Tag Archives: Disneyland

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Reopens at Disneyland

Thunder Mountain Railroad - The LA Times

Only at Disneyland would they tear down an old and dilapidated gold mining town in order to build a new and identical gold mining town and make it look old and dilapidated again.

“The goal was to bring it back to exactly the way it was,” said David Smith of Disneyland’s facilities and maintenance department, which oversaw the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster rehabilitation project.

The “wildest ride in the wilderness” is expected to reopen to the general public on March 17 after a 14-month rehabilitation, the most extensive overhaul since the ride opened in 1979.

Except for one key scene, the ride won’t look any different to the casual observer — and that’s the point.

So much of the Disneyland experience is about passing along generational experiences — parents and grandparents reliving their childhood memories with their offspring. To that end, Disneyland set out to make the refreshed ride look and feel exactly like it did for every one of the 225 million passengers who rode it over the past 35 years.

While the coaster follows the same route about three-quarters of the track has been replaced, with only the three lift hills and the maintenance spur unmodified. The new train bodies look virtually identical to the originals with an updated chassis underneath.

Throughout the attraction, the Bryce Canyon-inspired buttes have been repainted, the audio system has been refined and the animatronic animals have been reengineered. Even the Rainbow Ridge gold mining town at the end of the ride has been rebuilt from the ground up.

Brady MacDonald, a writer for The Los Angeles Times, rode the refreshed Big Thunder coaster this past weekend during employee previews and found the experience to be just as he remembered it with all the off-your-seat whoop-de-dos and come-over-dear seat-sliding turns still delivering the family-friendly thrills he loved for decades.

The track is still a bit tight and will take a while to break in, making the ride seem slightly faster than it used to be (although Mr. MacDonald was told it remains the same 28 mph). It’s definitely a smoother and quieter ride, making it easier to hear the enhanced audio effects you might have missed before (assuming you’re not riding with a train full of hooting and hollering cast members).

The first lift hill has an updated animatronic flying bat scene that recalls the dancing ghosts in the Haunted Mansion dining room. The stalactites and stalagmites that follow feature new paint and lighting that make the cavern glow with a rainbow of colors.

Along the way you’ll find all your favorite animatronic creatures right where you remember them — from the howling coyotes and dangling possums to the tail-rattling snakes and neck-swaying turtles. Everybody’s favorite dynamite-gnawing goat now sets up the payoff in the new explosive finale.

The new and improved third lift hill, which once quivered with quaking rocks, now features a series of “Danger – Keep Out – Blast Area” warnings that portend a combustible climax. As the train climbs the lift hill, a trail of fuses race up the walls toward a cluster of dynamite as steam blasts from cracks in the cavern. At the top of the lift a mix of sound, lighting and fog effects create the illusion of a tremendous explosion that envelops riders. Mr. MacDonald recommends sitting toward the rear of the train to get the best view of the special effects.

The Big Thunder refurbishment and the addition of the Captain America meet-and-greet at Innoventions mark this summer’s only major additions at Disneyland. Save for the possibility of a new parade and some spiffing up of old favorites, expect next summer to be equally light on new attractions with the park’s 60th anniversary on the calendar.

That leaves fans wondering and waiting for the next major expansion at Disneyland,  which could be another update to Tomorrowland with a Star Wars or Marvel overlay and a much-needed refresh for the 1977 Space Mountain indoor roller coaster.

Until then, we welcome back the beloved Big Thunder Mountain in all its old and faded glory.

YouTube Video

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad



1] Brady MacDonald, Review: What’s old is old again for Disneyland’s Big Thunder Mountain, The Los Angeles Times, March 11, 2014, http://www.latimes.com/travel/deals/themeparks/la-trb-disneyland-big-thunder-mountain-review-20140310,0,1376848.story#axzz2vleWVtOI.

[2]  Anthony Hays, Disney News Round Up: Big Thunder Walls are down and more!, Micechat.com, March 12, 2014, http://micechat.com/60623-disney-news-round-big-thunder-walls/.

Disney D23 Expo Highlights – Part 1

Welcome to D23 Expo

Source: micechat.com

Guests approaching the convention center were greeted by the huge Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s Waffle-inator which was home to the Phineas and Ferb Waffle-inator Challenge game.

D23 Expo Show Floor

The D23 Expo show floor featured booths and pavilions from just about every corner of the Walt Disney Company. Here are a few photos from around the show floor.

The Walt Disney Animation Studios pavilion was small but previewed and teased upcoming films including “Frozen,” “Big Hero 6″ and the new “Get a Horse!” Mickey Mouse short

The new “Get A Horse!” short was shown in its entirety for Expo attendees during the Disney Animation arena presentation and it was a delight. It will be shown before “Frozen” in theaters this winter.

Disney Interactive’s pavilion let guests get hands-on playtime with the new Disney Infinity, Fantasia, Resmatered Duck Tales and Mickey’s Castle of Illusion.

The Steamboat Willie Redux display showcased fan art celebrating the classic Mickey Mouse cartoon.

The “Tomorrowland” pavilion was unveiled on Saturday, a culmination of Disney’s “The Optimist” alternate reality game.

Unfortunately, photography of the pavilion was limited.

Classic Disneyland ride vehicles were on display:

A selection of the larger items from the D23 Expo Silent Auction were also on display:

Matterhorn Bobsleds signed by Disney Legend Bob Gurr!

Tomorrow: Part 2

Remembering Annette Funicello

Annette Funicello was discovered by Walt Disney himself while attending an amateur program at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank when she was just 13 years old. That single meeting led to one of the most enduring associations in show business history.

Earlier today, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said, “Annette was and always will be a cherished member of the Disney family, synonymous with the word Mouseketeer, and a true Disney Legend. She will forever hold a place in our hearts as one of Walt Disney’s brightest stars, delighting an entire generation of baby boomers with her jubilant personality and endless talent. Annette was well-known for being as beautiful inside as she was on the outside, and she faced her physical challenges with dignity, bravery and grace. All of us at Disney join with family, friends, and fans around the world in celebrating her extraordinary life.”

The Mickey Mouse Club made its television debut on the opening day of Disneyland park, July 17, 1955. During countless appearances in the years that followed, Annette, now a television star, also became a familiar face at Disneyland park. In fact, some of the earliest pictures in our photo archive are of her.

Here are some favorite photos of Annette through the years and we are pleased to share them with you as we remember this very special lady who was so dear to so many. [SOURCE]


Where it all began, July 17, 1955, at Disneyland park.


In 1958, Annette welcomed Princess Sophia from Greece.


That same year, this publicity photo for a new record was taken at Disneyland park.


Here is another publicity photo, taken perhaps for “Tall Paul.”


Annette always had time for her fans.


Annette has a “Date Nite” at Disneyland park in November 1959.


Annette channels Peter Pan at Skull Rock in 1961.


This very rare photo of Annette in Town Square at Disneyland park was taken to promote a potential TV special, which was unfortunately never produced.


In 1968, Annette reunited with her fellow Mouseketeers for a special appearance at Disneyland park.


Annette returned with her family in the 1970s.


Annette met two Disney Princesses during her 1993 visit.


The final photo of Annette in our archive was taken in 1996 alongside her longtime co-star, Frankie Avalon, during a special cavalcade on Main Street, U.S.A.

Every photo of this Disney Legend seems to capture her grace, her talent, her warmth and her kindness – all the qualities which make it easy to understand what caught the eye of Walt Disney during that amateur program nearly six decades ago.

Halloween Time 2012 at Disneyland

Source: Micechat.com

Hazel George Autographed Card – Walt Disney

This is something I saw on Phil Sears Web site today. Phil is known thorughout the Disney community for selling rare and unique Disneyana items.

As the Walt Disney Studio nurse, Hazel George was among Walt’s most trusted friends at the studio for several decades.  At the end of most work days, she would be called to Walt’s office to provide Walt with a neck massage as he sipped his nightly scotch mist that had been prepared by a member of his secretarial staff.  Few people on earth, aside from Walt’s own family, demonstrated such loyalty and candor when working with him. Author Bob Thomas credited Hazel with unlocking the true story of Walt’s personality in his day to day operations at the studio. Hazel was also a talented songwriter for the Disney Studio (as “Gil George”); writing many songs for the 1950’s Mickey Mouse Club television show. In addition, she penned the lyrics for “OLD YELLER” starring Fess Parker, Tommy Kirk, and Kevin Corcoran.

This 3.5″ x 2″ wallet card for the Songwriters Guild is personally autographed by Hazel George.  The card has water stains; otherwise fine.  A very rare autograph of woman whose name appears in almost every Walt Disney biography.

Source: philsears.com

Man arrested after alleged ‘fight’ in front of Disney ride

By NBC News and msnbc.com staff

A man was arrested over the weekend after allegedly attacking workers in front of the Tower of Terror ride at Disney’s California Adventure Park in Anaheim.

In a YouTube video of the encounter, the man is seen flailing at a security employee and struggling to keep his balance outside the ride. Another employee, dressed in the Tower of Terror bellhop uniform, can be seen asking the crowd to “back up.”

A woman is heard in the video shouting, “You’re in Disneyland …  there are kids here.” It was posted on the video sharing site with a caption that reads, “We had a weird day at Disneyland…Fiiiiight!!!”

Police responded to the park at about 3:30 p.m. Saturday to find patrons holding the man down on the ground, NBCLosAngeles.com reported.

The suspect was identified as 53-year-old Glenn Horlacher. He was arrested on charges of battery and assault, and released from jail Saturday night, according to NBCLosAngeles.com.

A security guard was treated for minor injuries.

“Our security cast member was taken to a local hospital, where he was treated for the injuries he sustained and then released,” according to a statement released by the park on Monday. “We appreciate the actions of the guests who came to his aid during this uncharacteristic incident.”

Investigators were attempting to determine what prompted the altercation, which park officials described as a “very unusual occurrence.”

Park officials would not, however, quantify how often park visitors are arrested or detained.

Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown told msnbc.com on Tuesday that there were no plans to change security procedures at the park as a result of the incident, which she said was still under review.

Christmas at Disneyland’s Toontown

Source: Micechat.com

In Mickey’s Toontown, new holiday decorations have rolled out.  Interestingly, Disney has promoted the new decorations as if the holidays are new for Toontown.  In fact, at the Christmas Day Parade Taping on Saturday, the emcee announced to the crowd that Toontown would be decorated for the “first time ever.”

The reality of the situation is that Toontown has been decked out for the holidays for years now, with clever decorations specific to the various storefronts and facades throughout the land.  Disney made a point to specifically mention the new Christmas trees in Toontown in its annual press release this year:

Nearby, in Mickey’s Toontown, the centerpiece of the new holiday décor is an 18-foot cartoon-style Christmas tree in front of Toontown City Hall. Sculpted garlands and wreaths adorn the Toontown gazebo and add holiday cheer to the Gag Warehouse. The personal  Christmas trees in the front yards of Mickey’s and Minnie’s houses also carry the “toon” theme.

The new trees are actually not new at all.  Christmas trees have routinely been put up in front of Toontown’s City Hall and Mickey and Minnie’s houses, and while these  trees are new for Disneyland, they aren’t new for Disney theme park guests.

These new trees are from Walt Disney World​’s now-defunct Mickey’s Toontown Fair, which has since closed to make way for the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland expansion.  It’s interesting that Disney has done away with Toontown’s old Christmas trees to bring in old decorations from Florida and is now marketing them as all-new offerings.

These new plasticky “toon” trees aren’t really the greatest, but they aren’t terrible.  They’re also not necessarily as good (or as big) as the themed Christmas trees used in Toontown in previous years.

Getting the Haunted Mansion Ready for Halloween at Disneyland

It’s A Small World Christmas at Disneyland

Disneyland’s Version of Black Friday

For those of you who waiting in long lines for Black Friday, here is Disneyland’s Black Friday.

A couple of nice views from the park.

Source: micechat.com, Fishbulb