Hey howdy hey everyone! Welcome back to In The Parks, your weekly Southern California theme park update. We've got a lot to share with you this week from Disney to Universal and all points in between. Knott's Berry farm is undergoing some major maintenance and is really getting better every day. Disneyland is setting the stage for love and Disney California is getting ready for its close up. We'll also show you Muzeo's newest exhibit, The Word: Ink and Blood. All this plus a new video from Sea World San Diego about Manta and a tip that might just get you on TV!

Ever thought about auditioning for your shot at television stardom? You are in luck. This Saturday at Downtown Disney's ESPN Zone, you can meet the casting directors of ABC's WIPEOUT. Who knows? The next one cast could be you!

WHEN? - Saturday, Feb. 11th, 10AM - 1PM
WHERE? ESPN Zone, Downtown Disney - Anaheim
1545 Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA 92802

The continuing theme at Disneyland seems to be renewal. With big and small projects taking place throughout the resort and Spring about to blossom, there is an energy in the air.

The guided tours building receiving minor touch-ups.

The Disneyana store has returned from a rather lengthy refurbishment. The redo brought new wooden floors near the front cash wrap and a darker, more opulent tone throughout. The stores throughout Main Street have been getting the deluxe refurbishment treatment one after the other. It's been an amazing project to watch unfold.

Fancy Victorian wallpaper

Fantasmic and the sailing ship Columbia continue to be refurbished. While Fantasmic isn't set to officially return until March 3rd there is talk of a Leap year preview at 1am on February 29th. The Sailing Ship Columbia is set to return on Tuesday, February 21st. But that same day, the Mark Twain steam boat is set to go into dry dock up until Fantasmic's official return.

The rest of the resort may be getting ready for Spring, but it is still Winter at Big Thunder ranch. Punxsutawney Phil was right!

Work continues on the Matterhorn as we begin to see evident progress on the resurfacing of the mountain as well as the load/unload station.

A nice little history of true attraction has been posted on the construction walls.

The mountain currently sports a giant hair net.

it's a small world:
The classic boat ride has returned after the removal of the holiday. The dolls are once again singing that song over and over and over and . . . .

Sarah chimes in this week with a look at Downtown Disney and Valentine's Day at Disneyland.

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Jeff and George take us on quite an adventure this week with segments: This Day in Disney History, Book of the Week, Window of the Week, a Fantastically Fuzzy Photo and even a humorous Bathroom Break. And, of course, no Communicore Weekly would be complete without a Five Legged Goat!

Buena Vista Street's facades and multi-faced structures continue on their race to the June deadline. It's looking more and more like they just might make it!

Just inside the gates you begin to notice how tight this new entrance may end up being - especially with the trolley passing by.

The Carthay Circle theater building is close to being finished with exterior work. New Palm trees have been planted along the side of the building.

Copper drain pipes will weather quickly and leave stains on the stucco which will add an air of authenticity to the building.

looking towards the circle we see further progress

Grizzly River Run is down, yet again, for refurbishment. It is not scheduled to return until Saturday, March 10th. We'd love to see this attraction get the proposed animatroic animals that Imagineering would like to add (we'd like it too!).

The trail along the mountain is even closed.

The Cars Land fenders loom over the work continuing below. If you are an Annual Pass Holder, you'll be able to get a peek at the new merchandise and foods for Cars Land at a special event March 27th through 29th in Stage 17 in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot. No tickets or reservations will be necessary, just show up between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m..

Walls went up around the drinking fountains in bugs land while the walls for Mater's Junkyard Jamboree expanded. This caused an even smaller realease valve for the traffic filtering through from Flik's Fun Fair to the main artery of the park.

Inside Flik's Fun Fair, the wall between Heimlich and Drive 'em Buggies has been demolished to create the third entrance into Cars Land.

Mater's Museum is receiving an brick overlay.

The awkward, angular steel backdrop on the back side of the new mountain range is making its way along the outward facing wall.


Cozy indeed.

Chocolate lovers rejoice! Work has begun on the exterior of the Ghirardelli chocolate store and soda fountain.

This sign has been broken for weeks.

Meanwhile, the stage is being set for Minnie's Fly girls show.

Dusty has an exciting project to share with you. One of the most collectible Disney theme park books of all time is Disneyland Paris From Sketch To Reality. Sadly, it has long been out of print and now goes for about $500 used and well over $1,000 in new condition on Amazon.

Here's a current look at the book prices on Amazon (Yikes!)

Author, Alain Littaye, never completed the Collectors Edition run of 2,000 books. And that's where MiceChat steps in. We are going to help the author print the last 730 copies of the English edition of the book. Best of all, if you pre-order your copy of the book before we send it print, you'll be entitled to buy it at its original price.

We are so excited to be involving you in this little adventure. Read all about the book and find out how you can reserve your very own copy of Disneyland Paris From Sketch To Reality - HERE.

New permanent signage just outside the security check has been installed to try and ease the confusion some people experience when visiting the theme park for the first time.

The House of Horrors queue houses a collection of horror themed props which are regularly swapped out. Recently all of the props were replaced with items from last year's HHN maze "The Thing: Assimilation". Some of the items are things the general public never get to see including full body prosthesis and puppets.

Work continues on the ST load/unload/queue area. Construction has moved from the main section of queue to the extended queue and unload area.

The exit path was widened by reclaiming backstage parking spaces that were moved under the new restrooms. The new section is open which then allowed the old section to be walled off to continue the construction project.

The pathway takes you past the recently opened extended queue

and the stroller parking area

A commercial was getting ready to film in the Metro Sets

The Chicken Ranch is back to normal after
being occupied by band LMFAO for a video

The Lower Lot now dead ends at the Mummy ride thanks to a major overhaul of the area in preparation for Transformers' Memorial Day weekend grand opening. This means the closure of the arcade, the Panda Express, the Studio Bar and the NBCUniversal Experience.

The NBCUniversal Experience building is getting the same treatment the rest of the building in the area got

Progress of Panda Express

Also removed was the Hollywood Ticket Outlet where you could purchase Annual Passes and receive free tickets to tapings of NBCUniversal television shows.

The outdoor extended queue now has speakers

Did you catch the Transformers commercial
during the Super Bowl? Here it is...

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By enlisting at prepareforbattle.com you can play to win a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood to ride Transformers the Ride: 3D. Recruits earn points by answering trivia questions and by recruiting more soldiers to the cause.

Universal is forecasting HP like crowds for the upcoming mega-attraction. Due to the small size of the park and, in particular, the lower lot, there is talk of less conventional operating hours. During the week days, the park could open at 8am and close at midnight. On the weekends the park might be opening as early as 7am and close as late as 2am on Fridays and Saturdays. A special agreement with the neighbors will allow the Midnight and 2am closing times.

Whatever the closing time, it is planned that at some point the upper lot will close earlier in the operating day and only the lower lot will be open to accommodate guests wanting to ride Transformers. Guests exiting the park will be herded to the exits in the upper lot either by temporary barriers or by employees. All of the details are still being worked out and as usual, nothing is official until it happens. We will keep you posted.

Knott's is getting into the business of renewal as well. More changes and improvements are happening at a rapid pace and that is great news for this classic park (America's original theme park as Knott's tells it). We'll show you some of the construction and changes coming to the park as well as some February discounts.


Knott's MARRY Farm

For the first time in years we entered the park and were created with a smile and offered a park map and times guide. Normally these just sat for anyone to pick up. But this time it was handed to us and we were told to have a fun time by the very sweet front gate employee. It set the perfect tone for a lovely visit.

It is something small, and something taken for granted,
but friendly service means a lot.

Last week we shared with you how Main Street in Ghost Town was torn up for repaving. Would they simply lay asphalt and slurry? Would Deadwood Dick, the evil man that tried to outsmart the sherif, return with his grave? A portion of Main Street was unveiled this week and we have the answers to both questions!

The front of Main Street.

New cement "wooden" sidewalks replaced the old wooden planks near the buildings.

They are aged and even detailed with nail holes!

The surface of the street is far more aesthetically pleasing now and resembles the original dirt roads that opened with the town. One problem that may arise later on in the year though is during haunt. Will this surface work for the sliders that inhabit fog alley?

Looks great, but does it slide well?

Deadwood Dick has returned in front of the Assay office (there were fears he would be removed)!

Looks like he kicked the bucket.

In front of the General store, which still has its wooden plank sidewalk, the ground has been made level to the step up. It looks very nice and makes the building more accessible.


The Timber Mountain Log Ride is still down for a substantial refurbishment. Not like the quick fix that kept the ride running through the holidays, they are really going at it in there. Replacing pine trees and freshening show scenes while improving the mechanics of the ride.

Knott's is becoming more concerned with show quality and we'll see more upkeep and enhancements soon.

We have noticed a marked improvement, as well, in the entertainment. The actors have always been fun, but they seem far more engaging now. Walking through ghost town we got caught in the middle of a gun fight, then strolled into the Saloon where more hijinks were afoot.

The actors and audience were having a great time.

Always easier to embarrass a teen.

No Bigfoot Rapids here today. The ride is under refurbishment in the off season, and we are hoping that the waterfalls return.

Another beautiful improvement can be found in Charleston Circle. The walls have come down and the area practically sparkles. The fountain has been refurbished from top to bottom and coated with a jade green paint. At the base of the fountain, is stone paving. The planters have been redone as well and feature magnolia trees and annuals.

Hanging baskets will be installed soon. The inner courtyard is still closed to guests while they finish things up.

It's no accident that Knott's won "BEST VALUE PARK" in the MiceChat Southern California Theme Park Awards. They offer a lot for a little. The food could use some work inside the park, but there is more to do here for your money than just about anywhere else in Southern California (especially if you buy one of those inexpensive season passes and visit more than once).

Speaking of passes . . .

Earlier this week Knott's announced payment plans for all of their season pass options. On their Facebook page they wrote...

Want access to limitless excitement and entertainment at a great price?

Knott's Season Pass - Adults
Just $64.99 or 3 installments of $22.99
Knott's Season Pass - Juniors
Just $64.99 or 3 installments of $22.99
Knott's Season Pass - Seniors
Just $64.99 or 3 installments of $22.99

This is a smart move on their part and it makes it even more affordable than ever to go and have some fun at the farm.

SeaWorld San Diego released a video taking guests behind the scenes at the Manta construction site. We give SeaWorld props for creating a video and even more credit for casting a host who's fun to watch. But sadly there is no THERE there. We get to see the station, the launch building and a tidbit about an effect that will happen at launch, but that's about it. Still, SeaWorld is trying here and we appreciate that.

You can even sense the host stammering, searching for something interesting to say.

Manta is scheduled to open on May 26th. Which is hard to believe from looking at the construction site.

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And here's the video for you to see for yourself

Sir Clinksalot is back with a long awaited tour of what's going on at Six Flags. We get lots of requests for this segment and there are some really interesting things to see today.

By the time you read this update, Superman will be closed so they can begin construction on a new drop tower which will utilize the unused back side of the Superman tower. Construction has already begun at the base of the tower where we presumed the ride entrance would be.

The Necessity Center, Paint Ball Alley and Arcade are all behind walls.

As you can see, all merchandise has been removed.

While most of the Log Jammer building is still standing, the ride is mostly gone.

The ride sign is still on the building

Most of the outside queue and ride load area has been removed, but it looks like they are saving the building, which is a good thing.

They are hard at work removing the ride. The ground clearing goes all the way up to the "Shakes and Fries" seating area

The only portion that remains on the lower level is the pump house. Hopefully this means they will be bringing back the lake in some form when the new ride opens.

Up on the hill, you can see they have not begun to remove this portion of flume yet.

In other interesting news, the entire Metro Station (long closed monorail attraction) that was across from Log Jammer has been removed.

We're not sure if this is related to what's going on at the Log Jammer site, or if it's for another project (could even be for Hurricane Harbor) or if they just removed it because they had construction equipment in the area. Either way, it's going to be interesting to see how different this area of the park looks in the coming year.

Lastly, one last look at the Deja Vu site. The only evidence that there was a ride here is the sign.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are the centerpiece of the exhibit featuring four pieces of the Scrolls recovered from Cave 4 in Qumran with text from the books of Genesis, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.

In addition to the Scroll fragments themselves, the collection includes the entire contents of a 1st Century B.C. cave. The Scrolls are only part of the history THE WORD: Ink & Blood traces. Origins of the written language which began as pictures more than 5000 years ago in ancient Sumer or what is now modern-day Iraq are a centerpiece of the exhibition.
Although the exhibit is about the bible, it doesn't strike a preachy or overly religious tone. This is a historical and archeology based exhibit that anyone of any faith could enjoy.

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We'd like to extend huge thanks to today's contributors: Sir Clinksalot, JP, F!AN, CaptPhoebus, Fishbulb and Dustysage. (If you've got breaking news or photos to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact Dusty today.

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Happy Valentines everyone!