Getting ready for Santa's visit? So are all of the Southern California theme parks. But Ol' St. Nick isn't the only VIP expected. Marry Poppins will soon be blowing into town as the Jolly Holiday Bakery readies for a practically perfect debut. We also have some good and bad news from Disneyland about upkeep, the weekly look at Cars Land and Buena Vista Street, and news that yet another store is leaving Downtown Disney. If that isn't enough for you, we also stroll through Universal Studios Hollywood for a check-up on Transformers.



Well it seems that another store is sailing away from Downtown Disney. Island Charters, the home of high-end casual wear is closing its doors. This store, that opened with Downtown Disney in January 2001, is yet another casualty in a string of long-time DTD retailers that couldn't survive. So, what is the problem? Is it the economy or is it that people just aren't in the market for boutique clothing and expensive knickknack after paying for a Disney vacation?





the model in the foreground, after markdown, is STILL over $500







Don't look for any Tommy Bahama here, it's all gone.


What sort of store do you think is just perfect for Downtown Disney and its mix of locals and tourists?


CATAL RESTAURANT:
On Christmas Eve things will be business as usual and the regular menu is offered. But Catal will be offering a special Christmas Day menu. View it here.


Here, at the merriest place on earth, the holidays bright. In fact, the Cast members were treated to their annual holiday event at the park this past Monday and Tuesday. Each guest was asked to bring one gift as a donation and after two nights the take was over 30,000 gifts for children in need. We want to thank all of the Cast Members for their generosity and for the magic they bring us year round. You are all amazing! Sadly, the Monday night event was all but rained out. An email went out to cast that they could use their Monday event tickets on Tuesday instead.


Toys for Tots tent on Tuesday.





JOLLY HOLIDAY BAKERY:
Something supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is about to open to the public. The Jolly Holiday bakery is inching ever closer to completion as walls continue to be pushed back. The brand new archway sign was revealed this week and instantly posted to the MiceChat Twitter feed here. Of course, we have the higher resolution pics for you now as well. A Mary Poppins weathervane now adorns the top of the building. Some think it would look better in Fantasyland, but, in person it really looks perfectly in scale with the rest of the area. It's all looking quite spit spot if you ask us.











SPLASH MOUNTAIN:
Well, last month we reported that, after coming out of a very long refurb, a few animatronics in Splash were still not working. Furthermore, their condition seems to have been ignored. Instead of fixing the problems, their lighting has merely been turned off. It is a sad state. Please, Disneyland, don't become the next WDW (whose Splash Mountain is in even worse condition).




The Brer Rabbit animatronic above the flume in the first show scene is in the dark, still.


The vulture on the left still has no mouth motion.


We did have to take a couple of flash pictures to capture this for you, but did so only after asking the permission of the other folks in the log with us (all of whom were friends and MiceChatters). We hate flash pictures in rides as much as you do! But we hate long broken and ignored effects and animatronics even more. Please make a point of complaining about the state of Splash Mountain at City Hall and in your personal trip reports so Disney takes notice. Splash is one of the best Disneyland attractions and it is an absolute shame to see it in this condition.

JUNGLE CRUISE:
Despite the bad news coming out of Splash, we have great news to report in regards to recent issues on the Jungle Cruise. For a while, the water explosion effects at the gorilla camp were out of service. The effects are once again working.







SAVE THE DATE! January 27th through 29th, 2012 for the
MiceChat 7th Anniversary Celebration






Join us Friday the 27th for a one day Adventure by Disney through Hollywood and the Walt Disney Studios. Including a tour through the studios, Disney Archives, lunch in the studio commissary and opportunity to shop in the studios store. We'll go behind the scenes at the Kodak Theater (home of the Academy Awards), the El Capitan, Jimmy Kimmel Live, see the Hollywood Walk of fame. The day will end with a sunset cocktail reception on Malibu Beach. The special pricing for all this is just $179 per person, but we have just 5 spots left. Contact Teresa@FairyGodmotherTravel.com today!

Saturday January 28th is our DCA day and will be filled with fun and games. We'll also be announcing a special celebrity breakfast for Saturday that you'll want to keep your eyes open for.

Sunday January 29th will be the traditional MiceChat meet day at Disneyland and filled with fun and nostalgic meets and adventures - including a noon meet in the central hub of Disneyland, a grand circle tour of the park and lots of opportunities to meet with friends old and new.

Mark your calendar and don't miss out on our upcoming announcements. If you don't get our newsletters, sign up here today:

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Disney California Adventure saw another week of crowds and construction.

BUENA VISTA STREET:
1920's Hollywood is being rebuilt here at the front of Disney California Adventure. The entry, a conglomeration of Los Angeles and Hollywood architecture, is meant to evoke the California that Walt met on his arrival to California. Let's see what is happening this week.


The facades to the right of the gate are getting much more detailed. You can see how they now loom over the front gate.





Drywall is even going up in places.








The guys on this roof aren't Muppets, but they are moving right along with construction.


You can almost make out the shape that the building closest to Condor Flats is taking.













Looking back at the main gate.








Carthay Circle Theater:
We now look at the centerpiece for Buena Vista Street, the Carthay Circle Theater. This new, exclusive dining location will be along the lines of Club 33 with more accessibility for us lowly folks. In fact, there are some changers coming to Club 33 Platinum memberships that will have them visiting the Carthay.

Club 33 Uproar!
Platinum level Club 33 members will soon get access to both Club 33 and the new Carthay Club lounge on the first floor of the Carthay theater. In addition, they'll get five VIP tours a year and Premiere Passes for Disneyland and Walt Disney World. All for the low low cost of just $10,000 per year

However, unlike the current unlimited arrangement, members will be limited to 50 guest passes per year. In other changes, members will now be able to wear fashionable dark jeans and fancy sandals at dinner in the club.

As you might expect, this has all caused quite an uproar with current club members. The club office has not been returning phone calls, and many long term members are threatening revolt.

We can assume that the changes were made to accommodate adding more members to the club. Since members will be limited to 50 comp tickets, they will likely be making fewer reservations overall, which Disney can then fill with new members. Upsetting current members with rule changes and slipping service levels also isn't an issue, because the club waiting list is over 10 years long and they can quickly and easily replace any lost members. Obviously, the folks who pay the most to access Disneyland aren't amused.



The Carthay Club will be on the ground floor. There will be two lounges, one for Club 33 members and one for the 99%. Sorry, we couldn't help ourselves.










More of the structure was revealed this week.


It may look plain right now but they are far from done.




Nice wrought iron awnings


REDCAR TROLLEY:
Meanwhile, near Tower of Terror, construction walls have come down from the middle of the street, and we see what they were working on. They appear to be sensors between the Redcar Trolly Tracks at the stop. Most likely to either assist in stopping or signaling the other car on the track when to depart (or perhaps both). Would love to hear from those of you in the know.







CARS LAND:

Mater's Junkyard Jamboree:

Mater's Junkyard Jamboree is nearly complete and ride vehicles have been installed along with a heapin' helpin' of trees.







Filmore's:

Something very interesting, we noticed the lamp post is adorned with a peace sign at Filmore's. Great detail!





Cozy Cone Cafe:
The cones seem to be moving at a glacial pace compared to the rest of the land.






The Courthouse:



We are in love with the courthouse.


Radiator Springs Curio's:

The aged Curio signs have been installed at this merchandise location and look amazing.





Flo's:

No real visible change here at either Luigi's or Flo's




Sealing off all of the backstage areas.


Radiator Springs Racers:

Ride testing continues during the evening hours, while the paint crew works during the day when the tracks are clear. Here we see the "R S" stone formation on the front of the butte taking shape while the backside of Cars Land facing the pier is nearly done with its new surfacing.







R S is for Radiator Springs!







GHIRARDELLI:
No exterior changes have been made yet to the Ghirardelli building. Be patient chocolate fans, it will be here soon enough.




And here's the latest from the MiceTube and the Disney Geek







CityWalk:
Puccino's Cafe (connected to Starbucks) has changed hands and will reopen as Antonio's Pizzeria soon. Signage is already up.








Rockin' Santa is now out for photo in 5 Towers (next to the Cinemas).






A look at 5 Towers and it's Holiday lighting. Note that the lighting in the entire area changes for each song.















We still get a kick out of the virtual fireplace.


Upper Lot:
The main entrance by day and night








Also lots of lighting on rooftops





Characters in the Winter's finest


The photo op with the Fast & the Furious cars has pretty much been completely removed. The cars bordering the Wild West Arena (now home to the Grinch) have been removed so a queue for the nightly tree lighting and celebrity readings can be made. The cars next to the House of Horrors attraction have been removed for a double decker bus on Baker Street.






Something is going to be painted on the wall of the House of Horrors, replacing an advertisement for the last Fast and the Furious movie, Fast 5. If you look closely you can see it says Kaboom.







GRINCHMAS:
Grinchmas runs daily December 16 through January 1. The event turned out to be so popular last year, the venue for most of the Grinchmas activities was expanded and now includes a larger snow play area and stadium seating to allow more guests to see the shows. The entrance was pushed out to New York Street.








Monitors were added to the boundaries of the area to allow guests who didn't make it into the show to still see what's going on.




Doing so forced the Donkey meet & greet to move to the other side of the Shrek 4D attraction




Fake Trees, fake presents, fake tags, real snow!


TRANSFORMERS:
Here is the latest at the Transformers construction area and lower lot.


The shops and buildings near Transformers are transforming themselves.


Bumblebee is still pointing to the right. What is over there that he wants us to see?




Progress of the Lower Lot refurb (reminds me of the new DCA entrance)













THE SIMPSONS:

Painting continues on the Simpsons facade, but that hasn't stopped America's favorite family from joining in with their own brand of Christmas spirit.







STUDIO TOUR:

Let's take a ride on the Studio tour.


The newly opened Smoking section next to tram unload has closed indefinitely (no word on why). Smokers must now use the designated smoking sections in the Upper Lot.



A beautiful day in Los Angeles.


Commercial shooting in the Metro Sets.


The Whoville sets have been redressed for Christmas


Amity Island/Cabot Cove still getting some work done.






War of the Worlds still has bodies in it left over from Halloween (this really bugs us).


Something going on at Falls Lake




Six Flags and Mars Chocolate are expanding their relationship through 2013.

You may recall that Mars has sponsored an M&M'S Day at Six Flags and SNICKERS has sponsored Fright Fest events. Now, the partnership will add TWIX, 3 MUSKETEERS, MILKY WAY, DOVE and COMBOS.

There will be a variety of
in-park promotional programs, including:


  • Summertime consumer discount admission promotion with MILKY WAY and 3 MUSKETEERS Brands promoted throughout local convenience stores.
  • Six Flags featured as one of the grand prize sweepstakes prizes in a national consumer promotion with the TWIX Brand; and
  • MARS Chocolate North America advertising creative featured on Six Flags award-winning in-park media networks, including: Six Flags Television Network, Cool Media signage, ride sponsorship, spectacular Out-of-Home units, Six Flags online and mobile programs.



Get Yourself A Great Deal With Our Newest Sponsor...



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  • The Carousel offers FREE continental breakfast and FREE valet parking for MiceChatters ONLY (be sure to ask for the MiceChat offer).
Staying at the Carousel has its benefits too.
  • Less than a 5 minute walk to Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, and the Downtown Disney District
Contact the Carousel today, and for the lowest rates, be sure to tell them MiceChat sent you.

Call: 1(800)854-6767 to book your stay today!




Today's update was edited by F!AN, Sir Clinksalot, CaptPhoebus, Fishbulb and Dustysage and brought to you by members of our fantastic and talented crew of photographers and news contributors. (If you've got breaking news or photos to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact Dusty today.)

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Would you like to be part of this crew? Do you have a park, zoo or botanical garden that you'd like to share with our readers? We are looking for Southern California theme park reporters. We'd love to hear from you! Please contact dustysage@micechat.com.