View RSS Feed

In the Parks

Matterhorn Down, DCA Constructed, SeaWorld, Huntington Gardens, and More

Rate this Entry
by , 01-19-2012 at 09:12 PM

Who says nothing happens in January? Your In The Parks crew was busy this week and we can't wait to share refurbishment overload at Disneyland, a race to the finish at DCA, beautiful garden photos from the Huntington, and even a construction update from SeaWorld! And before we get to all that goodness, we'd like to tell you how you can meet with famed Imagineer, Bob Gurr, for breakfast at the end of the month.

The long awaited MiceChat anniversary weekend is almost here. Mark your calendar for January 27th, 28th and 29th.

It all begins on Friday January 27, 2012. We invite you to join us on a one day Adventure's 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 4 spots left, so please contact Teresa Cory of Fairy Godmother Travel to reserve yours 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!

(15 tickets left!)

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 THIS WEEKEND.

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.


Please contact [email protected] for assistance with booking a Disneyland Resort hotel room during the MiceChat anniversary weekend.

Disneyland is your land. Unless, of course, you are a yeti named Harold, a child singing holiday songs or a grim grinning ghost. "it's a small world holiday" mercifully goes down on Monday, January 23rd while the Matterhorn continues refurbishment and the Mansion returns to classic mode on the 24th. Here's what it all looks like . . .

Work continues on the extensive overhaul to expand the Carnation Cafe on Main Street. What's more, the restrooms along the left side of the street have now gone behind the walls as well.

Al Lutz reported Tuesday that a lot more than just new bobsleds are going into the Matterhorn during this 6-month refurbishment. Included in the work are a number of new effects to enhance the ride. Along with top to bottom tune-ups for all three yeti figures, they are planning to install a few digital projections, new lighting and gallons of new paint and shiny new props.

Load/Unload is being completely rebuilt.

That's one big hair net.

Even though "small world" will take its last sail around the flume on Sunday night, Haunted Mansion is not scheduled to reopen until Tuesday the 24th. So if you are craving merry children or fun-loving ghosts, don't hit the park on Monday the 23rd, as both attractions will be shuttered.

The ghosts return on Tuesday the 24th

Along with what seems a repetitive refurbishment of the Adventureland archway, a recent development inside the Lanai of the tiki room caught our eye.

They have taken a stab at creating a queue for the Dole Whip counter facing the waiting area for the Tiki Room. Usually, guests link up along the walkway outside the Tiki Room, under the Adventureland sign. But, with ongoing construction on the sign and bridge, guests needed to be moved. So, while you are awaiting your concert of crooning Cockatoos, you can grab a pineapple whip and prepare to sing with the birdies.

Temporary juice queue

The buildings and structures at the front of Disney California Adventure have developed slowly, and are beginning to resemble a cityscape. Here is the most recent look at the progress on Buena Vista Street.

Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is currently closed and is scheduled to return on Thursday, February 2nd.

The workhorse that is Walt Disney's World of Color is undergoing much needed adjustments and care. This thing needs to be in tip-top shape for the summer when DCA will be re-launched. The show should be reopened for today (Friday the 20th) but will go down again the 23rd through 26th of January, to complete refurbishment of the various fountain heads and effects.

How many of you wish they'd take the show down for a longer refurb and change it up a bit? The technology seems to be quite flexible, with Disney adding promotional segments and even doing special shows for corporate events and New Years Eve. We think the show is an amazing technology, but aren't 100% sold on the current version of the show. What could they do to keep you coming back and booking more of those dining packages?

Cars Land to open on June 15th? That's what we hear they are shooting for. Keep in mind that date could change with the slightest breeze. From the looks of it, we'd say that they are on track.

Last week we neglected to mention that the Cars 2 meet and greet has been removed from the future entrance of Cars Land and placed across the way in front of the waterfall.

The cones are coming along.

Mater is nearly ready for his close-up.

The repaving project is nearly complete in front of The Little Mermaid. Of interest as well, the ride itself will be going down soon so a few effects and figures can be enhanced or replaced. The two CGI rendered projections featured in the ride will be replaced with imagery that more reflects the hand drawn style of the film. Also, the Ariel figure that appears in the Under the Sea sequence will soon have her hair redone. It seems that the dole whip hair effect never really worked as convincingly as the first Ariel animatronic you see in the grotto scene. All of these changes, plus a few minor tweaks to get things just right, will happen prior to DCA's Relaunch this summer.

Down in SanDiego, SeaWorld has some projects that are swimming along as well.

The decorations for the Christmas Celebration are mostly gone. The ticket booths have been repainted and the giant tree has left the entrance. All that remains is SnowWorld – which crew members are slowly taking down.

During the off season, guests can enjoy “The Shamu Story” – a behind the scenes look at the trainers and the killer whales.

This is a presentation and not a show, but we have to admit it was very interesting. You learn a lot about the whales that you may not have known before.

Here is a look at the refurbishment over at the Rocky Point Plaza. The area will reopen on March 31st.

On Monday, SeaWorld announced on their Facebook page that they would be unveiling an essential part of MANTA the next day in the entrance plaza.

Park guests and SeaWorld team members flocked to the entrance. The park also baked cakes for the special occasion and gave slices for free.

Finally after thirty minutes of extra waiting (they were late) SeaWorld unveiled the car for the attraction.

SeaWorld San Diego President, John Reily, was riding the car along with other members. He told the audience about the attraction – saying that there would be two different experiences. Guests who don’t ride would go through an aquarium and would see the rays and other fish swimming over their heads and around them. Guests who ride the attraction would go through a separate queue – which is also an aquarium – and would lead to the ride. The ride would begin indoors as guests would feel that they are going underwater. They would take a 57-foot drop and have an experience like no other. It was also announced that annual pass holders would be able to ride MANTA for a whole hour before the park opens during the summer.

Much progress is being made on Manta! Are you excited to see the end result?

Here’s a look at the queue and loading area - wooden structure to the middle right

A look between the two fences – left being Rocky Point refurb. And the right is MANTA construction.

The seemingly never ending Cirque De La Mer will return this summer. Rumor has it that SeaWorld might be working on a new show for the area. A representative has confirmed that there will be a new addition to the show this year.

Earlier this week Knott's announced payment plans for all of their season pass options. On their Facebook page they wrote...

Want access to limitless excitement and entertainment at a great price?
Knott’s is home to Season Passes. A Knott’s Season Pass gives you full access to rides with world-class thrills like Silver Bullet, GhostRider® and WindSeeker and the best shows and attractions around. You can also use your Season Pass to receive discounts on food and merchandise throughout the park! (Excludes special ticket events e.g. Halloween Haunt.)Buy your Knott's Season Pass online now for:

Knott's Season Pass - Adults
Just $64.99 or 3 installments of $22.99
Knott's Season Pass - Juniors
Just $64.99 or 3 installments of $22.99
Knott's Season Pass - Seniors
Just $64.99 or 3 installments of $22.99
This is a smart move on their part and it makes it even more affordable to go and have some fun at the farm.

Knott's just sent us some info on a special promotion they'll be running in February: “TWOGETHER IS BETTER”

This campaign offers discount admission, entertainment and even some unique dining options.

Anytime during the month of February, receive park admission for only $34.99 each when you buy two tickets. Season Pass Holders can bring a friend for only $24.99 during the month of February.

Knott’s Berry Farm will also be teaming up with the American Heart Association for “Knott’s Has Heart.” Guests will be asked if they would like to send a special Valentine to Charlie Brown for an additional $1, $5 or $10 donation. Proceeds from this special Valentine will go directly to the Orange County American Heart Association to assist them with their ongoing medical
research and education efforts.

Weekend activities for “Twogether is Better” include a brand new show called “Love Is In the Air, Charlie Brown.” In which the Peanuts Gang tries to figure out whom to invite to the Valentine’s Day Dance. Will Charlie Brown get the nerve to ask the little red haired girl?

Cupid’s Craft Corner will be set up in Camp Snoopy as well. Children under 11 can create special tissue paper bouquets, paper Valentines and Peanut’s coloring pages for the ones they love.

And keep an eye out because we hear that Knott’s cowboys may be in the mood for a Shotgun
Wedding at Judge Roy Bean’s, complete with marriage certificate and horseshoe wedding rings!

Knott’s will also be offering some special “Twogether is Better” food deals including “Double Dawg Love” at Pink’s and a chocolate dipping station in Ghost Town.

You can find more information and buy tickets at

We're charmed to see Knott's doing special seasonal activities and hope you'll stop by the park to check it out. If you do, please be sure to share photos and reviews right here on MiceChat.

Last weekend, Knott's celebrated 60 years of theme park railways and Ghost Town with a weekend-long event. The highlight of the celebration was an evening aboard the Durango rail car while riding around the park. Built in 1880, the Durango is a 14 seat parlor car featuring swivel chairs, electric lights and a fully functional buffet. MiceChatter, MCow1, shares his pictures of the event.

Actors aboard the train kept things lively.


Next is the tour of the roundhouse at Knott's. A roundhouse doesn't have to be round. That is just the name given to the structure that houses any type of car on rails. In the case of Knott's, it is shaped like an L.

The Roundhouse, visible from Wave Swinger and Supreme Scream.

Finally there is the Edna. Built in 1881 for the personal use of the President of the Rio Grande Southern Railway, the Edna private car features a sitting/dining room, bedroom and galley. A rare treat indeed.

An extra pull-down bed.

Have you ever visited the Huntington Library and Gardens? If not, you're missing something special. It is a 207 acre estate located just East of
Pasadena that was built in 1911 by Henry and Arabella Huntington. Henry Edwards Huntington, who came to California in 1902 worked for the Central Pacific Railroad and purchased the land in 1902. During his life, Henry amassed one of the finest research libraries in the world, a significant art collection, and created a wide array of botanical gardens with plants from all over the world. Today, the Huntington functions as a private, non-profit collections based research and educational foundation that was founded by Henry E. Huntington in 1919, just 7 years before his death. Nestled in a residential area, the library and gardens are open to the public. Let's take a stroll through this fascinating attraction.

The large Beaux-Arts mansion, designed by Myron Hunt, was the home of the Huntington family, but is now in use as the primary art gallery on the property. As one strolls through the opulent home, there are rooms that feature highlights from British and French art and others that contain the original furniture used buy the original owners.

The entry way.

Henry Huntington's office

The Living room.

The Dining Room

At the far end of this gallery is Gainsborough's Blue boy.

At the opposite end of the room from him is Pinky

You can wander the second floor as well.

A view of the gardens from upstairs.

The back patio.

In the Boone Gallery, the Library features a rotating exhibition. It is currently featuring "The House that Sam Built: Sam Maloof and art in the Pomona Valley". You will only have a small time left to see it as it leaves after January 30th. Because it is a traveling exhibit, and not owned by the foundation, no pictures are allowed. Get more information on this exhibit here.

The Boone Gallery.

CHINESE GARDEN: The garden of flowing fragrance
Guarded by two chinese dog figures the east entrance to the Chinese garden invites. It is the perfect time of year to visit as the cherry blossom trees are beginning their bloom and the fragrance in the air is intoxicating.

A curvy path wanders through the flowering trees and opens up to a beautiful eastern vista.

Cross the bridge and visit the tea shop for light refreshments or lunch.

Do these koi look like old friends? That's because they were relocated here from the Disneyland Hotel when the majestic waterfalls were replaced with a plain lawn.

Occasionally there are guest musicians that perform.

The architecture is beautiful.

The courtyard at the tea house is a beautiful piece of art.

And that is part one of our tour of the Huntington Library and Gardens. Come back next week as we explore the Conservatory, the Sciences and Desert Garden.

Yesterday, Legoland announced a multi-million dollar expansion to the successful California theme park in Carslbad. Legoland, Carlsbad has enjoyed double-digit attendance increases for the past eight consecutive years. Building on this impressive track record they are adding to the

Further details will be added to the existing dioramas including an "underwater" scene featuring the opee sea monster pursuing Obi-wan, Qui-Gon Jin and Jar Jar as they try too make it through the core of the planet Naboo, a Jawa Sand Crawler in the Tatooine scene and rebels caught in an Ewok net on Endor.

Part of the major expansion includes an attraction that will connect the theme park with the existing water park. Guests will do battle with each other on the high seas as they blast each other with water cannons and try to cross the main bridge and avoid getting even more soaked by boats that are plunging down a 25 ft flume below.

General Manager Peter Ronchetti plays with a model of the new attraction.

There will also be more crustacean fun at the aquarium as they open the exhibit, "CLAWS" this Spring. The five new displays include Japanese spider crabs, which can grow to 13-feet across, and coconut crabs, named for their ability to crack open coconuts with the power of their claws.

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 . . .

Located just across the street from Disneyland’s front gate, the Carousel Inn & Suites offers MiceChat readers some very special deal.

  • MiceChat readers enjoy exclusive rates: Standard Rooms starting at $89/night and Concierge level rooms starting at just $109 - this is up to 60% off the going rate! FANTASTIC DEAL.

  • The Carousel offers FREE continental breakfast and FREE valet parking for MiceChat readers ONLY (be sure to ask for the MiceChat offer).

Staying at the Carousel has its benefits too.

  • Less than a 5 minute walk to Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, and the Downtown Disney District.

  • Enjoy spectacular views of Disneyland’s seasonal fireworks display from our heated, rooftop pool.
Contact the Carousel today, and for the lowest rates, be sure to tell them MiceChat sent you.

Call: 1(800)854-6767 to book your stay today!

We'd like to extend huge thanks to today's contributors: Joseph Pakizegi, MCow1, CaptPhoebus, Fishbulb and Dustysage. (If you've got breaking news or photos to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact Dusty today.)

Are you following us?

Show us you appreciate this column share this page with your friends and family!

Show us you appreciate this column share this page with your friends and family! 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].

Thanks for reading and until next week...

Submit "Matterhorn Down, DCA Constructed, SeaWorld, Huntington Gardens, and More" to Digg Submit "Matterhorn Down, DCA Constructed, SeaWorld, Huntington Gardens, and More" to Submit "Matterhorn Down, DCA Constructed, SeaWorld, Huntington Gardens, and More" to StumbleUpon Submit "Matterhorn Down, DCA Constructed, SeaWorld, Huntington Gardens, and More" to Google

Updated 01-19-2012 at 10:49 PM by Dustysage



  1. Tobywankenoby's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Great update! I'll be there in 5 days! Happy birthday me!!
  2. DisneyResort's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Im glad to hear some enhancements to Ariel's Undersea Adventure will take place. The next to last scene, (just before the wedding scene) seems kind of cheap and thrown in at the last minute. Just some simple silhouettes and that's it. At this point in the story it should be the dramatic battle with Ursula. Yet it's the most lack luster, simple part of the whole ride. Even I could put something like that together with black cardboard and some lights.
    I've always had the feeling that they couldn't finish this portion of the ride in time for it's opening. So something was just put together really quick. I'm hoping that's the case and that a "real" scene will replace it.
  3. notlemc's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    I really hope that when they refurb the Matterhorn that they fix the old sky bucket ride holes in the mountain. It looks odd to have a column in the middle of the hole. And on the Fantasyland side, there is the hole with a column in it that bends 90 degrees to the right. Both holes make the mountain look very unnatural.
  4. SpectroMan's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Has that bridge in the Japanese garden at Huntington been rebuilt? It looks different to me than, say 20 years ago.
  5. Dustysage's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Those Huntington photos are amazing Fishy! Truly one of the gems of Southern California. For the folks reading this who are making a SoCal trip soon, put the Huntington on your list of things to do!

    Also, I had no idea that Knott's had so many fancy rail cars. It's great that they put them in public use for the event last weekend. They should make special rail days a regular activity at the park.

    Great update and can't wait for Manta at SeaWorld!!!

  6. Sparky's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    The iconic bridge in the Huntington Japanese Garden was painted red for many, many years of the garden's history. Several years ago they started painting it a brown color instead of red, so that may be why you think it looks different. I forget the reason why they decided to change the color. The Japanese Garden is currently undergoing a major renovation and refresh for its 100th anniversary this year. Not sure if the bridge has been rebuilt as a part of that. But, a lot of work is being done on the structures and the garden, and, a new Teahouse structure, donated by a Buddhist church in Pasadena, has been added. The Teahouse structure was shipped over to Japan to be refurbished by a specialized company over there and, it turned out to be the very same company that had manufactured the Teahouse originally! The world famous Japanese Garden should be reopening later this year.

    Huntington Gardens will be having a weekend Chinese New Year Celebration the weekend of February 4 and 5. While Mickey and Minnie won't be there, as they will for Disneyland's, it is a an event worth checking out! I've been and it's fun.

    As a Huntington Gardens member, thanks for spotlighting this often overlooked wonderful location! When I moved to Pasadena several years ago, I really came to appreciate it and eventually started becoming an annual member. Since it was literally just a couple of miles from my home, it was very often a wonderfully calming and relaxing place to go when I was stressed. Now that I am a little further away, in Monrovia, I don't get there as often as I did, but, I still love going there. Your photos are compelling me to get there again soon!
  7. Sparky's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    I might add that the Chinese Gardens at Huntington are relatively new, having opened in the last two or three years, and, are still a work in progress, as the project is being done in phases over a period of years. Even though only a portion of the final plan has been built thus far, what is there is spectacular. I always feel like I'm in China at Epcot when I'm there!
  8. Emmanuel_4's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Great Update!
  9. louisehira's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Great update. I especially enjoyed the Huntington Gardens update. You mentioned pictures were not allowed of the Sam Maloof exhibit. I'm guessing you meant you could not publish photos you took of the exhibit. We were told photos were allowed and that flash photogrphy was not allowed. We were so impressed with the Maloof exhibit that we decided to one day book one of the docent tours of the Maloof house in Alta Loma. I've been a Disney AP for about 15 years and am considering becoming a member of the Huntington Gardens.
  10. dgo33's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    I've noticed on a few photos of the Carthay Theater that the walls seem to have puckers in them (photos 5, 6 and 7 of that section of the update). Is that part of the intended/stucco look? Because from online it looks like they didn't nail the supporting walls right.
  11. bacevedo's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Quote Originally Posted by dgo33
    I've noticed on a few photos of the Carthay Theater that the walls seem to have puckers in them (photos 5, 6 and 7 of that section of the update). Is that part of the intended/stucco look? Because from online it looks like they didn't nail the supporting walls right.
    I noticed and thought the exact same thing!
  12. Dreamagineer's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Quote Originally Posted by dgo33
    I've noticed on a few photos of the Carthay Theater that the walls seem to have puckers in them (photos 5, 6 and 7 of that section of the update). Is that part of the intended/stucco look? Because from online it looks like they didn't nail the supporting walls right.
    That's a look typical of 1920's Mission Revival architecture. It's supposed to look like there is an uneven brick or stone wall beneath the stucco.
  13. DisWedWay's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Updated 01-20-2012 at 02:26 PM by DisWedWay (double printed)
  14. DisWedWay's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    While they are an existing detail, the stucco bumps treatment on the Carthay Tower seem a little over emphasized, when compared to Grand Central Tower, the Alex Theater, and the other 1920's Mission Revival found in the Glendale Rosemoyne Historical District Architecture. The smaller bumps also occur on interior plaster finished wood studded walls and ceilings of the 1920's, as well as the outside. No flat dry wall or plaster board back then. Looking forward to seeing the Matterhorn Makeover from the freeway as it looked in 1959 with fresh powder as you approached Disneyland. The Knott's roundhouse long shot reminded me of Ward Kimbal's wooden barn from his depot. The Durango Diner's blueberry pie for desert looks very tempting to make a trip there. PD
  15. DisWedWay's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Those cherry blossoms make great wine that are pictured above. A friends mother made some for me from Japan. PD
  16. toemblem's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    I am amazed that they let you take pictures of their oil paintings at Huntington House. That makes me want to go there now.
  17. Timekeeper's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Nice Update!

  18. chavo's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    I also agree they should patch the holes on the Matterhorn. Great update by the way
  19. DARTH MAUL's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    All I want from World of Color is for them to restore the original version that included Fantasia and Huncback. It's 100% sold to me if that happens. I think it's perfect the way it was originally. No need for major changes yet.
  20. dgo33's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    I figured the stucco bumps were intentional, as I can "see" how a few would look authentic. But as DisWedWay commented, they seem a little over exaggerated and quite possible too regularly spaced and therefore appear, or could be read as, poor detail/bad show. But I am looking forward to seeing them in person. Just to see...