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In the Parks

Disneyland, DCA, Knott's San Diego Safari Park and more...

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by , 03-29-2012 at 10:39 PM

Have you ever seen a jungle of butterflies? How about the building of a mountain? You will see all of this and more in today's In the Parks. We touch base at Disneyland to check on the Matterhorn progress and Carnation Cafe's major redo. We then tour Disney California Adventure's two major projects, Cars land and Buena Vista Street. Then we flutter down to the San Diego's Safari Park for the new Butterfly exhibit. Its a wild update today, let's get to it!

Let's start off by saying that this is no surprise. Disneyland is always crowded at this time of year. Especially during Spring Break season when wave after wave of vacationing families head in Disneyland's direction. Of course, it's all good for Disneyland's bottom line, but a real challenge for guests.

A meet and greet that still pulls in 45 minute waits.

This is normal.

Whoa, this is a little long.

Adventureland is always a bottleneck, but an uptick in attendance can bring this little section of the park to a frustrating standstill at times.

Remember the single rider line to avoid this wait.

The area in front of Pirates was in super-extended queue mode for much of the week.

Would we wait 40 minutes for Dumbo? When Elephants fly! So, I guess that's a yes.

Our tip, bring a good attitude and be patient. Use Fastpass wisely and visit attractions like the Tiki Room, Captain EO, Great Moments with Abraham Lincoln, and even Innoventions (if the park gets REALLY busy). It's busy times like this that we like to enjoy people watching and the lovely gardens of the park rather than just focusing on the rides. Sure does make the crowds easier to handle. We'd love to hear your favorite things to do in the park on a busy day.

Progress at the Carnation Cafe is coming along. More of the scaffolding came down this week, revealing the rest of the alley.

Here we are at the Matterhorn. Not much new to report on it this week, but it is fascinating to see the reinvention of this 50+year old attraction.

Heads up, early bird discount registration for MiceChat's world famous Gumball Rally will end this Sunday. Get your team together and register today so you don't miss out on the savings.

What's a Gumball Rally? Well, it's the biggest, best and most fun Disney fan event in the known universe. The Rally is a race to find out which team can ride the most attractions at Disneyland in a single day. Sounds fun, right? Well, it is even more fun than you can imagine. Yes, it is harder than it sounds. Yes, it will challenge you physically. But, it's one event that folks of any age can compete in and have a great time in the process. 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.

But that's just a little piece of the puzzle. If you've never heard of the Gumball Rally before, please visit the Rally Information Page HERE for more information and FAQ.
When: May 19st, 2012
Where: Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California
COST: Early bird rate $24.99 per person (through March 31st, regular price of $29.99 per person will begin April 1st).
How Do I sign up?: MiceChat Events Store Gumball Rally Sign Up
How Does the Rally Work?: Rally Information Page


Here on Buena Vista Street, the sunny optimism that beckoned Walt Disney to California is being recreated in the form of a 1920's Los Angeles cityscape. The intricate detail and theme are becoming more apparent each week.

Looking towards the new entrance.

Looking into the park towards Carthay Circle theater.

More palms have been planted near the building.

Looking towards Clarabelle's IceCream shop.

Elias & company

One thing we noticed two weeks ago was Gypsy, the beautiful Butterfly character from A Bug' Life, at the entrance to Bug's Land near Tower of Terror was missing an antenna. Things happen and we just ignored it. But it's still missing weeks later. So here's a pic.

Poor thing.

You know things are official when your name appears on a trash can. the renaming of Hollywood Pictures Backlot to Hollywood Land has begun with the brand new logo and name appearing on area trash cans.

High tension wires are now being installed along the Red Car Trolley route beginning at Tower.

Here we are in Cars Land. The area continues to be more obscured by the impressive amount of trees and landscaping being added to the area. Despite that we have some shots for you to enjoy. Only two and a half months left gang!

From above we can see the work being done inside the cove bar. It looks pretty extensive.

Disney California Adventure offered an AP Merchandise Preview this week and we have a rundown of all that was available for purchase. Disney also offered a look at the costumes that cast members will be wearing in Buena Vista Street and Cars Land when they both open on June 15th and a look at the Mad T Party that will be moving in when Tron moves out of Hollywood Pictures Backlot.

The rules for entry into stage 17 were pretty tight and each individual Annual Passholder had to show their own pass and a photo ID to receive a wristband for entry.

Disney set up a preview of the Buena Vista Street costumes, showed Mad T Party concept art and offered a refreshment counter with Fuze drinks, dill flavored popcorn, and smoothies.

Mad T Party merchandise and costume designs:

Some of it looks really good

Some of it however . . .

What are we missing here? Why are these costumes done in gangster style?

Has Disney already forgotten the lesson of the horrible Mickey's Dance Crew?

Hopefully there were senior people listening to guest comments during the preview, because we heard nothing but negative comments from the guests in the room about these costumes. There is still time for this to be fixed.

The merchandise is fine. Won't thrill everyone, but it is interesting.

There was also a display featuring a costume for Cars Land (yep, just one costume)

Not bad, but looks a lot like pajamas

Entering into the Merchandise area a sign warned that...

Limit of 2 of each item per guest (1 item for limited edition merchandise)

Cars Land Shirts:The Cars Land T-shirts range in price from $19.95-49.95. Most of it is very well done and in the classic Disney attraction poster design style.

Caps, $19.95


The back of the Ramone's shirt.

Leather jacket is a whopping $380.95

Posters:The posters are all 39.95 each


Cars Land Misc.:

Coins and Pins:

Monorail Vinylmation:

Disney California Adventure Merchandise:The Disney California Adventure Merchandise on display is going to be available by this weekend. It's actually pretty nice stuff.

While there were about 200 people waiting in line for the opening, the crowds quickly dissipated. But most of this stuff will be in the stores soon enough, so there is plenty of time to buy, buy, buy.

The registers

Knott's has been undergoing a renovation project as well. Let's take a look.

On Sunday, April 8 (from 9am until 4pm), Knott’s chefs will be preparing a buffet for guests that will have something for every member of the family.

The Knott’s Easter Brunch will include a breakfast station featuring made to order omelets, Belgium waffles, and cheese blintzes with Boysenberry sauce. The carving station will be presenting roasted turkey, honey glazed ham, and prime rib carved to order. Hot buffet items will include filet of salmon, sweet hickory pork ribs, old fashioned apple stuffing, cheese enchiladas, vegetarian lasagna and of course, Mrs. Knott’s famous fried chicken. Knott’s Easter Brunch also includes unlimited champagne.

Guests to Knott’s Easter Brunch can choose their location
– Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant
- Spurs Chophouse
- Wilderness Dance Hall

Knott’s Easter Brunch prices are $29.95 for Adults, $22.95 for Seniors (65+) and $16.95 for Children (3-11).

Book your reservation early by calling (714) 220-5055. Brunch guests will also be able to purchase an all-day park admission ticket for only $19.99 per person.

The landscaping project has finished in Knott's Marketplace that removed parking in favor of a more garden-like atmosphere.

Inside Knott's, things are still steadily improving, although the oddball music still prevails.

Market Street has finally reopened (after street resurfacing) and looks simply wonderful.

Ghost Town Playlist:
As mentioned before, the music played throughout the park is upbeat and fun and works well enough in many sections. However, it seems horribly out of place in Ghost Town. It should be noted that they are playing kids music in Camp Snoopy. So, why won't they play appropriate western music in Ghost Town?

Here is a list of the strange musical choices we heard while inside Ghost Town this week. We were only in there for a little bit but here is what we heard.

  1. Hole Hearted - Extreme
  2. Where Did Our Love Go? - Donnie Elbert
  3. It's Still Rock and Roll to me - Billy Joel
  4. Are you Gonna be my Girl - Jet

The Mystery Lodge got its lagoon back and it looks wonderful. the area has been cleaned up and cleared of underbrush and is in perfect shape.

During our visit we took a ride on Perilous Plunge only to find that they are running one boat, and not at full capacity. Apparently, they are not using the back row of the boat. Hopefully they will address this in the upcoming refurb.

The postal service has returned to Camp Snoopy as Woodstock's Airmail has returned from refurbishment.

Lastly, the gift shop building near the exit shop appears to be on its way out. This past Saturday the shop was shuttered and cleaned out of all merchandise. By mid-week, construction walls surrounded it.

We now venture to the former San Diego Wild Animal park now called the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The park recently hit on some very tough financial straights and had to act fast. They did so by completely rebranding themselves as an up charge experience park.

Admission into the park is as follows:

Adults • $42
Children 3-11 • $32

Admission into the park allows you entry, and unlimited use of the tram. But if you want to do anything else here are the prices.

If you don't want to wait in line at the tram, that'll cost $18

The up charge experience ticket booth.

Thankfully, the Butterfly Jungle exhibit is free, but you do have to get a ticket that is much like a fast pass to return at a specific time. The system really seems to work, but they let a huge amount of people at a time into the exhibit. Seeing as how this is one of the only free activities in the park, it is understandable that it would be crowded.

The exhibit is a joy to walk through and, if you take your time, you could have a few butterflies even come say hello.

Despite all of the other up charge experiences there is still plenty to take in at the park.

Meandering paths for quite walks.

The tram affords great views of some of the animals.

A sign indicates that there is a new tiger exhibit on the way.

We were able to get a look at the 2/3 mile zip line experience. Is this really worth the $112 price tag?

Does anyone else miss this park the way it was when it was still the "Wild Animal Park"? Remember the quite hour long monorail ride which would take you around the giant animal enclosures? When that closed, the park really lost its identity. Today, there is a tram ride (which belches fumes behind a loud tractor) that traverses only half of the old Monorail route.

It's been a while since we've taken a look around Magic Mountain. There have been a couple of positive changes in the way of the in-park food. The park is also hard at work on Lex Luthor Drop of Doom, getting it ready for a Summer opening.

Most of the work presently being done on LL: DOD is backstage, but we still have a few things to show you.

Behind the walls, crews are hard at work getting the ride and queue area open. Here the former Guest Necessity Center is being converted into a themed gift shop.

A peek to the side, they aren't leaving much but the building frame.

You can scan this picture to see a Virtual Ride Through of LL: DOD

Not much going on with the actual tower at this time. The Drop of Doom will be clamped on to the side of the existing Superman tower.

The nearby Food Etc. has has fully reopened after it's recent freshening up. The outside now has a wrap-around displaying all the food available at the food court.

The inside seating area has been freshly painted

This is one of the locations in the park where you can now get a Slurpee

Speaking of new food in the park, the Johnny Rockets Fries stand near Apocalypse is now selling chicken.

The new Menu

The Shakes and Fries restaurant near the front of the park is reportedly selling Dole Whips now (Pineapple and Mango). Unfortunately, the location was closed during our visit. Hopefully we'll be able to try them out on our next visit.

The Bacon/Maple Funnel cake is available until 1:00 every day. Sounds like a yummy breakfast (until your first heart attack).

The park is currently promoting the new "The Three Stooges" movie.

The biggest promotional area is Colossus, which has been temporarily renamed. Good grief!

The trains have also received "wraps" for the promotion

In the parking lot there is a huge poster, I personally like the Spider that's usually here for Fright Fest better

Tidal Wave is back open from it's off-season refurb.

The Metro monorail track continues to be removed. The entire Metro Building that is across from Log Jammer is gone and the area is blocked off.

On the backside of the Mountain, there is no Metro track to be seen. The tunnel is now completely empty.

They have done quite a bit of clearing for whatever they are planning.

The only portion of Metro Track left goes from the old Colossus Fair Metro Station.

To the other side of Bugs Bunny World

Jet Stream is still closed for it's winter rehab.

Looks like they were doing some Electrical work around the ride

The signs for Thrill Shot have been removed from the sales booth

And last but certainly not least, the entire parking lot has been resurfaced and repainted. This is something that was LONG overdue.

It's that time of year again gang! Bubblefest returns to the Discovery Science Center and runs from this Saturday, March 31st to April 22nd.

Leading the excitement this year is Deni Yang and the Mega Bubblefest Laser Show featuring a high-tech combination of art and science using bubbles, lights, special effects and lasers. This is a $7 up charge.

Bubblefest, the Science Center’s most popular annual event, is designed to help visitors appreciate and understand the scientific principles and mathematics of bubbles, and to let them explore the world of bubbles in a fun, hands-on environment. At the science learning stations, guests can create a bubble mini-wall, bubble domes and much more, while learning about math and science principles like surface tension, elasticity, air pressure, and geometry.

This year’s Bubblefest will be the biggest and most impressive outdoor festival in the Center’s history! With an inflatable play zone, water spheres, and interactive science zones, Bubblefest is truly fun for the entire family. “Me in a Bubble”* offers the opportunity for guests to step inside a giant bubble and have their picture taken. We will have a full report for you next week.

The Downtown Anaheim Certified Farmers’ 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 Lou’s 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 farmers’ market at Lemon Street and Center Street Promenade. For more information about certified farmers’ 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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Call: 1(800)854-6767 to book your stay today!

We'd like to extend a huge thanks to today's contributors: SirClinksalot, 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 03-30-2012 at 12:35 AM by Dustysage



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  1. Trevor's Avatar
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    Good stuff. Love the GREAT Knott's Pictures.
  2. Emmanuel_4's Avatar
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    Great Update!!!!
  3. mratigan's Avatar
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    I love the trash cans I saw them inside of stage 17 on Wednesday
    Great Update
  4. jcruise86's Avatar
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    Love the photos of the zebra standing on the other zebra's back,
    and of the eagle guarding his sleeping bunny buddy. Awww! Shhhhh!

    And three annoyances:
    1. The too-bright, garish (fluorescent, pinkish red?)
    color that trims the Carnation Cafe. Did that color exist 102 years ago?

    2. I think some of the T-Party costumes are
    cool & creative, but others try too hard, which seems a tad desperate and pathetic.

    3. Nothing kills the mood of the old West like Billy Joel's "It's Still Rock 'n' Roll To Me." I sent letters in, which were ignored, but thanks for keeping up this fight. I love Knott's, but this is one reason why it ain't Disneyland.

    Thank you for another excellent update! I'm grateful that you visit many S. Cal. parks and make us look forward to new stuff at Disneyland!

    Updated 03-30-2012 at 04:17 AM by jcruise86
  5. Susan Hughes's Avatar
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    The best time to get a sneak peek inside Buena Vista Street is to show up at the entrance plaza around 6;30 to 7:00am. They almost always have a section of the construction barricade open to bring in equipment and stuff. I saw some beautiful tile work on the buildings and cement benches next to the trolley stop. It's still a mess in there, but you can start to see it taking shape.
  6. jaxbistro's Avatar
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    Fantastic once again!

    Hole Hearted or any Extreme song should never be played on any soundtrack.

    Could someone swipe one of the name tags from the displays for me? Thanks.

    Love the animal pics...I miss Lion Country Safari, and soon I will miss Irvine Meadows tremendously. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for an Oingo Boingo reunion on Halloween night for one last go-round!!!
  7. skoolpsyk's Avatar
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    I hope every time you visit Knott's you file a complaint with guest services about the music!
  8. TCadillac's Avatar
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    Great update! Curly's Colossus ..... that just ain't right. Hopefully I win Mega Millions today so I can visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Those prices are outrageous.
  9. MrTour's Avatar
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    I hope every time you visit Knott's you file a complaint with guest services about the music!
    I love this idea!

    Also love that the tile roof finally went up on the Carthay!
  10. cellarhound's Avatar
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    OK, it is official. As much as I appreciate those who worked on it. I vehemently despise the Mad T Party. Thank you, Disney, for changing the retro 80's cool family friendly TRON theme into a drug induced rave. Just wait for the complaints.
  11. DisneyDrums's Avatar
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    Awesome report, you guys! I'm getting really excited to go back to Disneyland!!!!!
  12. Dustysage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cellarhound
    OK, it is official. As much as I appreciate those who worked on it. I vehemently despise the Mad T Party. Thank you, Disney, for changing the retro 80's cool family friendly TRON theme into a drug induced rave. Just wait for the complaints.
    I feel the same way. I appreciate the effort that has obviously gone into this, and I actually like the idea of an Alice in Wonderland party, but the gang-inspired look they came up with is inappropriate for Disney. When Disney tries to do "Hip and edgy" they nearly always fail. But when they riff on their classic themes, it's almost always a success. With some costume adjustments, I think they can still make the Alice party look right.

    I don't think they need to wait for the complaints to start rolling in, the disdain for these costumes is nearly universal. If they act quickly, they still have time to adjust these costumes (and make them more like the film).

    Mad T Party has some unfortunate drug references built into the name and gang inspired costuming. That needs to be corrected. Keep it all upbeat and friendly to a wider Disney demographic.

    It should be noted that we aren't complaining because we are trying to take pot shots at Disney. To the contrary, we want to see this succeed. But we think they'll need to make some changes to make that happen.

    There will be a LOT of attention on DCA as Cars Land opens. Why give the media a hook for a negative story (like a drug/gang inspired dance party) when there is so much else in the park you want folks to notice (like Cars Land, Buena Vista Street and the major cosmetic changes to the park).
  13. Sparky's Avatar
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    >>And three annoyances:
    1. The too-bright, garish (fluorescent, pinkish red?)
    color that trims the Carnation Cafe. Did that color exist 102 years ago?<<

    It's very close to, if not the same, color that facade had in the years before Blue Ribbon Bakery moved into that space. Do a search for pictures of the old Carnation Cafe.
  14. Tinkbelle's Avatar
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    Carsland CM's in jeans? Is this a first?

    I know performers like 49ers and Billy Hill and Hillbillies wear jeans, but I can't think of any ride operators that do.
  15. MickeyO's Avatar
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    Everything looks great except Mad T Party.
  16. cablubber's Avatar
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    Nice update! Still not happy about Mad T Party though. Anyways, thanks!
  17. popcorn's Avatar
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    Thanks for yet another great (as always!) update. Since I live in San Diego, I wanted to offer a bit more info about the San Diego Zoo's sister park, the Safari Park, near Escondido (roughly 45 min. north of the San Diego Zoo)...the butterfly jungle exhibit IS new and IS amazing...I wanted to clarify for us fans here though that this is not the regular "new" as in the usual "permanent" exhibit...this is a spring time exhibit every year in that park and it will be over in mid April (I believe the 15th)...I just didnt want anyone to be disappointed if they drive there for that and its not there anymore for this year! And yes, I do sorely miss the grounded monorail tram that USED to be there (It was called, I believe, the Wgasa Bush Railway). If I remember right from back in the day, the reason the Wgasa Railway had to go away when the overseas company that had built the railway back when the park opened had since gone out of they couldnt fix it or something. Truly sad. Funny that someone wrote about if they won the lottery how they'd visit that park lol...I had actually been thinking if I won that I would love to make a huge donation to that park and get a new monorail built like the old days with a new company...surely it could be done with enough funds! The upcharge thing is kind of embarrassing....the only thing that helps me stomach it more is that both the zoo's park are non-profit. What I would suggest, for those that live in so-cal or are going to be visiting the area long enough, is to do what many people do when they visit Disneyland long enough and go ahead and buy an AP to save can buy a San diego Zoo membership which includes admissions to both the Zoo AND the Safari Park, and would be WAY cheaper than even the cheapest DL AP. It would not include the Safari Park's parking (zoo parking is always free for everyone though) or obviously the upcharge things, but the basic entrance fees for both and the tram for the safari park may well be a good option for a lot of people! I hope this helps!
  18. jcruise86's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tinkbelle
    Carsland CM's in jeans? Is this a first?

    I know performers like 49ers and Billy Hill and Hillbillies wear jeans, but I can't think of any ride operators that do.
    In 1983 we wore jeans provided by the park when I worked on The Submarine Voyage.
  19. jcruise86's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparky
    >>And three annoyances:
    1. The too-bright, garish (fluorescent, pinkish red?)
    color that trims the Carnation Cafe. Did that color exist 102 years ago?<<

    It's very close to, if not the same, color that facade had in the years before Blue Ribbon Bakery moved into that space. Do a search for pictures of the old Carnation Cafe.
    Sparky, thanks for the opinion, but I just found a couple of photos that each showed a part of the cafe, and I didn't see any obnoxious, hideously out-of-place pinkish reds like the grotesque color they are now adding. Here's an "old" photo in which the CC has some tasteful, reddish-brown paint:
  20. TodAZ1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tinkbelle
    Carsland CM's in jeans? Is this a first?

    I know performers like 49ers and Billy Hill and Hillbillies wear jeans, but I can't think of any ride operators that do.
    Didn't the origianl Submarine Voyage CM's wear jeans?
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