We have an update today that is filled with Southern California theme park goodness. Disneyland is still busy completing the Matterhorn overhaul and the expanded Carnation Cafe. Meanwhile, Disney California Adventure is pushing to meet the June 15th deadline for the unprecedented overhaul at that park. Cars are already zooming in Radiator Springs and streetcars will soon be rolling down Buena Vista Street. We also have SeaWorld San Diego on deck with an update on the soon to open Manta coaster and we update you on the lastest construction at Six Flags Magic Mountain. But that's not all, we've also got a transformation update for you from Universal Studios Hollywood where a major new attraction is just about to open. There has rarely been a time as exciting as this in the SoCal theme park world. Let's see what's happening In the Parks . . .

NOTE: article updated at 9:45 am with information on Universal Studios Hollywood's new Transformers attraction.


The MiceChat Gumball Rally is a race to find out who can ride the most attractions at Disneyland in a single day. It's a fantastic event for Disney fans of any age and a great way to spend a day in the park with friends and family. 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: $29.99 per person
How Do I sign up?: MiceChat Events Store Gumball Rally Sign Up
How Does the Rally Work?: Rally Information Page

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 (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.

Tickets for this year's event are nearly sold out, so don't delay, get your teams together and sign up today!

Stop and smell the... Daisies?

Spring Break crowds seem to be subsiding and the park is slowly returning to the normal amount of craziness.

Yes, these are actually pretty average wait times up until Summer.

Here is the latest from the Carnation Cafe progress.

It all looks shiny and new. Though we've read some comments about that red window in the middle right of this picture. One side is open and the other is shuttered, creating an imbalance. While not a deal breaker for us, we did want to note the comments as we can see how some would find it to be a visual conflict.

The Matterhorn's scaffolding is nearly gone and the mountain is emerging looking brand new.

A new guard rail has appeared here.

Along the base of the mountainous structure, workers are slapping what looks like mud onto the freshly textured surface in order to give it the natural aged look.

The construction tunnel that flanked the east side of the matterhorn, near the Sub lagoon, has been removed.

Sadly, the vine that had covered that side of the mountain had to be removed as it withered and died during the construction.

Inside the walls, they are getting the station ready for vehicle testing.

The station structure to the right in this picture, is shrouded in plastic and scaffolds as it will now receive attention.

The new entrance to Disney California Adventure continues to develop into a postcard worthy image (rather than the image of a postcard, as it was before). The intricate details of the tile roofs being installed and the sidewalks, trees, and awnings are truly something impressive.

Looking towards the entrance of DCA, we see the Red Car Trolly stop in the foreground, center.

To the rear right, we see the gas station structure.

Looking into the park, towards the Carthay Circle Theatre we see Buena Vista Circle and its tangle of street car wires.

We adore the detail of the dragons on this facade.

Carthay Circle Theater:
The new icon of the park got its marquee this week, and tile work is nearly complete.

Yet another piece of DCA has faded into the past. The pillars that were topped with golden elephant statues on either side of the entrance into Hollywood Pictures Backlot have been removed. The pedestals remain and will be repainted.

The teal and red pedestals you see to the middle right and left on this photo are where the golden elephants (inspired by DW Griffith's 1916 silent film, Intolerance) once stood.

And here's the view from Hollywood Land toward Buena Vista Street.

The back of the package says that the pin contains "an actual piece of this memorable gateway. Hmmmmm. The elephants were only removed the day before. Did they really make all these pins overnight? Now notice where the pins were made. . . "Made in China."

Perhaps it was possible to take the elephants down overnight ship little pieces off to some Chinese sweatshop, create pins out of them and ship them all back the next day, but we doubt it. It's a silly bit of marketing. But it doesn't really matter. Disney has claimed to have included bits of the Columbia dock into previous pins, sold light bulbs from the Electrical Parade (while it was still running) and all sorts of other things which weren't exactly true. As fans, we gladly buy into this malarkey, or as P.T. Barnum said "There's a sucker born every minute."

Speaking of Hollywood Land, here are some more pics of the controversial Red Car Trolly wires through the area.

The jet plane from the front of Taste Pilots Grill has also been removed at John Lasseter's request.

It will be interesting to see what they do to dress up the front of this restaurant now that its focal set piece has been removed.

This and That:
Here are a few minor things we noticed around DCA.

We hope project sparkle gets to our favorite butterfly soon, as she's still without one of her antenna.

New trees have been planted near the plane on the back side of Grizzly River Run.

Thankfully they will be addressing the crackly mural on It's tough to be a bug soon.

Monsters is still getting spruced up.

And the main attraction sign at Soarin' is still broken.

ElecTRONica Farewell:
Come out this weekend and say goodbye to ElecTRONica. Sunday will be the last night to REZ into the grid. They have already taken a large portion of the props out in preparation for the upcoming Mad T Party.

Much of Cars Land looks nearly complete. This area is in good shape and ready for its closeup.


Knott's has an up charge ticket that allows you to jump to the front of the line on most of the more popular rides including Xcelerator, Silver Bullet, Boomerang and more. The upside is that you can use it as many times as you want throughout the day. The bad news is the price. If you buy 1 the price is $50. But if you've got multiple people in your party, you can save a bit. Buy 2 Fast Lane passes and the price is $45, buy 3 and the price goes down to $40. These prices are on top of the admission to get into the park.

If you are a local with a more flexible schedule, then the Fast Track ticket may not be something that would appeal to you, since you may be able to go when the park is not as crowded. However, this option might be a good idea for the travelers that are here on a busy day with limited time.

A better option for locals is the Twilight Ticket. They are available for $28.99 and are good for admission into the park after 4 PM! They won't get you to the front of the line, but you can usually hit a lot of the rides after the crowds have died down.

Pony Express has returned from the stables and is back up and running again.

Here we are jun Ghost town, home of beautiful theme and top 40 hits. A few things have come, others have gone. Let's stroll through the dusty streets and see what's new.

Floral arrangements decorate some of the buildings.

The interactive water pump and trough which were installed here just a few weeks ago have been removed.

Ghost town grub has re-opened.

The Ghost Town Play-list:

Along with the lovely theme of the area, we wanted to share with you the musical choices that we heard while looking at the pictures of Ghost Town. Do the visuals match the music?

1. Say it Right - Nelly Furtado

Despite the bizarre music, the Catawompus (in the background) is still happy

3. Chariot - Gavin DeGraw

4. Stars - Simply Red

5. Let's Go - The Cars

The music may be way off mark, but Ghost Town is looking spectacular.

Universal Studios Hollywood is getting ready to blow the lid off of the Southern California Theme Park scene with the opening of Transformers: The Ride 3D. This brand new, state of the art, attraction is prepping for possible soft openings prior to the planned May 26th official opening date and we could not be more excited!

Love it or hate it, the massive mural commands your attention when you reach the lower lot.

The sign is lit and the effects are on.

The exterior extended queue is up and ready for extremely long lines

The gift shop, just outside the entrance.

UPDATE (9:45 am 4/13/12)

MiceChat's Pre-dawn Adventure Into Transformers!
Under the cover of a pre-dawn sky on a rainy morning, MiceChat was invited to N.E.S.T. headquarters to prepare for battle and get a walkthrough of Universal's new mega-attraction, Transformers: The Ride 3D. This new immersive experience officially opens on May 26th 2012. e park attraction this summer.

Upon entering the attraction show building, visitors find themselves in N.E.S.T. headquarters (Networked Elements: Supporters and Transformers). Here, we are divided up into three groupings; Reqular queue, Gate-A (front of the line), and Single Rider. Form there, the lines separate and begin to set up the storyline for the adventure ahead.

We learn that it is a time of extreme danger. The Decepticons are on the attack in pursuit of the All Spark that would give them ultimate power and we are asked to board a vehicle to join the fight.

The All Spark

Grabbing a pair of 3D glasses we hop on board and are off for 4 minutes of high-tech wizardry and fun.

Note that most of these pictures are with work lights on and do not convey the actual 'show' look of the attraction

Each vehicle is a roaming flight simulator that darts, spins and careens through practical sets that are perfectly blended with High Definition 3D projections to create an impressive illusion of reality. The attraction fuses rear-projection HD3D screens, practical sets, heat, water and smoke, and flight simulator technology.

You see one of the screens here - with the work lights on and no projection

Here's the same scene with show lighting and projections - The blurred background is a result of 3D projection. There were no glasses on our camera

Those who have ridden the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman at Universal's Islands of Adventure in Orlando will have an idea of what to expect. But to those who have not seen that landmark attraction, this will be something that will leave you speechless.

The size of the vehicles and the scope of the attraction are impressive (we were not permitted to photograph the motion base under the vehicle)

With Spiderman and Harry Potter in Florida, and now Transformers in Los Angeles, Universal has amassed an impressive collection of dark-rides that rival anything that Disney has constructed stateside. To say that we were blown away by this new attraction is an understatement.

While there has been no official word on soft openings, cast members will be riding next week, so it is logical to assume that soft openings could happen VERY soon. Check back on MiceChat for updates, we'll let you know when it is open as soon as we hear word. Also, follow us on twitter for up to the minute updates: Disney (@MiceChat) on Twitter

The official opening date is May 26th if you want to play it safe.

We've created an official Transformers review and guide for you to share with your friends and family with additional information about the attraction:
Transformer's The Ride 3D - MiceChat Preview & Guide

They are still tinkering with the Mummy locker building as seen here.

The queue work for Jurassic Park is nearly complete.

Welcome to Six Flags Magic Mountain which was crowded this week during our visit.

Construction continues at Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom. The park posted this picture of the first pieces being installed on their Facebook wall yesterday.

It just so happens we were at the park yesterday and this is how the pieces look at the top of the tower.

Even around noon, they were still working on installing the new parts

There is a crane on site and it looks like the first clamps may be getting installed.

The parts for the ride are staged outside Colossus, waiting to go up

Looks like the new ride will match the new colors on Superman

The entrance area is still being worked on

No word on when the ride is going to open, but things should progress rather quickly at this point, as the new attraction is essentially being clamped onto the back side of the preexisting Superman tower.

The Classic water ride has returned from refurbishment.

All of the boats have received a fresh coat of paint and it did appear some flume work was done when we rode. Still, our boat did have some water in it. Seems kind of soon for the drain to be plugged again.

Still, the boats look nice.

The park has some new advertisers, some make sense, one in particular ... well, we'll let you be the judge.

Near Tidal Wave, promotion for the new Addams Family musical coming to the Pantages. You can even get your picture taken.

Quirky and fun

Near Riddler's Revenge, in the planters, an advertisement for Lowe's. Again, proper placement, no problem here.

Near Scream is where we have the problem. There are ads everywhere for a Auto Title Loan agency

And sadly, this isn't just one sign, it's multiple signs on lights posts, in the queue, in the station and in the exit. Now we realize the park needs to sell advertisements and this type of company has become commonplace. But this really takes you out of the "fun" of being at an amusement park. Granted, they did try to make the ads themselves fun, but maybe this would be better placed in the parking lot?

Then again, Scream is built over a parking lot, so maybe it does make sense.

Elsewhere around the park, some trees have been planted on the hill next to the old Deja Vu spot.

One of the Deja Vu signs is still there, but it no longer says Deja Vu of course

Nothing has changed near the old Metro Tunnel on either side

Nothing has changed at the old Log Jammer spot since our last update, maybe a little wetter due to recent rains.

Not sure if this is newly poured or just leftovers from Log Jammer. It looked pretty clean to me, and they were trying to keep the water off of it.

Over at the Metro station near Bugs Bunny World, only the station pad remains.

It was another beautiful sunny day at SeaWorld San Diego when these photos were taken, which we are sure the construction workers appreciate as they rush to get Manta open for the summer crowds.

We understand that Manta construction is going a bit ahead of schedule towards the grand opening on May 26th (though it may not look like it from these photos). Once the landscaping goes in, things will change rapidly.

Here is the great rockwork at the beginning of the attraction.

The orange dots and lines indicate where the Manta sign will be placed.

A free form pathway is being constructed from the front to the back of the attraction.

SeaWorld has posted yet another Manta construction update. This time, they take guests to see all the construction happening underground.


My favorite addition to the area are the trainers placed inside the lagoon who bring the animals to the guests and perform with them. This lets the guests have more of a chance to touch the animals, whereas before, guests would be lucky if they got to interact with one. It also helps keep the dolphins active and entertained.



Outside, there are two llamas and two donkeys enjoying the sun.

Here is a look inside.

It's like a mini zoo in here

You'll find smaller animals which don't need much space

CONGRATULATIONS to the four winners of last week's Bubble Fest Trivia Contest!


We asked a trivia question and those who answered it correctly in the comments were entered into a drawing to win one of four family packs of tickets to see Bubblefest at the Discovery Science Center. We've contacted all winners via MiceChat PM.

And don't forget to take in the latest from the MiceTube. A brand new Communicore weekly has been published for your entertainment.

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Today's In The Parks Update Has Been Brought To You By . . .

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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: CaptPhoebus, JP, Sir Clinksalot, 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.