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In the Parks

In The Parks - Disneyland Press Event, Hotel Pool Opens and Closes, Magic and More

Rating: 3 votes, 3.67 average.
by , 06-03-2011 at 12:18 AM

This week multiple attractions, new or revamped, officially opened at Disneyland and all over Southern California and In the Parks was there to cover it for you. Disneyland resumed normal flights throughout the galaxy with Star Tours 3D. Disney California Adventure now dives daily with The Little Mermaid and we have photos for you from the press event. Universal Studios gets a new tour guide and the Road Runner Express debuts at Six Flags Magic Mountain. No time to waste, let's jump right in to this massive amount of summer fun.

Disneyland Hotel's transformation is still underway but the new Tongaroa Terrace, Trader Sam's and the much debated Monorail waterslide play area have all made their public debut.

The hotel towers should all be complete by October

The new quick service dining location, Tongaroa Terrace, is a very pleasant surprise and an affordable alternative to other dining options at the resort. Trader Sam's is a magically themed tiki bar, albeit small, which is earning rave reviews from us and many others.

The Monorail waterslide area is, well, a mixed bag. While the clean canary yellow recliners and the private cabanas all scream luxury, there is a lack of visual weight to the steel blue water slide in the center of it all. And the pool area now lacks the tropical appeal which would compliment the fancy new tiki bar and restaurant complex next door.

An homage to a simpler, more nostalgic time, the Monorail water slides beckon guests to climb the tower and take a ride. Not sure if this look was a stylistic or financial decision but either way it looks as sparse as the original hotel monorail station did in the 50's. However, the site looks far better at night where the lighting plays with the water and distracts from the steel girders.

Better at night

Sadly, the well themed and tropical Neverland Pool was drained earlier in the week and the process of stripping the area of all its theme has begun. The pool will remain, but will look similar to the new pool area when complete (essentially concrete with lots of luxurious chairs and cabanas).

The S.S. Hackencut

The rotunda above Goofy's Kitchen is also getting the tiki treatment and will light up with tiki torches at night.

Frontier Tower:
In the Frontier tower, visitors will find a clean, re-themed lobby filled with warm earth tones, wood and steel. The highlight is the re-creation of the model used in the development of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Guests lounging in the lobby will find plenty of visual interest. Plus, the new geysers and small waterfalls have been uncovered in front of the tower.

The new "geyser" and waterfall in front of the Frontier tower.

New Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Model in the Frontierland Tower lobby

Spot the goat trick

Inside Disneyland, Star Tours officially returns today and Frontierland has received a somewhat out of place new outdoor vending location (ODV).

Join us in celebrating the return of Star Tours as Disney films Worthie Mecham, Fishbulb, and Miceage's Sue Kruse in a very special spin aboard the brand new Star Tours. Spoiler alert, there is lots of actual ride video included in this video. Enjoy!

Who is that masked man? Why, it's none other than Disneyland President George Kalogridis.

We really enjoy the new Star Tours. Here is a link to our full Star Tours review

Yes, Soundsational opened last week. But here are a few shots from the recent media event.

A flash mob kicked off the introduction to the parade. (interesting to note that both Disneyland and Universal Studios used flash mobs on Thursday to launch new or revamped attractions)

Here is a link to last week's article in which we review Soundsational.


The new ODV stand in Frontierland opened last week and while it is well constructed, the placement is a little strange as is the theme. The new stand is directly across from the entrance to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and, on more crowded days, this could lead to some serious traffic bottle necking. It may have been a placement of necessity or perhaps a busy location was intentionally sought. But, a placement a little further up the trail (where the Westward Ho fry cart once was) would have been a much better location and not have blocked the river view. A minor quibble to be sure but certainly an issue which is bound to come up on the busiest of days.

The other issue that many of you have noted is the odd pirate feel to the theme. This little section of the park isn't in New Orleans Square, it is between the Mark Twain dock and Big Thunder Mountain. Perhaps the theme can still be tweaked to better fit its Frontierland roots.


Splash Mountain has returned fully refreshed with a newly rebuilt loading area that better suits the seating configuration of the logs. The capacity has already been improved with the goal of 1400 riders an hour being exceeded on a regular basis. The once confusing loading gates and queue have been significantly improved. cutting load/unload time nearly in half. We watched dispatch for a long stretch of time and noted that the logs no longer back up behind the load platform but rather float directly from the photo owl directly to the unload platform. Amazing performance improvement and an operations achievement to be applauded.


The good news is that a perfume shop has opened up in New Orleans Square in the exact spot of the original. The bad news is that there is very little that is unique in this new location. The driving visual flourish here seems to be open perfume bottles. The original perfume shop allowed guests to mix their own fragrances. The formulas were kept so guests could return on future visits for more of their signature fragrance. However, the new version of the shop simply sells the same old boxed perfumes that you can find in any mall. Think JC Penny's perfume counter and you have a good idea of the massive disappointment of this shop.

The store does offer custom perfume bottles made while you wait, which is kind of neat. But it seems there was not enough room in the shop itself and they have given the artist a table just outside the shop to do her work. Not a costumed artist, but one who is a guest of the park, with a temporary white name tag sticker on her shirt. It felt very much like a yard sale or flea market.

The good news is that the main issues with the new store can be fixed easily and quickly by some costuming and by tightening up the look. The slapdash groupings of bottles of perfume on the counters needs to be done away with. The artist outside could use a costume as well as table that better suits the store, or they should simply be moved indoors. Custom fragrances and mixes would be better than the usual department store operation. But the main issue here is presentation. Let's hope management works the kinks out soon. This location is far too unprofessional to be in a Disney park and was actually depressing to look at - which we are sure wasn't the intended vibe they were going for. Thankfully, this is just one tiny little shop and one itty bitty issue in an otherwise amazing summer for Disneyland.

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Buena Vista Street and the entrance to the park are coming along nicely. The front gates are almost completely exposed and the lights and fixtures should be installed soon.

The structure that is being built against the back side of Grizzly Mountain is taking shape.

Looking at the concept art we ask, "Is that a trolly stop or an ODV location?

The train will soon be removed.

Carthay Circle Theater seems to have stalled. It has looked like this for weeks.


After many soft openings and cast member previews The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure finally opened yesterday (Thursday June 2nd). The presentation included live performances by Jody Benson (voice of Ariel) and Sheri Rene Scott (Ursula on Broadway) with an introduction from Tom Staggs.

Tom Staggs, head of Disney's Parks and Resorts

Jody Benson

Sheri Rene Scott

YAY It's OPEN!!!

Pat Carol was on hand (Original voice of Ursula)

Here is a link to last weeks article in which we review The Little Mermaid.


The new gift shop adjacent to The Little Mermaid attraction has opened. A shop across from the new attraction is a no brainer and the placement is far more tasteful than the usual, "exit through the gift shop" routine. The one problem is the size. The shop is very very small. During our visit cast members were stationed at the entrance controlling the amount of people allowed inside.


Details continue to emerge and amaze over at the Paradise Pier Restaurants. The amount of landscaping alone is impressive. But the official opening is still a few weeks away.

Far more lush than the S.S. Rustworthy

It's confirmed...

Pretzles, soda and beer at least.


While Paradise Pier's restaurants grow closer to completion, Goofy's Sky School is being tested on a routine basis and more details from the queue emerge.

A ToonTown-like fence is adjacent to the queue


No Mas! The Mission Tortilla Factory quietly closed its doors on Tuesday morning. Maseca fans resort-wide have gone into mourning. But fear not grizzled theme park fans, a delicious replacement is on the way.

As first reported by Dustysage this past January and confirmed by Al Lutz on Monday of this week, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company of San Francisco is planned to become DCA’s newest sponsor, and if the current timeline holds, Ghirardelli will debut in 2012 in an expanded and remade building at the old Mission Tortilla Factory location.

Universal premiered a revamped Studio Tour with Jimmy Fallon this week and we were there for the opening ceremonies. Sir Clinksalot brings us this report from the event and our intrepid reporter, F!an, fills us in on what else is going on at the studio...

Also, keep in mind that this is the last weekend to take advantage of this offer.

Universal Studios Hollywood was kind enough to invite us to the opening of their new tram tour featuring Jimmy Fallon. Well, the tram isn't new but many of the videos on the tram are. The entire press event took place at the Universal Globe in front of the park, then we were all invited to see the tour with the new video segments. The new slogan for the tram is "Have a TramTastic Day"

Jimmy and the Universal announcer have some friendly banter

"Surprise", Jimmy has a guitar and is going to sing the new song for the tram "TramTastic"

During the song, the extras come out and join Jimmy "FlashMob" style

After the song, Jimmy cuts the Blue Ribbon

Jimmy and a Tour Guide.

After the ceremony, the press got our own private Tram Tour. It was weird being driven through the Universal Parking Lot in a Tram. Once we got to the normal Tram Loading area, we got to see the tram tour as it is seen today, introduced by Jimmy Fallon.

Some of the videos featuring Jimmy are quite funny, especially this one highlighting Stage 20

The remainder of the tour is essentially the same as it has been for the past couple of years. The one part that didn't make much sense is that Whoopi is still featured in the Mummy Tunnel. Hopefully this means that part of the tour will be changed soon.

Overall, the Tram Tour is the same, but Jimmy Fallon brings a lighthearted comic angle that the tour has been missing for awhile. The introductory and ending segments are great, and I can guarantee you will have "TramTastic" stuck in your head for the rest of your day at the park.

Work continues on the Infusion Lounge. There is not much visible progress seen on the facade and outside marquee but work has shifted inside. Work also continues on the CityWalk Cinemas, CityWalk Stage, and surrounding areas (collectively called the CityWalk Cinema Plaza). First, new CityWalk entrance portals from the Curious George (between Jillian's Hi Life Lanes and The Raider Image) and Jurassic Parking (between Andrew's Panda Inn and Sketchers) Structures are being built.

a brand new permanent performance stage with built in lighting and sound packages as well as a giant video screen is taking shape.

Possibly the most dramatic change coming to the Cinema Plaza is the cinema itself. The CityWalk Cinemas will be getting a new facade that looks very modern and clean. The plaza surrounding the Cinemas will be surrounded by sculptural light towers. The whole Cinema Plaza will be lit with integrated structural lighting.

New permanent barriers have been installed around the ticket booths, entrance turnstiles, and security checkpoint.

New information booth outside Guest Relations to help guests plan their day.

Western Street:
A new street show on Western Street featuring Zorro and Elena recently debuted. In the show, Zorro and Elena do the Paso Doble. Push/Pull. Give/Take. Love/Hate. The show is only a couple of days old so it looks a bit rough in some areas but once the performers get into their groove, the show will a great addition to the park. The show performs multiple times a day in front of the Sheriff's office.

Western Street is plastered with wanted posters.

Work continues as the roof and wall enclose the ride system inside. We are hearing some very exciting things about this attraction, which is shaping up to be a massive blockbuster.


Changes are happening all around DC Universe. The area will certainly feel a lot "Brighter" than it did when it was Gotham.

Wonder Womans Golden Lasso looks to be almost completed

The painting being done on "The Flash" is also coming along nicely. Can't tell if the cars are back on the track. The building facades look like they are almost finished as well.


Sir Clinksalot was also on hand for the grand opening of Road Runner Express this past weekend (which, if you follow us on Facebook, you already know).

Some lucky kids get a bit of help cutting the ribbon

The attraction is simple (a near clone of Gadget's Go Coaster at Disneyland), but is perfect for young families and much needed in this park of extreme thrills.
A new "pirate" character was out near the Buccaneer and Swashbuckler. It's nice to see different characters walking around the park

The park has also been hosting some Grad Nites the past few weeks. With the newly revamped backward version of Superman, a new kiddie coaster and the impressive looking Green Lantern all hitting the park for summer 2011, Six Flags is gearing up for a great year.


Windseeker has gone vertical and it is going to be huge. Thing is, it hasn't even maxed out yet and already looks terrifying. Take a look at the current, unfinished height against the other existing attractions.

We are forever thankful to our readers for checking in with us every week. We hope you enjoyed the update and would love to hear your comments about what you are excited about for this summer in our local parks. Today's update was brought to you by the following members of our fantastic and talented crew of photographers and news contributors: Sir Clinksalot, F!an, Captphoebus, Fishbulb and Dustysage.

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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 06-03-2011 at 11:15 AM by Dustysage



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  1. Sulley86's Avatar
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    Awsome update, its great to see the attractions finally open after all this time of seeing "the attraction is coming along nicely". HaHa.
  2. indianajack's Avatar
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    Sorry to see the Neverland pool leave. The new Monorail pool just doesn't have the same magic (too sparse and cold), and doesn't fit in with the Tiki theme around it. Methinks they're going to have to revisit this one in the next decade.
  3. mainejeff's Avatar
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    What a wonderful treat to see Pat Carol at the Mermaid opening......AWESOME!

    I have to give props to WDI for their makeover of MM to GSS.......almost makes me want to ride it.

    Gonna miss Mission Tortillas.

    Transformers is gonna be a blockbuster.......maybe the best new attraction at SoCal theme parks since Indy.

    LOVE the Road Runner coaster ride vehicles (roller skates).....BEEP BEEP!
  4. KingEric's Avatar
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    great update!
  5. SoCalFan's Avatar
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    The ODV stand doesn't look Pirate to me at all...looks more like a little cargo setup that matches the theme of the dock. Idk what about it says Pirate...there's no pirate references and just looks like a bunch of crates and cargo under a tent.
  6. WheresMickey's Avatar
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    Great Update!
  7. jaxbistro's Avatar
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    TREEmendous update! I look forward to "In the Parks", just a great amount of info. A true delight for those of us that live out of OC.

    The Perfume store seems like a terrible idea. Seems like something better could have gone in there.

    I think I'll reserve comment on the Monorail pool until the whole project is completed. Maybe as a whole, it will look good.

    Can't wait to go next year.
  8. StevenW's Avatar
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    All this construction activity is impressive. It is beginning of the end with one more year left. I wonder what you're hearing about the new Transformers ride.
  9. DubiousEndeavors's Avatar
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    Great update!

    Tis a shame that they are getting rid of the Neverland pool theming. Really enjoyed that.

    Also think that the Parfumerie would have served better as an homage, putting the sign up in front of a window and having some old perfume bottles and pictures of the original store. I just dont like seeing non-Disney merch in the parks (ie quicksilver in Adventureland, and now I can buy Britney Spears fragrances, ugh).
  10. TodAZ1's Avatar
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    The steel girders for the Monorail slide are VERY reminiscient of the original Monorail station at the Disneyland Hotel, back in the day. Major props to WDI for being so detailed on that front. But I wonder if they didn't get too detailed. Just because something is historically accurate doesn't mean it's a stylish design. I think in this instance, that is the case. I like the Monorail shells, LOVE LOVE LOVE the retro Disneyland sign. They just need to do something about the steel girders.

    And as far as the cabana's, blame Vegas for that. Cabana rentals are quite profitable for the hotels out there. Is Disney going to be renting them like Vegas does? Is this going to be the party pool in the resort with music and a bar?
  11. ABOMIBOT's Avatar
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    Loved seeing Pat Carol!!! Love her!!!
  12. jpg391's Avatar
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    The Monorail Slide area does look better at night with all the lighting. I also like the use of the old Disneyland sign.

    I do think that Disney will be renting the cabanas at the hotel.
  13. Mousecat's Avatar
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    The on-board ride of Star Tours was absolutely brilliant.

    SamLand's Disney Adventures
  14. Dustysage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoCalFan
    The ODV stand doesn't look Pirate to me at all...looks more like a little cargo setup that matches the theme of the dock.
    You may be right, but it sure looked out of place to me. The quality of it is just fine, but it is in a terrible spot which blocks a beautiful river view and bottle necks an already high traffic spot. Just doesn't seem to make much sense where it is.
  15. TodAZ1's Avatar
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    Boy, you'd think they'd find more ways to widen walkways then not. Especially on that side of the park.
  16. Disneykin Kid's Avatar
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    Ok, I've seen Star Tours, Little Mermaid, and Soundsational. Some spoilers ahead.

    First the good - ST is awesome! It's an upgrade, but an awesome upgrade. The queue rooms are essentially the same with new enhancements, the hi def video screen is nice, although I remember the old screen had a technology where the grid in the screen became opaque, then see-through, I don't know how they did this. but it was cool. Actually, I don't understand the purpose for the IC360 robot, I don't see evidence of his videos in the ride or anywhere (?)

    The droid screening room is nice, although I think they should have had a 'walk-through' screening device like at the airports. The ride is awesome, although someone said they liked the old one better. We rode 4 times at the AP preview, and didn't see Hoth or Princess Leia. Definitely the best ending is Naboo, (ironically the worst beginning of the movies)

    Little Mermaid - I read some other reviews about it being disappointing. I liked it, but here's the problem. For a year (or more) we've seen this massive show building go up in DCA, and it IS massive when you see it in person. That's why I think people may expect an E Ticket, because the building is so huge, detailed and kind of elegant. Usually Disney hides the show building and makes the entrance less obvious (like Pirates). They should have made the area in front a Mermaid land with rides - and where's the Ariel meet and greet? Also I saw a concept video that I think was on the LM DVD, which has more scenes.

    It's close, I would call it a D+ Ticket. I think if they added 2 more scenes, like the concept video - the first scene should have been Ariel looking at Eric on the beach. I don't really care for Scuttle as narrator, he's kind of irritating just like in the movie. A better choice would have been Sebastian, but I don't think you would have needed a narrator at all.

    Also, in the Scuttle room, as the clam shell vehicles turn around, you can still see the operator and his control panel at the entrance, what's up with that? When you're already in the ride, you shouldn't be able to see the operator.

    The Ariel animatronic is ok, somehow she's not pretty enough, though, I think her eyes are not quite right. Also they made a big deal about her floating hair, I was expecting more. Her hair is plastic, so it looks plastic. I think it would have been better to have actual hair-like texture. Also the 'Dole Whip' hair on Ariel in "Under the Sea' doesn't work, I know they took this directly from the movie, and they tried to add bubbles to explain it, but it still doesn't work.

    The other main character animatronics are very good, but they make the non-moving or little-moving figures look that much more obvious. The undersea light reflections are good, but I do notice a lot of cave walls. Maybe they should lower the lights, brighten the reflections and maybe add bubbles along the way.

    They should have added the climactic scene with a huge Ursula animatronic. That would have made it an E Ticket. But, I realize that a huge Ursula may have scared the little kids, so I can understand why they didn't put it in. As a LM fan, though, I wish they did. The scenes go from 'Kiss the Girl' to a small mention of Ursula being mad, then Eric kissing Ariel, so I can see they wanted to emphasize the kissing.

    The final scene is ok, but they shouldn't have had the same sea animals from 'Under the Sea', they kind of look out of place here, especially the twirling turtle that has limited articulation. (Actually, they all have limited articulation, some are just twirling, which makes it kind of funky) They should have had Ariel's sisters here, like in the movie, this looks like a budget decision. Also, they should have had the ride exit spill out into a shop, maybe they had space constraints. I'm not against the exit spilling into a shop, to me it's all part of the experience. And if the ride is good, actually, I want to see merchandise themed to it.

    After reading about others' disappointments, I liked it better than I was expecting, again I call it a D+ Ticket.

    Soundsational - I liked it, definitely better than the Celebration non-parade. I also like that they don't have any show stops, that was getting to be tiring, especially after the Celebration street party, when they stopped in the mid section of Main St for a show stop, but didn't go around Town Square. But - I liked the Parade of Dreams better. This one is ok, the paper cut-out design is cute, but looks a little like cost cutting. Also the big drums kind of say, 'this is an excuse for a real float'. I did like that they added Mary Poppins - but haven't we had enough of Simba in a parade?

    But despite my minor quibbles, this is a great time for Disneyland and DCA. Don't get me wrong, in general I love what they've done, I just want Disney to always be the best.
    Updated 06-04-2011 at 10:07 PM by Disneykin Kid
  17. Not My Real Name's Avatar
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    $11.78 plus tax for a turkey leg and a 20-ounce Coke? I don't think so. I just had a breakfast at Carrows for less than that. I guess I can't like everything they do.

    I absolutely LOVE the BTMRR model! The detail is staggering. All those tiny cross ties for the track; just amazing. But it's not the same model I saw back in 1976 on Main Street?

    I'm not impressed with the parade, however. It just doesn't measure up to Party Gras (those huge balloons) and MSEP.

    I can't afford to stay at the DLH, so i really don't care about the monorail slides, but I will try the new restaurant and bar.

    Will the new beer stand in DCA have all-you-can-drink?
  18. Mike Wazowski's Avatar
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    If it's not too much trouble, I would like to call dibs on the California Zephyr train when it gets removed. I've always thought it would look great in my backyard.
  19. TodAZ1's Avatar
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    $11.78 plus tax for a turkey leg and a 20-ounce Coke? I don't think so. I just had a breakfast at Carrows for less than that. I guess I can't like everything they do.
    You should try the chimichanga. It's $3.50 cheaper and is DEEEE-lish!!!
  20. StevenW's Avatar
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    That Star Tours video is so Glee.
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