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In the Parks

News from Disneyland, DCA, Knott's, Magic Mountain, and SeaWorld

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by , 04-26-2012 at 09:16 PM


There is a ton of news and information from the Southern California Parks this week. Disney California Adventure's Cars Land is nearly ready to go and the Matterhorn should begin vehicle testing soon in Disneyland. We also have news that Magic Mountain's Drop of Doom is progressing nicely and SeaWorld's Manta coaster has begun testing as well. And we don't forget Knott's either, with their epic turn around of the lovely park. All this plus your last chance to get tickets to the MiceChat Gumball Rally. We'd better get this show on the road, there's a lot to cover today . . .



Final chance to register for Gumball Rally!


This year's event is nearly sold out. We were able to add a few more spots, but we expect to close registration shortly.

The MiceChat Gumball Rally is a race to find out who can ride the most attractions at Disneyland in a single day. It's a fantastic event for Disney fans of any age and a great way to spend a day in the park with friends and family. 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: $29.99 per person
How Do I sign up?: MiceChat Events Store Gumball Rally Sign Up
How Does the Rally Work?: Rally Information Page




Even if you aren't competing in the Rally, there are a couple of Rally related events that you are welcome to join:

May 18th Pasta Party - shoot the breeze and listen to the Rally teams as they attempt to psych each other out the night before the big race. It's a fun and inexpensive meal. You can sign up in the MiceChat Store HERE.

May 20th MiceChat Mega Meet, Noon at the Walt and Mickey statue in Disneyland - Find out who won the Rally, chit chat, and you might just be the winner of a prize just for showing up! After the meet, we'll head off for lunch and then ride a couple of attractions together. It's a lovely way to spend a few hours (stay for as much or little as you'd like). No cost and no need to sign up. Just show up at noon on the 20th.

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.


Tickets for this year's event will likely sell out in the next few days, so don't delay, get your teams together and sign up today! RALLY SIGN UP HERE





MATTERHORN:
The Matterhorn is beginning to look like its old self again. That's a good thing. Crews are trimming up the final bits of work, and the scaffolds have receded to the lowest areas of the mountain. Crews can be spotted working on the mountain at all hours. They have also begun installing the new bobsleds on to the track. Many of them can be seen parked out in front of the loading area, covered in plastic.



At least one bridge was rebuilt. It looks like changes were made for OSHA or ADA compliance. But at least the job was well done and well themed.




Although each sled seats one fewer person in this configuration, the ride rarely dispatched with two people in each seat. Checking seat belts on dual riders was a difficult task for castmembers. This new configuration will allow for faster loading and should actually increase ride capacity. Not as romantic, but certainly safer and better for overall ride operation.










BUENA VISTA STREET:
Here we are with just a little over a month to go and Buena Vista Street is coming right down to the wire for the big grand re-opening of the park. It was reported by Al Lutz earlier this week that the construction is around one week behind schedule.

The area will most likely look just fine (on the outside) in time for June 15th, but you may find some of the shops incomplete on the inside. Of course, they got crews working around the clock, so they could still make the deadline, but this is going to be a photo finish.



Looking into DCA from the front gates




Looking towards the front gates of DCA





Looking towards the Carthay Circle Theater





Buena Vista Circle.
















SOARIN' AGAIN:
After a wild Southern California windstorm a couple of months ago, a sharp-eyed cast member noticed that the back-lit portion of the Soarin' Over California sign was precariously loose and could possibly fall and injure guests below. The sign was immediately removed from the metal frame, but was left in that condition for two months with neon exposed. We are happy to see the sign restored.



Better!



MAD T PARTY:
The replacement for ElecTRONica is already under construction. The Mad T Party, with its terribly unfortunate name ('T' being a street term for Crystal Meth), has gone vertical in the section of Hollywood Land behind the Hollywood Pictures Backlot arches.






Mmmmmm Gangy!








In front of Monsters Inc., on top of the old fountain, a stage is being erected.




HYPERION THEATRE:
Work continues on the exterior of the Hyperion theatre.




MONSTERS INC.:
Monsters Inc.: Mike and Sully to the rescue has come out from behind the scaffolds with a brand new, fresh paint job. It looks much better, aside from a few odd seams here and there.









Unfortunately, this was just a paint job. They didn't take the time to sand down the problem spots, like this clearly visible seam.



Even from a distance, you can see the horizontal seams which run across the entire facade. Doesn't look bad at a casual glance, but we are here enough to notice. Would still love to see this attraction get a new facade when the DCA Phase 2 project gets underway.

A BUG'S LAND:
The main entrance into Bug's Land is getting a few touch ups too.




CALIFORNIA SCREAMIN':
California Screamin' is getting a new canopy over the queue. Sadly, this attraction had been slated for a whole new Victorian themed queue at one point, but as budgets grew for other projects (like Cars Land), the Screamin' project got axed. We still have hope for the future. But the plain amusement park switch backs and simple overhead shade on Screamin' and Mickey's Fun Wheel, are the weak link in Paradise Pier.









No matter how much we may complain about the switchbacks, the new canopy material looks nice enough and will provide plenty of shade.


CARS LAND:
Cars Land is at just under two months away from official opening and we could not be more excited. The new Radiator Springs Racers will be the big draw for most people. However, Al Lutz reported in his most recent update that management will be doing everything they can to keep crowds from amassing in the area until it is time for them to ride. In an effort to curb the crowds within Cars Land, they are setting up a temporary Fast Pass station over near It's Tough to be a Bug.




The plan so far is that you will enter from the parade route here...


and get your FastPass for RSR here (where It's Tough To Be A Bug had its FastPass machines on opening day).






Radiator Springs is mostly complete. Mainly work on operational details going on right now.



















Al also tells us that Radiator Springs Racers is highly detailed (especially in the interior show scenes), but they are struggling to get all the effects in the attraction ready and working correctly in time for opening day.






ARIEL'S GROTO:
The restaurant will be going down for a brief refurbishment that will last from April 30th-May3rd. However, there will be a change coming to the dining packages available by mid-June. Dining packages for World of Color will stop being offered and instead, a new character dining dinner will become available.





SURVEY SAYS:
Upon arrival to Knott's Berry Farm this week, we were greeted by a friendly employee at the ticket booths. She asked what zip code we were visiting from. Knott's is beginning the guest survey thing now and on snazzy new iPads! This is a great sign of the park being eager to know more about their guests and about their visit.



SPURS CHOP HOUSE:
Work walls have appeared in front of Spurs Chop House as they do some work near the outdoor patio there.






WINDSEEKER:
Windseeker continues to remain closed. No official word on why.




THE TIMBER MOUNTAIN LOG RIDE:
It's the little things that delight us about Knott's. While The Timber Mountain Log Ride is our favorite Log Ride ever, it was missing a few of the old effects. Little by little they have been returning.




The sign was decorated for spring.

While everyone seems to casually offer a smile to engage riders, some unique, charming kindnesses surprise. Take for instance how the dispatchers at the Log ride take their time with each person. Eye contact, a smile, asking your preference of seating. These touches used to only be found at Disneyland.







Last time we told you about the return of the water wheel next to the lift hill.




Now we are happy to report that the water gag is back!

CAMP SNOOPY:
We really have to give Knott's Berry Farm commendation here. In Camp Snoopy, instead of offering the typical candy and sugary sodas, they are offering health alternatives like fruit and water.







Parents should be happy with this. It's sort of like the isles at the grocery store which don't have candy. You're kids can't reach for what they can't see. Little Billy wants a snack, throw him an apple.



It all looked really fresh too! But the best intentioned changes won't last if the public doesn't respond. So, don't forget to pick up a fruit cup on your next trip to Knott's (or just forget it and grab a funnel cake instead).



The entire land at Camp Snoopy is looking really nice.


Camp Snoopy Restrooms are still down for refurbishment.





GHOST TOWN:
As usual, we have our ghost town playlist to share with you this week. But we also noticed the Medicine man show going on this week and it was pretty charming.





The silly Snake oil salesman even made it rain.


Water effects up in the adjacent pepper tree sprayed the unsuspecting crowd to great effect.




The performers have always been a strong point at the farm.

Ghost Town Play list:
While covering the wonderfully themed Ghost Town we like to take note of the strange musical choices that are made to act as a mental background to accompany the surroundings. Do you think that this music fits Ghost Town?



Other than Lex Luthor Drop of Doom, not a whole lot going on at the park during it's slowest time of the year.

LEX LUTHOR: DROP OF DOOM:
The Queue Building and Entrance to the new thrill ride continues to take shape behind the walls.







Hopefully the rest of the building will get some work done and not just the front




The Exit Gift Shop is also under construction.




The Vinyl stick-up's that were previously on the wall were peeling off during our last visit due to rain and have been replaced with banners.




From the Goliath exit you can see the work being done just beneath the tower (in what will soon be the ride station)


This is how they are hoisting the workers and parts up the tower




All of the electrical equipment has been covered up, most likely due to rains we had this week.




The posts that will connect the new ride to the existing tower are starting to go up



Out in the parking lot, they have started assembling pieces to eventually be placed on the Tower.



Red and Blue track to match the tower


SKY TOWER MUSEUM:
We have some bad news to report, the Sky Tower museum has been closed and all of the artifacts have been removed. Even the museum sign outside the Sky Tower entrance is now gone.




Unfortunately, the Sky Tower was closed during our visit so we are unable to show you the empty observation deck. Hopefully this is only a temporary thing as this was really one of the "little things" the park did over the past few years that went along with everything positive that's been happening. Sure it wasn't the most popular thing, but once you start forgetting about the little things like this, you start having problems.

WEEKDAY CROWDS:
As we've told you over the past few years, weekdays in late April and early May are the absolute best times to go to the park. Sure, some of the rides may be running only 1 train, but with 100-150 cars in the parking lot nothing more is really needed.


At about 11:15am, this is how the Ninja station looked. WOW!




Cyclone Bay at around 11:30




Apocalypse: The Ride was also empty, but operational.




The games area around noon. This isn't at opening folks, this is the middle of the day.


Even Green Lantern was a walk-on




Take any row you'd like on Goliath




The entrance area of a major amusement park. You'd almost think the park was closed




Even Tatsu's line was to the top of the stairs.

If you are able to enjoy the park during a weekday for the next 3-4 weeks you can take advantage of these crowds (or lack thereof).


AROUND THE PARK:
The Shakes and Fries stand near the old Log Jammer site finally received a new name. Now if only the location was ever open during our visits so we could enjoy a Mango or Pineapple Dole Whip.







The park sent out a Survey last week that indicated the new ride (rumored to be called "Full Throttle") would be accompanied by a restaurant and a re-theme of the surrounding area. If the new ride is indeed going in the old Log Jammer spot, could this also mean a re-theme of Mooseburger Lodge?




Speaking of the old Log Jammer spot, nothing has really changed since our last update.

Well, that is if you don't count the geese chilling out




GOOSE!!!




Welcome back to SeaWorld San Diego. The busy crowds have died down a bit, as SeaWorld preps for the next seasonal event.




VIVA LA MUSICA PREPARATIONS:

Viva La Musica will be getting underway next weekend, and we will have full coverage in two weeks.








Some buildings and a giant poster have been set up at Cirque Stadium. This is basically the only décor that has been set up at this time.




A giant poster has covered the Cirque De La Mer sign. I don’t know where the concerts will be held since that new trampoline set is being set up.

MANTA:
Manta is going full steam ahead to its grand opening in just about a month!







The rockwork has been completed and the touch pool has been filled.




One thing that we like most is how they are creating the attraction entrance. To enter, guests will travel underground by entering under the rock. Then, guests will decide if they want to ride MANTA, or visit the aquarium. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!



Here is a shot of the touch pool and walk way being constructed.


I’m quite curious to see how the landscaping will look in this area. It looks quite dull right now, but hopefully, we’ll be seeing some trees soon.


SeaWorld has begun ride testing this week. Here is a look at the ride vehicle arriving at the queue.


Here’s a look at the exit/loading buildings and workers on the roof.


SeaWorld has also completed the 270-degree dome, which is where guests will begin their journey. Yep, this ride is going to be much more than just a plain old coaster.



Fencing has been removed at the back side of Manta. Palm trees and plants have also been planted.


New signs have been put up – which are quite corny – telling guests to stay off the dirt. Manny Ray? Really SeaWorld?


SeaWorld has also remodeled the flamingo lagoon. Yes folks, the stinky pink birds will return.



CIRQUE CONSTRUCTION:
Acrobats are rehearsing for the new trampoline sequence during this year’s Cirque. The trampoline wall itself is also coming along.






In our next SeaWorld update…
We count down to Manta, experience Viva La Musica, and take a looksie around Wild Arctic.

Turtle Trek 4D Orlando:
Turtle Trek has opened today at SeaWorld Orlando. Make sure to check out Orlando Parkhopper’s update on Tuesday!





And don't forget to take in the latest from the MiceTube. A brand new Communicore weekly has been published for your entertainment.




If you like what you see, please visit our Youtube page: MiceChat - YouTube and click the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of the page





AND MiceChat has a brand new monthly PodCast for you that's now in iTunes: MiceChat Podcast on iTunes or we have an RSS feed if you'd rather use that: MiceChat Podcast RSS

This week, Al Lutz, Doug Barnes, Dustysage and Fishbulb discuss Cars Land, Transformers and the epic fight for your tourist dollars this summer.



Today's In The Parks Update Has Been Brought To You By . . .




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We'd like to extend a huge thanks to today's contributors: JP, 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 In The Parks . . .



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Updated 04-27-2012 at 01:20 PM by Fishbulb

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  1. napamaninsocal's Avatar
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    I was at Sea World on Tuesday and went on the Sky Ride, it looked like they were building a stage on a barge for the Viva la Musica festival.
  2. Emmanuel_4's Avatar
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    Great Update!!!!
  3. mratigan's Avatar
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    Thanks
  4. Susan Hughes's Avatar
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    Glad to see the Soarin Over California sign is fixed. Many people kept complaining about how long it took for repairs. Keep in mind that the artwork isn't something that's cookie cutter stamped out on an assembly line. An artist had to recreate it. This isn't WDW where repairs are neglected in order to save money. This is The Disneyland Resort. They would never neglect needed repairs.
  5. WheresMickey's Avatar
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    Great update!
  6. Dustysage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Susan Hughes
    Glad to see the Soarin Over California sign is fixed. Many people kept complaining about how long it took for repairs. Keep in mind that the artwork isn't something that's cookie cutter stamped out on an assembly line. An artist had to recreate it. This isn't WDW where repairs are neglected in order to save money. This is The Disneyland Resort. They would never neglect needed repairs.
    I think you are right Susan. We know Disneyland management gets it and really tries to keep things in tip top shape. But it was odd for them to leave the broken sign exposed like that for so long. They could have easily printed out a temporary insert or something to cover that spot while the artists were working, but for some reason they didn't.

    When we pick over tiny details like this, it should be taken in that context . . . Tiny.

    There is very little that goes wrong at Disneyland these days. The same can not be said for Disney World Managment. They really need to clone George and team and send them to WDW. Wouldn't take long for them to fix things up.
  7. jcruise86's Avatar
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    Thank you for another most excellent update!
    It's going to be a great summer for S. CA theme parks.
    We had a wonderful day at Universal (5 visits for $59 via a pass from Costco) on Sunday, particularly on the amazing new Transformers attraction.

    I hope Manta inspires 6 Flags M. Mtn. to build an impressive family coaster,
    like a plussed version of Knott's Jaguar, but with even more air time on a row of bunny hills, like the conclusion of Cedar Point's popular Magnum coaster.

    Thanks for the weekly Knott's Ghost Town playlist! I've asked this before, but, Raffi, do you think Disneyland's Main Street would be improved if recent pop tunes were played there all day?

    You wrote, "Al also tells us that Radiator Springs Racers is highly detailed (especially in the interior show scenes), but they are struggling to get all the effects in the attraction ready and working correctly in time for opening day." Since Universal got all those amazing and complex Tranformers effects done ahead of schedule, maybe their extraordinary artists could come over to DCA for a week or two to help prepare the effects on the RS Racers.
    Updated 04-27-2012 at 08:08 AM by jcruise86 (Typos)
  8. Wendygirl's Avatar
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    I'm so happy to hear about all these positive changes to Knotts. So much so in fact that today I am going to buy a Senior Pass! At one time several years ago I vowed to never set foot in the place again - it had gone so far downhill in my mind. I had been going to Knotts since the 1950's (as a child of course) and it broke my heart to see what Cedar Fair had done to the place. Now it's coming back and the price is right Thank you to the new management!!!
  9. TCadillac's Avatar
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    It looks like there is still a lot of work to complete for Manta, landscaping, load area, etc in one month. It still looks like a full on construction site.... very interesting.
  10. Barbossa's Avatar
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    The entrance area of a major amusement park. You'd almost think the park was closed
    Well if the park is closed... time to punch in the face of the moose and kidnap John Candy!



    Great update!
  11. sir clinksalot's Avatar
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    ^
  12. Grassy-B!'s Avatar
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    Hey, wait a minute... what's with the asphalt crews in Radiator Springs!!?? I thought Lightning McQueen did that work!
  13. LiTtLeMeRmAiD's Avatar
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    The Buena Vista area is looking so beautiful! It's hard to believe it used to be the gaudy, uninspiring neon theme the park opened with. I would love to see some side by side photo comparisons of then and now once the park has its re-opening kickoff.
  14. Dustysage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcruise86
    Thank you for another most excellent update!
    It's going to be a great summer for S. CA theme parks.
    We had a wonderful day at Universal (5 visits for $59 via a pass from Costco) on Sunday, particularly on the amazing new Transformers attraction.

    You wrote, "Al also tells us that Radiator Springs Racers is highly detailed (especially in the interior show scenes), but they are struggling to get all the effects in the attraction ready and working correctly in time for opening day." Since Universal got all those amazing and complex Tranformers effects done ahead of schedule, maybe their extraordinary artists could come over to DCA for a week or two to help prepare the effects on the RS Racers.
    So glad do hear that you loved Transformers. It really is an amazing attraction which theme park fans should make a point of experiencing for themselves. Really takes Universal up a few notches in the theme park scale.

    In defense of Disney's Radiator Springs Racers (RSR) crew, the attraction is very complex with lots of animatronics and effects. Universal had the luxury of cloning an attraction. RCR is entirely new and will have lots more bugs to work out as a result. I think they'll get it all done in time (or at least to the eye of the average person). But they'll be tweaking things for quite some time I'm sure (just like they are now doing on the Little Mermaid attraction). From the flood of info we've been getting on the attraction, it's going to be amazing.
  15. nunz's Avatar
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    Nice report.
    Too bad the set up for the Mad T Party looks like it's going to be as in your face and awful looking as the Tron garbage was.
  16. cablubber's Avatar
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    I thought I heard that the Mad T Party staging wasn't going to be visible during the day...hmm. I do think that it's not a very good name considering the fact that the "T" is a street name for crystal meth. That's not cool. Interesting to point out that not a whole lot of folks are particularly happy this new "dance party". I know not everyone shares my opinion about Mad T Party but hopefully it doesn't last. I know...I said it. But anyways, it's going to be great to see all the new additions this summer Lord willing. Thanks for the update!
  17. Timekeeper's Avatar
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    I think the absence or lack there of, is because many colleges are in Finals mode, which may account the lowered count of people.


    Timekeeper
  18. sir clinksalot's Avatar
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    I don't think you can necessarily call Transformers a "Clone".

    They did build the two attractions in Hollywood/Singapore simultaneously but I don't think you could call it a clone of Spiderman.
  19. clippers6's Avatar
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    I have never heard anyone refer to meth as T before, then again its not like I hang out with methheads. I have heard of it referred to as fairy dust or Tink dust before.
  20. aashee's Avatar
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    It's so nice looking forward to so many things in SoCal. thanks for the updates!
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