The sound of music and fun is streaming from Disneyland this week with the premiere of the fantastic new parade, Soundsational. But if that wasn't enough, Star Tours is doing regular soft openings and the Little Mermaid held soft openings yesterday (May 26th) and will hold a mix of passholder and soft openings in the coming week. AND, they opened a new counter service restaurant and tiki themed bar at the Disneyland Hotel and a new perfume store opens this weekend in New Orleans Square. Yes, things are really jumping at the Disneyland Resort. Beyond Disney, Windseeker has gone vertical at Knott's Berry Farm and The Road Runner Express coaster will be opening this weekend at Magic Mountain (to be followed in June by the highly anticipated Green Lantern coaster June). We have a lot to show you today, some of which might contain spoilers, so please tread carefully.

It's going to be a sensational summer folks, and Disneyland has a one two punch with Star Tours AND Soundsational.


The new Soundsational parade made its public debut today and is a wonderful addition to the park. It has been a long time since Disneyland has had a full on, original parade full of bright, wildly colored costumes, catchy music and a huge cast. This one just feels right.

The parade is a who's who of Disney's best characters in a parade celebrating music and dance. The parade floats include Mickey and Friends, The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, The Three Caballeros, The Princess and the Frog, Aladdin, The Lion King and Mary Poppins. Each float is supported by a cast of supporting dancers and characters that play and cavort while the stars wave to the crowd. The costumes are dazzling, colorful and detailed. Take a look for yourself...

The Parade starts with

A drum corps and Mickey and Minnie welcoming everyone to the musical parade

Arabian dancers and the Genie lead the Aladdin float down the parade route. These costumes are the some of the most abstract and elaborate that I saw in the parade. Pretty amazing.

Ariel sits atop a rotating seat as a maraca plating octopus keeps the rhythm. Dancers precede the float with flowing costumes and bright colors. It felt like I was back in the Little Mermaid ride. That's a good thing.

This is a float based on the Three Caballeros film from 1944. An abstract source for a mainstream parade float but it is WONDERFUL. Full of color and fun.

Belle, Cinderella, Snow White and Aurora are joined by the newest Disney princess, Rapunzel, whose hair trails up a tower dominating this larger float. Perfect amount of princess. Not too much but enough to keep the little girls happy.

Simba stands atop a smaller drum-shaped float before a golden sun featuring the image of King Mufasa. Stilt walkers in African headdresses dance beside the float. The most elaborate and colorful of the costumes.

Tinker Bell takes on the starring role atop the smaller float, which is decorated with giant flowers and humongous mushrooms to make the diminutive pixie appear smaller than the other characters in the parade. Captain Hook chases Peter Pan around the base of the float.

Princess Tiana, the villainous Dr. Facilier and Louis the trumpet-playing alligator ride aboard a larger Mardi Gras-inspired float.

This final float features chimney sweeps and horn-playing penguins riding on a whimsical carousel. Mary Poppins dances rides ahead on her trusty, merry-go-round steed with Bert in tow.

The traditional parade has returned to Disneyland and it is WONDERFUL. No show stops, no overly repetitive musical arrangements, but a briskly paced, colorful musical extravaganza featuring some of Disney's most beloved characters. We Can't remember a time that we loved a parade this much at Disneyland.

For more pics and a full discussion click here.

Here is a full video courtesy of asianbma


The word is out, Star Tours is a solid hit. The ride has been improved in a number of ways and has created an overall better experience than the original incarnation. Star Tours has been offering AP Previews and, on occasion, opening up the queue to all park guests in "soft openings" as well. If you are in the park, stop by and see if the queue is open. Take the ride. Then let us know what you think. The attraction officially opens on June 3rd.

Don't ask the Cast Members if there will be soft openings, they aren't supposed to give you an honest answer. If the ride is open, ride it, if it isn't, keep checking back.

Recently the Monorail has been a little wonky. In fact, the Monorail service has been down for a few weeks now. Word on the street is that one of the Monorails may return very soon to accommodate the swelling memorial day crowds but don't bet on it. If you are coming to the resort in the near future, don't plan on the Monorail as a way to get into the park and you will be fine. We hope they are able to resolve the maintenance concerns soon.

Oh where oh where has my Monorail gone?

New Orleans Square:
We have some interesting news out of New Orleans Square where Mademoiselle Antoinette's Parfumerie will officially open on Saturday. For you Disneyland history buffs, this isn't so much something new as it is a return to things they way they were in Walt's time. We just couldn't be happier to see the return of unique and one of a kind shop. Speaking of "One of a Kind" shops, we hope Disney will return that beloved classic as well. As more and more locals make Disneyland a frequent stop, generic merchandise in every store just doesn't translate into an exciting shopping experience as the vast and unique shops of old once did. But this is a GREAT first step which we loudly applaud.

A few things continue to be under wraps in the wild west.

The new ODV location near the dock is almost done.

Golden Horseshoe is getting attention.


In case you haven't seen it, the new Blackbeard effect has been installed on the mist waterfall where Davey Jones once appeared. By most accounts the new character that appears in the caves at the beginning of the ride seems out of place and makes no sense spouting the same mystical lines that Davey Jones once gave. But, go check it out for yourself and let us know what YOU think.

As a reminder, Splash Mountain is scheduled to reopen today after a 4 month refurbishment. No guarantees but there is a chance Brer Fox and Brer Bear are chasin' Brer Rabbit once again.

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Tangaroa Terrace and Trader Sam's both opened their doors for soft openings this week. Along with the two restaurants the new Monorail water slides have begun testing with the lifeguards acting as guinea pig and testing things out.

A new outdoor seating area and fire place

The new Tangaroa Terrace that occupies half of what was once Lost Bar and Croc's Bits and Bites. This is a new counter serve restaurant with a surprisingly large amount of effort put into food as well as the atmosphere despite it's limited indoor seating.

Guests enter the front doors and queue up to place an order for hot items at any one of three touch screen kiosks. A ticket is printed out and customers then proceed to the cold foods case, dessert case and bottled beverage cooler before hitting the counter. After paying for their items guests have a small amount of indoor seating and expansive outdoor seating to choose from.

Order your hot food here.

Pick up your cold food here.

Desserts and bottled drinks.

Check out here.

The fountain drinks

Consider this the Disneyland Hotel answer to Whitewater snacks at the Grand Californian Hotel. The food that we had, the Fried Chicken Sandwich and Hamburger were both surprisingly good. The service, top notch if not a little slow. Overall it was a pretty good dining experience.

Sam's is a very dark, very small, but very cool new bar. We did not have a drink here but took in the surroundings instead.

While we were in the area taking in the Terrace and Sam's we had the chance to look at the Monorail water slides. They were not open, but Lifeguards were on duty, testing out the slides and going over basic procedure.

Looks like this might be staying.

The slides and structure are shiny and new, but lack the visual weight to be too much of a focal point although the night lighting should help to a degree. The water slides empty into small pools of water and are not attached to the existing pool. This is more a glamorized water play area than anything. We will be curious to see how the lounging crowd from Trader Sam's plays out with the likely screaming youngsters on the adjacent water slides. Let's hope all goes well and the two can coexist.

Disney California Adventure's evolving landscape just got a little more oceanic with previews of The Little Mermaid ride happening daily for Cast members and a surprise soft opening to all guests on May 26th. We were waiting at the door and have some great photos for you. Also, the front of the park is rapidly changing into the California that Walt Disney first met on arrival in the golden state. Let's take a tour and see what has changed in the past week.

Yesterday The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure FINALLY soft opened to the public with no photo restrictions. It's been a long wait to go under the sea, but it is worth it.

This is not an E-Ticket. If you have spent the past 2 years thinking this would be the next Indiana Jones you might want to re-adjust your expectations. TLM is kind of like what would happen if a dark ride from Fantasyland had a love-child with Pirates of the Caribbean or Mansion. There is high end detail and animatronics, but it is done on the scale of Pinnochio's Daring Journey but slightly larger.

Scuttle is our narrator framing device.

Ariel PRONOUNCES her words.

The Under the sea scene is impressive but far too bright to be a convincing underwater scene.

We call this "Dole Whip Ariel"

Ursula and her big diva moment.

Kiss the girl already!

Scuttle is used as the story teller for the ride, which is a great idea and sets up the silly fun well (if you happen to catch his audio loop in the right spot). After diving into the water via a pretty impressive effect, we are introduced to Ariel's fascination with the items above the surface of the ocean. We are then whisked to the underwater celebration of Under the Sea where a beautifully articulated Sebastian leads the music. Following that scene we go to Ursula's grotto and she has her big diva moment with Poor Unfortunate souls. Soon we are back above water and seeing Ariel and Prince Eric in a boat for the Kiss the Girl scene. This is followed by a terribly short vanquishing of Ursula and an abrupt wedding celebration.

The ride is a wonderful addition to a park on the mend. Some of the animatronics; Scuttle, Sebastian, Ariel, Ursula, are nothing short of stellar. There are problems, yes. The story is a jumbled mess. Those not familiar with the Disney version of the story will be hopelessly lost. The ride resolves with a quick transformation and wedding which are a little abrupt. Quibbles, yes, but worth mentioning as this entire ride was a custom built job.

But, least we scare you off, this is a classic style Disney family dark ride that everyone can find enjoyment in. The kids will be enthralled seeing their favorite characters come to life, and adults will marvel at some of the wonderful effects that make that possible. It's not an E-Ticket, but a strong supporting player in a park that needed a larger cast of characters.

Here is a full video courtesy of asianbma


The Pan Pacific entrance is coming along as is the Carthay Circle Theater.


Both Seaside Souvenirs and Corn Dog Castle have opened.

mmmmm Fried goodness!

A look at Goofy's Sky School.

Adorable picket fence in front of the queue

Learn to fly the Goofy way.

Testing continues.

A sign of things to come.

The area is receiving pathways now.


In his recent contribution to the MiceChat round up, Al allayed our fears regarding the back side of Cars Land facing Paradise Pier. Here's what he had to say (along with photos from Andy Castro and Fishbulb):

A lot of you have been asking about what are they going to do to theme the back of the huge Disney California Adventure Cars Land rock backdrop, in particular those areas adjacent to Pacific Wharf and Paradise Pier. As always, take note that any of this may be subject to change, but so far here's what to expect...

As I understand it, at around thirteen stories tall and 280,000 square feet, the rockwork that makes up Cars Land is the largest mountain structure that Disney has ever built in any of its parks around the world. The artistic goal of the huge structure is not just to recreate the Cadillac Range backdrop of Radiator Springs, but to also block out the views of modern Anaheim that have plagued DCA since it opened. The front of the rock work is almost completely done with the hand shaping, and about halfway through with the painting, as the backside remains an open steel grid to allow access to the inserts that support the catwalks along the front side.

Once the front of the massive facade is finished later this summer, the Imagineers assigned to the rock work will then turn their attention to finishing off the backside. As seen from the Pacific Wharf dining area, the rock work that creates the look of a hood and hood ornament will blend around the eastern wall into a less cartoonish rocky cliff that extends due south. That same rock wall will then form a rocky sea bluff that looms above the east end of the Paradise Pier boardwalk.

What hasn't been decided is how Imagineering and Disneyland's entertainment department will handle the dowdy stucco float warehouse that parallels that rocky bluff. That float warehouse was thrown up quickly in early 2002 to house the Electrical Parade that was brought back from the dead in a panic during the summer of '01, as the floats were still being stored backstage under tents. Since DCA's original float warehouse behind California Screamin' is now being eyed as an expansion pad for a future attraction show building, the Entertainment team considers the warehouse behind Cars Land as their long term home. Everyone realizes it has to be reskinned, but the exact artistic treatment hasn't been decided yet.

Then there's the towering backside of Cars Land that faces Katella for four hundred feet, as Disney needs to play nice with Anaheim's aesthetic zoning requirements in the city's Resort District. The big show building that houses Radiator Springs Racers dark ride portion has already received a brown stucco exterior that mostly disappears behind the heavy landscaping along Katella. The tall cliffs are too big to attempt a disappearing act, and they'll be sealed up with patterned stucco.

The view of the backside of Cars Land for those hotels along Harbor and Katella won't be nearly as impressive as the front side, but the increased business they'll get from the biggest theme park expansion in Anaheim history should take quite a bit of the sting out of it for them.

And here's a look at the Cars Land construction project from this week.

Mater's Junkyard Jamboree

The large wall at the passage between Cars Land and Pacific Wharf.

The scope of this projects still amazes.

As with the other parks in Southern California, Knott's is gearing up for the Summer. With returning offerings like Snoopy's Starlight Spectacular and ice skating musical in the Charles M. Schultz Theatre, we will be getting a high flying new thrill attraction, Windseeker, and the return of the Perilous Plunge flume ride. Let's see what's up at Knott's


This past Wednesday Knott's Berry Farm invited a number of MiceChat's In The Parks readers to come take part in the production of an episode of the Travel Channel show, Bert the Conqueror. We had to get there at 7am on the dot, but the fun was well worth it.

We got walked in from the West gate employee entrance and headed straight to the filming location.

We got there and the crew had already begun to set up the train for filming.

After we were all set, a bunch of us took multiple rides on Xcelerator with Bert

Bert (middle) with the guys from the Man Cave show.

The MiceChatters with Bert (nice guy btw). We all survived.


Perilous Plunge returns to operation. But, unfortunately, with only one boat currently in operation and literally a 10 minute load/unload cycle, this line could get LONG.

You are gonna get wet.


FINALLY! Windseeker has gone vertical. The rest is still sitting in the lot behind the park, but there IS progress to report.


Sierra Sidewinder has returned, but the great sign out on the rocks in front of the ride has not been replaced yet.

Not to be outdone, Six Flags also has some new attractions for summer!


DC Universe is still closed in prepration for Green Lantern opening. The area looks to be getting a pretty substantial upgrade.

Wonder Woman's Golden Lasso is still out in the midway, but has received some fresh paint.

The ride building/queue area is also getting some work done. This may be just a "flat ride" but it's one that dates back a long time at the park. It's nice to see it getting some TLC.

Through the trees we can see that the facades in DC Universe are getting some nice work done on them. This area should look brand new once the new ride opens. Hopefully we will get some nice DC Comic references on the windows of the facade.

Mark your calendars, Green Lantern is set to open on June 18th (the same weekend the movie opens)!!! The track was completed last week, this shot was taken near the entrance of DC Universe

Despite early worries that the ride would blend in with Riddlers Revenge, the green on Green Lantern is a lighter green and the coasters are pretty different looking.

And a new kiddie coaster is set to open this weekend. If it looks like Disneyland's Gadget Go Coaster, that's because it is the same ride. Road Runner Express has been fully completed and was testing the day these photos were taken. On Monday, the park announced that the ride will be opening tomorrow (Saturday May 28th):

Landscaping in the area is coming along nicely

Today's update was brought to you by the following members of our fantastic and talented crew of photographers and news contributors: Asianbma, F!an, Captphoebus, Ericbramey, Fishbulb and Dustysage.

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