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.
INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF THE FORBIDDEN EYE UPDATES
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.
KING ARTHUR CAROUSEL
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 MOUNTAIN RAILROAD
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.
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
BLUE SKY CELLAR
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.
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.
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.
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.