Good Friday to you, raining here in Southern California, lots of folks having very cold weather elsewhere, no matter where you live, here is hoping you are staying warm and dry. Heck, a "regular" weekend for a change, but if you are planning to head to the parks next weekend (Starting February 12th, President Lincoln's Birthday), be prepared for very busy theme/amusement parks due to the holidays and special events.

It's a LARGE Media World

In case you haven't heard, Disneyland is reopening a ride today they first installed in the park back in 1966, after premiering it at the New York World's Fair.

That's right, the reopening made the front page of Thursday's local newspaper in Orange County. But it was also covered nationwide in the Media, showing the power of Disney's Public Relations department.

Here is a link to the full story at the Orange County Register, including a great interactive graphic.

But then Disney has been trying to "spin" the story of the rides changes since MiceAge first reported the closure back in late 2007.

The ride has been in the news since Al Lutz reported the closure and the need to replace the boats and flume back in 2007. Even though Disney installed a brand new flume that is deeper than the original, and the fact they built new, lighter boats, Disney has claimed that the fact that the average American is 25 pounds heavier than back in the 60's had no bearing that the ride was renovated.

Disney's 'Small World' ride set to get supersized retrofit

And while it was not the only reason why the ride was closed, the majority of the budget went to the installation of the new flume and the new fleet of boats.

Yes, new lighting and sound system are great enhancements, and in the long term will save Disney money in lower energy costs. Plus the ride needed a major refurb, including painting and new costumes. Here is a interesting story from the LA Times regarding the new costumes for the dolls.

Disneyland costume designer dresses 300 Small World dolls - Travel -

A new musical recording was appropriate to match the new digital sound system, but not everyone would agree to the Disney Movie Soundtrack enhancements.

And many folks do have a problem with some of the new visual enhancements, including the new "Spirit of America" room.

Here is Al Lutz's comments about the changes from an AP story yesterday.

Fact meets fantasy in Disney 'Small World' remake - Yahoo! News

"Parents ... could take the kids on this ride and it wasn't so much about sales, it was about the images, the graphics, the dolls," said Al Lutz, a veteran Disney watcher who runs "It was a respite from the overwhelming commercial message that Disney can be sometimes."

Thursday hosted the a preview for Annual Passholders, and I had a chance to ride it after work yesterday. The following are my thoughts after riding the attraction a few times.

First off, the obvious pluses, the new lighting, sound system and boats. Many folks got a chance to see these improvements during the Christmas season, and they are very nice changes. Disney has been doing this to other attractions when they have an opportunity, and while Disney might have financial incentives to do this, they are also a great enhancement for the guests, as the technology has been greatly enhanced in the last few decades.

Alas, Disney seems to like to step away from some technology that they help design decades ago, including the original Mary Blair "small world" dolls that blinked and mouths move. Even before the attraction closed down for refurb, many of the moving dolls disappeared, to be replaced by static dolls, displays or just nothing. A few well known ones are the geese, which used to have 6 in the attraction (2 sets of 3) and now 2 sets of 2 to the Belly Dancers, which used to be on both sides of the Taj Mahal.

None of the new dolls installed feature blinking eyes and moving lips, in fact, most of the "Disney" characters do not look like the original Mary Blair dolls. The closest are Aladdin and Jasmine, but they are static.

This is clearly a maintenance/budget consideration, as the moving dolls need more maintenance and replacements than the static versions.

As for the addition of the Disney Characters and scene changes, well, some are better and fit in than others.

Peter Pan and Tinker Bell are a good example of fitting in and not changing the ride in a major way.

But on the other hand, it seems like they installed the new "Spirit of America" room just to feature Woody and Jessie. They are the main focus of the attraction and are much larger than the "kids" in the scene.

So did Disney "ruin" small world? The answer is no, and guests will line up and enjoy the attraction every day it is operating. But as someone who has been visiting on a regular basis since the 1960's, it is disappointing they didn't spend more effort trying to clean up and improve the original version for the 1960's with replacing some of the dolls that have been removed over the years and keeping to the theme of "world peace" and not a Disney commercial.

For example, they "snuck" in Stitch in the Holiday version of "iasw", where he was on the front of the surfboard, but fairly small. The current version is "in your face" and no way to miss him.

If I had to choose between the 2007 version of the attraction and the 2009 version, I would pick the 2007 version. Of course, that is just my opinion. And once again, IF you can ignore the Disney Characters, Disney did a great job on the restoration of the original stuff, plus the new lighting and sound system.

More reviews from various MiceChatters who attended the preview yesterday can be found HERE:

More "small world" photos can be found at my Smugmug site.

Darkbeer : photos : Disneyland Resort - 2/5/09- powered by SmugMug

Who needs a 2fer? Knott's offers a "Twogether" promo.

In honor of Valentine's Day, Knott's is offering Adults (aka Regular admission for those 48 inches and taller and under 62 years of age) a chance to get 2 tickets for $50, making it $25 each. (Must buy in quantities of 2). Of course, Juniors(ages 3 years and up, under 48") & Seniors(62+) are always $22.99.

Disneyland "small" news update

The Birthday Promo at Disneyland has overwhelmed the Ticket Booths, and now the average transaction at a window takes over twice as long compared to last year. This is due to the need to gather and verify Birthday information, and explaining the choices and trying to get guests to upgrade, plus the new Monthly Payments Southern California Annual Passholder Program. The Cast Members working the booths are working overtime and Double Shifts.

The Astro Orbitor looks like it might not make it to summer and will be removed. The decision is being based on the cost to maintain and fix the attraction (Similar to the Rocket Rods decision). That will leave Honey, I Shrunk the Audience as the only remain "new" attraction from the big 1998 Tomorrowland makeover. Hopefully they will remove the rocks at the same time!

MiceChat Disneyland Gumball Rally 3 Announced

The ever popular and fun Gumball Rally has been announced. If you haven't heard of this event, take a look at the thread below. This is the ultimate event for Disneyland fans:

Selected Photos from

Monorail Red has had additional "partial" windows installed. Monorail Blue continues to have all solid windows.

The Main Pedestrian Entrance on Harbor has been unwrapped and is now in Celebration mode.

Mickey is now earless over at DCA and California Screamin'

Rain or no rain, there is a deadline to make. More concrete for the support structures for the World of Color water fountains

Over near the Orange Stinger, they are installing the large water pipe that will be need for the new show.

Nothing like seeing bulldozers at DCA, as the former Golden State Amphitheater is disappearing.

Work is progressing at the Games of the Boardwalk area.

The back pathway of Grizzly River Run is still closed

The current three closed locations at Downtown Disney. Alas, it looks like a few more stores will be closing in the near future

Well, that should do for this week, hope everyone has a great weekend.

By the way, one personal note.... (Thanks to the Disney PhotoPass photographer for this photo).

She said YES!