most notably the roof lines along the dark rides that do not have guard rails.











Insert CAL/OSHA joke here folks. Give it your best shot.


The metal canopy on King Arthur Carousel is continuing to rust with no attention to its decay. Hopefully they will address this issue when the attraction goes down for refurbishment on September 3rd, it hasn’t looked this bad since the Pressler era.




Big Thunder Trail will be closed through the end of August as resurfacing and exterior work on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad continue.  But now for the bad news. Now, as it stands, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is not scheduled to reopen until February 15, 2014 due to re-engineering access paths to meet TDA’s new fall protection standards.






















While this is a real inconvenience for some one has to understand that this is about workplace safety.  Disney is now putting forth a tremendous amount of effort into something that they had largely been reluctant to address in the past due to the large scope of work.  Why didn’t they plan for this in the initial plans for the Big Thunder refurb?  It’s because Thunder went down for refurbishment back in January.  This  safety initiative got rolling around early summer.  So, the fact that wasn’t rolled into the original plan makes sense.  It stinks, but safety first.


Both Space Mountain and Haunted Mansion will be going down soon for their annual Holiday Makeovers. If you want a ride on their classic versions, do it soon.  Halloween time will begin on September 13th and run through the 31st of October.

Mansion will go down Monday August 26th in order for the Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay to be installed.
Space will be down from Monday September 9th to Friday, September 13th to install Ghost Galaxy.


The women’s apparel store, Blink, in Downtown Disney was unceremoniously closed a week ago in the inevitable move that everyone seemed to be expecting. Disney announced yesterday that Starbucks will finally be moving into Downtown Disney in two locations. One storefront and one cart on the other end of the shopping center.






Halloween is creeping into Disney California Adventure too. As the summer winds down and the patriotic bunting looses its luster, the merchandise shelves are already beginning to fill with shades of Orange and purple throughout the park









Does anybody know why this thing is still open? The last thing to have been previewed here opened back in June. Mickey and the Magical Map’s modest preview of artists concepts has been hanging within a framed shadow box and is the most current “preview” item in the preview center. Essentially, there is nothing being previewed in this preview center. Of course, they could just change the name to the Blue Sky Cellar “Postview Center”  😉





The flipside to this is that there is a wonerful quiet spot inside DCA in which to relax, soak up the air conditioning, and sip your favorite beverage. . . while looking at models and concept art of things which have already opened.

 MiceChat Podcast


Dusty and Doug return with a Disney parks geek-fest. Star Wars rules the galaxy, the box-office, and now Disney Park Discussion. Is the famous sci-fi franchise taking over Disney Hollywood Studios and Tomorrowland in Disneyland? What about the catch 22 happening in Club 33? All this plus an exclusive interview with Halloween Horror Nights mastermind John Murdy. Screaming from Monstropolis to Evil Dead, this is MiceChat Podcast 10.

Direct Link | iTunes Link

Podcast followup. Something special happened at the D23 Expo this past weekend. Bob Gurr and Pat Carroll (voice of Ursula the Sea Witch) finally met each other in person. Those of you who listened to MiceChat Podcast #9 will likely recall just how excited these two were to meet in person. It was an emotional encounter and an absolute delight to watch these two 80-something year old legends chat it up like a couple of college kids.

Bob spots the Sea Witch
Pat says “Could it possibly be? Is this . . . BOB GURR?”
These two met for the first time on MiceChat Podcast #9. Just look at them now. They are like college sweethearts who haven’t seen each other in 60 years. It was a very special moment.
Pat and Bob call Dusty over for a family photo.


Speaking of Bob Gurr, we have some very special news and a great opportunity for you to sail away with the beloved Disney legend himself. 

Bob Gurr will be joining us on a very special MiceChat voyage to the Eastern Caribbean on the newest ship of the Disney Cruise Line, the Disney Fantasy.

This 7 night cruise will depart from Port Canaveral, Florida, and visit the islands of St. Maarten, St. Thomas/St. John and Disney’s Private Island Castaway Cay (our favorite port of call)! There’s still time for you to book your trip with us. Contact [email protected] or call 832-284-4002 before this opportunity sails away without you. This is the opportunity of a lifetime, don’t miss the boat! 

That’s our update folks. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the changes to Indiana Jones, the addition of even more Starbucks to the resort and the early onset of Halloween. Have a fantastic weekend. If you are looking for something to do on Sunday, come join us at the Walt and Mickey statue in Disneyland at noon this Sunday as we wish a very happy birthday to Al Lutz. He hasn’t been able to visit the parks in a very long time and is looking forward to seeing you. (Join the MiceChat Sunday’s in the Park group on Facebook for info on this and other Sunday meets)

We hope to see you all again soon, In The Parks!


Don’t look for it on the Disneyland website.  The info isn’t posted yet.

  • KennyVee

    I agree that the new voice for Mara is terrible, though I disagree that it sounds like a female voice. To me it still sounds male…but like a nerdy male. I suppose that’s open to interpretation. It definitely lacks the authority it used to have. If a cop told me to stop and put my hands up in that voice, I’d be very tempted to just laugh and keep walking.

    It really sounds like they grabbed some random intern or blogger and had them record it. Or as if there was a “Be Mara’s Voice For a Day” contest and the winner was selected by random drawing instead of by how good their voice was.

    And to think, the “Voices of the Disney Parks” were just across the street at the convention center last weekend. Hopefully the only reason we’re hearing Geek Mara is that there was a catastrophic failure of the REAL voice that they planned on using, and this was a VERY last-minute replacement while they re-record or re-master the correct one.

    The video effect, at least from the YouTube videos I’ve seen, looks pretty fantastic and is a nice change…but that voice has seriously got to go.

    • bearytrek

      if they had to do something with the voice, they could at least have left the booming original version of “YOU LOOKED INTO MY EYE” to contrast with the more peaceful new voice…

  • Bongo

    First off, I must state…Halloween in July…is a great pet peeve of mine.

    Anyways, moving onto the main topical matter of mara and Indiana Jones. I posted it in the forums, and I don’t mind posting it here either to give out my opinion.

    Yes, I agree, the old voice was better as it was very monstrous and foreboding, and the new one just doesn’t sound right to the situation. HOWEVER, a change in the voice is not a bad idea if done correctly. While I am not sure if many would agree, I want to put my take on it…

    The way I see it in my head, Mara is a young god. Look at all the pictures of him scattered around the temple. He has the complexion of a young man, so it doesn’t seem totally out of the question to be voiced by a young guy either. Some could argue that his godlike stature has permanently made him look perfect in every way, but I digress. So a young voice isn’t totally out of the question, but the accent and delivery of the lines is off. For me, Mara should of sounded like a young Indian Prince. Why? Mara is a demon in Buddhism, which has its roots in India. In fact, an soothing Indian Prince voice as you enter could be beneficial to the story. Mara is trying to lure visitors in with eternal youth, earthly riches, or visions of the future. If he sounded like a calm Indian Prince, it would almost be like he is trying to beckon visitors into the chambers, and with such a young beautiful voice that sounds of supreme loyalty, who wouldn’t want to open their eyes and take a look? Once people looked into his eyes, then his voice would morph from the young Indian Prince to the old foreboding doom voice we all know and love.

    And nothing else to talk about, except for the fact that Dapper Day is coming around very soon, and I am very excited once again!

    • Bongo

      August. My bad on the typo.

      • Marko50

        Dat’s right! Christmas wuz whut wuz in July!

  • eicarr

    While a Deity should not be descriminated against due to sexual orientation or gender, Mara needs to have a deeper voice than Salla’s seat belt spiel in order to be foreboding enough to set the proper mood. It just sounds like a teen employee reminding riders not to use flash photography.

  • TwilitWings

    I miss the old voice, I must admit, due to a certain level of attachment to it. I hope we can get the old voice back! I do think the new effects look lovely at the very least and I’m sure look even better in person.

  • FerretAfros

    I hope they’re actually able to open Big Thunder Trail by the end of the month. It’s part of the courses for the 5K and Half Marathon over Labor Day weekend, and it would be tough to reroute those at the last minute

    Also, it sure seems early for Halloween stuff. To me “summer” is the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day, but Disney’s interpretation seems to be that it’s from the middle of June until the beginning of August. If we’re going by a calendar, summer doesn’t actually end until late September

  • LoveStallion

    That new voice is a result of one of the most misguided decisions in park history. Yes, I am erring on hyperbole, but come on! I feel so strongly about it that I haven’t even read the rest of the column yet.

    I have no idea what they were thinking. Androgynous is definitely a good description of the voice. I’m waiting for him to say, “Like, OMG!!!!” Who is going to feel threatened by this diva?

    They should get Will Arnett or Alec Baldwin to re-dub it. 🙂

    • Norman Gidney

      Now THAT would be amazing.

  • mark

    Nothing menacing about the new voice at all- instead more like an adolescent ready to crack at any time. Bad choice.

    I hate Halloween at the park. Makes me miss the original Haunted Mansion.

  • LoveStallion

    Also this:

  • jcruise86

    I like the new voice.

    I’m James Earl Jonesed out, and I can always hear him in the Lion King or Star Wars. The Disney voice I really miss is the great, hearty old monorail voice, Jack Wagner.

    • jcruise86

      And here’s a terrible recording (with even worse video) of my favorite voice narrating the 25th anniversary fireworks show.

      I think the use of James Earl Jones here was unimaginative.

  • rstar

    I wonder if this is just a temperary voice until they can get James Earl Jones again?

    • DisWedWay

      I hope Disney and James Earl Jones can renew their contract for using his voice for Mara. That has to be the problem here-$$$. If Mako Iwamatsu, who starred with Mr. Jones in Conan and voiced in it and Avatar, were still alive I might suggest he do the new voice of Mara being Asian and a voice respectful of and by the Gods. Perhaps a computer could recreate his voice over for this?? If the original Indy team were involved and could vote, I have.

  • dl3000

    That’s certainly not the voice of a south asian deity, or any deity for that matter. Totally lacks power and intimidation.

    • Ju-osh

      Great point! Why didn’t they use an Asian voice for an Asian deity?

  • disneychrista

    Any word on the rumored closure of Space Mountain from 11/04/13 – 01/17/14?

    • jcruise86

      Wait till after Big Thunder re-opens in February.

  • jaxbistro

    Hmmm. I have to agree with KennyVee, congrats on all of the Grammy by the way, but the new voice sounds like a male pre-pubescent or just plain pubescent voice. I don’t mind the initial voice, it doesn’t need to sounds foreboding, but the second voice should be a bit more sinister and dark.

  • girlonawire

    Love the effects!!! Not loving the voice…not sure why they changed it at all. The new voice does sound girly in a way…maybe because Mara is a woman….maybe they were trying to make her Madame Leota-esque. I definitely like the other voice better for sure.

  • Peoplemover Priit

    It’s a pity they decided to change the voice. James Earl Jones might possibly have the greatest voice ever (debatable) and they have shunned it. A shame. Hopefully someone comes to their senses soon. Especially since the voice change made no sense in the first place…

  • Jeff Heimbuch

    The original voices was wonderful, but this one sounds more like Dark Helmet from Spaceballs than anything else.

    That said, I dig the new projections. I saw it last night in person, and thought it was very well done.

    The only downside was that the doors were NOT working. The door stayed opened from the last vehicle when we got to it, and everyone was forced in the the room of earthly riches.

  • DLFreak71

    There’s nothing really “commanding” about the new voice. Who’s going to fear the current voice? You know when they do mock-ups and they just use a general voice to get the idea across…that’s what it reminds me of. Hopefully it’s just a temporary voice and when they are satisfied with the effects with the room, they’ll have James re-do the voice again. The effect is cool though.
    I also agree that Halloween is way too early. I think September is fine, but July???

  • bayouguy

    I haven’t heard the new Mara voice yet. But I do want to comment on how ironic that Disney, who has a long history of using fantistic voice character actors, would have problems finding a good voice for Mara.

  • Wren

    Unsure why they couldn’t just keep the original voice with the new effects.

  • jchamb268

    Ya, the voice is bad. it aggravates me.

  • gtsouthard

    i have always thought of Mara as a female

  • MWH1980

    Actually, the door effects and rotating mirrors before you enter, wasn’t working when I went on the ride Monday Afternoon.

    We were just in darkness before the doors opened, and that not-so-ominous voice made mention of ‘glittering gold.’ I can’t even recall the overlay of effects on Mara’s face, but think e voice had not been changed there yet.

    Rather sad, that the ominous feeling of entry and Mara’s angered voice has been quelled a bit.

  • Marko50

    Thinking of going up Saturday morning for the AP Limited Magic event. If I can get up that early…!/events/600222630017136/

    I’ve got other plans for tomorrow night and I already missed this morning’s.

    • Marko50

      I think they’ve got me coming and going. Which I just did Wednesday since I’d never seen Cars 2 before. Yeah, this is off-topic, but I didn’t think it was as bad as I’ve been led to believe. Maybe I’ve just seen Mater’s Tall Tales too many times.

  • Quentin

    That voice is terrible!!

  • Quentin

    I couldn’t even look at the rest of the column. I was too busy emailing Disney and convincing my friends to do the same.

  • E Ticket 1

    This whole Halloween time is getting way out of hand. Come on we are in the middle of Aug and the Park has Halloween junk to buy already! HM and SM are closing already for Halloween make over. It seems like the Park is in its classic mode only about half of the year.

    • DLFreak71

      Holidays are no longer special because you see them for 3 or 4 months in the stores (Ie: Costco Halloween last month (July), Christmas (yes, saw it today) in August). Looks like Disney is doing the same. I’m fine with Halloween starting in September and Christmas starting in November.

  • stitch1085

    I’m just going to say it, the new voice of Mara sounds likes a contestant from RuPaul’s Drag Race. Total diva, totally un-scary, down right laughable! At least now when I’m riding Indy I can just pretend I’m entering a West Hollywood night club with your hostess, Mara!

    • Country Bear

      I must agree! The visual effects are awesome, the voice is that of a Valley Girl. Terrible creative decision.

  • Yup. That new voice just doesn’t work.

    The new effect: Totally Awesome.

  • DobbysCloset

    Dobby says, “Mara is a girl’s name; no wonder the male deity (what’s a deity?” is cranky.”

    The human loves the lightning effects and thinks this whole column is totally awesome.

  • Oathkeeper

    the new effects on Indy look cool from the video. the new voice has got to go though :/

  • DarthSavage

    Not to nitpick here, but…isn’t it “Sallah”, not “Salla”?

  • Triton

    I like the new effects. It sounds like they pulled a young guy out of line and had him read the lines.

  • Belgarion42

    I think the new voice is a different take on Mara. The former was an old, menacing, angry deity. The latter seems like a more youthful one that is almost power-mad, reacting in hysteria when he is disobeyed. Being thrown onto the path towards the Gates of Doom could be almost an overreaction by a child with unlimited power who didn’t get his way (like Mordred in “Justice League”). I’m not sure, from a story perspective, which is scarier.

    • jcruise86

      Good post, Belgarion42!

  • twainrider

    Has anyone noticed that Bob Gurr looks like Leonard Nimoy?

  • victoriaskitten

    Love the new effects on the face of Mara. I always thought that Mara was a woman. Not digging the new voice.
    Way to early for the Halloweem overlay and merchandise. By the time Halloween rolls around we will be tired of it and not be excited about it. I really do like the ears with Chip and Dale on top they are really cool. For the guests who are visiting in the summer only, being able to take the Haloween merchandise home would be nice so they can pull it out at the appropriate time to wear and decorate their homes. This I can understand.

    • DisWedWay

      Mara is a male who had 3 daughters.

  • guybrush76

    Ach. Gonna have to break the news about Thunder Mountain to the kids in the morning. Heading down in November and that one is a favorite from our last trip in 2010.

  • The Lost Boy

    The wife and I attended the Annual Pass preview held last night after the Park closed, the upgrades to the beginning of the ride are a good improvement.

  • whamo

    I don’t get the changes at Indy. Why mess with something good? James Earl Jones is a classic treasure. BTMRR’s delay is an awful setback. Who runs Disneyland these days? Congress? I love Halloween time, but not until fall.