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In the Parks

Disneyland Pirates, Mermaids, Mantas, Magic Mountain and More

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
by , 04-28-2011 at 09:30 PM

There's a lot of Southern California Disney and theme park news this week. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are swarming with major construction projects, from the Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides premiere to the mad scramble to get this summer's new attractions opened on schedule, the resort is humming with activity. We've also got some fantastic coverage of Six Flags Magic Mountain's two new summer attractions and a quick look at Knott's Windseeker which will soon be whisking us high in the sky. Finally we have a wonderful update from SeaWorld in San Diego where the New Manta coaster is under construction and the Sky Ride and Sky Tower have dropped their upcharges. It's a fun and wacky week in the parks, let's take a look at what's new . . .

Disneyland is your land, along with a huge group of celebrities and VIP's who will be watching the premiere of the new Pirates 4 film in New Orleans square next weekend. Disneyland has hosted Pirate's premieres in the past, but this time, the seating arrangement has been changed to accommodate a more narrow viewing range for this 3D film. In Tomorrowland, the walls lining the corridor near Star Tours continue to shift and change as the attraction blasts towards completion.


On a side note the facade work continues on the left hand side of Main Street. The emporium, has just come out from under wraps looking brand new.

A nice new light at the entry.

One interesting thing, we are afraid this low hanging chain
might be in danger of getting yanked. Unfortunately, guests just can't seem to keep their hands off of things they shouldn't touch.

Penny arcade gets touched up during park hours

Here we are in the land of the near future. By near future we are referring to June 3rd, 2011 as that is the projected opening day for Star Tours: 2/3D/The Adventure Continues.

Star Tours:

Fast Pass signage has appeared behind the walls near the entrance for the newly revamped attraction, while across the way, the Buzz Light year Fast Passes remain behind walls and unused.

It will be very interesting to see how crowd control plays out in the area. Disney is expecting lines in excess of 3 hours, hearkening back to the opening weekend of the ride in 1987. During the opening celebration for this attraction, the lines switchbacked in and around the spacious, Astro-Orbiter and space rock free, entry to Tomorrowland and all the way down Main Street. But what will happen this time around with the copper rocks and Astro Orbiter claiming such large amounts of real estate? The Fast Pass machines will work to keep the passively interested out of the area until their return time so that's a good thing. But crowd control CMs are going to have their hands full.

Regardless, it will be a busy weekend all around for the resort. And, if you are one of the millions of Disney and Star Wars fans out there, you are probably already trying to figure out how you will be among the first to ride this revamped attraction. With Star Tours, Mermaid, Goofy Sky School, Soundsational, new restaurants and revamped Hotel facilities all opening in just a few short weeks, we may very well see the busiest days in the resort's history in the next few weeks. Prepare for long long lines to see this galaxy far far away.

We are so glad to see neon Mickey still on the wall. Looks great with the new multi blue background.

The addition of a permanent vending location in the area near the boat dock is taking a bit of time.


Over in New Orleans Square, preparation has begun for the May 7th premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides. The footprint for the grandstands is a bit different this time around, as they will have to fit more audience into an area closer to the center of the screen due to the 3D nature of the film. This will result in a more vertical layout.

The bridge across the Rivers of America allows construction crews to easily access the front of the island where the giant movie screen is being constructed.

The bleachers are next to be assembled

Note that the bleachers extend well into the river itself

Please remember that when visiting Mansion or Pooh, you may encounter quite a traffic snarl. Don't worry though, the whole mess will be out of the way in time for Splash to open at the end of the may.

Speaking of Splash Mountain, the attraction appears to be on track for a May 26th re-opening.

All the tiers of the mountain are green now.

Everything new is old again

The queue is getting a paint job.

A new little light has been installed on the side of the flume. We imagine that the light bulb will be hidden behind some colored or frosted glass before the attraction opens.

Nice little details like this are what separate Disney from other parks.

Disney Construction Adventure is coming along nicely. We've got lots to share with you.


The new entry to the park is coming along nicely.

The Carthay Circle Theater.

From the Hollywoodland side

Walls are being built along the backside of Grizzly peak.

Looking back towards the hub
from the parade route

Here is the weekly look at the construction progress in Cars Land. Again, here, the smaller details are beginning to emerge as the rock berm gets more of its sculpting treatment and paint. The buildings are taking shape here too and Mater's Junkyard Jamboree's ride system is now being constructed.

Tires on the rooftops

Cement pillars have been poured at the Pacific Wharf entrance to Cars Land.

THE LITTLE MERMAID: Ariel's Undersea Adventure
Last Thursday night through early Friday morning, the landscaping and finishing touches were being made to the exterior of the Little Mermaid building. Of particular interest is that the marquee was installed above the entrance. However, it is currently obscured by a curtain. We'll show you what's viewable.

And below our Universal contributor, F!an, was in DCA an caught this video of the lighting on the Little Mermaid building doing its thing. Thanks F!an!

Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta is coming along, but now getting slightly behind and there is a danger that the two new restaurants may not open with Goofy's Sky School and Little Mermaid. But, knowing Disney, they will put a lot of effort into trying to get it looking as done as possible in time for the press events and media coverage.

Lots of new details

Goofy's Sky School was testing last week and the project is catching up and should be ready for June 3rd.

More floating walls have gone up near Toy Story Midway Mania.

We think Madame Leota installed these walls

Now that the charming Country Fair is done and Easter has hopped back onto the shelf until next year, Knott's is in full press to prepare for Summer.

One thing that should be kept in mind is that Season Pass prices will be going up THIS Sunday (currently priced at just $59.99). So, if you haven't gotten your Knott's Season Pass, NOW is the time to do it! The pass offers unlimited use with no blackout dates.

If you can't get down to the park before Sunday, you can still order one online! If you have any plans to ride the new Windseeker attraction or visit Snoopy's Starlight Spectacular, we'd recommend locking in this low rate while you can


The suits were out last week taking a look at the site of their new thrill ride. They are still on track for a late June opening.

Another car from the upcoming Universal film Fast Five is on display in front of the CityWalk Cinemas. Behind the car, the Cinema facade is getting a face lift.

The CityWalk stage is still moved to the center of the Cinema entrance as work continues on its former home. Notice the massive video screen has been removed as well as the letters that spelled out "Cinemas" in front of the building.

Work is also being done right below CityFood.

Upper Lot:
Did you know USH offer streetmosphere entertainment outside of the park? The Street Sweep dance revue show makes regular appearances along the red carpet.

Studio Tour:
Looks like some filming is being done inside one of the houses on Wisteria Lane/Colonial Street for ABC's Desperate Housewives.

A curb was installed
next to the tram unload.


Some pretty big changes at Magic Mountain this week including the completion of one coaster and the closing of an entire area of the park in preparation for another.


Six Flags Magic Mountain supplied us with the following aerial shots of the Green Lantern construction.

Lots of ground-work is still being done

Hard at work getting the site ready for us all to enjoy the new ride

We will try and update construction pictures as often as possible as the coaster is constructed, but with the backlot area being closed off, we may not see much of the new ride until press day.

Finally ... we had the chance to ride the newly re-opened Roaring Rapids, and are very happy to report that the ride looks fantastic!!!

All of the wood in the queue has either been re-painted or replaced

The queue waterfalls are also working and looking great

From the station, you can see just how lush Roaring Rapids is.

JB's Smoke House Barbecue:
The new BBQ restaurant opened last week.

A more permanent BBQ area has been set up then what they had for Longhorn's

The menu features platters, sandwiches and salads

Pulled Pork Sandwich (you get a choice of Cole-Slaw, beans and BBQ or regular Kettle Chips)

Grilled Chicken Sandwich (you get the same choice of sides)

Both were adequate, with the pulled-pork being the better of the two. The prices are a little high, but it's another food option which is always nice.

The Waterfront food court now has a Wings option as well as some new sweet food options


The Geese are back at the park ... the park has taken every precaution to ensure that their nesting goes smoothly including roping off this area. Can't wait to see some gosling's walking around the park very soon.

What's good for the goose...

All of Gotham City Backlot is closed, including Batman: The Ride, as the area prepares to be converted to DC Universe prior to Green Lantern opening.

This could also explain the long rehab for Atom Smasher, perhaps it's being totally re-themed?

Hopefully Grinder Gearworks will receive some much-needed TLC during this time

All entrances to Gotham have been blocked off


They did some major work on Road Runner Express over the past few weeks ... the entire track has been completed.

Looking towards Whistlestop Depot, there is plenty of room for a few more kid-friendly attractions and some work is going on.

No visible changes on the old queue for Sierra Falls

Thanks to reader, GapToothed, we have a big update from SeaWorld today.
There's a lot going on in the park right now.

First off, the park recently paved an additional 10 of 16 acres on the east side of the leasehold. Here's a shot from the very, very corner of the lot looking toward the park. That's gonna be a long walk to the entrance!!

Here's the reverse angle
These restrooms will close and a new set will be built where the concession stand used to be next to the old Mango Joe's. The lumber you see on the truck is from the Pagoda building that was a part of the Japanese Village.

This is where the new restrooms will be. The coaster will launch in this straightaway.

The station area and maintenance bay area. In the background is the pagoda building.

A closer look at the pagoda. Rumor has it the building has been purchased and will be re-assembled!

More maintenance bay area shots. The coaster will pass over the bridge and into the old Flamingo Cove area before heading back into the station.

The flamingos will return here!

A quick peek at Turtle Reef construction. The spinny ride Riptide Rescue is being installed.

And a final bit of news from the park. The skyride was recently made an included attraction (instead of an upcharge as it historically was). Now we understand that the Sky Tower will also become an attraction included with your park admission (perhaps as early as this week). This is VERY welcome news indeed.

A huge thank you to GapToothed for this great update. We look forward to more news from SeaWorld in the near future!

There's a lot to see and do in SoCal this weekend.

The 22nd annual Spring Garden Show
This weekend is the 22nd annual Spring Garden show at South Coast Plaza in Santa Ana. Come stroll through the mall and take in the inventive and beautiful flower arrangements on the first floor. Then when you are done there, venture to the second and third floors where you can shop for your own plants for your home.

Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival
The 2011 Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival will be held April 27 - May 1 at Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio and other venues. Tickets are on sale now!!

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

The annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books will be held: Saturday April 30, 2011 from 10am – 6pm
Sunday, May 1, 2011 from 10am – 5pm at: University of Southern California

Anaheim Comic Con : California Comic Convention, Wizard World Anaheim
It's not much more than a celebrity meet and greet, but it will have KITT, George Barris and the 1960's Batmobile (with Adam West, Burt Ward, Lee Meriwhether and Julie Newmar), an Ecto 1 (Ernie Hudson) and a BTTF DeLorean (with Claudia Wells, Jennifer from the first movie), and a dealer's room. Mickey Rooney and William Shatner are also attending.

Why stop here? There's a whole world of Disney and theme park fun left to discover on MiceChat. Might we suggest:

  • NEW! - Orlando Parkhopper - Visit our newest weekly column, which covers Walt Disney World and other top Orlando attractions!
  • SAMLAND - Your weekly look at some interesting tales from Disney history.
  • Weekend Update Offers a world of Disney theme parks as well as other sights and landmarks!
  • Dateline Disneyland which is packed with great news and photos from the Disneyland Resort.
  • And you'll always find something interesting on the forums and on MiceAge.

Today's update was brought to you by our fantastic and talented crew of photographers and news contributors: Donald Fan, F!an, Captphoebus, Pratt55, Ericbramey, Sir Clinksalot, Fishbulb, and Dustysage.

Show us you appreciate this column by sharing this page with your friends!

Would you like to be part of this crew? Do you have a park, zoo or botanical garden that you'd like to share with our readers? We are looking for Southern California theme park reporters. We'd love to hear from you! please contact [email protected].

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Updated 04-29-2011 at 09:09 AM by In the Parks



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  1. Notoriousdan562's Avatar
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    Great update! Mainstreet is starting to look Fresh!
  2. QuiGonJ's Avatar
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    As another event, Wizard Publishing is holding the Anaheim Comic Con over at the Anaheim convention center across the street from Downtown Disney.

    Anaheim Comic Con : California Comic Convention, Wizard World Anaheim

    It's not much more than a celebrity meet and greet, but it will have KITT, George Barris and the 1960's Batmobile (with Adam West, Burt Ward, Lee Meriwhether and Julie Newmar), an Ecto 1 (Ernie Hudson) and a BTTF DeLorean (with Claudia Wells, Jennifer from the first movie), and a dealer's room. Mickey Rooney and William Shatner are also attending.

    (No, I ain't associated with it, just went last year, and it was fun. The pics I took last year are here:
    Anaheim Comic Con 2010 - a set on Flickr
  3. WheresMickey's Avatar
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    Nice update!
  4. ooolarge disneyfan's Avatar
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    Is batman open or is it closed off to get referbished?
  5. LFTWNG9's Avatar
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    I thought it was very interesting to see that the new Road Runner Express kiddie coaster at Magic Mountain is the exact same track layout as Gadget's Go-Coaster in Toontown at Disneyland!
    Is this great for Magic Mountain or really bad for Disney? ;-)
  6. sir clinksalot's Avatar
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    Everything in the Gotham backlot is closed, including Batman. You can't even get back there right now. I'm assuming Batman will re-open when Green Lantern opens.

    As for any "refurb" going on with Batman, I wouldn't think so as the ride just got a complete refurb and new paint last year.

    Yes, Road Runner is exactly the same as Gadgets. For those of you who didn't now that Gadget's was an off-the-shelf coaster you know now.

    This is a good thing for Magic Mtn, more rides for kids is a good thing.
  7. Disneykin Kid's Avatar
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    Emporium paint job - I love it! It's close to the original 1950s color, instead of the revisionist colors it had previously. The Penny Arcade, while striking, still looks like the color palette is from the 2000s.
  8. Dustysage's Avatar
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    What a huge update! Thank you to all our contributors this week. So exciting to see major construction at Sea World, Universal Studios, Six Flags and Knott's Berry Farm.

    And that video of the Little Mermaid lights was wonderful!!!

    The next two years are going to be simply amazing for Southern California theme park visitors.
  9. fireball's Avatar
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    The Emporium looks amazing! Ever since the Pressler/Harriss/Eisner era ended, we've been blessed with leaaders who actually seem to give a damn ... from the new DCA to projects inside Disneyland such as the Tomorrowland paint job, Main Street refurbishment, the rumored expansion of Frontierland, etc, etc. Hopefully, in twenty years, it will still be going!
  10. D.E.1955's Avatar
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    WOW!!!! The Emporium looks beautiful!!!
  11. StevenW's Avatar
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    Wow, the theme parks are ramping up for a BIG changes in this year and next. Can't wait for everything to finish.
  12. bamato's Avatar
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    Thanks for the nice update!

    How cool would it be to sit in the bleachers that are over the ROA?!
  13. MrTour's Avatar
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    I was excited to hear about Manta coming to Sea World, but disappointed when I looked it up and saw it is nothing like the one in Orlando. If anything, it looks like a scaled down Cheetah Hunt.
  14. Dustysage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrTour
    I was excited to hear about Manta coming to Sea World, but disappointed when I looked it up and saw it is nothing like the one in Orlando. If anything, it looks like a scaled down Cheetah Hunt.
    The San Diego version of the ride will be very smooth and much more family friendly than its Orlando cousin. That's a good thing for this park which is not aiming for the thrill crowd.
  15. Barbossa's Avatar
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    Great update!
  16. JesterMn's Avatar
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    Glad to hear the Skytower may become free as well as the Skyride. Although after asking many employees at the Skyride, most seemed to feel it was only going to be free during the Manta construction.
  17. Timekeeper's Avatar
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    Ditto to another great update!

    Why do they have an obsession with the floating walls?

  18. Marko50's Avatar
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    Great update!

    Although Sea World is not my favorite park (by far), the Japanese Pagoda was one of my favorite places in the park. [sigh]
  19. Awe_inspired's Avatar
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    Thanks much for the update. I really wish the Carthay would be the entrance to a line that snaked behind the buildings to the Animation show building. I would love this bldg to become an AA heavy, 3D movie-integrated Omnimover ride through the animated films Walt made during his time. This could be a catch-all for the films that aren't represented with rides.
  20. niklj's Avatar
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    I haven't been to SeaWorld in a while...what happened to the Japanese pagoda???
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