Posts Tagged ‘refurbishment’

Disneyland’s Rivers of America Closing Day Videos

by on January 15, 2016

Rivers of America closing

Take your last cruise around Disneyland’s Rivers of America until 2017 with closing day 4K videos. (Photos/video by Seth Kubersky)

January 10, 2016 will be remembered as a momentous day in Disneyland history, not only because it saw the permanent closure of Big Thunder Ranch, but because it marked the end of Frontierland’s Rivers of America in its current form. This scenic area of the original Magic Kingdom all all its attractions, whose designs date back to Walt’s day, will be out of service until April 2, 2017, at the earliest. When the Rivers of America reopen, it will have been downsized to accommodate the arrival of Star Wars Land, with the water rerouted along a shorter circuit. The next few years will be an exciting time of expansion at the Disneyland Resort, but before we blast into the future it’s appropriate to pay tribute to the past. If you you couldn’t make it out in person before the long reconstruction begins, relieve the Rivers of America closing day with these exclusive videos.


S.S. Columbia and Mark Twain Riverboat Closing Sailings

On the final day before the Rivers of America closing and lengthy refurbishment, I tried three times to board one of the big boats that ply the waters, and was turned away each time because of capacity crowds. That should give you an idea how popular these normally sleepy attractions were with fans saying farewell. I never did get aboard the Columbia that day, though I did capture photos of its final crew coming into port.

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Wilderness Lodge Construction Update

by on January 6, 2016

Within the past week, I stayed in two different rooms in the Wilderness Lodge Villas at Walt Disney World. Prior to the stay, we received intense warnings and apologies from Disney that our enjoyment of the resort would be extremely disrupted (three different personal phone calls and two letters). While there is indeed lots of construction going on, I found things to be contained and well managed. We had been promised that all construction noise would happen between 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., which was adhered to quite carefully. I even watched while a tractor driver was scolded at 8:45 a.m. to turn off his engine for 15 more minutes.

If I had been a first time visitor to the Lodge, I might have been disappointed, but as a frequent guest and Wilderness Lodge DVC owner, I was fascinated with the process.

As a point of reference, here is the Google Maps earth view of the area prior to the construction. The blue at the center was the Villas pool. The small green rectangle near the beach at top right is the bike and boat rental building.


Here’s what that area looks like now from a 5th floor Villas room. The trees and Villas pool are completely gone. The only structure remaining is the green-roofed bike and boat barn.


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Video of New Eighth Voyage of Sindbad Stunt Show at Islands of Adventure

by on June 16, 2015

The cast for IOA’s new Sindbad show greets young fans after their first show. (photos and videos by Seth Kubersky)

After over a month-long hiatus, the new Eighth Voyage of Sindbad Stunt Show has debuted at Universal Orlando‘s Islands of Adventure, and we have exclusive video of the entire first performance of the refurbished production.

Sindbad fans out there (both of you) may be wondering what’s changed with what can charitably called Universal’s most problematic production. While the show’s spectacular set has received a sparkly paint job and some new props, nothing has been radically changed on the visual side.

Of course, the scenery was never Sindbad’s big problem. It’s the shallow, self-referential script that was always the source of our issues with the stunt show, and (for better or for worse) the dialogue has remained about 90% unchanged.

Before we get to the main event, one element definitely is all-new. Ten minutes before showtime, an “assistant stage manager” selects a few volunteers from the audience to act out the story. Here’s a complete video of the opening day preshow:

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Complete Video of Updated Great Movie Ride presented by Turner Classic Movies at DHS

by on June 2, 2015

DHS updated Great Movie Ride presented by Turner Classic Movies

DHS’s Great Movie Ride is now presented by Turner Classic Movies (Photos and video by Seth Kubersky)

Just a few days ago, Disney’s Hollywood Studios quietly implemented some major changes to one of its iconic attractions, when WDW introduced the updated Great Movie Ride presented by Turner Classic Movies. The update features TCM host Robert Osborne, and includes new decor elements in the queue, an entirely new preshow video, brand new narration through the ride, and a revised finale film.

Here’s a look at the ride’s Chinese Theater exterior, which has received subtle new signage and a much-needed cleaning.

The attraction had a 25 minute standby wait in the late afternoon when I visited, but earlier in the day it went up to nearly an hour. Is the refreshed ride really popular, or is there just not much else to ride at DHS?…

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Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid Ride Reopens with Upgrades

by on March 7, 2015

Little Mermaid ride refurbishment POV

Magic Kingdom’s Little Mermaid ride has reopened with new figures and improved lighting. (Photos and video by Seth Kubersky)

Ever since it originally opened in Disney California Adventure, and then again when it was cloned at Walt Disney World as the first new ride in the Magic Kingdom‘s New Fantasyland, the Little Mermaid dark ride has drawn mixed reviews. Known in Orlando as Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid, and as The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure in Anaheim, this slow-moving Omnimover attraction is a family-friendly people-eater, but has been criticized as lacking in polish and pacing. Now the Florida attraction has been refurbished and upgraded, much as its older sibling had been months earlier, and we have brought you a full POV video of WDW’s Little Mermaid ride with additional figures and enhanced lighting, recorded on March 5, 2015.

As you’ll notice in the below video, the biggest improvement is in the centerpiece “Under the Sea” scene, whose lighting has been reimagined with blacklight. The results are still eye-popping, while better concealing the exposed ceilings, making for a much more immersive experience.

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Observations from Disney’s Animal Kingdom: August 15, 2014

by on August 15, 2014

Observations from Disney's Animal Kingdom

Take a day — or at least 2/3s of one — to walk around Animal Kingdom with Touring Plans (photos by Seth Kubersky).

This week it was time for me to make some observations from Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and is there any place in Walt Disney World more welcoming on a muggy, humid day? Wait, don’t answer that… As an infrequent visitor to Animal Kingdom, it was my objective to visit as many of park’s major and mid-tier attractions as possible, in order to test Derek Burgan’s controversial theory that DAK is indeed more than a “half-day park.”


While the typical Touring Plans approach is to arrive before rope drop, I decided to give Animal Kingdom a fighting chance by pulling onto Disney property a half hour after the park’s 9 a.m. opening time. The first sight that greeted me past the toll booths was a large section of the overflow parking lot where grass was being replaced with asphalt.

Disneyland’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Reopening March 17

by on March 9, 2014

Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad reopening is set for March 17

Disneyland’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad reopening is set for March 17 (photo by Seth Kubersky)

The wildest ride in the wilderness will ride again a little sooner than expected, as the Disney Parks Blog has announced Disneyland’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad reopening on March 17. The iconic Frontierland E-Ticket has been down since January 2013 for an epically extended refurbishment, but will resume delighting Disneyland riders ahead of the previously-published April return.

The revamped ride will sport a brand new track (following the same course as the original), rebuilt Rainbow Ridge buildings (again, reconstructed to resemble the rotted originals), and new lighting and sound effects. Most notably, the beloved dynamite-chewing goat is rumored to feature an explosive new digital projection found on the roller-coaster’s third lift hill, formerly the site of an unconvincing earthquake effect.

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Disneyland’s Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage Closing for Extended Refurbishment

by on December 16, 2013

Disneyland Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage refurbishment

Photo copyright Disney

If you are a fan of directionally challenged CGI clownfish, you better swim over to Disneyland in the next few weeks. The Orange Country Register reported, and the Disney Parks Blog confirmed, that Disneyland’s Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage attraction will close on January 6 for an extensive refurbishment expected to last until late 2014.

During the downtime, Disney says that the Tomorrowland lagoon will be drained and the coral rockwork will be made more colorful. The subs, which were (in their original non-Nemo incarnation) added in 1959 as one of Disneyland’s first E-ticket attractions, have limited carrying capacity and are notoriously expensive to maintain. Here’s hoping that the submarines do return by the end of next year, and that this isn’t the first step towards the attraction fading into Yesterland.

Disneyland’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Refurb Officially Extended Until 2014

by on October 7, 2013

Image copyright Disney

File this piece under “the least surprising news in the wilderness”:

After months of officially insisting that Disneyland’s iconic Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride in California would return from its multi-month refurbishment in time for fall 2013 holiday season — despite rampant rumors that there was still extensive work to be done — Mickey has finally admitted that you won’t be taking any rides past the newly-rebuilt town of Rainbow Ridge until early next year.

The announcement only provides a vague reopening time period of “Winter [early] 2014,” but we’ve updated our attraction closures webpage with a tentative return date of February 15, 2014.

Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.


Celebrate Disneyland’s 58th Birthday with Vintage Video (plus Jungle Cruise News)

by on July 15, 2013

This Wednesday (July 17, 2013), the Disneyland Park celebrates its 58th birthday. If you are an Annual Passholder in the Anaheim area, you can mark the occasion on Tuesday at the final of three free presentations detailing the resort’s early years.

Even if you can’t make it out to wish the park a happy birthday in person, you can still honor the occasion at home by watching this recently released compilation of color footage from Disneyland’s opening months, provided courtesy of the Disney History Institute. Check out the rare views of short-lived attractions like the Phantom motorboats, Storybook-less canal boats, and Main Street’s performing monkey.

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