WDW Refurb Update: Magic Carpets Grounded, HISTK Playground Closure

The Walt Disney World official website has recently added a couple of entries to its operation calendar for early 2012.

The first of the new closures announced is that of the ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure’ which is slated to join the previously announced Backlot Studios Tour closure beginning on January 13 and re-opening on March 11.

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WDW Refurb Update: Kali River Rapids to Close in January

The official Walt Disney World website is now reporting a temporary closure for Kali River Rapids at Disney’s Animal Kingdom beginning January 23, 2012 and re-opening on February 10.

In addition, we have learned of additional counter service and dining location closures which include the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor in the Magic Kingdom (closed January 9 through February 17) and an extension of Tutto Italia Ristorante in the Italy Pavilion at Epcot. The restaurant is now scheduled to close a day earlier and re-open a month later.

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Photos: Cee Lo Green, Jennifer Hudson Perform for Disney Parks Christmas Parade

Jennifer Hudson tapes Christmas Day TV special at Walt Disney Wo

Walt Disney Parks began taping its portion of the 28th Annual ‘Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade’ special today at the Magic Kingdom theme park. Performances were provided by Cee Lo Green, Jennifer Hudson and ‘American Idol’ winner Scotty McCreery, with some additional appearances by the Buddies (promoting their new film, Treasure Buddies and Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets.

The tapings continue tomorrow with expected performances by Bella Thorne and Zendaya Coleman of Disney Channel’s ‘Shake It Up’ and a rumored performance by Justin Bieber.

The Disneyland Resort performed its portion of the parade in early November.

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Joe Rohde, Disney Parks Attractions Among TEA Industry Award Recipients

The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) today named its recipients of its 18th annual Thea Awards, for which Disney Parks and Resorts received a number of accolades for its contributions ot the industry over the past year. According to TEA president (and former Walt Disney Imagineer) Rick Rothschild, the award sets out to ‘recognize and honor excellence in the creation of extraordinary visitor experiences, attractions, exhibits and places. As this year we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the founding of TEA, we can reflect on how much has changed: the tools and techniques our industry employs, the use of digital media and interactivity, the sophistication of themed environments and the international expansion of the business, especially into Asia. At the same time, storytelling and teamwork remain the bedrock of the Experience Design Industry and its projects.’ He adds, ‘the Thea Awards honor teamwork at its very best — the creative handshake between the visionary project owner and the multidisciplinary collective of designers, artisans and technicians who realize the vision. TEA’s Thea Awards celebrate storytelling across the globe — educational and entertaining stories of heritage, history, fiction, fantasy, magic and even hard science — delivered with artistry and the appropriate use of technology at museums, theme parks, world expos, special events and other settings. TEA looks forward to the next 20 years of leading the visitor attractions industry.’

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Report: Imagineer Chris Beatty Discusses New Fantasyland Expansion via Online Chat

Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster Concept ArtEarlier today, the official Disney Parks Blog held an informal live chat with Chris Beatty, Creative Director, Walt Disney Imagineering, to discuss with online guests the ongoing development of the New Fantasyland Expansion at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, the largest single expansion in the park’s history.

Unfortunately the end result wasn’t as promising as one might have hoped, with questions often answered in ways that conflict with previous announcements or seemingly dodged altogether.

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First Look: Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Interactive Game

Sorcerers of the Magic KingdomDisney’s legacy of innovation and creativity continues today as Cast Members have begun to test a new interactive experience called Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom at the Magic Kingdom theme park located in Walt Disney World.

Featuring unprecedented interaction with animated characters, Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom transforms Adventureland into an immersive game enabling fans to cast spells. In this role-playing, trading card game, players try to defeat the Disney Villains who are working to take over the Magic Kingdom. Armed with magic spells in the form of special cards, players must search for the magic symbols that lead them to the animated villains’ hiding places.

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Disney Parks App Brings ‘Magic, Memories and You’ Home

DisneyMemoriesShow.comThose who have had the privilege of witnessing the technical marvel that is ‘The Magic, The Memories and You’ at either the Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resorts know what a spectacular it truly is. Thus it must have been a daunting thought to some when someone suggested bringing some of that magic online to everyone in a way that’s spectacular in its own right. Somebody thought of that and someone believed it and DisneyMemoriesShow.com is the end result.

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Report: Snow White Attraction to Close at Walt Disney World in February 2012

Known to be closing permanently in order to make way for the Princess Fairytale Hall where guests will be able to meet and greet with their favorite Disney princesses, we now have a potential timeline for the closure of Snow White’s Scary Adventures. According to the following tweet from Crushinat0r, notice has been posted for Fantasyland Operations that the attraction will be closing permanently in February (exact date unknown). If this turns out to be the case, it’s more likely to be towards the end of the month, after the relocated Dumbo re-opens at its new location, though the two attractions are polar opposites when it comes to ridership.

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WDW Refurbs: Dumbo, Big Thunder Mountain and Liberty Belle Closures (New Fantasyland Opening Date?)

Now appearing on the official Walt Disney World calendar, we have a few key operational updates affecting guests in early 2012.

Perhaps the most riveting (if such a word could be used) is that of Dumbo, which is now scheduled to close on January 9 and re-open on February 18 March 12. Reasons aren’t generally given for the refurbs publicly, but there’s a slight possibility this may be for its move over to the Storybook Circus section of the New Fantasyland Expansion, which Walt Disney World has announced will open in early/spring 2012 with a relocated Dumbo coupled with a duplicated version that will have vehicles rotating in a clockwise direction, a first for the attraction anywhere in the world.

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Photos/Video: Walt Disney World Celebrates 40th Anniversary at Magic Kingdom

Anchored by the Mouse

With much fanfare, provided onstage by the Main Street Philharmonic, the Walt Disney World Resort celebrated the 40th birthday of the Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary Resort, the Polynesian Resort, Fort Wilderness and even the Electrical Water Pageant. Following the performance of several Disney classics by the band, Main Street soon became flooded with Mickey, Minnie and dozens of popular Disney characters as they paraded down the street, celebrating celebrations from years past.

Below is a video of the full character cavalcade:

On stage, the characters were united with 40-year cast members and Disney Parks executives, including Meg Crofton, President of Walt Disney World and Disney Parks and Resorts.

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