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In the Parks

Merry Christmas From Disneyland, California Adventure and Knott's Berry Farm

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by , 12-22-2011 at 01:45 PM

It seems like we've been talking about Christmas forever, but now the main event is finally here. All of the Southern California parks are snug in their beds and on a sort of holiday-time autopilot that they prepare for all year. Disneyland, Knott's, and Disney California Adventure are all offering the specialized festive entertainments designed to make your holiday merry and bright. As we prepare to send our team of photographers, news hounds and spies home for Christmas we'd like to wish all of our readers a very safe and happy holidays. Just knowing that you tune in week after week provides us with a lot of comfort and joy.

The king of Christmas in Southern California is Disneyland. And there is no doubt that holiday cheer is in full force with the decorations, hot cocoa, cookies, parades, fireworks and some of the most beautiful decorations you'll ever see. That also means that nearly everyone is trying to make it to the merriest place on earth through the end of the year to experience all the magic for themselves. And that can often mean gridlocked conditions and some unhappy Christmas crowds. But if you go to the parks knowing what to expect, you can still have a great time. Walk at the pace of the crowd, use Fastpass, eat well before or after the lunch and dinner rush, enjoy the parades from some of the less crowded areas (such as the raised viewing decks near Small World), and visit attractions which often don't have much of a wait (Tiki Room, Tarzan Treehouse, Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk-through, Captain EO, Innoventions, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, etc.). To avoid gate closures, do your best to get to the parks before noon and check with front gate staff on reentry policy currently in place when leaving and park hopping. Just keep thinking, "What Would Mickey Do?"

The forced perspective on the Disneyland Christmas tree is perfect. Same ornaments from top to bottom, but in diminishing scale as you cast your gaze up the tree. Brilliant!

As was stated at the beginning, the crowds will be huge. To drive the point home here are a few shots from the park during the week.

Big lines and big crowds start at the front gates

This is nothing compared to what is coming later in the day.

Adventureland is a place we advise staying away from unless truly necessary. The tight walkways and stroller obstructions make it particularly uncomfortable on busy days.

Pirates of the Caribbean also causes a mess as extended queue lines plug up walkways.

We only show the crowd pictures as a warning to come prepared with your best laid plains and a sugar coated holiday spirit.

We inch ever closer to the brand new Jolly Holiday Bakery opening which is slated for mid January. The place looks lovely and we can't wait to see what is behind the walls.

Here is video of the lighting package on the sign at night.

Yes, Disney California Adventure is still under construction. But, as the posters on the walls of the temporary entrance proclaim, "The wait is almost over." While not much is going on holiday-wise at DCA, there is much for us to share.

The Carthay Circle theater building, which will be housing the new, ultra-exclusive brand of Disney dining, is comfortably progressing while the rest of Buena Vista Street scrambles to play catch-up.

At the front gate, the facades facing the entrance are coming along very well. Here is a view from the back side.

Framing and surfacing are happening at an accelerated pace now.

Mature trees have been planted which will lend an 'established' feel when everything is complete.

However, you can clearly see that MUCH work remains to be done, even as the exterior of the Carthay Theater wraps up.

Inside the stores, framework for new walls continues.

Hurry guys! 6 months to show time!

Inside the Buena Vista Circle, more trees have appeared close to the buildings.

The new facades on what was once the California Zephyr train facade

On the opposite side, the candy shop entry has been retained but not much else.

The centerpiece to the area, the Carthay Circle theater, may be unveiled as soon as today.

One interesting thing about the light poles along the Redcar trolley route ...

Some of the light poles are angled backward a bit to accommodate the high-tension cables which will be installed above the cars. once installed they will place forward pressure on the streetlamps bringing them closer to an upright position. Much thanks to an "old pirate plumber" and In The parks reader for this fascinating little detail.

The same ITP reader chimes in on our question last week about the installation of something under the Redcar Trolley track stops.

"I understand that those are induction coils that will be used for charging the trolley’s battery at the stopping points. There should be a similar coil system installed at the Buena Vista end of the line.

I assume that there will be some sort of interlock to prevent the power for the trolleys’ induction coils from being turned on when the trolley is not parked over the coils. Otherwise, someone with the wrong sort of metal implant in their feet or legs who happened to be standing on top of them could be in for a surprise."

To give you another idea of what the crowds were looking like this week, Midway Mania's queue stretched well outside the established switchbacks and well past the hour mark all day. Just be prepared people.

Aside from a singing potato, this is one of the least fun queues to wait in. (Try Muppets or Tough to be a Bug instead)

The Cars Land construction site is truly a hive of activity, even during the holidays. Vehicle testing continues and lucky visitors to the Blue Sky cellar are even being treated to a view of occasional testing of Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, if they stand on their toes to look over the construction walls.

We start with a look at the side of Cars Land facing Paradise Pier

behind the rock facade, that is nearly complete, is the show building to the right.

What Cars Land looks like to Paradise Pier.

From Pacific Wharf the Cadillac Mountain Range looks majestic.

Fake mountains with real mountains in the background.

Overview of the main entrance to Cars land and Mater's Junkyard Jamboree.

And here's what the Junkyard Jamboree looks like (in a YouTube video posted by Disney)

The windmill that has appeared at Filmore's

Peace man!

Cozy Cones

Just look at all that infrastructure! Rides, shops, restaurants! This is a massive project.

This place is gonna rock (pun intended).


Jeffrey, the one and only D23 Disney Geek, is back with an introduction to a new Disney princess.

We've been noticing a trend at Knott's Berry Farm lately . . . CROWDS! Knott's is starting to mimic the crowding at Disneyland. We visit Knott's a lot and can't help but notice the steady and perceptible increase in business, even during the week when the park is traditionally empty. We are delighted to see one of our favorite parks performing well, and there isn't a better time of year for you to give the park a visit than Christmas (and Halloween of course).

While Disneyland celebrates Christmas in a big, splashy and polished way, Knott's offers a down-home folksy version that is charming and fun too. Here's a shopping tip, you still have two days to pick up unique gifts in Knott's Christmas Craft Village. Hurry now, there's not much time left. . . just perfect for someone who needs hand made soaps, candles and hand-carved wooden Christmas ornaments.

There is also an option to buy a Joe Cool's Holiday Backyard BBQ ticket package which includes park admission and an all you can eat BBQ buffet for just $51.

Note that Knott's will be Closed on Christmas Day!

Knotts goes all out for Christmas, especially in the show department. This year, you can enjoy a Charlie Brown Christmas, complete with holiday lights and decorations in camp snoopy, a huge Christmas tree, a quirky but fun Christmas parade, an amazing ice show, two holiday stage shows in the Birdcage Theater (Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and O’Henry’s “A Gift of the Magi”), an elf themed overlay to the classic log ride, a Christmas Craft Village, and some fantastic holiday food.

And, of course, bring the kiddies and visit Santa’s Toy Barn to meet jolly ol' Saint Nick for yourself.

Always charming

Knott’s Berry Farmwill have something for the entire family this New Year’s Eve with a variety of dance music, a family friendly comedian, a Beatles tribute band and a live performance by the popular band, The Clueless Remix featuring DJ Reeso. All this plus Knott’s rides, attractions and a Midnight Mayhem Fireworks Show in Calico Square will make Knott’s New Year’s Eve celebration the place to ring in 2012.

There will be two dance floors at KNott's this year including salsa instruction in Knott’s Fiesta Plaza and line dancing in Knott’s Wilderness Dance Hall. For those who love the music of the 60’s,Beatles tribute band Abbey Road will be performing as well as Caravan’s Steel Drum Band and The Clueless Remix featuring DJ Reeso!

There will also be a special performance of Snoopy on Ice and family- friendly comedian Dick Hardwick. Camp Snoopy will be open with rides and shows for the young and the young at heart including “Snoopy’s Magical Nights of Lights” featuring thousands of beautiful lights and holiday music. When the clock strikes twelve, the skies above Calico Square will be ablaze with color as Knott’s rings in the New Year with a Midnight Mayhem Fireworks Show.

The Calico Mine Train is currently down for refurbishment and, aside from work on the lift hill deep inside the mine shaft, this is a pretty routine refurb. But one thing pretty major did happen recently. The little building in front of the ride, a remnant of the days when guests paid for tickets to ride the attraction, was removed. Purists and historians may have an issue with the removal of the structure and the safe that was buried beneath. But upon inspection, this really opened the area up and hardly detracts from the attraction. Yes, it's sad to see a bit of history being removed, but this was an archaic structure that blocked up the entrance to this classic ride. Lets have a look.

Scaffolding around the peaks and waterfalls indicate work being done on the exterior.

The old ticket booth has kicked the bucket.

Ya know, it looks ok.

It's nice to see any work at all being done on this classic attraction, but we'd still like to see it get a MAJOR refurb complete with updated animatronics, modern lighting, and new special effects. This ride is as central to soul of Knott's Berry Farm as Boysenberry and fried chicken.

What is it with this sign? It's has been removed, yet again, for refurbishment. This thing gets more attention than most rides in the park.

Another thing to finally drift into the past is the creepy talking bear trash can in Camp Snoopy. The trash can has been closed up and the bear, on our visit, was silent.

Come on Knott's you can do better than this. It would take about $75 to properly patch this up and repaint the whole thing.

Another interesting bit of news was the removal of a large amount of foliage at the entrance of Fiesta Village from Camp Snoopy. It is currently an empty planter covered in mulch. Let's hope they replant it soon.

The Queen Mary in Long Beach hosts its annual New Year's Eve on and around the ship. This year there are 7 entertainment venues with dancing and live music including big band, jazz, dueling pianos, a DJ and more. The price may seem a little steep, but consider that this is a package of entertainment on the historic ship with 7 different clubs and a big fireworks show at midnight.

Tickets are $99.99, combo party and dinner tickets are available

If you want to eat aboard the ship there are also combo packages available. We hear that Sir Winston's is amazing. The event starts at 7 pm and goes until 1:30 am.

Universal City Walk has a huge outdoor New Year's Eve Countdown Bash that's free! There will be live music and DJs beginning at 9 pm, and fireworks from 2 ends of the street at midnight. Get there before 6pm though as parking rates have doubled since last year. The event begins at 9pm and runs until 12:30am.

If you are in the OC area, the OC Fairgrounds Block Party iOS probably going to be the best bang for your buck. Starting at $40 (Parking is an additional $10) there are multiple live music stages gripped by 70's, 80's, 90's music, a huge dance floor with live DJ's, games, dueling pianos, a comedy stage, food, games and fireworks at midnight. What's more, if you are willing to pay a few bucks more ($55), you can have a season pass to the entire run of the OC Fair when it returns in the summer. Not bad.

Click here for more info and tickets

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Today's update was edited by Fishbulb and Dustysage and brought to you by members of our fantastic and talented crew of photographers and news contributors. (If you've got breaking news or photos to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact Dusty today.)

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Thank you for reading today's special holiday update. We are eternally thankful for you, our fantastic and supportive readers. We'd like to wish each of you a safe and happy holidays. We'll be back again next week (we aren't taking a break this year) and hope to see you again soon. Be sure to leave your comments below and let us know what your holiday plans are this year. Do you visit the parks or stay home with the family? Or better yet, do you take the family with you to the parks?

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Updated 12-22-2011 at 10:18 PM by In the Parks



  1. Emmanuel_4's Avatar
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    Great Update !!!!!!!!!
  2. CastMember 02's Avatar
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    Thanks Guys! The Carousel sure is offering some Great Rates $89 with FREE PARKING! They said the regular rate was $151 WOW!
  3. redrocker's Avatar
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    OMG!!!! The Ticket Shack has been removed from the Mine Ride!!!!! That is where the shift leader's office was for that ride and not to mention countless sexual escapades occurred there...and i would know of course lol NO WAY!!!! so many memories from that lil building man. You might not think its a big deal but i bet i can find so many ex mine ride employees who would say it is. sadness.
  4. MrTour's Avatar
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    The picture of a congested Adventureland sent shivers up my spine! Tripping over vast stroller parking lots is my biggest gripe at Florida's MK (followed by all the attractions being in the "wrong place" in the park).

    The Mater ride looked extremely tame; they must be going for a very young audience for that one. Wake me when it's over... Zzzzzzzzzzz!

    And frankly, I have been impressed with Knott's. The craft fair has been great! I have bought several gifts there over the past few weeks; unique gifts that say so much more than something off the shelf at Target. And although crowds have picked up, I still have not yet tripped over a single stroller!
  5. RatherBeAtDLand's Avatar
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    I'll be going on the first week in January. Will the crowds have died down yet?
  6. bamato's Avatar
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    Excellent update guys/gals

    Does anyone else find the Disney Geek over the top and irritating?? Or is it just me?
  7. DisWedWay's Avatar
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    Knott's Bird Cage Theater's exterior ageing is looking Great as well as other parts of the settlement! Maybe the talking Bear trash can at Camp Snoopy would be better placed over by Santa's Toy Barn with the other Bears and working the Christmas season out of hibernation. Kind of reminds me of the former Frito Kid and Klondike at Disneyland's Fronteirland. I prefer the black and red Calico Mine Train engine to the blue and silver one you picture above. Great update before the most Magical Time of the Year! Stop by and get a fortune for the New Year from Esmeralda. PD
  8. xalesa's Avatar
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    Thanks so much for these weekly updates!! Such good info and keeps those of us so far away in the loop and in the know.
    I for one appreciate the effort that goes into these reports every week, even during the busy Christmas season.
  9. Jerm's Avatar
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    the talking trash bear at Knott's is not dead, that is the plug they stick in him when it is to busy in the area or they want to keep him quite. They will stick that plug in him during Scary Farm when the window is closed. BUt really when it is busy they plug him up so he does not cause a backup around that area. He will be back don't worry.
  10. In the Parks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerm
    the talking trash bear at Knott's is not dead, that is the plug they stick in him when it is to busy in the area or they want to keep him quite. They will stick that plug in him during Scary Farm when the window is closed. BUt really when it is busy they plug him up so he does not cause a backup around that area. He will be back don't worry.
    Thank you Jerm! That's great to know. Now they just need to paint him, so he doesn't look so unloved.
  11. martinjbell1986's Avatar
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    What is that "show building" mentioned to the right of rock facade in cars land? I don't remember noticing that there before.
  12. mickdaddy's Avatar
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    Great up date as always! Am I the only one that thinks the high tension cables for the red car trolly is a horrible idea? I just see ugly cables decorated with balloons that got caught on it and a CM trying to remove the balloons so the trolly can run again! Not smart in my humble opinion that means absolutely nothing!
  13. Barbossa's Avatar
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    Great update. Merry Christmas everyone!
  14. Timekeeper's Avatar
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    Nice Update!
    The Calico Mine Train Shack is gone, I hope the structure is saved backstage.

  15. Rex Dopey24's Avatar
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    nice update merry christmas and happy new year.