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Disneyland Goes Over The Rainbow, Inside SeaWorld's Manta, Knott's And Uni Updates

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by , 03-22-2012 at 08:39 PM

Today's update is filled with theme park attractions on the way, the Mantas, Transformers and Cars that you are expecting and perhpas some witches and wizards that you weren't!! At Disney California Adventure, Buena Vista Street has appeared suddenly out of the dust and construction walls. After a dizzying few months, the first real signs of faux-Angeles are appearing with impressive results. Meanwhile, Disneyland presses forward on the Matterhorn refurb and Main Street reconfiguration as we hear some very exciting rumors about a possible new land which will have you over the rainbow. We also have some news from our favorite theme park underdog, Knott's Berry Farm, as they add even more lovely little flourishes to Ghost Town. Finally, we stop by SeaWorld for a look inside the Manta construction zone and we have a little Universal Studios update for you as well. You ready for a spin around the SoCal theme parks?

News is a little scarce out of Walt's original Magic Kingdom this week, but that doesn't mean that we don't have exciting things to show you. Oh, and one glittering rumor which will have you clicking your heals together. You'll want read all the way through the for this tid bit.

One of the construction walls surrounding the seating planters in Town Square finally came down. Yep, we told you it was a slow news day

WOW! Looks the same.

This planter bench conceals a speaker (probably a sub-woofer). We can assume that the construction was to refurb the sound system.

Here we are at the Matterhorn. The more precarious scaffolding higher up on the mountain has been removed, the focus of the work is now on the bottom half of the structure that actually contains the ride. The loading platforms have been completely rebuilt with safety gates that perfectly match the new seating configuration.

Notice the gates are further back from the actual track.

Oz: The Great And Powerful
Let the rumors begin. In March of next year, Disney will release a new Wizard of Oz movie prequel which takes place in the early years of the great wizard as he is swept to the Emerald City from his roots as a magician in a dusty Midwestern circus.

Disney describes the film as:
Walt Disney Pictures' fantastical adventure Oz The Great and Powerful, directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum's beloved character, the Wizard of Oz. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he's hit the jackpot-fame and fortune are his for the taking-that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone's been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity-and even a bit of wizardry-Oscar transforms himself not only into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz but into a better man as well.

Sounds promising, right?! Well, there's apparently been a lot of work going on in Imagineering that may have been inspired by this upcoming film. If the movie is a hit, it stands to reason that we might just see it come to life in the Big Thunder Ranch/Festival Arena area of Disneyland between Fantasyland and Frontierland.

For us, Oz at Disneyland seems like a perfect fit. We can't help but be inspired by the endless possibilities. The "Dusty Kansas" circus magician theme would be a seamless transition from Frontierland. And the Oz component makes it a fantastic neighbor to Fantasyland.

Who knows, in 5 years or so, we might just have a whole new land that perfectly fits the transition zone between Frontierland and Fantasyland. As we see it, this is a practical and magic application for an underused space at Disneyland.

What about you, readers, are you ready for a trip to Oz?

Gumball Rally May 19, 2012
MiceChat has a very special event coming up soon in Disneyland We'd like to invite you to join us for our world famous Gumball Rally!

The Gumball Rally is a race to find out who can ride the most attractions at Disneyland in a single day. It's the most fun you can have in the parks with your friends and family and a huge challenge as well. Whether you win or lose, you are always a winner when the race takes place on your favorite rides at your favorite place on earth.

When: May 19th, 2012
Where: Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California
COST: $24.99 per person (Prices will go up to $29.99 per person beginning April 1st).
How Do I sign up?: MiceChat Events Store Gumball Rally Sign Up
How Does the Rally Work?: Rally Information Page
Rally Discussion on MiceChat: Gumball Rally Discussion

But that's just a little piece of the puzzle. We'll also offer a pre-Rally pasta party on May 18th and a MiceChat Mega Meet on Sunday the 20th (anyone can attend the mega meet even if you don't participate in the Rally - Save the date!). T-Shirts are available for this year's event as well. If you've never heard of the Gumball Rally before, please visit the Rally Information Page HERE for more information and FAQ. A discussion thread has been created in the forums as well: MiceChat Gumball Rally Discussion.

Get your teams together and sign up today, because prices go up $5 per person on the first of April!

The new entrance to Disney California Adventure is shaping up to be quite a dazzling first act. The variety of shapes and architecture is impressive. Are any of you actually more excited for Buena Vista Street than you are for Cars Land?

Looking back at the front gates from the Monorail.

Then new entry park is getting some trees and the curbs have been built.

Looking into the park, we see a vast improvement over what used to be Engine-Ear Toys on the right.

Looking towards the Carthay Circle, we see a park setting coming together where the vintage style Walt and Mickey statue will be located.

And where the train facade once rested, we now find brick and iron work.

Looking at Elias & Company Department Store in all its Deco glory.

The fountain testing is becoming a common thing to see. AWESOME.

The Carthay Theatre restaurant and club complex.

Much to the dismay of liver-picklers everywhere, the Cove Bar is now down for a lengthy refurbishment that will last up until the relaunch of DCA in June.

This sign makes a very good suggestion (some might find the sparkle bar upstairs and the wine patio downstairs at the the Winery to be even more comfortable than the Cove).

The sprucing-up projects in Hollywoodland are nearly complete and reveal an attention to quality and detail that is in contrast to the kitschy facades, signs and steel framework look just a few feet away (closer to Monsters and Muppets).

Real marble and stone now adorn the false front stores on this street.

Speaking of Monsters, the facade is receiving a little attention itself, as the bright colors had become faded since its opening 5 years ago. Would you like to see the doors give way to a more Hollywood look? That isn't in the cards yet, but could come in a phase 2.

You can still ride it though.

You can even exit

What can be seen of Cars Land is getting more impressive by the day. We just hope that the actual rides are worth the 3+ hour waits that are sure to be a reality this Summer.

Fillmore's got its signage.

You can now see the actual barrier into the land behind the construction walls.

An overview of the area.

Mater's Junkyard Jamboree.

Cozy Cone Cafe.

The entrance from Pacific Wharf.

Lower Lot:
Major construction in the Lower Lot has finished and the main street is now open.

Progress of the Revenge of the Mummy lockers

The NBC Universal Experience has reopened with some new exhibits.

Progress of the Jurassic Park queue construction work. Walls now push into the nearby guests dinning area.

The marquee has been placed on the show building.

Our friends at Knott's continue to heap on the good will as the park is slowly transformed into a much more pleasant, fan friendly, environment.

EVENT ALERT: There's a fun art of Knott's show, emphasizing shadows, silhouettes, low angles, and deep focus, of photographer and Knott's historian Jay Jennings which will be held this weekend.

The new photography exhibit will be this Saturday, March 24th from 1-4pm at Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant. Admission is free and there is three-hour free parking in the Marketplace lot, so you won't need theme park admission for this event (unless you'd like to hop on in the park to check out all the fantastic new refurbishments in Ghost Town).

Limited Edition prints from the exhibit will be available for sale (and VERY affordable in the $40 and less range). Dave Bourne, Calico Saloon piano player from the 1950s will be performing and Steve Knott (Walter's grandson) will be attending as well. This exhibit is a preview of Jay Jennings' upcoming book "The Art of Knott's Berry Farm: 1950s-Inspired Photographs".

Swing by the event early - right at 1pm - and then join Dusty, Fishbulb and some of your mice pals for a quick tour of Ghost Town, followed by a ride on the Mine Train and Log Ride! We'll head into the park around 2:30 or so.

It appears that they are toying with the idea of staggered openings in the morning with attractions that don't see much ridership until later in the day.

We do have to offer a thanks to management for keeping the Sky Cabin open the entire operating day. This is something that the whole family can ride and enjoy together and that's a good thing.

Pony Express is currently down for minor refurbishment.

And now for Ghost Town, the most beloved section of the park. While the awkward, modern music still thunders throughout the area, the little touches are still being added that really give it a sense of place.

We spotted more than a few groups stopping to pose for pictures in front of the sets and decoration. This is what makes memories and repeat visitors.

A cute little bit of set decoration has appeared on Main Street. And while it looks brand new right now, it will look much better as it ages (or is painted to look weathered).

A working water pump. NICE.

The area just to the right, in front of the Bottle House and General Store is still being resurfaced. But the rest of the street behind it is done.

The street repaving project continues.

You can see in this completed segment that they aren't using blacktop, but have created a more natural looking foundation to this land.

The Ghost Town Playlist:
Sadly, contemporary music still thunders out of the speakers throughout Ghost Town (and the rest of the park). We just can't let this element go. Bring period appropriate music back to Ghost Town Knott's. We love ya, but would love you even more if you respected the theme in the heart of your park!

Here is the playlist we heard during our time in Ghost Town this week:

  1. Le Freak - Chic
  2. Stand Back - Stand Back
  3. Big Yellow Taxi - Counting Crows
  4. I Wanna Be Down - Brandy
  5. Aint Too Proud to Beg - Rolling Stones

Itís another gorgeous day in San Diego and time for another SeaWorld San Diego park update!

Rocky Point has gone through a nice paint job!

It seems that SeaWorld has taken the tide pool and put in a Dolphin Interaction area.

New gates are being set up.

Work on the new pump house outside of Shamu Stadium is almost complete, but the fences are now taking more room.

Here is the walkway between the fence and the Shamu Store. It's pretty tight right now, especially on the weekends when the crowds arrive.

More walls are coming up on the new structure at Cirque Stadium. We can now confirm that this is a trampoline structure that will be a new addition to the show this year.

SeaWorld released this video which shows models of what the structure will look like when completed.

In our last update, we noticed the new radial paint job near the back stairs at Dolphin Stadium. While we donít know whatís coming (perhaps a sign), it does stick out like a sore thumb at the moment.

The popular Mama Stellaís restaurant is getting a makeover, including the sign.

This week, weíre gonna take a look at Turtle Reef Ė which opened last year. This aquarium is nothing like the upcoming TurtleTrek attraction in Orlando, but itís a nice change from the old manatee aquarium.

Here we go!

Guests can also take in the 180 view.

At the end of the attraction, guests can take part in interactive games.

When you leave the attraction, youíre immediately transported back to "shore" where you can ride Riptide Rescue.

On our way out, we noticed that some officials were looking around in this section near the entrance with different maps and sketches. What do you think they are thinking of putting here?


  • This weekend (March 24) from 10AM Ė 4PM, Pass Members will have the opportunity to draw memories on plaques for Manta. Of course, I will be there and have coverage in next weeks update.
  • Spring Into Night beings next weekend!

A representative from SeaWorld told us that Manta is moving ďahead of scheduleĒ. The launch building is done on the outside, and now work begins on the inside.

SeaWorld has released this image of the inside of the launch building.

The rock structure is coming along nicely!

Here is the view from the above.

Work is being done on the rock work around the entry lagoon as well.

Construction is also being done in the 100,000-gallon aquarium.

SeaWorld released these pictures on their Facebook to give a closer look at the construction.

The Downtown Anaheim Certified Farmersí Market and Craft Fair, which takes place every Thursday from noon until 7:00pm, is introducing new activities, fun and food this Spring.

Doggy Dayz:
Starting March 29th the farmers market will be holding a dog-themed expo that will include a mobile dog groomer, adoptable pets, a doggy artist, organic gluten-free treats, free dog training advice and much more. Guests are welcome to bring their dogs, but they must remain outside of the food and farm area. Doggy Dayz will be held on the last Thursday of each month.

Food Trucks:
Beginning April 5th Food trucks including Home Skillet Food Truck, Crepes Bonaparte, Calbi, Sweet Louís BBQ and The Pit Stop Grill will be part of the evenings festivities.

Easter Bunny:
The Easter Bunny will be making an appearance at the Market on April 5th.

Doggy Dayz, Gourmet Food Trucks and the Easter Celebration will be located in the middle of the farmersí market at Lemon Street and Center Street Promenade. For more information about certified farmersí markets in Anaheim, call (714) 956-3586, join them on or visit

And don't forget to take in the latest from the MiceTube. A brand new Communicore weekly has been published which takes us to Club 33, cooking with Mickey, a look at the Muppets DVD, and the new Storybook Circus at the Magic Kingdom:

Sarah, the MiceChatter is also back from Spring Break with this new video featuring Cars Land, John Carter and Brave:

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

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We'd like to extend a huge thanks to today's contributors: JP, CaptPhoebus, F!AN, Fishbulb and Dustysage. (If you've got breaking news or photos to share, we'd love to hear from you too! Contact Dusty today

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Wherever you go and whatever you do this weekend, we hope you have a wonderful time. We'll see you soon . . . In The Parks!

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Updated 03-23-2012 at 09:08 AM by In the Parks



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  1. Dustysage's Avatar
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    I do think that if Disneyland wants to battle Universal's upcoming Harry Potter expansion, Oz would be a spectacular way to do it!
  2. crankypage's Avatar
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    The California Zephyr facade at DCA always got a bad rap - for me it was one of the few (maybe the only) part of Sunshine Plaza where the theming worked. Although it was a bit jarring to enter the train and be in a toy store or ice cream parlor... If they would have salvaged anything from DCA 1.0 that would have been my choice. However, the iron work is beautiful.

    "If you skip
    Maharajah Jungle Trek but set even one foot into Dino-Land U.S.A., then you’re part of the problem." -
  3. Skimbob's Avatar
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    I am really excited about Buena Vista Street. This alone will make DCA a much more respected park. I think Walt would approve except for the statue of him and Mickey which I personally like. Cars Land will be the icing on the cake. I think they have finally gotten it right this time.

    As for OZ I am not a fan of it being in the park. There are so many other things that would be better. To me it just doesn't fit. We definately need something new and exciting but it needs to be something in Tomorrowland. Let's face it that has been a long neglected area ever since the carousel theater became a joke. The PFF will already be a new and welcome addition to the Fantasyland side of the park. Maybe we should have the new Seven Dwarfs mine train added to that area. We might even have room to put in the whole Beauty and the Beast area as well. That would definately flow better than sticking Oz in there
  4. DJM's Avatar
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    Going to have to write something up about the music at Knott's....I really REALLY (respectfully) disagree with the stance.
  5. Dustysage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DJM
    Going to have to write something up about the music at Knott's....I really REALLY (respectfully) disagree with the stance.
    If you are upset about the music choice, as we are, then please send a letter to Knott's Berry Farm Guest Relations:

    Knott's Berry Farm
    Attn: Guest Relations
    8039 Beach Boulevard
    Buena Park, CA 90620

    or call 714-220-5200

    The actually appreciate the letters they get from their guests and take them very seriously.
  6. Quentin's Avatar
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    I know i am probably the only one that has this opinion, but I do not like Wizard of Oz. I would rather see Frontierland expanded then Wizard of Oz added.
  7. Stitch626626's Avatar
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    Yes please to OZ land!!!
  8. Phxbunny's Avatar
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    I hate to be a black cloud on this post because I LOOOOOVE Disneyland but I strongly dislike the idea of the wizard of Oz in Disneyland. Disneyland had a circus once long ago and it FAILED. I think Imagineering totally forgot about that one....and that Walt Disney himself said that while they assembled a fantastic circus no one goes to Disneyland to see a circus, they go to Disneyland to see Disneyland.

    I think if anything they should put the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction from Florida in there. It would fit the German theme from Fantasyland AND it would fit into the mining area in Frontireland. Heck, they could even move that princess meet and greet back there instead of putting Fantasyland onto Main Street and it would all fit beautifully!!!

    To me putting in the Wizard of Oz in would be like having Spiderman swinging down Main Street. It doesn't fit. It breaks your perception that Disneyland is real and not just another Universal studios because historically The Wizard of Oz is not Disney so people would be jarred seeing it. I really hope they don't do it because I could think of so many better uses for that space that would fit better and actually work at drawing guests for years not months. But this is all just my opinion as a hopefully one day imagineer.
  9. mondo's Avatar
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    I rather have an expansion of Frontierland than Oz.

    If Oz is made will the animal have to leave, can they be part of the circus area?

    How would a "Dusty Kansas" circus magician theme
    look like?
  10. DisWedWay's Avatar
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    My grandparents gave my father Frank Baum books as a child as well as those from Mark Twain of the same era. I now have his Baum Volumns and have always loved the characters and illustrations (some with early Maxfield Parrish), as well as Twain's Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn which Walt employed in 1955. I was really excited when I heard Walt Disney had bought the rights to the Baum characters since 1954 during the design of his new park, and have been waiting for his Disneyland to make use of them. I remember Tony Baxter's Discovery Bay Concept model which would tie Twain and Baum together in an expanded Fronteirland, and know he has always been an OZ fan. So inspired by it, I had to buy the Disney Gallery Discovery Bay print rendered by Tony. I always thought Tony's Paris Disneyland Halloween decorations with the Pumpkin Head People looked a lot like Baum's, and I suggested more use of the vines growing over the park at that time. The PDL Storybook Land Canal Boats reflected on Disney's 1985 Return to Oz movie. Interesting that Walt Disney and Frank Baum both reside in Glendale not far from each other. PD
    Updated 03-24-2012 at 02:00 PM by DisWedWay
  11. DisWedWay's Avatar
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    One of the most common musical insturments back in the Western days was the harmonica, and is used in many classic Western movie soundtracks. The harmonica music from "Good, Bad, and the Ugly" might be a good choice for Knott's soundtrack, as well as other songs of the era like "Oh Shenandoah" by Paul Hallart on harmonica or his "Red River Valley". Still like guitar by William Ackerman to watch the windmill turn by.
    Updated 03-24-2012 at 04:24 PM by DisWedWay
  12. wec's Avatar
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    An Oz themed land would be fun. Most of us probably already know that Walt had Imagineer Rolly Crump and others working on an Oz attraction for Disneyland back in the day. It would be interesting to see this come to fruition.
  13. MickeyO's Avatar
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    AHH! Come on Knott's, Be a true theme park and theme your music!
  14. Athlonacon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mice Age Column
    What about you, readers, are you ready for a trip to Oz?

  15. Timekeeper's Avatar
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    I would wait and see how well the new movie fares, like what TWDC is going to be doing when the new OZ movie opens, before any money is invested in for either an expansion of a land or a new land altogether. I agree, that OZ would be good as a possible expansion or new land for Disneyland, but if that's going to happen, it would have to be replicated or copied and built at WDW, in order for them to save money. Granted, there are exceptions, the big ones being the Extreme Makeover: Theme Park Edition (DCA) and the Fantasyland Expansion in WDW. But on the other end, I would rather see them build a new Tomorrowland DL that was co-built at the same time in WDW, with two D or C Ticket attractions and One new E-Ticket Attraction.

  16. wgattjr's Avatar
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    Can anyone tell me (if this sounds familiar) what happened to the space that was once known as Videopolis? Back in the late 80s early 90s, there was an amphitheater type space that was located to the left as you walk towards Small World. They played music and videos and there was space to dance and seating as well. I have been there a hundred times since them but I have yet to stop and look into this. It looks like it may now be the Princess Fantasy Fare area or part of Toontown. Just wanted to ask and hope that someone can backup my claim. Thank you.
  17. TikiKrissy's Avatar
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    Add me to the list of those who do not want to see Oz in Disneyland. I would love for Disney to put in something original, that's not tied to a movie, for a change. I'm trying to think of the most recent, still-in-the-park attraction that wasn't tied to a movie/tv show. I'm thinking the Astro-Orbitor in 1998? Wow. It's been forever!
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