There is a ton of news and information from the Southern California Parks this week. Disney California Adventure's Cars Land is nearly ready to go and the Matterhorn should begin vehicle testing soon in Disneyland. We also have news that Magic Mountain's Drop of Doom is progressing nicely and SeaWorld's Manta coaster has begun testing as well. And we don't forget Knott's either, with their epic turn around of the lovely park. All this plus your last chance to get tickets to the MiceChat Gumball Rally. We'd better get this show on the road, there's a lot to cover today . . .

Final chance to register for Gumball Rally!

This year's event is nearly sold out. We were able to add a few more spots, but we expect to close registration shortly.

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

Even if you aren't competing in the Rally, there are a couple of Rally related events that you are welcome to join:

May 18th Pasta Party - shoot the breeze and listen to the Rally teams as they attempt to psych each other out the night before the big race. It's a fun and inexpensive meal. You can sign up in the MiceChat Store HERE.

May 20th MiceChat Mega Meet, Noon at the Walt and Mickey statue in Disneyland - Find out who won the Rally, chit chat, and you might just be the winner of a prize just for showing up! After the meet, we'll head off for lunch and then ride a couple of attractions together. It's a lovely way to spend a few hours (stay for as much or little as you'd like). No cost and no need to sign up. Just show up at noon on the 20th.

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 will likely sell out in the next few days, so don't delay, get your teams together and sign up today! RALLY SIGN UP HERE

The Matterhorn is beginning to look like its old self again. That's a good thing. Crews are trimming up the final bits of work, and the scaffolds have receded to the lowest areas of the mountain. Crews can be spotted working on the mountain at all hours. They have also begun installing the new bobsleds on to the track. Many of them can be seen parked out in front of the loading area, covered in plastic.

At least one bridge was rebuilt. It looks like changes were made for OSHA or ADA compliance. But at least the job was well done and well themed.

Although each sled seats one fewer person in this configuration, the ride rarely dispatched with two people in each seat. Checking seat belts on dual riders was a difficult task for castmembers. This new configuration will allow for faster loading and should actually increase ride capacity. Not as romantic, but certainly safer and better for overall ride operation.

Here we are with just a little over a month to go and Buena Vista Street is coming right down to the wire for the big grand re-opening of the park. It was reported by Al Lutz earlier this week that the construction is around one week behind schedule.

The area will most likely look just fine (on the outside) in time for June 15th, but you may find some of the shops incomplete on the inside. Of course, they got crews working around the clock, so they could still make the deadline, but this is going to be a photo finish.

Looking into DCA from the front gates

Looking towards the front gates of DCA

Looking towards the Carthay Circle Theater

Buena Vista Circle.

After a wild Southern California windstorm a couple of months ago, a sharp-eyed cast member noticed that the back-lit portion of the Soarin' Over California sign was precariously loose and could possibly fall and injure guests below. The sign was immediately removed from the metal frame, but was left in that condition for two months with neon exposed. We are happy to see the sign restored.


The replacement for ElecTRONica is already under construction. The Mad T Party, with its terribly unfortunate name ('T' being a street term for Crystal Meth), has gone vertical in the section of Hollywood Land behind the Hollywood Pictures Backlot arches.

Mmmmmm Gangy!

In front of Monsters Inc., on top of the old fountain, a stage is being erected.

Work continues on the exterior of the Hyperion theatre.

Monsters Inc.: Mike and Sully to the rescue has come out from behind the scaffolds with a brand new, fresh paint job. It looks much better, aside from a few odd seams here and there.

Unfortunately, this was just a paint job. They didn't take the time to sand down the problem spots, like this clearly visible seam.

Even from a distance, you can see the horizontal seams which run across the entire facade. Doesn't look bad at a casual glance, but we are here enough to notice. Would still love to see this attraction get a new facade when the DCA Phase 2 project gets underway.

The main entrance into Bug's Land is getting a few touch ups too.

California Screamin' is getting a new canopy over the queue. Sadly, this attraction had been slated for a whole new Victorian themed queue at one point, but as budgets grew for other projects (like Cars Land), the Screamin' project got axed. We still have hope for the future. But the plain amusement park switch backs and simple overhead shade on Screamin' and Mickey's Fun Wheel, are the weak link in Paradise Pier.

No matter how much we may complain about the switchbacks, the new canopy material looks nice enough and will provide plenty of shade.

Cars Land is at just under two months away from official opening and we could not be more excited. The new Radiator Springs Racers will be the big draw for most people. However, Al Lutz reported in his most recent update that management will be doing everything they can to keep crowds from amassing in the area until it is time for them to ride. In an effort to curb the crowds within Cars Land, they are setting up a temporary Fast Pass station over near It's Tough to be a Bug.

The plan so far is that you will enter from the parade route here...

and get your FastPass for RSR here (where It's Tough To Be A Bug had its FastPass machines on opening day).

Radiator Springs is mostly complete. Mainly work on operational details going on right now.

Al also tells us that Radiator Springs Racers is highly detailed (especially in the interior show scenes), but they are struggling to get all the effects in the attraction ready and working correctly in time for opening day.

The restaurant will be going down for a brief refurbishment that will last from April 30th-May3rd. However, there will be a change coming to the dining packages available by mid-June. Dining packages for World of Color will stop being offered and instead, a new character dining dinner will become available.

Upon arrival to Knott's Berry Farm this week, we were greeted by a friendly employee at the ticket booths. She asked what zip code we were visiting from. Knott's is beginning the guest survey thing now and on snazzy new iPads! This is a great sign of the park being eager to know more about their guests and about their visit.

Work walls have appeared in front of Spurs Chop House as they do some work near the outdoor patio there.

Windseeker continues to remain closed. No official word on why.

It's the little things that delight us about Knott's. While The Timber Mountain Log Ride is our favorite Log Ride ever, it was missing a few of the old effects. Little by little they have been returning.

The sign was decorated for spring.

While everyone seems to casually offer a smile to engage riders, some unique, charming kindnesses surprise. Take for instance how the dispatchers at the Log ride take their time with each person. Eye contact, a smile, asking your preference of seating. These touches used to only be found at Disneyland.

Last time we told you about the return of the water wheel next to the lift hill.

Now we are happy to report that the water gag is back!

We really have to give Knott's Berry Farm commendation here. In Camp Snoopy, instead of offering the typical candy and sugary sodas, they are offering health alternatives like fruit and water.

Parents should be happy with this. It's sort of like the isles at the grocery store which don't have candy. You're kids can't reach for what they can't see. Little Billy wants a snack, throw him an apple.

It all looked really fresh too! But the best intentioned changes won't last if the public doesn't respond. So, don't forget to pick up a fruit cup on your next trip to Knott's (or just forget it and grab a funnel cake instead).

The entire land at Camp Snoopy is looking really nice.

Camp Snoopy Restrooms are still down for refurbishment.

As usual, we have our ghost town playlist to share with you this week. But we also noticed the Medicine man show going on this week and it was pretty charming.

The silly Snake oil salesman even made it rain.

Water effects up in the adjacent pepper tree sprayed the unsuspecting crowd to great effect.

The performers have always been a strong point at the farm.

Ghost Town Play list:
While covering the wonderfully themed Ghost Town we like to take note of the strange musical choices that are made to act as a mental background to accompany the surroundings. Do you think that this music fits Ghost Town?

Other than Lex Luthor Drop of Doom, not a whole lot going on at the park during it's slowest time of the year.

The Queue Building and Entrance to the new thrill ride continues to take shape behind the walls.

Hopefully the rest of the building will get some work done and not just the front

The Exit Gift Shop is also under construction.

The Vinyl stick-up's that were previously on the wall were peeling off during our last visit due to rain and have been replaced with banners.

From the Goliath exit you can see the work being done just beneath the tower (in what will soon be the ride station)

This is how they are hoisting the workers and parts up the tower

All of the electrical equipment has been covered up, most likely due to rains we had this week.

The posts that will connect the new ride to the existing tower are starting to go up

Out in the parking lot, they have started assembling pieces to eventually be placed on the Tower.

Red and Blue track to match the tower

We have some bad news to report, the Sky Tower museum has been closed and all of the artifacts have been removed. Even the museum sign outside the Sky Tower entrance is now gone.

Unfortunately, the Sky Tower was closed during our visit so we are unable to show you the empty observation deck. Hopefully this is only a temporary thing as this was really one of the "little things" the park did over the past few years that went along with everything positive that's been happening. Sure it wasn't the most popular thing, but once you start forgetting about the little things like this, you start having problems.

As we've told you over the past few years, weekdays in late April and early May are the absolute best times to go to the park. Sure, some of the rides may be running only 1 train, but with 100-150 cars in the parking lot nothing more is really needed.

At about 11:15am, this is how the Ninja station looked. WOW!

Cyclone Bay at around 11:30

Apocalypse: The Ride was also empty, but operational.

The games area around noon. This isn't at opening folks, this is the middle of the day.

Even Green Lantern was a walk-on

Take any row you'd like on Goliath

The entrance area of a major amusement park. You'd almost think the park was closed

Even Tatsu's line was to the top of the stairs.

If you are able to enjoy the park during a weekday for the next 3-4 weeks you can take advantage of these crowds (or lack thereof).

The Shakes and Fries stand near the old Log Jammer site finally received a new name. Now if only the location was ever open during our visits so we could enjoy a Mango or Pineapple Dole Whip.

The park sent out a Survey last week that indicated the new ride (rumored to be called "Full Throttle") would be accompanied by a restaurant and a re-theme of the surrounding area. If the new ride is indeed going in the old Log Jammer spot, could this also mean a re-theme of Mooseburger Lodge?

Speaking of the old Log Jammer spot, nothing has really changed since our last update.

Well, that is if you don't count the geese chilling out


Welcome back to SeaWorld San Diego. The busy crowds have died down a bit, as SeaWorld preps for the next seasonal event.


Viva La Musica will be getting underway next weekend, and we will have full coverage in two weeks.

Manta is going full steam ahead to its grand opening in just about a month!

The rockwork has been completed and the touch pool has been filled.

Here is a shot of the touch pool and walk way being constructed.

SeaWorld has also completed the 270-degree dome, which is where guests will begin their journey. Yep, this ride is going to be much more than just a plain old coaster.


We count down to Manta, experience Viva La Musica, and take a looksie around Wild Arctic.

Turtle Trek 4D Orlando:
Turtle Trek has opened today at SeaWorld Orlando. Make sure to check out Orlando Parkhopper

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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If you like what you see, please visit our Youtube page: MiceChat - YouTube and click the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of the page

AND MiceChat has a brand new monthly PodCast for you that's now in iTunes: MiceChat Podcast on iTunes or we have an RSS feed if you'd rather use that: MiceChat Podcast RSS

This week, Al Lutz, Doug Barnes, Dustysage and Fishbulb discuss Cars Land, Transformers and the epic fight for your tourist dollars this summer.

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

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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!

We'd like to extend a huge thanks to today's contributors: JP, 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 In The Parks . . .