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Pirates Reopens at Disneyland, Cars Land Comes Together Knott's Xmas and More

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by , 11-24-2011 at 10:49 PM

Happy black Friday everyone! We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are ready for another huge In The Parks update, because it's a good one today. Pirates of the Caribbean finally returned to Disneyland a few hours after opening yesterday, and we were on the first boat over the falls. There are some changes, but not many. We'll also check on the progress of Cars Land and Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure. But we don't stop there. Let's take a taste of Christmas at Knott's, mosey through Magic Mountain, then sail through SeaWorld San Diego to see how merry and bright everything is this year.

Disneyland is absolutely the the merriest place on earth at the moment. Aside from all the beautiful decorations, one thing to be happy about is the return of Pirates of the Caribbean.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: Pirates tell no tails
Thanksgiving day saw the unannounced soft opening of Pirates of the Caribbean after a long refurb that began Labor Day weekend and lasted until Thanksgiving morning. The refurbishment allowed for a number of things to be updated including the expansion of the unloading dock to accommodate up to 8 wheelchairs or ECV vehicles for disabled guests, rock work in the grotto at the beginning of the ride, and a show tweaks. While some sites on the Internet claimed that Mermaids would be added to the attraction, that rumor was proven to be false yesterday.

Pirates just after rope drop at 8:10am

Regardless the ride looks and sounds as good as it ever did. Kudos to the Imagineers and park management who refused to open the ride until it was just right. While the months long wait was grueling, it's wonderful to see an attraction (which was opened in 1967) looking like it's brand new!

The loading area

The area where regular guests disembark has been expanded to accommodate more disabled guests.

The exit ramp has been resurfaced.

Aside from the smell of fresh paint, you won't notice much new in the attraction. Everything looks as it always did, but close eyes will spot a few minor changes. Most notably, the Davey Jones and Blackbeard waterfall projections now alternate. Same with the audio on the final lift hill.

Disneyland at Christmas is a real treat. Each week through the holidays we will bring you a new set of photos that attempt to capture the magic for you.

Poinsettias at Town Square.

Amaryllis near the flag pole.

The Tree on Town Square.

With classic ornaments

The barbershop boys in their holiday gear. Lookin' good fellas!

Walt and Mickey look down Main Street from their festive pedestal.

Baskets of Sweet Alyssum with mickey ear trim.

Amaryllis and Pansies at the hub.

Cyclamen and Pansies

Field of beautiful violet Pansies

Along the west side of Main Street work continues inside the shops in preparation for the refurbishment of the Carnation restaurant and closure of the coffee house. The individually sold confections, the chocolate turtles, the caramels and such, are now all prepackaged in plastic bags.

The back half of the Candy Shop is behind construction walls

Those construction walls stretch all the way to the back of the Ice Cream Parlor

The individual candies are now individually wrapped.

Let's start out with the positive. Splash Mountain looks simply charming covered in pine garland for Christmas. There is even a huge Christmas tree in the Hay loft above the entrance addressed to Brer Fox and Brer Bear. The place looks great on the outside.

But there are a few problems happening inside the attraction which should be pointed out. Just to clarify, we DO NOT encourage taking flash pictures on attractions. However we were able to take these photos late at night in a log with only other members of our staff, and did have to use the flash to capture the details below.

This Brer Rabbit on the push cart has not worked in four months and instead of fixing it, the lighting for it has simply been switched off.

While the audio works for both vultures at the base of the lift hill, the one on the left has lost the ability to mouth his dialogue. The figure moves and pantomimes his lines without moving his mouth.

We hope that Disneyland doesn't start letting this Splash Mountain slip like the WDW version. These problems have been lingering for a while now, and it's time they were fixed.

It's a holly jolly DCA Christmas. Cars Land progress has accelerated and lots of little details are appearing. Let's first start with a look around Buena Vista Street.

New awning attachments were added to the front gate to shade cast members from the sun. We hope this is a temporary solution as it is every bit as ugly in person as it appears in this photo.

The Christmas decorations appearing in DCA this year are quite nice.

San Francisco area near Mermaid.

Gotta love Duffy. Even when there are very few people in line to greet him, he's as cute as ever.

Here we are with the weekly update from Buena Vista Street. The pressure is building as opening day nears, but as you will see, this project has a LOT of work left to do.

Carthay Circle Theater:
The Carthay Circle Theater is under wraps right now so not too much is visible. However, we can get a few peeks in.

One of the exterior stairways.

The shops in Buena Vista Street are now being framed inside and out.

But they are all still bare

The Circle:
And now an overview of the Buena Vista Circle area.

Recently, Cars Land has really seemed to come together. Let's zoom around to see what can be seen in this new 12 acre land.

Mater's Junkyard Jamboree:

Finishing touches are being placed at Mater's. Set Dressing has begun.

Mater's shack is looking great.

Set dressing already showing up.

The Courthouse exterior is nearly complete and large landscaping is being placed.

Luigi's Tire facade continues to get more and more interesting.

Cozy Cones:
Exterior surface work has finally started on the Cozy Cones. Notice the one on the far right.

A closer look

Radiator Springs Racers:
And now we take a look at the big E-Ticket ride that covers 6 acres of this 12 acre land, the Radiator Springs Racers. More large landscaping has been placed along the track and vehicle testing has halted temporarily to allow the last bit of work on the helix to be completed.

We start with a look from Paradise Pier - Note how well the cliff on the back side of the mountain range looks.

The backside of rock work is now being sculpted.

they are careful to blend what they did months ago with what they are doing now.

While Disneyland may be tops at presenting the showiest Christmas, Knott's has really fine-tuned their approach with a more down home feel. We highly recommend Christmas at Knott's, give it a try this year, you will be pleasantly surprised by how comforting the atmosphere is.

Knott's also offers several holiday shows and attractions. The new It's Christmas Snoopy! Ice show opens today. Expect long lines for this holiday favorite and arrive early (although the theater is large, it fills up fast).

The charming, but a tad creepy, Elf Mountain Christmas returns this year. The ride is part of the charm of Knott's holiday tradition. Set aside the cynicism and hop aboard for a fun ride through Timber Mountain at Christmas.

Also opening today is the intimate Bird Cage Theatre presentations of A Christmas Carol and Gift of the Magi alternating throughout the day. Grab some hot cocoa and go in and enjoy the show.

Knott’s Berry Farm hosted the first ever Jingle Bell Rockboard Scooter celebrity Grand Prix and Concert this past Sunday. It featured headliner and star of Twilight Saga feature films, Booboo Stewart (Seth Clearwater). Performances included teen music artists Midnight Red, Savannah Robinson, Sabrina Lentini and others. There were scooter races between teen celebrities as well as park guests. Teen celebrities also spent time meeting with their fans.

The scooters

Booboo stopped to say hi to MiceChat.

The concert was a big hit with the tween crowds.

As of last Saturday there wasn't much left of Deja Vu (as seen from the Sky Tower)

A closer look shows that just a small amount of track remains

Less pieces backstage as well

Buccaneer is closed for what looks like a complete (and much needed) refurbishment.

As you can see, much of the outside has been removed

Elsewhere, both the Tidal Wave and Roaring Rapids water rides are closed until Spring.

Finally, a look at the natural beauty of the park as seasons change.

SeaWorld began their Christmas Celebration event last week. We'll have a update on all the decorations, in-park events, and nighttime shows next week. Though we do have some construction and holiday updates for you today.

Manta construction is progressing quickly now.

The station under construction

Overview with the bay in the background

Christmas Tails returns again this year at the Pet's Stadium. The show is basically the Pet's Rule show but has a holiday story line, a few new tricks, and new effects. If you've seen Pet's Rule, you'll probably like this one more.

This year CityWalk will be celebrating Christmas with a brand new light and music show, starting November 27, at 5 Towers including the opportunity to take your picture with Rockin' Santa.

Light and music show (every 20 minutes 6-9:40pm)
Sunday Nov 27
Friday Dec 2
Saturday Dec 3
Sunday Dec 4
Friday Dec 9
Saturday Dec 10
Sunday Dec 11
Friday Dec 16
Saturday Dec 17
Sunday Dec 18
Monday Dec 19
Wednesday Dec 21
Thursday Dec 22
Friday Dec 23
Saturday Dec 24
Sunday Dec 25

Photos with Rockin' Santa (hourly 1-9pm)
Sunday Nov 27
Friday Dec 2
Saturday Dec 3
Sunday Dec 4
Friday Dec 9
Sunday Dec 11
Friday Dec 16
Saturday Dec 17
Sunday Dec 18
Monday Dec 19
Wednesday Dec 21
Thursday Dec 22
Saturday Dec 24
Sunday Dec 25


Dates for Grinchmas are December 10-11 and daily December 17-January 1

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Today's update was edited by Fishbulb and brought to you by the following members of our fantastic and talented crew of photographers and news contributors: Joseph Pakizegi,
Daniel K. Lew, Sir Clinksalot, F!an, and Dustysage. (If you've got breaking news or photos to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact Dusty today.)

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  1. lighttragic's Avatar
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    Great update! Thank you for taking us to the parks during the holidays. Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
  2. Emmanuel_4's Avatar
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    Great Update!!!!
  3. Barbossa's Avatar
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    Excellent update!
  4. TodAZ1's Avatar
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    While I do think the temporary shade put up on the DCA entrance may be out of place with it's surroundings (and believe me, I do hope it's temporary), I don't understand the use of the word "ugly" here. It's a white canvas cover. Utilitarian. Functional. Basic. I could see those words being used. But not "ugly."
  5. toonaspie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TodAZ1
    While I do think the temporary shade put up on the DCA entrance may be out of place with it's surroundings (and believe me, I do hope it's temporary), I don't understand the use of the word "ugly" here. It's a white canvas cover. Utilitarian. Functional. Basic. I could see those words being used. But not "ugly."
    If they get a colored awning to match with the color of the gate, I think it would be fine.

    What I'm more curious about is the parade building between Carsland's backside and PP. It looks like they added something there but I can't tell if it's supposed to make it better or worse.
  6. Ms. Daisy Duck's Avatar
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    Great update! Sad to see Splash ignored. Hope DL gets around to fixing the problems- too good of a ride to be ignored!! Cars lands is looking fabulous! Can't wait to see it when finished. Glad to see Pirates open once again!

    Hope everyone is recovering well from their feast yesterday!
  7. Chernabog's Avatar
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    Those elves at Knott's are going to give me nightmares.
  8. B2D's Avatar
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    I was at DLand on the 23rd and rode Splash Mountain at night... the animatronics do need some love. In addition to what was mentioned here, a lot of lights are out and some of the animatronics are not in sync with their music and one was even cross-eyed! I hope they'll fix it soon!
  9. Monorail Man's Avatar
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    @TodAZ1 - I think what's "ugly" about the shade covering - is that it's everything the Pan Pacific entrance is NOT. It's not streamlined, slick, or stylish. Making it match the color would be a good first step. It's just terrible that it wasn't expanded enough in the back to prevent the extra covering needed to begin with.
  10. Timekeeper's Avatar
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    Nice Update!

  11. DisWedWay's Avatar
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    Glad to see some of my favorite Disneyland Fronteirland Architecture on Splash Mountain looking so good with it's new paint job. I was trying to see the Robert Byrd/Sloane style bird house's weather vane on top, to see if the critters were still chasing each other. Hope they get the vulture's mouth repaired soon, that's hard on their diet. I guess they can work on fixing up the inside and all the critters now. PD
    Updated 11-25-2011 at 11:00 AM by DisWedWay
  12. Sparky's Avatar
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    Knott's also has a Christmas themed Calico Saloon show. About three years ago when a friend of mine was playing Dakota Dan in the show, Cameo Kate "captured" me with her red feather boa and drug me on stage for her "Santa Baby" number. I guess that wasn't quite as embarressing as Cruella making me model her fur coat at Disneyland, LOL! I wish my friend was still at Knott's. Loved going to see him in the Calico Saloon show and the Birdcage Theater Christmas shows. In fact, I had never been to Knott's at Christmas time until he started working there. Now, it is my favorite time of year there!
  13. TodAZ1's Avatar
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    @Monorail Man - Yeah, I hear ya and I'm probably picking nits, but it's the use of the word "ugly" that bugs me. Like I said before, it IS out of place and hope that it's temporary, but I think ugly may be a little harsher than is needed.
  14. jenmurray's Avatar
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    I noticed those things last week on Splash. We also got evacuated and had to go back stage. I took pics.
  15. dmomof4's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the DL Horticulture looks the way the pansies aren't violet..they are frosted blue! :-)
  16. DisWedWay's Avatar
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    My friends always talk about the great fried chicken dinners at Knott's, and I have to remind them that Disneyland also had a similar chicken dinner at their Plantation House in Fronteirland, which also had a live band and dancing on the waters edge until 1962. Another Fronteirland heavily themed restaurant was presented in the 90's that would have been tied into Big Thunder Falls and the Rivers of America with live music while you dined. Sorry that never happened as the land is still vacant and Big Thunder Falls was lost.
    Updated 11-25-2011 at 03:58 PM by DisWedWay
  17. DisneyResort's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update on Pirates. I was curious to know why it was closed for three months. You mention that the ride is essentially unchanged. But better to do the refurb correctly than to see pics of a decaying Disney ride showing up on the internet.
    It would have been nice to see some of the rumors actually happen though. Mermaids, Will Turner, Elizabeth Swan, even Angelica. That would have been nice.
  18. Spongeocto4's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update!
  19. Jacob Griffin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chernabog
    Those elves at Knott's are going to give me nightmares.
    They should, Overtaker
  20. DCACM's Avatar
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    San Francisco Street: Being a Set Designer/Scenic Artist, I notice the small things. The window dressing is reversed and shows the drapery as if the viewer was inside.
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