In the Parks – Alice, Captain America and Big Thunder

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in Features

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Published on March 07, 2014 at 3:01 am with 27 Comments

Howdy folks, it’s time for In the Parks featuring news from Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.  We have plenty to share with you as we take you through the latest happenings at the resort.  Captain America has landed in Tomorrowland and we let you know if he’s worth the superhero wait or if it’s all a star-spangled mess.  Next we share the latest info on the LONG OVERDUE Alice In Wonderland refurbishment and take you on a final ride-through before work begins March 10th.  We also share news from Big Thunder  Mountain, where the construction walls have finally come down. We’ll even visit Splash Mountain which is back up and running.  Then we head over to California Adventure where Soarin’ is back in flight and an interesting little change has been made to Muppet Vision 3D.  A lot can happen in a week at Disneyland, let’s take a tour . . .

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IT’S BACK!!!!! Let’s find out who can ride the most attractions at Disneyland in a single day . . . it’s the MiceChat Gumball Rally.  Click HERE for more information and to sign up!

Space Mountain

We begin in the dirty outer reaches of Space. The exterior work to install safety features including a new ring on the top of the mountain is coming along nicely and will soon be indiscernible from the pre-existing architecture.

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Here we see the safest workers in the theme park industry as they make their way along the backside of the show building.

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From inside the park we see the new ring at the top of the mountain. You can’t miss it, it’s just above the filthy bottom sections. But, once the bottom sections have been cleaned and the top section painted, it’s all going to look just fine.

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Captain America

Innoventions is now home to three separate Marvel character exhibits, with two of them being meet and greet opportunities.  While the Iron Man exhibit was a swell first attempt, and Thor was an impressive next step, the latest addition isn’t quite a super hero effort.

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Captain America: The Living Legend and Symbol of Courage (What a title), officially opens to the public today.

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Entering Innoventions there is a very tight queue to the right to meet Captain America.  Crammed into a small circular area, the exhibit consists of a temporary queue, a divider wall that charts the history of Captain America, and then a small meet and greet area.

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It is clear that there was little time between the previous tenant leaving Innoventions, and Captain America moving in.  A slapdash mess of temporary walls and expo graphics, broken only by the random placement of encased props.  Unfortunately, this newest meet and greet lacks the showmanship of the Treasures of Asgard just a few steps away. Still, if you need a super hero fix, Innoventions is quickly becoming your one stop shop.

it’s a small world

It’s a small world is currently getting a full backstage safety redesign on the sets and infrastructure. Small World will reopen briefly in April so that the Good Morning America show can broadcast for several days from in front of the ride, playing up the ride’s 50thanniversary from its initial debut at the World’s Fair. Then Small World will close again until later in May for the last bit of safety upgrades.

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Alice in Wonderland

Get your rides in on Alice in Wonderland now.  the classic attraction is scheduled to go down for refurbishment to address the “temporary” CalOSHA solution that resulted in ugly tarps and railings boxing in the once climatic outdoor path down the leaves.

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Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

The walls in front of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad were quietly removed late Tuesday night.  For the first time in nearly 14 months, there was a clear view of the orange buttes and winding tracks behind Rainbow Ridge.

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Club 33

We offer another tour through the wrapped scaffolds of New Orleans Square as the elite, Club 33 gets an expansion.

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Splash Mountain

Critter Country sprang to life once again as Splash Mountain returned from a month-long refurbishment.  There’s good news and bad news with this refurbishment.

The bad news first; Cosmetic upkeep was left by the riverbank in this go around.

 

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The finish on the water wheel outside continues to erode, breaking the illusion of a more whimsically “worn” look.

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The exterior of the mountain was left untouched.

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The Briar patch at the final drop is woefully faded and rusting in spots.

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The logs themselves were not noticeably renovated either. Here we see the deteriorating state of the seats in the log.

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The log paint job is also worn.

 

The good news; During several of our ride throughs we didn’t notice a single animatronic that was malfunctioning.    Every figure from Brer Bear to Mr. Blue Bird was functional and moving.

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Furthermore, infrastructure was apparently put in place to allow for easier access to the hard-to-reach figures, allowing them to be maintenance regularly.  This is WONDERFUL news.

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The Zip-a-Dee Lady was rocking, all of its occupants dancing and singing.  Perfect!

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While the renovation is a mixed bag, there is plenty of good news to be appreciated.

Starbucks in Downtown Disney

Work continues at what is shaping up to be a beautiful new Starbucks in Downtown Disney.  It was just announced that the location will be opening March 10th.

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Soarin’ Over California

Although the High-Def upgrade for Soarin; has been delayed, the attraction did enjoy a quick refurbishment recently that focused on mechanical issues for the flight carriages.

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Entering the building it is overwhelmingly evident that the newly serviced smell effects are still in a bit of a test and adjust phase.  Not a bad thing, but funny to smell the scents in the queue.

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Artifacts on the film are still pretty visible in spots.  Regardless, the ride should be able to struggle through until the big digital upgrade can be made (hopefully next year).

Redwood Creek Challenge Trail

The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail refurbishment has been extended into mid-March.  It is now scheduled to reopen March 19th.

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Muppet Vision 3D

In a very cute and understated move, the pre show for Muppet Vision 3D has been modified to include the nefarious villain, Constantine, from the upcoming film Muppets Most Wanted.

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Entering the pre show, everything seems normal.  However, as the pre show continues, transmission interferences occur.  Constantine breaks through to inform guests of his evil plans to rule the world, before they are all ushered in to see the show.

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It’s nice to see little touches such as this added to long established attractions.  No changes have been made to the 3D movie itself. But we do recommend watching the entire pre-show . . . it’s an attraction all its own.

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MiceChat Podcast #15: A Spoonful of Sherman

Our latest show was quite a while in the making. We think it was worth the wait. Aside from our usual round up of Disney and theme park news, we’ve got an outstanding interview with Robbie Sherman (son of Disney legend Robert Sherman of the Sherman Brothers). Robbie was quite candid. The interview was conducted at the Disneyana Fan Club show and sale, so there’s quite a bit of background noise, but it’s all in good fun. It’s a spoonful of Sherman and then some. Enjoy!


Direct Link | iTunes Link

That should just about do it for us at the Disneyland Resort this week. But you can catch us again on  Monday as we step in for Dateline Disneyland for the week.

Well folks, what caught your eye this week? Do you think Space Mountain’s new ring is a good fit? Happy to see the walls come down at Big Thunder? And what of Captain America’s minimal meet and greet? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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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  • ayalexander

    Great update, glad to see Splash Mountain’s animatronics taken care of finally… those animals turn 40 years old this year, you know? Built for America Sings back in 1974. Would anyone agree that the first time you see Brer Fox holding the rope attached to Brer Bear, that it is a re-cycled Sam the Eagle? That animatronic has all the same exact movements as the AA of Sam from the opening and closing acts of America Sings.

    I hope they do a good job with Alice… oh and for those of you nostalgic people that believe the Mary Blair murals were preserved behind the Star Tours and Buzz murals… we know the murals are still there, but they are not intact, here is a youtube video I found:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXmHJLifufo

    • PirateLover

      Great update. I’m going this weekend to see the park in person.

      The youtube video ayalexander posted of the Mary Blair tile destruction is interesting.
      Pay close attention the the construction worker climbing up the scafolding with no safety equipment at all! No fall protection needed back then I guess.

    • airick75

      Good find! Those workers are NOT being safe!!

      I am a full-fledged fan of Mary Blair and those murals, but I think it’s interesting to note that they never really fit the theme of the area, did they? Same conversation we’re still having today.

    • Princess Victoria

      I remember seeing that video a few years ago. I’ve always been under the impression that the Mary Blair mural was completely removed from the Star Tours building whereas it still remains on the Astro Blasters building. However, there were beams placed into that mural to support the mural that replaced it, so it is not 100% unscathed.

      • ayalexander

        Well the murals weren’t entirely removed, they were attached as part of the permanent structure and the only way to remove them was through demolition. Basically: those tiles were ON there. lol I have a picture that takes place soon after that video of the new mural support beams in place, they are bolted in over the existing mural (with the connection joints made room for, by hacking away at tiles every 3 feet or so) Sad.

  • Marko50

    “Here we see the safest workers in the theme park industry as they make their way along the backside of the show building.”

    LOL! Thanks, Norm, for my first belly laugh of the day!

  • RBNeale

    Not to be that guy, but:

    “His abilities, unwavering courage, and ‘never-say-die’ attitude HAVE made Captain America a living legend”

    • lionheartkc

      Someone needs to be that guy… of course, that someone should have worked for Disney.

    • LoveStallion

      Be “that guy” all you want. Shame on Disney for not proofing copy before implementation.

    • DobbysCloset

      I is so glad you is that guy so I doesn’t has to be her and can return to reading the rest of the hopefully-pain free morning trip report.

  • ChrisNJ

    That Starbucks better be the best looking location ever with how long this project is taking. I’d hate to be in one of the rooms directly above it.

  • Sparky

    The Disney Parks Blog has announced this morning that the new Downtown Disney Starbucks is set to open on March 10th.

  • WannaCub

    Has Fastpass been removed from Splash Mountain?!

    • Norman Gidney

      No, Fastpass is still available for Splash.

  • vnormth

    At 4:48 mark in the Splash Mountain video, what is that? It looks like an animatrnic may be missing entirely still???

    Also, is the leaping water, drops jumping over the flume, in the laughing place working again now too?

    • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

      You are correct. It looks like one of the characters sitting on the water spout is missing. But since the post is there, it’s probably still on the way or wasn’t working properly on installation.

    • DLFreak71

      I noticed the missing character too (after the “bee” drop). Also noticed a vulture missing too.

      • Norman Gidney

        Actually, the vulture isn’t missing. The light on him is off. However, I can assure you that I kept my eye on him and he was mouthing the words of dialogue and moving.

  • Lobot

    the additional ring on the top of Space Mountain is a great solution. It makes sense… It looks intentional… once it’s all done I think it will look like it’s always been there!

    • DobbysCloset

      I agree and can only hope a similar solution evolves for Alice. As a little child that outdoor spiral back to reality was a favorite part of my ride.

    • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

      I absolutely agree with you. They took the high road on this one and came up with a permanent solution which is completely integrated into the show building rather than just ugly railings and hooks.

  • bayouguy

    It’s all about waiting for Big Thunder Mountain to reopen for our family.

  • janvincent_1313

    Norman, I always enjoy reading your park updates. It’s like a stroll through the park for me since I can’t physically be there myself. Keep up the good work.

  • jcruise86

    Thanks for another excellent update, Micechat!

    I think the Captain America just looks too wimpy, like Tom Hanks or Jessie Eisenberg as Superman–bad casting. Los Angeles probably has more bodybuilding actors than any place in the world. Disney had a chance to have a character who appeals to the 15-69 year old female audience and–I guess–the gay male audience.

    Trivia question: exactly how many attractions does Disneyland (not including DCA) have open at this time,
    and how many do WDW’s Magic Kingdom
    and Tokyo Disney Sea have?

    (Yes, we know. Tokyo Disney Sea is all about the incredible theming that immerses guests into beautiful, mysterious fantasy worlds where…blah, blah, blah. :) )

  • pattimarie

    I was at Soarin’ on February 28th, and I asked the cast member how long the single rider line was. He said it was as long as the regular line–70 minutes–plus 10 minutes because single riders wouldn’t be loaded until all others currently in line got on. It really made no sense. He stood in my way to get in the line, and rather than argue with him, I just left. Does this make sense to anyone? I go on the Splash single rider line all the time and it’s usually about 10 minutes total, and you certainly don’t wait for the people already in line to get on. What do you think was happening?

    • dland_lover

      Soarin’ has always had the worst Single Rider line. Don’t do it. Either get a FP or get there early before it gets a line. :/

  • Rongo

    I have to say that the retrofits they’ve been doing for fall protection have been really good so far – the extra crenelations on the castle forecourt attractions is pretty well unnoticeable, but when you do it adds bulk and depth to the castle. I’m liking what they’re doing on Space Mountain, and it is pretty clear that Imagineering was involved in all this work and some money was spent, rather than just letting facilities do it themselves. Here’s hoping that the long delay for Alice means that they’ve come up with something that’s going to work really well. (And then let’s turn to Sleeping Beauty Castle, ‘cos I’m not loving the scrolled railing on the front and the wooden walls on the back.)