Today's update is filled with theme park attractions on the way, the Mantas, Transformers and Cars that you are expecting and perhpas some witches and wizards that you weren't!! At Disney California Adventure, Buena Vista Street has appeared suddenly out of the dust and construction walls. After a dizzying few months, the first real signs of faux-Angeles are appearing with impressive results. Meanwhile, Disneyland presses forward on the Matterhorn refurb and Main Street reconfiguration as we hear some very exciting rumors about a possible new land which will have you over the rainbow. We also have some news from our favorite theme park underdog, Knott's Berry Farm, as they add even more lovely little flourishes to Ghost Town. Finally, we stop by SeaWorld for a look inside the Manta construction zone and we have a little Universal Studios update for you as well. You ready for a spin around the SoCal theme parks?



News is a little scarce out of Walt's original Magic Kingdom this week, but that doesn't mean that we don't have exciting things to show you. Oh, and one glittering rumor which will have you clicking your heals together. You'll want read all the way through the for this tid bit.


TOWN SQUARE:
One of the construction walls surrounding the seating planters in Town Square finally came down. Yep, we told you it was a slow news day


WOW! Looks the same.

This planter bench conceals a speaker (probably a sub-woofer). We can assume that the construction was to refurb the sound system.


MATTERHORN:
Here we are at the Matterhorn. The more precarious scaffolding higher up on the mountain has been removed, the focus of the work is now on the bottom half of the structure that actually contains the ride. The loading platforms have been completely rebuilt with safety gates that perfectly match the new seating configuration.












Notice the gates are further back from the actual track.

Oz: The Great And Powerful
Let the rumors begin. In March of next year, Disney will release a new Wizard of Oz movie prequel which takes place in the early years of the great wizard as he is swept to the Emerald City from his roots as a magician in a dusty Midwestern circus.

Disney describes the film as:
Walt Disney Pictures' fantastical adventure Oz The Great and Powerful, directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum's beloved character, the Wizard of Oz. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he's hit the jackpot-fame and fortune are his for the taking-that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone's been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity-and even a bit of wizardry-Oscar transforms himself not only into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz but into a better man as well.

Sounds promising, right?! Well, there's apparently been a lot of work going on in Imagineering that may have been inspired by this upcoming film. If the movie is a hit, it stands to reason that we might just see it come to life in the Big Thunder Ranch/Festival Arena area of Disneyland between Fantasyland and Frontierland.


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For us, Oz at Disneyland seems like a perfect fit. We can't help but be inspired by the endless possibilities. The "Dusty Kansas" circus magician theme would be a seamless transition from Frontierland. And the Oz component makes it a fantastic neighbor to Fantasyland.



Who knows, in 5 years or so, we might just have a whole new land that perfectly fits the transition zone between Frontierland and Fantasyland. As we see it, this is a practical and magic application for an underused space at Disneyland.


What about you, readers, are you ready for a trip to Oz?


Gumball Rally May 19, 2012
MiceChat has a very special event coming up soon in Disneyland We'd like to invite you to join us for our world famous Gumball Rally!

The Gumball Rally is a race to find out who can ride the most attractions at Disneyland in a single day. It's the most fun you can have in the parks with your friends and family and a huge challenge as well. 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: $24.99 per person (Prices will go up to $29.99 per person beginning April 1st).
How Do I sign up?: MiceChat Events Store Gumball Rally Sign Up
How Does the Rally Work?: Rally Information Page
Rally Discussion on MiceChat: Gumball Rally Discussion



But that's just a little piece of the puzzle. We'll also offer a pre-Rally pasta party on May 18th and a MiceChat Mega Meet on Sunday the 20th (anyone can attend the mega meet even if you don't participate in the Rally - Save the date!). T-Shirts are available for this year's event as well. 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.

Get your teams together and sign up today, because prices go up $5 per person on the first of April!





BUENA VISTA STREET:
The new entrance to Disney California Adventure is shaping up to be quite a dazzling first act. The variety of shapes and architecture is impressive. Are any of you actually more excited for Buena Vista Street than you are for Cars Land?










Looking back at the front gates from the Monorail.


Then new entry park is getting some trees and the curbs have been built.


Looking into the park, we see a vast improvement over what used to be Engine-Ear Toys on the right.


Looking towards the Carthay Circle, we see a park setting coming together where the vintage style Walt and Mickey statue will be located.





And where the train facade once rested, we now find brick and iron work.






Looking at Elias & Company Department Store in all its Deco glory.


The fountain testing is becoming a common thing to see. AWESOME.


The Carthay Theatre restaurant and club complex.









COVE BAR:
Much to the dismay of liver-picklers everywhere, the Cove Bar is now down for a lengthy refurbishment that will last up until the relaunch of DCA in June.






This sign makes a very good suggestion (some might find the sparkle bar upstairs and the wine patio downstairs at the the Winery to be even more comfortable than the Cove).

HOLLYWOOD LAND:
The sprucing-up projects in Hollywoodland are nearly complete and reveal an attention to quality and detail that is in contrast to the kitschy facades, signs and steel framework look just a few feet away (closer to Monsters and Muppets).






Real marble and stone now adorn the false front stores on this street.

MONSTERS INC.:
Speaking of Monsters, the facade is receiving a little attention itself, as the bright colors had become faded since its opening 5 years ago. Would you like to see the doors give way to a more Hollywood look? That isn't in the cards yet, but could come in a phase 2.




You can still ride it though.


You can even exit


CARS LAND:
What can be seen of Cars Land is getting more impressive by the day. We just hope that the actual rides are worth the 3+ hour waits that are sure to be a reality this Summer.






Fillmore's got its signage.


You can now see the actual barrier into the land behind the construction walls.




An overview of the area.




Mater's Junkyard Jamboree.


Cozy Cone Cafe.


The entrance from Pacific Wharf.





Lower Lot:
Major construction in the Lower Lot has finished and the main street is now open.




Progress of the Revenge of the Mummy lockers


The NBC Universal Experience has reopened with some new exhibits.


Progress of the Jurassic Park queue construction work. Walls now push into the nearby guests dinning area.






TRANSFORMERS:
The marquee has been placed on the show building.
















Our friends at Knott's continue to heap on the good will as the park is slowly transformed into a much more pleasant, fan friendly, environment.


THE ART OF KNOTT'S BERRY FARM:
EVENT ALERT: There's a fun art of Knott's show, emphasizing shadows, silhouettes, low angles, and deep focus, of photographer and Knott's historian Jay Jennings which will be held this weekend.

The new photography exhibit will be this Saturday, March 24th from 1-4pm at Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant. Admission is free and there is three-hour free parking in the Marketplace lot, so you won't need theme park admission for this event (unless you'd like to hop on in the park to check out all the fantastic new refurbishments in Ghost Town).



Limited Edition prints from the exhibit will be available for sale (and VERY affordable in the $40 and less range). Dave Bourne, Calico Saloon piano player from the 1950s will be performing and Steve Knott (Walter's grandson) will be attending as well. This exhibit is a preview of Jay Jennings' upcoming book "The Art of Knott's Berry Farm: 1950s-Inspired Photographs".



Swing by the event early - right at 1pm - and then join Dusty, Fishbulb and some of your mice pals for a quick tour of Ghost Town, followed by a ride on the Mine Train and Log Ride! We'll head into the park around 2:30 or so.

BIGFOOT RAPIDS:
It appears that they are toying with the idea of staggered openings in the morning with attractions that don't see much ridership until later in the day.






SKY CABIN:
We do have to offer a thanks to management for keeping the Sky Cabin open the entire operating day. This is something that the whole family can ride and enjoy together and that's a good thing.





PONY EXPRESS:
Pony Express is currently down for minor refurbishment.



GHOST TOWN:
And now for Ghost Town, the most beloved section of the park. While the awkward, modern music still thunders throughout the area, the little touches are still being added that really give it a sense of place.



We spotted more than a few groups stopping to pose for pictures in front of the sets and decoration. This is what makes memories and repeat visitors.


A cute little bit of set decoration has appeared on Main Street. And while it looks brand new right now, it will look much better as it ages (or is painted to look weathered).


A working water pump. NICE.


The area just to the right, in front of the Bottle House and General Store is still being resurfaced. But the rest of the street behind it is done.








The street repaving project continues.





You can see in this completed segment that they aren't using blacktop, but have created a more natural looking foundation to this land.


The Ghost Town Playlist:
Sadly, contemporary music still thunders out of the speakers throughout Ghost Town (and the rest of the park). We just can't let this element go. Bring period appropriate music back to Ghost Town Knott's. We love ya, but would love you even more if you respected the theme in the heart of your park!

Here is the playlist we heard during our time in Ghost Town this week:

  1. Le Freak - Chic
  2. Stand Back - Stand Back
  3. Big Yellow Taxi - Counting Crows
  4. I Wanna Be Down - Brandy
  5. Aint Too Proud to Beg - Rolling Stones






ROCKY POINT PRESERVE:
Rocky Point has gone through a nice paint job!




It seems that SeaWorld has taken the tide pool and put in a Dolphin Interaction area.




New gates are being set up.


MAINTENANCE:
Work on the new pump house outside of Shamu Stadium is almost complete, but the fences are now taking more room.




Here is the walkway between the fence and the Shamu Store. It's pretty tight right now, especially on the weekends when the crowds arrive.


More walls are coming up on the new structure at Cirque Stadium. We can now confirm that this is a trampoline structure that will be a new addition to the show this year.


SeaWorld released this video which shows models of what the structure will look like when completed.

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TURTLE REEF:


Here we go!



Guests can also take in the 180 view.











On our way out, we noticed that some officials were looking around in this section near the entrance with different maps and sketches. What do you think they are thinking of putting here?






PROGRAM NOTES:
  • [*=left]
    [*=left]Spring Into Night beings next weekend!


MANTA:


SeaWorld has released this image of the inside of the launch building.



The rock structure is coming along nicely!


Here is the view from the above.



Work is being done on the rock work around the entry lagoon as well.



Construction is also being done in the 100,000-gallon aquarium.


SeaWorld released these pictures on their Facebook to give a closer look at the construction.















ANAHEIM FARMERS MARKET:

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:Easter Bunny:
The Easter Bunny will be making an appearance at the Market on April 5th.

www.AnaheimFarmersMarkets.com.



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 . . .




MiceChat readers enjoy exclusive rates: Standard Rooms starting at $89/night and Concierge level rooms starting at just $109 - this is up to 60% off the going rate! FANTASTIC DEAL.

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Staying at the Carousel has its benefits too:

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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: JP, 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!