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Meet Bob Gurr, Disneyland Refurbs, DCA, Universal, Knott's and Sea World Updates

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by , 01-12-2012 at 09:52 PM

Happy 60th Anniversary to the Calico Train in Ghost Town at Knott's Berry Farm! The celebration is going on all weekend and you should check it out. While there, you'll notice a lot of good work being done around the park too. Meanwhile, at Disneyland, Main Street U.S.A. is 1/4 under wraps, the Mansion is closed, and Matterhorn is undergoing some big changes. But that's not all. We also have a construction update from Disney California Adventure, pics from Universal Hollywood and Sea World too! But first, we've got some news about how you can share a very special breakfast with Disney celebrities, including famed Imagineer Bob Gurr.

We start off today's update with a few exciting updates from the upcoming MiceChat anniversary weekend January 27th, 28th and 29th.

It all begins on Friday January 27, 2012. We invite you to join us on a one day Adventures By Disney "Hollywood Magic" trip that starts at the Walt Disney Studios and then takes you to other famous Hollywood locations. We'll tour the Walt Disney Studios, see the famous Disney Archives, dine in the commissary and shop in the studio store. Then it's off to Hollywood where you'll tour the El Capitan and the Kodak Theaters (the latter the home of the Academy Awards) as well as other famous tinseltown and Sunset Strip sights and landmarks. The day wraps up with a sunset cocktail reception on Malibu Beach. What better way to kick off the MiceChat anniversary weekend! There are just a tiny handful of spots left, so please contact Teresa Cory of Fairy Godmother Travel to reserve your spot today: [email protected]

The fun continues on Saturday January 28th, with the MiceChat Celebrity Breakfast at ESPN Zone. A wonderful buffet breakfast/meet and greet with Disney celebrities including Susan Egan (Broadway's Belle and the voice of Meg from Hercules), Disney author Sam Gennawey, Margaret Kerry (the original reference model and actress for Tinker bell), Bob Gurr (legendary Disney Imagineer) and other invited guests. The event will take place from 9am-11am, Saturday, January 28th at the fabulous ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney. And YES, the world famous, ESPN Zone Maple Bacon will be served! CLICK HERE TO BUY YOUR TICKETS BEFORE THEY SELL OUT

Following the breakfast, we host an entire day of fun and games in Disney California Adventure, and wrap the evening up with a game show and special rooftop viewing of Disneyland's fireworks.

The grand finale of our anniversary weekend is on Sunday, January 29th, which is our traditional Disneyland day. The day will start with breakfast along the Rivers of America, a grand circle tour of the happiest place on earth and the classic noon meet at the right hand of Walt Disney himself. Plus, Fairy Godmother Travel will be giving away a 2 night stay at the Grand Californian Hotel to one lucky attendee (it could be you!). We hope you'll be able to join us for some or all of this fabulous weekend. More details about the meets, events and special opportunities will be posted soon. To ensure that you have the full schedule of events when posted, please visit the link below and add your name to the poll. We'll send you a message next week when the detailed schedule is announced.


As Disneyland slips into the winter slumber that happens around this time of year, many projects have cropped up around the resort.

The cuddle-seat bobsleds have gone the way of the Dodo Bird, but that's old news. The 5 to 6 month refurbishment will include major exterior work as well, and perhaps a surprise or two inside the mountain as well. Scaffolding appeared on Monday to allow resurfacing to commence. The route along the submarine side of the Matterhorn has had a new tunnel built to allow traffic flow during construction.

One of the new bobsleds has already been placed on the track. We aren't quite sold on the look, though we are sure that it will be safer and aid with load/unload issues.

The northwest corner of Main Street USA is under refurbishment for the installation of infrastructure for the expanded Carnation Cafe. The entire buildng from the Blue Ribbon Bakery all the way to Coke Corner is currently closed.

Over in Adventureland the entry archway is under wraps for some touch-ups.

And Haunted Mansion Holiday is now gone. Mansion is scheduled to be down for only two weeks while the once seemingly mammoth sized project is briskly removed. Once Mansion returns, small world will then close to remove its holiday cheer.

At California Adventure, things continue to change at a fast pace. Tires are flying, the V8 is flowing, and some new work has popped up in Paradise Pier. But, if getting from Disneyland to DCA seems a bit easier and less ugly, it's because that massive parade float of a marketing sign for the Magic, Memories and You campaign has been thankfully removed.

Eyesore removed

The big things going on this week were the continued surfacing of the area buildings, and the testing of the new Buena Vista Circle fountain. Yes, we have pics and are sharing.

Plankers planking.

The Carthay Circle Theater.

Notice that the red Car tracks are now going in.


Looking back at the entrance of the park, lots of work left to be done. Project managers are praying for a dry winter.

A repaving project has surfaced in front of the little mermaid.

The shop facades under California Screamin' are finally getting some attention. We have high hopes that they will finally be getting a Victorian treatment to better blend in with Toystory Midway Mania and the new Paradise Garden area. We shall see.

Here we feature a brief look at some of the new highlights from Cars Land this week including more paint on the butte and the Flying Tires out in the sun.

Areas of Cars Land look about done.

Others, not as much

Tires! If you look toward the beige patch in the center of this picture, you'll see one of the Flying Tires sitting in the middle of the new ride arena.

We can now also see Flo's sign installed.

Paint is slowly covering the base of the butte

Sculpting is nearly done on the side of the facade facing Paradise Pier.

The back side of the mountain range still hasn't been closed up. Though, since that side doesn't face into the park, it likely won't get the fancy treatment the Paradise Pier side got.

60 years ago, on January 12th, 1952, a symbolic golden spike was driven into the railroad tracks of Calico Square. This spike signified the preservation of narrow-gauge railroading and christening of the nation's first theme park liner. Since then, the 1/2 mile trek around and through Knott's Berry Farm has been in service and a ceremony was held to celebrate 60 years and welcome 60 more.

The event began with a procession to the Train Depot where the mayor of Ghost town invited Knott's General Manager, Raffi Kaprelyan, to the podium. Raffi congratulated the engineers and teams that have kept the train going. Soon enough, during the speech, the Engine 41 train pulled into the station and the townsfolk of Ghost Town were introduced.

Raffi at the podium

The towns people of Ghost Town

The Mayor of Ghost Town

The Sheriff, the schoolmarm, and other colorful characters piled out and greeted guests. The Mayor of Ghost Town then invited special guest, Marion Knott, daughter to Walter and Cordilia Knott to the center of the tracks in Ghost Town to witness the new golden spike being driven into the tracks.

The finale came when it was revealed that Engine 41 has been renamed the Walter K.

The ceremony was short and very sweet and open to all guests in the park. But if you missed the event there is still plenty for train enthusiasts to enjoy all weekend, from now until January 15th.

Marion Knott with the current chef of Knott's Chicken Dinner

Del Oro Pacific Modular Railroad and Photo Display:
Located in the Boardwalk Ballroom, this "G" scale modular model train layout is one of the world's largest and oldest.

The display features some elaborate lighting and show effects and some fun, tongue-in-cheek, humor.

Madd Kowe. Get it?

GT&C Railraod roundhouse and the Edna Car Tours:
Each Day, from 11:00am-4:00pm guests can pay an extra $5.00 to get a behind the scenes look at Knott's railway system. The tour includes a fascinating look at the Knott's Roundhouse where storage and repairs take place. Guests will also get to tour the Edna car, built in 1881 for the president of the Rio Grande Southern. $5.00 is a steal for such a great tour. Knott's doesn't offer these sorts of things very often. If you can make it to the park this weekend, don't miss out!

Special 60th Anniversary Souvenir Merch:
Special, for this weekend only, are some really cool items on sale for the event as well.

Charleston circle, the center of the area once called the roaring 20's is now behind walls. The serene trees have been removed and the fountain is in the process of being dismantled. If what has been going on around the park is any indication, we are certain that the area will return refreshed and better than ever. . . we hope.

The Ghost Town Train Station has been smothered in care and looks WONDERFUL!!!

It doesn't look like a thrift store anymore!

The have removed the cheep looking food stalls in front of the Calico Mine Train and installed this very cool looking food cart. NICE WORK!

Another thing worth mentioning is that the Calico Saloon's wooden planks have been taken out and concrete "planking" has been installed.

Other figures around the park are sparkling like new.

The boardwalk games are also getting a minor refresh. Notice the awnings are being replaced.

New on the left, old on the right.

The front gate is also receiving some attention.

The planters have been repainted and the trees trimmed.

The Log ride is currently down for a few weeks for the normal, yearly refurbishment.

The water tower was removed from the snack stand near the queue.

While we praise the sudden surge of upkeep and care shown to nearly every corner of the park, we still have major issue with the music that management is choosing to play incongruous music throughout the park. Theme music for a particular area of a theme park is a good thing. At times it can be what really enhances a sense of place. But on this recent visit, after celebrating the 60th anniversary of a meticulously re-created ghost town and railway, Calico Square, which should be thick with the mood of the wild west, had THIS song blasting from its speakers.

We are not asking for perfect period specific music. A suggestion of theme would be just fine. But we can't picture Billy the kid or Jessie James or any other legendary gunslinger bee-bopping to the euro-techno-pop of Ace of Base. Hence it kills the theme and degrades America's first Theme Park to a mere amusement park.

The Grinchmas store in the upper lot has closed. All signage has been removed from the building for now.

Grinchmas is slowly going away.

So THAT'S what a Grinchmas tree looks like naked.

Simpsons Plaza is returning back to its normal self.

The Qwik-E-Mart actually has 'Bort' keychains

Work continues on the reworking of the Studio Tour queue and unload area.

Work walls have pushed the walkway into the stroller parking area. A short wall separating the stroller area and the walkway was removed to open up the area.

Filming was being done on the Metro Sets

CSI filming near the Bates Motel. Boys, the case was solved.

Lower Lot:
Some work is being done near Jurassic Park

The JP queue is getting some work done

Panda Express is being reworked as well. The main signage is down

NBCUniversal Experience is closed and under construction

Transformers extended queue is under construction. And BOY will they need it.

The popular Dolphin enclosure is closed for refurbishment. Tis the season for major work at all the local parks.

Here is a look at the progress on the Manta family coaster that is to open this Summer. We are hearing some REALLY great things about this ride.

The Sinister Pointe Haunted Attraction just released information on a new Valentines day event on Tuesday, February 14th. Sinister Pointe LIVE Dead.

Admission includes a night filled with dinner, comedy, magic, prizes and even a few good scares! Everyone will compete in a horror trivia game show! Don't feel like playing along? Not to worry, there is plenty of entertainment to enjoy over the course of the evening.

Admission includes:
A delicious three course meal, non-aloholic beverages (Beer, wine & Sinister Pointe's signature drink available for an additional charge), 2 hour show, prizes & a little something special for ALL who attend.

Admission is $60 per person (reservations must be made in advance)

For the lovebirds who prefer to wait until the weekend there will be a special weekend encore event on Saturday, February 18th.

Tickets should be going on sale soon through the site. More information can also be obtained by visiting their Facebook page HERE.

Today's Update Has Been Brought To You By . . .

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We'd like to thank today's contributors: Fishbulb, CaptPhoebus, F!AN, Daniel K. Lew 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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Updated 01-13-2012 at 01:28 AM by In the Parks



  1. mickeyfan4ever's Avatar
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    carsland look good i cant wait for to open
  2. disneyland255's Avatar
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    Great update! I really am looking forward to all the Matterhorn progress!!
  3. Emmanuel_4's Avatar
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    Great Update!!!!
  4. lighttragic's Avatar
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    the bobsleds kind of remind of me of what they looked like when the original opened, maybe they are going for a retro look. This update was fantastic, its great to see such a busy construction schedule in the southland. Thank you!
  5. fravitmonk's Avatar
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    If you had linked to any other pop song when you were talking about Knott's theme music, I would have been angry also. But my love of Ace of Base outweighs my love for Knott's. MAN, do I love Ace of Base.
  6. mratigan's Avatar
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    Will anyone be going on the Calico Railroad tour? If so can you take some photos when you go? Thanks
  7. redrocker's Avatar
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    from what ive been told the Charleston circle fountain is being dismantled because there is a new Hello Dolly movie being made and they wish to use this fountain since its from the original movie. It will come back once filming is done.

    and man i always wanted them to build up the train depot when i worked there. That little building could be used for so much and that lil stage where they have the podium could be a nice area for a small time western jug band or banjo band and such

    bummer about the wooden planks being removed from the Saloon but safety wise its the best thing they could do. It did sound cool back in the day walking on them and hearing the wooden clanks like u were in a western movie feeling
  8. The Forbidden Eye's Avatar
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    The Train Tour at Knotts is $5!? Thats a win right there and i'm going to Knotts tomorrow!
  9. WheresMickey's Avatar
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    Great report!
  10. TCadillac's Avatar
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    "Bort"? Aw, come on. "Bort"? Child: Mommy, mommy! Buy me a license plate. Mother: No. Come along, Bort. Man: Are you talking to me? Mother: No, my son is also named Bort
    ........ oh man that I need that keychain!
  11. DisWedWay's Avatar
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    The new food cart at Knott's looks much better, and with it's wood spoked wheels and paint finishes, looks the part. So many park's get the wheels wrong on their carts per the land. Great Awning also. Yes I remember the board slapping sound at Knott's too, when you walked down Ghost Town's board walk in your old Tony Lamas. If converting to concrete planks It would have been better to go with a longer plank that resembled the original wood ones. They are available or can be made. Perhaps a simulated wood would wear better than concrete and still create the old sounds and the proper look and safety issues. I bought the Great Movie Score soundtrack to Paris Disneyland's Thunder Mesa on line if they need a great Western score to play. Check out the music for the opening score of Jerry Bruckheimer's "The Culpepper Cattle Company" to put you in a Western mood or some classic Ry Cooder(Geronimo) and William Ackerman. Glad to see the local town folk at Ghost Town, and even the Mayor. As a young Buckaroo, I remember my mother talking and getting all excited about seeing Gabby Hayes there at Knott's in the 50's. Glad Rawhide is back on TV again. PS I loved the original 59 Bobsleds at Disneyland's Matterhorn, as they fit just like a glass slipper with your date. PD
    Updated 01-13-2012 at 05:42 PM by DisWedWay
  12. Zorro825's Avatar
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    Great update as always!! I dont know why but the picture of the lady standing in front of the closed Haunted Mansion is kinda sad. I can almost picture the little girl "But mommy!! How can it be closed!"
  13. Sparky's Avatar
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    Disneyland had its own bit of "Grinchmas" during the holidays! One day I happened to glance at the "Dancing Woody" coin-operated machine that is inside Pioneer Mercantile near the Adventureland-side entrance and did a double-take when I thought I saw a Grinch figurine inside the case. Yes, indeed, to my surprise, I had seen what I thought I had seen - a small Grinch figurine! I would love to know the story behind why a Universal character merchandise piece was there!
  14. BrerDan's Avatar
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    Thanks for another great update! My partner and I (no kids--yet!) were thinking of heading down to Sea World in late January--but seeing the huge Manta construction, I wonder if we should wait? Is there a lot that's closed down? Thanks!
  15. Timekeeper's Avatar
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    Great update! It looks like the new blue bobsleds are on the Tomorrowland side, which is nice and acts and matches the rest of the color scheme of the Tomorrowland area.

  16. Dustysage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrerDan
    Thanks for another great update! My partner and I (no kids--yet!) were thinking of heading down to Sea World in late January--but seeing the huge Manta construction, I wonder if we should wait? Is there a lot that's closed down? Thanks!
    You'll be fine. There is a big chunk of the park closed, but with this being the off season, it won't impact you negatively.

    We were just there at the beginning of the holiday season and had a great time.
  17. The Forbidden Eye's Avatar
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    A little reminder: Knotts is doing a canned food drive till the end of the month. Bring in 2 or more canned foods and get Knotts Admission for $27.99!
  18. SpectroMan's Avatar
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    Thanks for always covering Knott's in such depth. I look forward to it every time.

    A new Hello, Dolly movie? Really? WOW!
  19. Dustysage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redrocker
    from what ive been told the Charleston circle fountain is being dismantled because there is a new Hello Dolly movie being made and they wish to use this fountain since its from the original movie. It will come back once filming is done.
    I don't think the fountain is being used in a movie shoot. This appears to be just a refurbishment and reworking of the gardens in the area. Will be back and looking better than ever soon.