Disneyland Park Update

by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer
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News and Views

Calling all MouseAdventurers

Fans and participants of MousePlanet's popular MouseAdventure puzzle-and-quest event take note: Our next event is scheduled to take place on Sunday, October 10 in Disney's California Adventure park. We will publish full details and open registration here this Wednesday, August 25.

The trains on the track go 'round and 'round

Cast members and visitors report that empty Big Thunder Mountain Railroad trains have been spotted making laps around the track. Cast members stationed outside the attraction this weekend told visitors that the ride would be reopening within two weeks.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has been closed since July 8, when the ride was the scene of a third accident in 10 months: A train returning to the platform collided with another train that had loaded and was waiting to depart. Several riders were treated for minor injuries after the accident.

The California Division of Operational Health and Safety (DOSH) has been investigating the accident, conducting a mechanical inspection of the ride, reviewing the training and proceedures in place at the attraction, and interviewing cast members and witnesses.

DOSH representative Dean Fryer told MousePlanet that the ride cannot reopen until DOSH releases a report of its findings, lists any corrective action Disney may need to take, and determines what corrective action, if any, has been completed. Fryer says that DOSH will not authorize the ride to open until it is satisfied that the ride is safe to operate.

On September 5, 2003, Marcelo Torres of Gardena was killed and 10 other riders injured when the front portion of the train derailed, causing the front passenger car to collide with the train's locomotive. DOSH cited improper installation of a guide wheel in that accident, and required Disney to retrain its cast members. Less than a week after the ride reopened in March, two empty trains collided during a reset operation. There were no injuries, and the ride reopened the next day. According to the DOSH report, that collision was caused specifically by operator error.

Read our entire coverage of the accidents at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad here.

Downtown Disney gets a makeover

It's official: Club Libby Lu is moving into the Downtown Disney spot vacated last month by Petals. According to the company Web site (link), Club Libby Lu is not a store, but “a club with special membership privileges.”

The “club” offers a selection of “Tween tranformations” for $20 a pop. Themes include the “Starlet,” “Enchanted Princess,” “Rock'n Roll Chick,” and “Party Pop Princess.” These transformations seem to include a themed accessory and lots of sparkly cosmetics. The “not a store” also sells a variety of accessories and room decor pieces. Club Libby Lu offers makeover parties, which are sure to be a hit with the 'tween scene.

Dozens of Club locations have opened across the country in the past two years, with another dozen on the books for 2004. The Downtown Disney location is expected to open in October. If you're 16 or over, the new location is accepting applications for Club Counselor positions. Keep in mind, however, that those who are 16 or over would probably have little interest in being customers themselves.

Cutesy signage over construction walls beckons girls ages 9 to 12 to visit Club Libby Lu when it opens later this year. Tweenie girls will probably ask for an increase in their allowance so they can start their burgeoning careers as free-spending junior consumers. Photo by Alex Stroup.

Real-life Snow White visits L.A. art gallery

There was a premiere of a retrospective of Disney animation art was held at a gallery in West Los Angeles last Thursday night. In attendance were Marge Champion, the original live action model for Snow White in the 1937 feature, and Margaret Kerry, the original live action model for Tinkerbell for 1953's Peter Pan.

The gallery, Great American Ink, presented a collection of pencil and handpainted cell drawings from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which was stated to be one of the largest exhibitions of art for this movie ever shown. All of the art on display was available for sale, ranging from approximately $1,400 for small pencil drawings to large handpainted cells going for as much as $15,000. Many of the pieces had “sold” stickers within the first hour.

Champion and Kerry were joined by guest appearances by Snow White, Prince Charming and the Seven Dwarfs.

Marge Champion and friends visit with the public at Great American Ink. Photo by Sheila Hagen.

Margaret Kerry graciously provided autographed photos of Tinkerbell for many of the children in attendance, who were understandably awe-struck by meeting not only the “real” Tinkerbell, but meeting Snow White, Prince Charming and seven “real” dwarfs (played by little people of diverse races) as well.

The exhibition continues through August 28. Great American Ink is located at 11633 San Vicente Blvd. in Los Angeles, phone (800) 552-2847.

Disneyland after dark

Inspired by similar programs at Walt Disney World, Disneyland's Resort Tour Services department has been working to create new tours that would depart from the traditional “walking, talking and pointing” tour format, and provide interactive opportunities for visitors to experience the park in new ways. Earlier this summer, the park introduced “Discover the Magic,” a character-based tour designed for families.

The park's next new tour offering is called “Mysteries, Myths, and Legends,” and is described as "a spooky expedition." According to one of the tour coordinators, “Guests will be freaked out!”

Park visitors can expect to see this flyer for the new “Mysteries, Myths, and Legends,” tour at Disneyland later this fall. Image © Disney.

The tour takes place at the closing of both Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure parks, and will only be offered on nights when the park closings are two hours apart. Participants will experience at least three E-ticket attractions during the tour.

Tour guides will share some spooky tales with participants, but they assure that, “there is nothing a 9-year-old is going to have nightmares about.”

Because of the nature of the tour, all participants must be 46-inches tall, and able to navigate one flight of stairs.

The tour is tentatively scheduled to run nightly Monday through Thurday during October. A special Halloween night tour (on Sunday, October 31) is being discussed, but no definite plans were announced. Pricing has not yet been announced.

Revise your touring plans

While Disney is adding new tours, several changes have also been made to existing tour offerings.

“A Walk in Walt's Footsteps” now includes a unique trip aboard the Jungle Cruise, and tour guides report that visitors really enjoy the addition. The tour now ends on a sweet note, as participants enjoy a slice of cheesecake for dessert. In the near future, participants will receive a special 50th anniversary commemorative pin when they take the tour.

The “Red Carpet Experience” has been completely reworked and is now called “Welcome to Disneyland,” a name that will sound familiar to long-time parkgoers. Participants experience at least three attractions while on the tour, and travel between Disney's California Adventure and Disneyland. In fact, tour members actually participate in Disney's California Adventure's “opening moment.”

Participants will collect at least two Fastpass tickets while on the tour, and will receive two bonus Fastpass tickets just for taking the tour. Tour participants can select Priority Viewing seats from a list of show or parade offerings, and choose from a list of dining locations for a priority seating to be arranged on any day of their visit. There are also the requisite stops for samplings of sweet things throughout the Resort.

A tour coordinator says, “The new idea is to 'make the most of your day,' and the trivia is light hearted and fun… no more pointing out where the bank is and the nearest restroom!” The revised tour debuts Saturday, September 4, and is $25 per person.

Got any interesting news or rumors? Contact us here.

Current Refurbishments and Attraction Closures


Snow White's Grotto near the castle is currently without Snow White or the Dwarfs. Apparently the fawn doesn't need cleaning. Photo by Alex Stroup.

Note: Disneyland is progressively closing more and more attractions as the park readies for its 50th anniversary celebration in 2005.

  • Snow White's Scary Adventures closed through September 10.
  • Sleeping Beauty Castle closed through November 23.
  • Aladdin's Oasis closed through March 11, 2005.
  • Plaza Pavilion closed through March 11, 2005.
  • Enchanted Tiki Room closed through March 11, 2005.
  • Space Mountain closed through November 2005.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad closed indefinitely, pending results of the DOSH inspection. For more information about the latest accident, see our BTMRR Accident page.
  • Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-through closed indefinitely; not listed on park maps or the Disneyland Web site.

    Upcoming Disneyland closures

  • Pirates of the Caribbean closes September 2 for a one-day rehab.
  • Star Tours reduces capacity, as each of the four cabins rotate through refurbishment September 7–22.
  • Haunted Mansion closes September 7 – October 1 for installation of Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay. Closed January 10–25, 2005 for removal of Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay.
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds closes September 7 – November 13.
  • Sailing Ship Columbia closes September 7 – November 30.
  • Mad Tea Party closes September 20 – October 21.

Disney's California Adventure

  • Superstar Limo closed indefinitely; not listed on park maps or the Disneyland Web site.
  • Who Wants to be a Millionaire – Play It! closed indefinitely as of last week.

    Upcoming DCA Closures

  • King Triton's Carousel closes September 20–30.
  • Maliboomer reduced capacity (2 of 3 towers operating) November 1–25, 2004, and January 3–22, 31 – March 12, 2005.
  • Jumpin' Jellyfish reduces capacity January 21 – March 5, 2005.

Disneyland Resort Hotels

  • Disneyland Hotel Convention Center lobby, upper level & lower level closed through September 1.
Note: Refurbishment schedules are estimates only. All information is subject to change without notice. To get the most recent updates, call Disneyland at (714) 781-7290.