Florida

WDW Unwraps Plans for Holiday 2012

Walt Disney World has unwrapped its plans for the coming Holiday season and it looks merry and bright! Guests of the resort have much to look forward to, including the annual Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at The Magic Kingdom and The Candlelight Processional at Epcot. Here are some details about this year’s events:

Magic Kingdom

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will have its longest-ever run with 20 magical nights from November 9-December 21. For a quarter century, Walt Disney World guests have been mesmerized by this must-see event, a grandly festive tradition immersing families in the holiday spirit. Dates for 2012: Nov. 9, 12, 15, 16, 25, 27, 29, 30 and Dec. 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21.  Beginning at 7 p.m. (after regular park hours), guests with special event tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party can enjoy all the holiday splendor with lively stage shows, spectacular fireworks, a unique holiday parade and favorite holiday traditions including complimentary cookies and hot cocoa, and snow flurries on Main Street, U.S.A. For more information, visit www.Disneyworld.com/Christmasparty.  NOTE: this is a hard ticket special event after regular park hours; purchasing tickets in advance is highly recommended.

Entertainment, Fireworks and More: Santa’s elves have transformed the Magic Kingdom into a winter wonderland with festive wreaths, bows, garland, sparkling lights, parades and towering Christmas trees.  The fun includes the Holiday Wishes nighttime spectacular: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season fireworks, plus live entertainment with Disney characters all dressed up for the holidays.
Castle Dream Lights on Cinderella Castle: Cinderella Castle transforms into a glimmering ice palace for the holidays — thanks to a special effects spectacle bathing the castle in 200,000 shimmering white lights. Magic Kingdom guests are treated nightly to the dramatic castle celebration and stage show.

Epcot

Candlelight Processional is a timeless holiday offering at Epcot that combines seasonal music with the poignant reading of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator, accompanied by a mass choir performing seasonal melodies, and a 50-piece live orchestra nightly November 23 – December 30, at 5, 6:45 and 8:15 p.m. Crowd favorites Neil Patrick Harris and Gary Sinise return to America Gardens Theater stage on select nights.  Guests can purchase a Candlelight Dining Package, which combines lunch or dinner at select Epcot restaurants with guaranteed seating for the Candlelight Processional and VIP viewing of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.  For more information and reservations click here.

Holidays Around the World: Storytellers from around the world share traditions and lore from their homeland throughout World Showcase.  The merriment continues with meet and greets with Santa and Mrs. Claus, plus the nightly “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth,” laser, light, fireworks display capped with a seasonal finale.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights: This massive seasonal display features millions of dancing lights, plus animated displays and 3-D effects perfectly synchronized to electrifying holiday tunes amidst snowfall.  The rich tradition takes place on the Streets of America, dazzling guests from Nov. 9, 2012 to Jan. 6, 2013.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Celebrate safari style as Disney’s Animal Kingdom is wilder than ever this winter season. Mickey and his pals rejoice in traditional holiday music with a world beat twist during the daily “Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade.”

Downtown Disney

Get all your Christmas shopping done at Downtown Disney during Festival of the Seasons. The shopping mecca is draped with yuletide cheer, plus live entertainment, holiday carolers, a lively street party, plus photo ops with Santa and Santa Goofy.

Walt Disney World Resorts

The resorts are dressed up for the holidays with festive décor, gingerbread houses and more. And guests can experience even more magic this season with  great pricing.  For as little as $72 per person, per day, guests can enjoy a 6-night, 7-day vacation package with room and tickets valid at all four theme parks. Visit Disneyworld.com, for booking information. Rates are based on availability.

The Battle of New Fantasyland vs. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Disney has posted a new teaser site and map for the New Fantasyland Expansion at The Magic Kingdom in Orlando. The internet has gone wild with a few accusations that they have taken much licence in regards to the map design from a certain boy wizard who resides up the road. In addition to the similarities of the maps, Gaton’s Tavern is going to have its own special LeFous Brew served in souvenir steins and goblets (including a foamy head!) What do you think? Is Disney attempting to copy Universal? After all, they say imitation in the sincerest form of flattery. We’re working on an article to detail more of the similarities between these two hyper-themed lands. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

new fantasyland map
New Fantasyland Map

 
wizarding world of harry potter map
Wizarding World of Harry Potter Map

LeFous-Brew-Disney
LeFous Brew

butterbeer
Butterbeer

New Fantasyland, a Pirate’s Life for You, Splitsville, Test Track 2.0 and More

Fall 2012 Brings New Stirrings for Fantasylanda Pirate’s Life for You, New Downtown Disney Entertainment Complex, Test Track 2.0 and Many More Treats to Walt Disney World Resort

 
As the weather cools down this fall, entertainment at Walt Disney World Resort heats up with new experiences offering guests a chance to strike up fun at a new bowling and entertainment complex, indulge their Disney fantasies in the New Fantasyland, immerse themselves in the world of Jack Sparrow, become automotive designers, see zebras up close on safari, and much more.
Here’s a look at what’s in store…

Preview date of Nov. 19 has been set for the next phases of the New Fantasyland leading to the Grand Opening on Dec. 6. Adding to the big top fun of Storybook Circus, already in place, guests will delight in everything new coming on line for fall and winter:

  • Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • Ariel’s Grotto
  • Be Our Guest Restaurant
  • Pete’s Silly Sideshow
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle

Splitsville: bowling re-imagined

The age-old image of bowling is about to change with the opening of Splitsville, America’s Bowling Alley, at Downtown Disney West Side this fall.
Splitsville’s 50,000 square feet, two-story location will be unlike traditional bowling alleys — with 30 lanes separated into several clusters to create a one-of-a-kind perspective immersed in hip and retro elements. The Downtown Disney location also will boast billiard tables, live entertainment, a dramatic balcony and ample outdoor seating.

Placing a whole new spin on the bowling experience with its emphasis on unique design, Splitsville will greet guests with upscale sushi bars, plush booths and dynamic decor overlooking the bowling lanes. Between strikes and spares, guests can feast on menu items including hand-tossed pizza, fresh-rolled sushi, grilled mahi-mahi with “Voodoo” shrimp and hand-cut filets alongside alley-classics such as cheeseburgers and crinkle-cut fries served right at the lane. For more information, visit www.splitsvillelanes.com.

Enjoy ‘best’ eats and sips from around the world

New vegan and fresh-from-Florida dishes will debut along with international bites and sips at the 17th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Sept. 28-Nov. 12, 2012.  The 46-day culinary event — named one of the “Best Food and Wine Festivals” on the Travel Channel web site – adds an extra day of festival fun this year. Festival goers are treated to top music acts during daily Eat to the Beat! pop concerts, where four new Eat to the Beat! acts -Smash Mouth, “The Voice” winner Javier Colon, Blues Traveler and Dennis DeYoung, original member of STYX — and 14 returning bands will take their turn on the America Gardens Theatre stage.

Authentic Taste seminars, HGTV home-entertaining presentations and most event experiences are included with regular Epcot admission.  To book special festival programs like Mixology Seminars, Culinary Demonstrations and the Party for the Senses grand tasting events, guests can call 407/WDW-FEST (939-3378).  Information for select events and programs will be updated periodically at www.disneyworld.com/foodandwine.

Design, then test drive! The new Test Track Presented by Chevrolet

A re-imagined, design-centric Test Track Presented by Chevrolet will debut in fall with a sleek new “Chevrolet Design Center.” Amid upbeat music, engaging media, dramatic lighting and a collection of Chevrolet concept cars and model vehicles, guests themselves will become automotive designers and create their own custom concept vehicles.
The adventure will then shift into high gear as guests buckle into their 6-person “SimCar” ride vehicle and put their design through its paces on the exhilarating hills, switchbacks and straight-aways of the Test Track circuit. Their performance testing complete, guests will move into a post-show area filled with special effects and be scored on how well their custom concept vehicle did.

The Test Track refurbishment is part of a new multi-year alliance with General Motors. As Chevrolet marks its 100th anniversary, the new alliance agreement enables General Motors to tell its story in new and exciting ways to millions of guests from around the world and continue as the official vehicle sponsor of Walt Disney World Resort.

“Phineas and Ferb & YOU: A Brand New Reality” Debuts at Downtown Disney

Starting this fall, Walt Disney World Resort guests will become the stars of “Phineas and Ferb & YOU: A Brand New Reality.” The virtual experience will allow guests to play with animated characters from Disney’s Emmy Award-winning animated series “Phineas and Ferb.” The fun happens at Downtown Disney West Side, next to Bongos Cuban Café Sept.1 – Dec. 1, from 2-9:30 p.m. daily.
How it works: As many as three guests are invited to stand inside the virtual experience set, and out of 20 randomly pre-determined animation segments, Phineas and Ferb, Agent P or even Dr. Doofenshmirtz will magically appear to play and dance alongside them. It all happens in a virtual (on-screen) 30-second experience. But the fun doesn’t end there! Guests may visit a special website to download and share with family and friends a complimentary souvenir photo of their starring role. To complement this limited time engagement, special Phineas and Ferb merchandise will be available at a nearby merchandise stand.

Swashbucklin’ this Fall: The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow

The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow debuts this fall at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, giving Walt Disney World Resort guests a chance to become immersed in the world of the four “Pirates of the Caribbean” films.
Aspiring pirates will experience the story of Jack Sparrow like never before to discover if they have what it takes to join Captain Jack’s crew.
The attraction will be included with theme park admission and will be located in Soundstage 4, former space of Journey Into Narnia: Prince Caspian.

Disney Cruise Line Sets Sail from New Destinations

After summer sailings out of NewYork City to Canada and the Bahamas, the Disney Magic will call the Port of Galveston home for the first time during fall and winter 2012 for a series of seven-night cruises to the Western Caribbean.  The Disney Wonder will return to the Port of Los Angeles to host four Pixar-sinspired seven-night California Coastal cruises in September and October, a special 14-night voyage to Hawaii in October and seven-night Mexican Riviera cruises throughout fall and winter.

Kilimanjaro Safaris: From A to Zebra

Zebra at Disney’s Animal Kingdom welcome guests on Kilimanjaro Safaris to their new home in fall 2012. A reconstructed savannah space featuring a new watering hole for live animals will offer an additional viewing opportunity at the end of guests’ expedition through Africa.

Tricks, Hits and more as fall favorites return to Walt Disney World

  • Soulful sounds

Now in its 30th year, Night of Joy returns to Magic Kingdom Park with a contemporary Christian music festival Sept. 7-8. Headlining this after-hours event in 2012 will be Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin, NEEDTOBREATHE, MercyMe, Third Day and Kutless along with 10 other inspiring singers in a variety of genres. While artists perform at several stages, many popular attractions also are available for guests. Event hours are 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. each evening and require a special ticket. Additional information is available at www.nightofjoy.com.

  • Spook-tacular treats

A family-friendly fright-fest in Magic Kingdom featuring a children’s parade, trick-or-treating throughout the park, face painting, and more, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is a Halloween-themed special event held on 23 select evenings Sept. 11-Nov. 2. Purchase of an additional admission ticket is required to attend. More information:Disneyworld.com/Halloween

  • Running scared

RunDisney double-dares guests to brave dark and ghostly streets haunted by Disney villains in The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend Sept. 28-29. The newly created 10-mile race takes place in and around Disney’s Hollywood Studios with thrilling rides operating late into the night. The weekend includes the Disney Villains Hollywood Bash, kids’ races and a family fun run 5K at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. For more information, visit runDisney.com.

  • A hole-in-one for children

The PGA TOUR returns to Walt Disney World Resort for the 42nd Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, Nov. 8-11. The Fall Series event, held annually at the Palm and Magnolia Golf Courses, features some of the world’s top golfers playing in one of the resort’s longest-running traditions.
A popular destination for golfers and their families, the Classic serves as the season finale for the PGA TOUR, and the final opportunity for golfers on the threshold to play their way into the Top 125 on the money list. Additionally, the pro-am format has recently been headlined by popular names such as Johnny Damon, Ray Allen, Doc Rivers and Jerome Bettis. For more information, visit: http://classic.childrensmiraclenetworkhospitals.org

  • The ultimate “runners’ night out”

With a start under the stars, the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon takes runners through the theme parks with world-class Disney entertainment along the way to help the miles fly by. After finishing, runners and their guests can celebrate their accomplishment at an exclusive after-hours party inside the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.  The weekend, Nov. 9-10, also includes kids’ races, a family fun run 5K and a health and fitness expo. For more information, visit runDisney.com.

  • Come alive with color

Downtown Disney invites guests to the 37th Festival of the Masters presented by Michaels Nov. 9-11. This outdoor fine arts show features more than 150 juried Fine Artists and over 40 Emerging Masters, offering one-of-a-kind selections in jewelry, paintings, clay, glass and eight additional categories. Plus, live entertainment, interactive activities for kids and families and unique food offerings. Additional information can be found at disneyworld.com/downtowndisney
More information about Walt Disney World Resort is available at disneyworld.com.

Avatar Rumours, Tech & Construction

Avatar Land

First we had the flying dragon tests….now we have interactive plants.

The new Avatar themed land at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Park looks to have some amazing technology in the works to help create the most realistic experience ever. An article was posted on Engadget last week and points to some interesting technology from DIsney Research that allows human touch to interact with plants.

Will this tech be used as part of the Avatar hyper-themed land? We’re not sure. Either way, count on more interesting news to surface as this project begins its first bit of preparation and construction according to Screamscape. An internal memo sent from Joe Rohde mentioned August 3, 2012 as the first day of on-site construction work for “Pandora – The World of Avatar”. People have also been seeing height balloons over Animal Kingdom. Let the Pandoramonium begin!
 

Third House for HHN Announced: Alice Cooper Goes to Hell 3D

Another Halloween Horror Nights update for you: Alice Cooper Goes to Hell 3D is the newest house announcement for 2012. That brings us to three house announcements so far (The Walking Dead & Silent Hill being the others.) We don’t yet have a theme, so feel free to speculate. Once again this haunt will appear on both coasts. Check out all the details below:


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Silent Hill & Walking Dead at Halloween Horror Nights!

Today we’ve got a double dose of awesome for you! Both Silent Hill and The Walking Dead will be featured in their own houses at Universal Studios Orlando & Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights. Great news for fans on both coasts. We love both of these franchises, and are excited to see how the houses turn out.

We’re wondering though, is Halloween Horror Nights going to become a cookie cutter event now? In the past, each park had its own theme and haunts, but it looks as though they are heading in the direction of sharing themes and ideas. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? We’re not sure. Check out the all the details of these two haunts below: Continue reading

What to do at WDW when you don't want to go to a Park?

BLASPHEMY!! Yes, I said that terrible line that no one in their right mind would ever shutter and I should be ashamed of myself. OR SHOULD I? When you have been visiting Disney World for as long as I have, PLUS you are spending the day with a cast member, sometimes, you really don’t want to have lineups and crowds and scooters ramming into you.

So, we decided to do a few things we have not done in a very long time, seems to be a theme for this visit I suspect. Nonetheless, a late afternoon of playtime was exactly what was in store. First though, we had to pick up our shirts for Goofy’s Mystery Tour, more on that next week. 😉  We were bound for Downtown Disney and I was starting to get rumblies in my tumblies…….for two people with Gluten Allergies and we were on Disney property, the choices were endless. We had just visited the Boardwalk last week trying Kouzzina’s for the very first time so we jumped at the opportunity to return to the Boardwalk and head just past Kouzzina’s and grab a bite at the ESPN Club.

Chef Michael came out, we chatted briefly about the afternoon possibilities, my brother Bob & I both going for the Philly Cheese steak sandwich. I have never had one, was briefly IN Philadelphia when I was flying here actually but no cheese steak was consumed. Today was the day, AND it was gluten-free so I was delighted. Not to mention, with the plethora of TV’s inside, we were surrounded by options. Being the great Canadian gal that I am, NHL playoff’s were on, Nashville and Phoenix were having an afternoon game, WHICH Nashville lost may I add…..BOOOO!!! Another time though. Bob was getting into a British “football” game, along with half of the restaurant because there was some pretty spirited guests.
But with lunch over and it was pretty late in the afternoon, I made the recommendation to head over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge for some critter time. Now, Bob works at Boma, which is conveniently located inside the Lodge, and when your off work, you want to stay as far away as possible, but he agreed that we would be exploring OUTSIDE and not in.
Kidani- the newest section of the Resort, nestled among the extended Savannah that Disney has created for our incredible creatures. I was extremely excited to see what the extension looked like. I had stayed at the Resort years back, had a Savannah view, but I was about to experience something new. We walked from the Jambo House, the main part of the Lodge to see what was happening. Lush greenery and tropical flowers were with us every step of the way. As we arrived, we ran into a very special friend of mine with whom I never expected to see. One of my leaders from my time working at Le Cellier at the Canadian Pavilion was luckily just transferred over to Animal Kingdom Lodge and as we entered Kidani, Carolyn was square in our sites. I briefly had mentioned to Bob we should have called ahead to see if she was here, but he reassured me that it was late and she was probably gone for the day. To my luck though, she was not, actually JUST heading out the door and my Pixie Dust was working because it was meant to be for sure. Carolyn spotted us before I spotted her as my eyes were adjusting from the light coming side the building. Plus, I was taking a look at my surroundings. What an incredible site it was. Another giant space filled with African inspired artifacts, masks, costumes, animals and some friendly faces indeed.

After my lovely visit and plans for another get together, Bob & I ventured outside to the viewing area to take a closer look. With the guidance of one fascinating cast member from South Africa, we were lead on an amazing journey with some pretty cool guests. Giraffes walking the Savannah in search of snacks was the first thing that caught my eye. Our lovely guide explained the finer points of what they eat and growth. These two little guys were fairly new to the reserve and were growing very nicely. Zebra’s were my next spotting. Did you know that in the wild, when they run, they are grouped together and all you see is flashes of white and black, sometimes brown which confuses predators? Some ostrich’s roamed around as well adding to my delight. It was early evening at this point and the heat of the day starting to retreat and provided us the opportunity to have some great viewings. We traveled up into the library of Kidani which also provided a bird eye view of the Resort. With rooms spanning around the Savannah, no wonder Disney guests and Disney’s Vacation Club Members chose this as their favorite. It was certainly an experience I will not soon forget.

Bob decided as we headed off, said our good byes to our South African cast member who provided us a very special look at Kidani and the Savannah, Jumbo House was our next stop. Now, I have been here many, many times and it brings me such joy to enter. A sprawling Lodge with towering beams with light streaming in every nook and cranny, makes for one impressive entrance. There is one thing to say about the folks from South Africa, they are friendly. I mean they are genuine and continuously smiling and extremely helpful. They are one extremely proud bunch. What a fantastic way for Disney to showcase the culture than to bring in men and women? Seaters, Greeters, Escorts, you name it, they are everywhere and always there with a smile and some interesting information for you.
We took sometime to tour around Jumbo House, which if your still wondering what Jumbo means, in Swahili it means literally Hello or Welcome. Jumbo House, or Welcome House is the front lobby area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. The art is overwhelmingly beautiful, masks and costumes everywhere on display, there are wood carvings and tributes everywhere and trust me, if you get the chance to, skip off to the Lodge and take a peak, you won’t regret my advice.
We needed something to quench our thirst after our trip through the Savannah so we headed over to the Victoria Falls Bar. When you have reservations for either Boma or Jiko at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you will have the opportunity to walk right past the bar. Everything is downstairs but you have a fantastic chance to meander down towards the restaurants. Beautiful surroundings, waterfalls and rock formations and beautiful wood are everywhere. When we got to the bar, I found that one of my favorite bartenders was working and oh what a surprise was for him.
Dustin is a familiar face behind the bar, he has actually been at the Lodge for some time, although he looks like he isn’t even old enough to be out of school yet. Warm smile and a talent for pulling together something fabulous, he made some pretty inspiring recommendations for us. A spotted lemur was recommended as I have a love for sweet beverages, and my brother had a tasty martini. Dustin and I caught up, the bar was slightly starting to fill up so Bob & I happily sat at the bar chatting and watching the people around us. As we did, we saw one of Bob’s leaders coming upstairs with some pretty exciting news for Dustin.
 You see, at Disney, they want to showcase and recognize their talent, each Month, guests and our peers alike have the opportunity to create magic for the cast. By taking a moment to recognize incredible service, a helping hand or a fantastic experience you have had, Disney offers a Guest Fanatic Award, This is for service excellence and anyone can fill one out. When you do, they go directly to that cast members leader and are then documented in our files and then distributed back to the cast member. Imagine how you would feel receiving this whilst at work? Not only do they do that, but they collect them monthly and award someone extra special. Much like an employee of the month, Disney offers extra special perks for being a Guest Fanatic Monthly Award winner. A prime parking spot, $75 Disney Dollar to be spent anywhere on property and a certificate from the President of Disney and your Area Leaders. You are also thrown into the pot for the yearly draw. I can proudly say, that for the Month of July 2007 I was the Epcot Guest Fanatic Award recipient. Dustin certainly deserved this and I was proud to be there when he was presented his award. Way to go Dustin!!
When we finished our delicious beverages, we said our goodbyes and continued downstairs for another extra special surprise. Another one of my former leaders, Vicki Thompson was also lucky enough to be offered a transfer to the Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge but as an Area Leader in Jiko. We decided it had been far to long since I saw Vicki so we inquired with our friend Rumbi, a greeter at Jiko if she was available. I wanted to surprise her of course so Rumbi was a great sport and offered a diversion to get Miss Vicki to the front of the restaurant. What a great surprise it was. Vicki was delighted to see me, we spent some time chatting and catching up and the offer to share another catch up prior to my departure from Florida was made and we were soon our our way again. Vicki had a fantastic outlook, we shared some amazing laughs and a promise I would see her soon.
All in all, my visit to the Animal Kingdom Lodge was a success. Surprise visits from some truly inspiring women, some awesome animals and to witness someone being recognized for his hard work and determination at work…priceless as they say.There is truly a plethora of things to do outside the actual Parks at Walt Disney World so my question is, where are YOU going to explore today? Your only limits are your imagination. There are so many fun and interesting things to do here, go be inspired yourself.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have an African bottle of wine that needs my attention and photos to go through to remind me of the wicked day I just had. So, until next time, TTFN!!

 

Tracey

New Fantasyland Opening Dates announced!

Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid

We’re so excited to hear today that the completed Dueling Dumbo’s and interactive queue line along with Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station will open in July, followed by everything else in the New Fantasyland opening by Holiday 2012. The exception being the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train which is still the wild card. Read all the details below:

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