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In the Parks

Disneyland in Bloom, MiceChat at 7, SeaWorld Manta, Universal and Huntington Gardens

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by , 01-26-2012 at 10:05 PM

We have a HUGE MiceChat 7 year anniversary weekend ahead of us and a ton of Disney and theme park news to get to today, so let's not waste time. Disneyland's is in a state of flux with a few E-tickets down while others are returning. Meanwhile, Disney California Adventure continues its sprint to the finish line. Universal Studios Hollywood reworks the line for the Studio Tour again, releases new videos in preparation of the new Transformers ride and introduces the Lorax to Frankenstein. Finally, we stop by SeaWorld as they unveil the Manta coaster vehicles and stroll through a little more of Huntington Library. Here we go!

The long awaited MiceChat anniversary weekend starts today and
continues through Sunday, January 29th.

As you read this, a motor coach filled with MiceChatters are on their way to Hollywood and the Walt Disney Studios for a very special tour of the magic factory itself, including the archives, lunch in the commissary and a run on the studio store. We'll also take tours of the Kodak Theater (home of the Academy Awards), the El Capitan, Chinese Theater and see the walk of fame among other Hollywood sights. The day will finish up with a sunset cocktail reception in Malibu Beach. If you are missing out on this adventure, you can still join us for the rest of the amazing weekend.
SATURDAY JAN 28th DCA DAY:We will host an entire day of fun and games in Disney California Adventure, including a FREE scavenger hunt (with prizes) and wrap the evening up with a game show and special rooftop viewing of Disneyland's fireworks at the Carousel Inn and Suites. The winner of the game show will be awarded a certificate for a 2 night stay at the Carousel!

SUNDAY JANUARY 29, DISNEYLAND DAY:Our traditional Disneyland day is also the most sentimental. The day will start with breakfast along the Rivers of America, a grand circle tour of the happiest place on earth aboard the Disneyland Railroad 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!). The afternoon will feature a short trivia contest with prizes hosted by Hidden Mickey author, Nancy Temple Rodrigue. The weekend will finish up with rides on the Haunted Mansion, Pirates and a rousing sing-along at the Tiki Room.We hope you'll be able to join us for some or all of this fabulous weekend.


Spring is already blooming at the Disneyland resort and there is no better place to witness this than inside the Magic Kingdom itself. The Icelandic Poppies in Town Square are bursting with color and the faint hum of bees collecting pollen is audible if one is close enough.

What's that Dorthy? You say you want to lay down and take a nap? We'll go ahead, we'll send the flying monkeys to wake you up in just a bit.

The Sailing Ship Columbia and Fantasmic are both currently down for refurbishment.

They've been working on the Dragon's lair all week

Haunted Mansion finally reopened to eager fans this week. A small group of die-hard fans of classic Mansion were there as the gates were opened at noon on Tuesday. Everything is as it was before Jack came here from Halloween Town. There have been a few minor tweaks and one resident refuses to show his head.

The first guests back into classic Mansion.

They have the restored some of the lost narration by the ghost host during the endless hallway scene, in which he says, "All our ghosts have been dying to meet you! This one can hardly contain himself!" Enjoy it while you can. The Imagineers are known to dislike this portion of the audio and will likely have it turned back off.

Despite the persistent rumors and a forthcoming movie, The hatbox ghost
still refuses to join Constance in the Attic.

Heavy duty refurbishment is going on in the Alps. The station platforms are demolished and the new bobsled is on the track ready to do run-throughs.

In a little bit of celebrity gawking, Tom and his daughter, Suri were out enjoying the park on Wednesday. They were walking around with minimal security and it was actually refreshing to see that they were just out and about, not bothered by the gawkers and paparazzi flanking them.

The entry arch into the land is still under wraps. Get your Dole whips inside the Tiki Room lanai for now as there's no room for folks to queue up in the pathway outside the Tiki Room.


It is surprising how much can change in just one week. Surfaces are forming along the backdrop of the new buildings and the tracks for the Redcar trolly are being framed and set.

The scale of Buena Vista Street is growing. This will be a much more substantial first act for the park than the old Sunshine Plaza.

You can really get a sense of the massive size of the Carthay Circle building in this shot.

At center bottom of this shot you can see the cement forms being prepared for the Red Car Trolley tracks.

At the front gate, you can see the buildings being prepped for surfacing.

The old candy shop will be just about the only thing you'll recognize when Buena Vista street opens. Not much else was carried over from the previous version of the entry.

Look through the greet mesh and you'll see some ornate iron work.

Here we are at Cars Land. The Neon is now up and glowing at night, the lighting adjustments are being made to the backdrop of mountains and the rides are being tested. Just a few more months and this place will be crawling with people.

Repaving continues in front of the Little Mermaid attraction.

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.

Universal, the entertainment capital of Los Angeles, is working 'round the clock to get transformers together before the opening this spring. Meanwhile, the functioning movie studio churns out entertainment and the Lorax has begun greeting guests.

The popular Waterworld show is down for refurbishment until Feb 3rd.

No water today kids, move along.

Guests can now meet the Lorax across from the Curious George play area between the Carnival Games and Hollywood Cantina

He's a cute one that Lorax

Frankie waited patiently in line to see the Lorax. The Lorax was less than pleased to see him.

The former Wild West Arena is empty once again after the Grinchmas overlay was put back into storage.

The Studio Tour entrance is still getting reworked.

The Chicken Ranch was being used for a music video for the LMFAO song "Sorry for Party Rockin'". The multi-night shoot transformed the iconic house into party central. The visible portions of the backyard of the house were littered with streamers/confetti and there was even a beer pong table with oversize neon cups.

Whoville sans Grinchmas décorations

The tram unload area is still being toyed with. It appears the walkway is being expanded into the parking spots that were relocated under the new restrooms.

Also, the brand new extended queue (that they just built last summer) has been
torn up and is being reworked.

TRANSFORMERS:Universal has recently launched the site where General Morshower of N.E.S.T. briefs you on your mission and other classifies intel. The site also give you the opportunity to "enlist" and starting February 4 you will "report for combat training and become a defender of your planet alongside N.E.S.T. and the Autobots." Those who enlist and participate in the game can win "exclusive Transformers collectibles and a trip to N.E.S.T. H.Q. in Los Angeles."

The outdoor extended queue now has flat screens which will likely set the story before you ride.

A portion of the first set of escalators that make up the Starway linking the upper lot to the lower lot is getting work done.

The building that will eventually house the Transformers gift shop is nearly done.

The closed NBCUniversal Experience is also getting the same treatment
as the surrounding buildings.

As is the closed Panda Express

Welcome to SeaWorld San Diego. This week, we get a little bit more information regarding Manta, a return date for Rocky Point Preserve and the return of Atlantis.

Rocky Point Preserve (the Dolphin Interaction Center) is currently in a refurbishment and will reopen on March 31st. Hopefully, we’ll take a look at the refurbishment in the next update.

Here we have a close up look at the ride vehicles for Manta and a fresh look at the construction site.

This week we will mostly be looking at Manta construction as it rolls full steam ahead. The ride vehicle from last week’s unveiling is still at the park entrance for guests to take a look at.

Here is a closer look at the ride vehicle.

An interesting fact: The seats are set up stadium style, letting the riders in the second row see what’s in front of them.

Now, let us take a look at the construction site. The fence has renderings of what the ride will (hopefully) look like.

A worker is working on the roof of the launch building.SeaWorld uploaded this to their Facebook page with the following:"We just finished pouring the cement for the guest entrance bridge to the attraction. Still a lot of gussying-up work to do, but bridge foundation is now set!!"

A look at it from the SkyTower.

A look at the ride launch.

Questions have been lingering around the internet regarding the next big project after Manta. While we have no answer at this point, it should be noted that the park will turn 50 in 2014 – which might also bring some new attractions. With all of the new attractions opening in Orlando (Turtle Trek and Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin), let’s keep our hopes up for something exciting in the future. Although the park is under several rules from the city and Coastal Commission which won’t let it expand or make attractions that go above 30ft, there is still hope for amazing attractions that stay under the limits.

Shamu continues to show once a day during the parks off season. A lot of park guests have been unhappy with this production and rumor has it a new show is already in the works for the future.

Journey to Atlantis has reopened after a short refurbishment.

Surviving the Supreme Ordeal has never been so much fun.

Last week, we began our tour of Huntington Library and Gardens. This week we take a look at the stunning Conservatory. This is a beautiful, modern facility that is divided into four separate exhibits. There are many hands on exhibits here which make it great for families and children.

Guests enter a large atrium that replicates the rain forrest climate.

The pond filled with fish.

This is where most of the hands on stuff is for the children. You can learn how plants spread their seeds in the wind, how other seeds float from island to island, or look at plants through a powerful microscope.

This wild looking plant was around before dinosaurs.



One of the most truly striking areas of the gardens is the desert garden. Filled with a strange variety of succulent plants, this aged area feels as if ripped from another planet.

A cluster of Redhot pokers was in bloom during our visit.

And that is it from the Huntington Gardens and Library this week. Come back next week when we conclude with a trip into the science hall and libraries.

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: JP, F!AN, 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?

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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 happy 7th Anniversary MiceChat!!!

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Updated 01-26-2012 at 10:32 PM by In the Parks



  1. Emmanuel_4's Avatar
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    Great Update!!!!
  2. BestBeatingHeart's Avatar
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    Being military, there really isn't much more that ticks me off more than a wrong Class A outfit such as the Generals, lol...

    But great update as usual. If there's one good thing about being in Korea for a year it's getting the MiceAge updates on Sunday night/Thursday night for DLR, lol.
  3. Barbossa's Avatar
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    "This teacup will self destruct in 5 seconds. Good luck Ethan."

    Great update!
  4. WheresMickey's Avatar
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    Great update! Happy Anniversary MiceChat!
  5. Tinkbelle's Avatar
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    I love the pictures of the poppies.

    That is neat that you got a picture of Tom and Suri on the teacups. Did you get pictures of them anywhere else in the park?
  6. TravisMT81's Avatar
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    Wow Surinam sure has grown! Did they have a VIP host?
  7. Zorro825's Avatar
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    Great update!! I was wondering why dont the Imagineers like that part of the spiel in the Haunted Mansion? I for one am glad its back since its one of my favorite little jokes in the ride.
  8. LittleSquirt's Avatar
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    as for dca, hurry up and finish! i can't wait!
  9. MrTour's Avatar
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    So cool to see the parks with the mountains so clear in the distance. Great pics!
  10. Melonballer's Avatar
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    A friend of mine who was in the park the same day as Cruise and Suri told me they were in the boat next to them on the Jungle Cruise. She got a picture of Cruise walking away and titled it "And now, what you have all been waiting for, the backside of Tom Cruise!"
  11. DisWedWay's Avatar
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    Can't wait to see the period iron light fixtures for the lower walls of the Carthay Circle Theater. I remember the one's that were on the Grand Central Tower building. Hope WDI is keeping those in a safe place.
  12. tinkerbell714's Avatar
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    Love the update! Really wish I could celebrate MC 7th year anniversary with you all. Happy Anniversary MC!!!
  13. EC82's Avatar
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    Do you think they will ever, ever, EVER get the entry to the Haunted Mansion right, so that guests can actually HEAR the Ghost Host narration in the first room, and timed correctly so that it will start once the elevator doors have CLOSED? I can never figure out why Disneyland can't or refuses to make this very effective, fun, carefully designed scene-setting entry work correctly.
  14. Timekeeper's Avatar
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    Great Update!

  15. AvanteGardens's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EC82
    Do you think they will ever, ever, EVER get the entry to the Haunted Mansion right, so that guests can actually HEAR the Ghost Host narration in the first room, and timed correctly so that it will start once the elevator doors have CLOSED? I can never figure out why Disneyland can't or refuses to make this very effective, fun, carefully designed scene-setting entry work correctly.
    Haunted Mansion was created over 40 years ago when people actually had good manners and would shut up and listen to the presentation. It was also before a time of computer generated movies doing all the work for them, and they actually knew how to use their imagination. The only thing that would fix the HM entry now is a thousand watt sound system blasting the spiel over the sound of everyone talking and checking their text messages. That wouldnt be very realistic though. Of course you can just do like half the people in the room and recite the words out loud yourself. Then you can feel free to put in the old missing parts and do it when the doors close or at any time you like.
  16. mitzkity's Avatar
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    Is that a ghost in the foreground, on the right - in that first photo of the Haunted Mansion? Pretty strange-looking....