In The Parks - Disneyland Press Event, Hotel Pool Opens and Closes, Magic and More
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 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 hotel towers should all be complete by October
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.
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.
The folks who bring you MiceChat are about to launch MiceDeals, the daily deals site for Anaheim and Orlando area entertainment and attractions. You'll save as much as 50% to 80% on every exciting offer from local hotels, restaurants, attractions and theme parks! Sign up now so you don't miss out on the big launch of this fantastic new service: http://micechat.com/micedeals
BUENA VISTA STREET:
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.
THE LITTLE MERMAID OPENING CEREMONY:
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
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.
PARADISE PIER RESTAURANTS:
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
Pretzles, soda and beer at least.
GOOFY'S SKY SCHOOL:
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
MISSION TORTILLA FACTORY:
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...
BUY A DAY GET A YEAR FREE:
Also, keep in mind that this is the last weekend to take advantage of this offer.
STUDIO TOUR OPENING CEREMONIES:
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.
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.
ROAD RUNNER EXPRESS:
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).
AROUND THE PARK:
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.
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].
Don't miss any important news, sign up for MiceChat's monthly newsletter and events email:
Email Marketing You Can Trust