April 30, 2010

What’s To Come?: When Thunder Mountain and Grizzly Peak Collide in Hong Kong



When Hong Kong Disneyland opened in September 2005, it was always rumored that it was go get a Frontierland-esque land. Rumors popped up here and there, but nothing was official, until June 2009, when Hong Kong Disneyland officially announced their new expansion areas. Among the ideas announced was the Grizzly Trails area of the expansion, the signature attraction Grizzly Mountain Coaster (name not official yet), seems to take the ideas of Big Thunder Mountain, Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain, and Grizzly River Run and combine them into one cohesive attraction.


First the train seems to go up the lift hill into the mine shaft. When in the mine, riders will encounter their first Grizzly bear. The train is arrives at an intersection where a bear scratching his back on the track switch will direct the train to the "dangerous" tunnel 4.



The next scene (possibly, not official) the train is going up at high speed inside the mine, and will drop outside the mine shaft. Another scene that features bears is where guests will see a Grizzly bear aboard a mine wagon trying in an unstable position to catch fishes. The next scene will show the mine wagon and the bear with the fishes all around his neck, he seems a bit sleepy.

The following portions of the attraction aren’t official, and might not be in any particular order, but here are some descriptions.

  • Train going down the hill at high speeds, backwards
  • Going through a Geyser Field
  • Bypass a Dynamite station backwards and into a mine shaft
  • Track will change in the shaft, and the train will be jolted out of the mine in an explosion




As you can see, the attraction has many references to Big Thunder Mountain, Expedition Everest, and Grizzly River Run. Below we have various sketches of the Grizzly bears to be in the attraction. The attraction have very ‘classic’ Marc Davis Disneyland attraction humor, like the Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, or Pirates of the Caribbean, and even his long lost and always remembered Western River Expedition attraction, that was to be built in the Magic Kingdom.


The attraction’s vehicle is quite similar to Expedition Everest’s Steam Donkey, Isn’t it?


Pictures and Information from WDW News Today Network. Thank You Very Much!

April 28, 2010

Wonderful World of Weenies: Grizzly Mountain


Grizzly Peak is a man-made, 110 foot mountain in the shape of a grizzly bear, which represents California's state animal. It was created with large steel cages, which were soon lathed and carved as rock.

The "Grizzly Peak Recreation Area" is where you can watch people get drenched on Grizzly River Run. Also you can spot old gold pans in the dry creek bed at the start of it. Grizzly Peak also houses Grizzly River Run, a large rapids ride through a mining camp at the mountain. Originally, the mountain was to have the face of the bear face south, with a waterfall from his mouth.


Unlike all of Disney’s theme park weenies, Grizzly Peak has a backstory to it. Besides just being a mountain shaped like a grizzly bear for a California themed park, Imagineers created an elaborate backstory around the icon, and its surrounding attractions. As this wasn’t just any castle, or a Tree of Life, it needed to have real reason for it being located in the middle of the park. Here is the Imagineer’s backstory:

Long ago, Ah-ha-le, the Coyote met Oo-soo-ma-te, the Grizzly Bear on top of the mountain. Seeing that the Grizzly was a powerful being, Coyote asked him to always watch over and protect the land. Then one day, people cam and tried to chase Oo-soo ma-te from the mountain. But Grizzly was strong and held his ground. When Coyote saw the brave bear standing alone against so many, he turned Oo-soo-ma-te into stone so he could never be driven away. To this day, people claim they can hear the great bear spirit in the wind that roars through the caverns and trees of Grizzly Peak.

Many years later, German emigrant Jakob Probst discovered gold at Grizzly Peak in the mid-1800's. But far from being a genius, Probst's discovery was by pure chance. Frustrated at failing to get his mule across Grizzly River, Probst threw his hat into the river and trampled it. Picking it up and putting it back on his head, he discovered a one-pound gold nugget had fallen inside. Probst immediately staked a claim he later sold for millions to the Eureka Gold & Timber Company.

Nicknamed "The Pride of the Sierra", the Company was a successful business throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Gold was extracted from the mountain and shipped to San Francisco. A company office and adjoining store were built right next door as well. But by the early 1950s the mine was tapped and Eureka Gold & Timber closed down. The structures stood empty for years - only the office and company store remained in use - converted to an outdoor supply store.

The land itself was sold to the government to create the Grizzly Peak Recreation Area. Over the next few decades the land was reborn with trees growing back and rivers clearing up. Eventually, California's rafting enthusiasts discovered the whitewater thrills of Grizzly River and the word got out about the crystal-clear waters and Class V rapids there. By the 1980s, that hobby had grown into a business with several companies offering guided raft trips to customers. One of those companies was run by a savvy young group of entrepreneurs. They purchased the old mining structures to use as their base of operations. The Grizzly River Rafting Company was born.


The weenie’s pins feature various renderings of the mountain, while some have it as almost real, with facial features and apparent ears, others just have the subtle shape, like the real thing.

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Pictures and Information from LaughingPlace and PinPics

April 26, 2010

Pinvestigation: Grizzly River Run

Opening with Disney’s California Adventure on February 8, 2001, it was an instant hit, and one of the few attractions in the park. It follows the Grizzly River around Grizzly Peak, the weenie of the park.


While winding thru the queue, you learn the backstory and setting of your adventure. You will be joining the Grizzly River Rafting Co. for your journey perilous journey through the white waters.


Once on the raft, guests float around a bend and past a 19th century steam donkey. This area also provides friends The 300-foot conveyor belt -powered by the 22-ft diameter Pelton Water Wheel that once carried ore down from the mountain - carries the raft 45-feet up towards the top of the mountain.


After reaching the top a sign marks the location as Grizzly Summit - Elevation 1401 feet, then it's into the caves and the rapids. While there aren't any bears to be seen, the growling of the "great bear spirit". Then it's back outside Bristlecone Bend, down the small Bear Claw Falls, then back inside at Eureka Mine Shaft #13. The rafts are then carried outside through Pinball Rapids and past Frog Jump Falls. Then its through Sluice Channel - an old channel built to divert the rivers flow - and around a bend that takes you back under Sluice Channel.

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Finally the raft plummets down a 22-foot, spinning, soaking drop. Grizzly River Run boasts the longest and highest raft ride drop, which includes a unique feature, spinning. After a final bend it's back towards the unloading station - after passing a few geysers in Geyser Gauntlet. pice pic9

Like all flume rides, there must be a location to store or drain the water in the upper sections of the flumes when the pumps are shut down. The original plan was to create a large, underground basin beneath Grizzly Peak to hold water. This would have required costly excavation and construction. Upon looking at the final layout of California Adventure, it was noticed that the Pacific Wharf area of the park had a water element meant to simulate a tidal basin. The tidal basin is located across a walkway from Grizzly River Run and became the catch basin for water from the raft ride. The rise and fall of water in the tidal basin serves the dual purpose of providing a location to store water and being a scenic element that simulates a rising and falling tide.


Many of the attractions corresponding pins feature key portions of the attraction, or its story, like this paddle, or the Grizzly Bear near the entrance sign (in the pin below).

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Many other of the attractions pins feature various characters getting soaked on this classic attraction, as everyone gets wet.pin54663  pin62523 pin62662 pin64360 pin68019 pin70016

Pictures and Information from Laughing Place and PinPics

April 25, 2010

Pics and Pins of Paris’ Island Mountain



When Disneyland Paris opened on April 12, 1992, it was the first Magic Kingdom-style theme park to feature a Big Thunder Mountain (Railroad) on opening day. This location offered Tony Baxter and other Imagineers a unique opportunity  to take a new approach to an entire land and a chance to revisit the Thunder Mesa idea.

At Disneyland Paris, Big Thunder Mountain would be the forefront of the new design and idea of presenting the American Frontier to a new audience in Europe, the mythology of the Old West as it is perceived by the Europeans, specifically the French, not Americans. Tony Baxter said, “We knew going in that the Europeans have a penchant for the American West, primarily the Grand Canyon, and Native American culture.” Big Thunder was able to take an even more prominent role in this new Frontierland, thanks to a new creative interpretation of some traditional Disneyland elements. “The other thing that transpired was that Tom Sawyer and Mark Twain are not big items in Europe; so doing Tom Sawyer Island was relatively meaningless,”

Using the idea of a ‘Tom Sawyer Island-esque’ island, the Imagineers thought up an Adventure Isle, which is more of an international fantasy, the dream of going away to a pirate island, or finding buried treasure. This allowed Big Thunder Mountain to take center stage in Disneyland Paris, as there wouldn’t be a Tom Sawyer Island. In all the other parks, it was built after ‘center stage’ was completed, so its always out on the end or a corner. But in Paris, the Imagineers were able to put it in the middle of Fronterland.


Big Thunder Mountain was not only the visual centerpiece of Frontierland, but the narrative focus of the land. Tony and Jeff Burke created a story line which involved the whole land. Frontierland would comprise of one big boomtown area, Thunder Mesa.

The boomtown of Thunder Mesa grew around a gold mine deep within Big Thunder Mountain. The proprietor of that mine, Henry Ravenswood, was a ruthless gold baron behind Thunder Mesa’s rapid growth. Ravenswood also happened to be the owner of the old house on the hill overlooking the Rivers of the Far West—Phantom Manor.

The finished attraction sits in the Rivers of the Far West, it is based off of Magic Kingdom’s layout, with a few changes. DSC06690

Leaving the station on the mainland, the trains descend into a long and dark tunnel, before making a right hand turn, sharply rising up, and climbing the first lift hill. This tunnel takes guests under the water and onto the island. Stalactites and Stalagmites can be seen growing next to the track. At the top, waterfalls suggest that the tunnel is flooding. Riders leave the first lift hill, slow down, and drop away to the left, before making a right hand turn. If the trains are being dispatched timely, a dueling illusion is made between the guests' train and a train in the helix.

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After this turn, the trains pass under the second lift hill and its drop, before making a left hand turn onto a bridge. A vista of the ride can be seen as the trains make a slight right hand turn, before suddenly falling through a washed out section of the bridge. An on-ride camera is present here to take pictures of the riders, which can be purchased after the ride at Big Thunder Photographer. After the washed out bridge, the trains make a left hand turn and start climbing the second lift hill. Anti-rollback dogs on the track during the turn emit a sound that gives the illusion that the bridge is groaning under the weight of the train. Two tied down donkeys can be seen to the riders' right, baying at passing guests, with an empty watering pail in front of them. A goat can be seen pulling on a piece of clothing hanging on a clothesline to the riders' left, as the trains pass a mine elevator and under a water tower. DLP%20Big%20Thunder%2007

Cresting the second lift hill, the trains drop away to the left into a short straight segment before rising into a 540 degree downhill helix to the left. As guests rise up the hill into the helix, one might notice a sign reading "BEWARE! BROKEN TRESTLE!" attached to the water tower at the bottom of the second lift hill (this sign is also visible if one sits in the very back of the train and looks backward as the train climbs the second lift hill).


Following the helix, the trains pass through a short cave, go over a quick rise and drop, make a right hand turn atop a bridge into a tunnel (with a sign reading "DANGER! T.N.T." over the entrance) and climb the third lift hill. The turn into the third lift hill, like with that of the second lift hill, has anti-rollback dogs to make it sound like the bridge is straining to hold as the train passes over. As the train starts to climb the third lift hill, an unseen miner can be heard yelling "Fire in the hole!" After that, it becomes evident that the miners are dynamiting the cave the riders are going through, and blasting can be seen on both sides of the train.


Several rocks in the ceiling appear to be shaking, angered by the intrusion, simulating an earthquake, and giving the impression that the tunnel is about to collapse. As the trains crest the lift hill, gold can be seen rushing out of the ceiling before the trains exit the tunnel and travel along a very short straight section of track. The trains then enter a tunnel,this tunnel that takes guests back to the mainland and back to the station. The trains continue to accelerate until suddenly rising out of the ground, now back on the mainland. From here, the trains travel past the station and then turn around to reenter either station track.

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Pictures and Information from DLRP Magic, Jack Spence of All Ears Net, Pin Pics and The Disney Mountains: Imagineering at Its Peak by Jason Surrell

April 24, 2010

Pics and Pins of the Thunder Mountain of Tokyo

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Opening on July 4, 1987, Tokyo Disneyland’s Big Thunder Mountain (notice no Railroad at the end), was the first Thunder Mountain outside of the United States. Being built around the same time as Magic Kingdom’s (like the majority of Tokyo Disneyland), it is almost identical to Florida’s version. With a few exceptions:

  • The abandoned town section is replaced by a longer cave before the second lift hill.
  • The station sits on columns rather than on a hillside.
  • The ending is altered. Instead of crossing back over the drop from the third lift hill, the track makes a U-turn before dropping through the Boneyard/geyser scene, passing through a short tunnel, and making a right hand turn into the final brakes. The trains pass in front of the station, and then turn back into the boarding area.



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Pictures and Information from PinPics, TDR Fan, and AllEarsNet