Big Thunder Prepares For Previews at Disneyland

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in In the Parks

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Published on February 21, 2014 at 3:00 am with 26 Comments

Something old and something new.  Yes, the refurbishments at the Disneyland Resort are still underway.  The good news is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  One of which is that the mammoth Big Thunder Mountain Railroad refurbishment could soon be coming to an end as cast members sign up for previews.  While the Sailing Ship Columbia has returned to duty, it is now the Mark Twain’s turn for some TLC. Splash Mountain it nearly ready for a March 1st return. it’s a small world will remain closed until July. Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular returns from refurbishment today and Redwood Creek Challenge Trail in Disney California Adventure will be back by the end of February.

Let’s catch up with what has been happening this week In the Parks

Interesting developments are finally afoot at Disneyland.  Rides are coming out of refurbishment and the flora are coming out of hibernation.
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Space Mountain

A new ring of safety is being added to the top of Space Mountain.  Workplace safety is job #1 at the Disneyland Resort.

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Regardless of the exterior work, lines continue at this E-ticket.

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Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

The water is gone and the subs are on blocks. But it sure makes for interesting photos.

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Captain America

Inside Innoventions, work is underway to get the new Captain America: The Living Legend and Symbol of Courage meet-and-greet ready for visitors.

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The new exhibit officially opens March 7. Annual Passholders were invited to register to preview the new meet-and-greet March 1-6 – some availability remains, if you’re interested.

it’s a small world

The boat ride around the world is still scheduled for a rather strange double-dip refurbishment timeline according to the Disneyland website.

Closed for refurbishment January 21, 2014 to April 9, 2014, April 21, 2014 to May 29, 2014,

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The ride platform towers are being refurbished after their removal for Tomorrowland filming.

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Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

It seems that Big Thunder Mountain is very close to reopening.  Disney began offering tickets to cast members for previews of the overhauled classic.  Previews began last night with lucky cast members slinking in an open gate near Rancho del Zocalo for their first ride in over a year.  That means that, barring any problems, we could see the attraction open to guests by mid-March.  Disney has, up to this point, not made a formal announcement on the ride returning but you can expect it soon.

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Club 33

From the rooftops to the pavement, anything near the vicinity of Club 33 is behind scaffolds and screens.

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Splash Mountain

By March 1st, Splash Mountain is scheduled to return.  So far, it isn’t readily apparent that anything substantial has been done to the exterior of the flume ride.

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The flume still has faded paint and mineral deposits

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Mark Twain

The Mark Twain Riverboat will be down on February 24th and will return on March 1st for a .

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The sunburst fountain near the tram load/unload area is behind walls for a much needed retiling.  This is great to see as this was one of our favorite fountains before it fell into disrepair.

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Some of the entry ways and windows at World of Disney are also behind refurbishment walls.

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We also take a moment to look at the anticipated Starbucks location in Downtown Disney.

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In Disney California Adventure everything is coming up blossoms.

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Aladdin

Aladdin: a musical spectacular is set to reappear today on the Hyperion stage. We are looking forward to seeing the Genie again. Hopefully he’s got some funny new lines?

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Soarin’ Over California

Soarin’ will be closing this coming week, Monday February 24th and should be returning on February 28th.

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Ghirardelli

Don’t forget to stop by Ghirardelli for some special Easter deals.

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Redwood Creek Challenge Trail

The interactive playground area of DCA will be reopening on February 28th.

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MiceChat Gumball Rally – May 3rd, 2014

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Can you ride the most attractions at Disneyland in a single day? Let’s find out! The world-famous MiceChat Gumball Rally is rolling your way soon. More than half the tickets have already been sold, so don’t delay. Put together your teams of 2, 3 or 4 today!

That should just about do it for this week.  Be sure to stay tuned as we keep you up-to-date on Captain America, Starbucks, the subs, and all of the many developments In The Parks.

 

 

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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  • eicarr

    I hope they put in a Guardians of the Galaxy exhibit too. That’s become my most anticipated 2014 film from Disney and its a perfect fit for Tomorrowland. It would be a huge summer draw leading up to the release. A Groot character costume with Vin Deisel’s voice repeatedly saying “I am Groot” like in the comic/movie would be a major crowd pleaser.

    • TCadillac

      When I was watching the trailer I was thinking the exact same thing! I’d much rather have Disney build an epic GOTG ride than another Star Wars attraction. Fingers crossed!

    • masterman626

      I actually think this would fit better than a Star Wars theme. It’s a general type of futuristic look which is what they should go with, either that or a stylized 50′s art nouveau look. I love Star Wars but Star Wars is not Disneyland. And while neither is GOTG and Marvel it can be disguised to look like a general futuristic look, Star Wars doesn’t “blend” very well.

      • soletrain

        ?……do you think tomorrowland up against fantasyland and the matterhorn blend well?

  • MrTour

    Space Mountain just looks soooooo wrong. How can you tweak an icon like that?

    • goinskiing

      AND it’s still dirty. This OSHA crap just seems to get more ridiculous by the day. I’m all for safety, but this is just bureaucratics at its finest.

      • Evlfred

        THIS POST DELETED BY MICECHAT MODERATOR: No political commentary please. Keep your politics to yourself. If you have any questions about MiceChat’s rules, you may read them here: MiceChat FAQ

    • masterman626

      I don’t think they are keeping the metal girders. They’ll probably make it look like the level slightly below that, so I would expect some sheet rock on those frames soon. (hopeful conjecture)

  • Evlfred

    The Official Disneyland Calender now shows Splash Mountain is open, can anyone confirm?

    • goinskiing

      Calendar shows open, but interactive map still has Feb 28 as last refurb day. Maybe it will open a tad earlier, all I need is one single day. ;)

  • DisneyLover66

    I just love your updates and photos. Some of the best times in my life have been spent at Disneyland. When I look at your photos I am temporarily transported to my favorite place, and I feel really happy in that moment envisioning the additions, the colorful flowers, the food, the attractions, the sounds, the feeling of Disneyland…., and I am filled with anticipation for my next trip to “The Happiest Place on Earth.” I am currently and have been for the last 11 months dealing with my mom’s coming death from lung cancer. She is actively in the dying process now. So much sadness, too much to take sometimes. But, when I read your updates and look at your photos, for that moment I am not in that sadness any longer. Walt’s vision of Disneyland being an escape from the real world, a place to be away from your troubles, a fantasy land, a world unto itself….is so true. So, please know that your updates have a positive and far-reaching effect.

    • martinjbell1986

      Very well said. I completely agree.

    • indianajack

      I completely agree. In the Parks and Dateline Disneyland are two of my favorite things to look forward to every week. They are a lifeline to a magical place that many of us live too far away from. Thank you.

  • garyman

    Great Update as always. On Big Thunder, unless they want to make a big splash about it. I would just let it open and keep the calendar saying it is in refurb for another week. This would probably help manage the flock of riders who will swarm the Park if they actually give it an opening date. The word will get out. Once it is opens they could then do a big press release announcing the ride has returned. This way many of the Disney diehards will have already ridden it at least once if not more.

    • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

      That’s more or less what they usually do with “Soft openings.” The ride quietly opens without an official announcement. Usually after an extended period of cast member previews.

      After more than a year of refurbishment, there’s a huge pent up demand for this attraction that I’m sure Disneyland Operations will attempt to manage carefully.

      • goinskiing

        I would pee myself if it had some soft opening when we’re there next week, I won’t count on it, but that would be sweet! One can dream right?

  • Algernon

    If you’ve ever been to a brand new neighborhood and it looks so nice, and then years later you go back and it’s a dump, what happened? Most of it has to do with the residents doing their own mismatched remodeling, planting and painting. Garage doors and windows that don’t match the architecture of the house; overgrown plants and chaotic planting schemes, where the trees may as well be weeds; horrible colors, or faded and peeling colors. Sadly, that is what is happening to Disneyland with all the safety railings, overgrown trees, paving stones and other mismatched add-ons. Look at pictures of Tomorrowland from the 1980′s and before. Look how much brighter Main Street looked with cement sidewalks (no Main Street USA ever had European style paving stones). And Disney could have come up with other, better ways to meet OSCHA requirements. But this is apparently cheaper and easier, even though it makes the place look like an overpriced Coney Island. It will only get worse.

    • Marko50

      Thank you for that cheerful outlook. :-)

  • WorldLover71

    “The sunburst fountain near the tram load/unload area is behind walls for a much needed retiling. This is great to see as this was one of our favorite fountains before it fell into disrepair.”

    Be careful what you wish for–Disney has a habit of turning fountains into planters. It happens mostly in WDW but with the drought in CA anything is possible.

  • blue32

    In the first paragraph it states IASW is closed thru July? Hopefully that’s a typo.

    • DannyeF

      I had the same question.

  • Oathkeeper

    Is that metal ring on the top of Space Mountain going to be permanent? I really hope not :(

  • ayalexander

    That metal ring on the top of Space Mountain is most likely the framework for a permanent installation, just imagine the framework with white siding and it appears to look like another off-kilter ring crowning the top of the attraction. Most likely, it is a permanent necessity for future cleanings and painting of the structure. Also, I don’t think the refurbishment schedule for “it’s a small world” is a typo, they might be implementing some new computer systems or replacing animatronics or some kind of new aesthetic look somewhere in the attraction and the brief 11 days it will be open are most likely for “guest guinea-pig” testing so see if this new addition works. I’m not suggesting however that this “addition” will be anything noticeable, maybe a backstage kinda thing. -Also I’m not trying to be “that guy” but I was curious, did you refer to the downtown disney fountain as a “sunburst” due to its look or perhaps a mistaken naming of it, because its a flower and not even a flower that is related to a sunburst flower. If you see an aerial view of downtown disney, the ground pattern, and planters make a massive leafy vine that stretches the length of the district and at the end where the vine meets the entrance plaza, is the flower at the tip of the vine (fountain).

    And for those of you who are like me and like knowing little known facts, being that I used to be a French Market Cast Member (among many other duties in my five year run at Disneyland). The upstairs of French Market was (by Cast Member history buffs) known as the Jazz Club, since that was the original intention of the room by Walt himself. The upstairs was basically a massive storage room for 33′s furniture and housed temporary put-it-together structures for Fantasmic guests and Cast Members. However the most well known feature of the upstairs was the alcohol cellar (or should I say alcohol attic? ;P ) it housed all of 33′s alcohol in a temperature controlled, minimal weight storage room. The upstairs of the market or (Jazz Club) had no completed flooring, by any means, walkways accross the exposed floor beams were made of thrown down plywood and particle board, and part of the upstairs was the gearbox room for the two-level elevator that provided direct access between Market’s kitchen and the main kitchen, I wonder if they will build around the gearbox room or implement it as a 3rd level stop for 33′s kitchen staff… because they certainly will not deprive Market of this direct-to-kitchen necessity.

    And finally, I hear rumor that Imagineering was green-lighted to re-purpose the Peoplemover/Rocket Rods track for a new Star Wars themed speeder bike attraction. I fully support this and the rumor sounded very plausible as the speeder bikes could be paired up in tandem on a single “coaster” trolley propelled and controlled by linear synchronous motors, allowing for the ride weight to be evenly distributed throughout the length of the structure, whereas most of Rocket Rod’s weight was all in the heavy vehicle itself, creating problems for the old structure when the massive vehicles would speed up or round corners. For those that aren’t technically savvy, linear synchronous motor systems are the same magnetic system that launches the California Screamin’ Coaster up its first hill and also magnetically pulls it up the other hills. By mounting a narrow gauge “coaster track” to the structure and propelling vehicles this way, there is a reduced chance of a singular point of stress upon the existing structure. I can’t wait to see what the future holds in store for Disneyland!

  • SpectroMan

    It’s a little surprising the the few subs not parked in back are not covered….I’m already hearing the “the subs were in such horrible condition that we couldn’t justify rehabbing them” :|

  • tigga please

    I believe it was Thursday night when I heard, “woooooo” come from the Mountain. I immediately stopped our group and looked my bassist right in the eyes. The look on his face confirmed what I thought I had heard. We booked it over to the ride and saw cast members walking into the ride area. I tired to get pictures for you guys, but they shooed us away and blocked the entrance with their arms.

  • DisWedWay

    Could the actual 100 tons of real gold mine tailings on Big Thunder Mountain, be as old or older than Walt’s petrified tree?