Character Changes Coming to Disney World for April/May 2010: Ariel’s Grotto Closes, Lotso Arrives

Prince Eric with Ariel during a Pirate and Princess Party at the Magic Kingdom in 2007Although most character meet & greets at the Walt Disney World Resort are fairly standard from day to day, there are a couple of times per year when there are significant changes. These changes usually occur in April/May and September/October. In 2010, these changes are further complicated by the closure of Toontown and the Fantasyland expansion in the Magic Kingdom. Since we’re already getting into April, it’s time to take a look at some of the expected upcoming changes.

April 11 will be the last day for Ariel’s Grotto. It is expected that Ariel will be appearing in human form near the Adventureland Veranda (where Lilo and Stitch currently appear) beginning around May 9 which is when a lot of the changes are set to occur, but the exact date appears to be uncertain at this time. When Ariel does begin appearing in Adventureland, she’s expected to bring Prince Eric with her. Previously an exclusive for the ill-fated but well-received Pirate and Princess Party, this will mark Eric’s full-time meet & greet debut, which we’re told is essentially a test for a possible permanent meet & greet with him in the Fantasy Forest expansion (we’re still holding our breaths for Gaston too). As Ariel and Eric are moving in, Lilo will be leaving the Magic Kingdom (but still appearing with Stitch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom) and Stitch will return to Tomorrowland. No word on whether Ariel will bring her dinglehopper with her at the new locale.

Also on April 11, Goofy will be leaving Frontierland and move to Adventureland where he’ll be dressed as a pirate and hang out near the quartermaster’s desk at the Pirates League. Winnie the Pooh and Tigger will relocate to the Toontown Fair train station. Finally on this date, Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar will join the Frontierland Hoedown, replacing Liverlips and Shaker of the Country Bears.

The majority of the changes are set to take place on May 9. In addition to the assumed date of Ariel’s re-appearance in the Magic Kingdom, the following character changes are expected across the parks:

  • Mary Poppins and the formerly-rare Bert will be appearing in Fantasyland near the carrousel.
  • Wendy will be joining Peter Pan once more in the new meet & greet location in Fantasyland
  • Pooh and Tigger will leave the Toontown Train Station in Fantasyland and move to Town Square
  • Chip and Dale are moving from Town Square to Tomorrowland
  • Snow White is moving from Town Square to Cinderella’s Wishing Well
  • Lotso from Toy Story 3 will be debuting at the Animation Building at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, replacing Carl, Russell and Dug from UP (they are expected to leave in April and may appear at the Animal Kingdom’s Oasis)
  • Jojo and Goliath will no longer meet near Playhouse Disney Live. Jojo will remain at the Play’n’Dine meal where she’ll be joined by Handy Manny
  • Piglet(!), Pooh and Stitch will join Donald, Daisy and Minnie at the Sorcerer’s Hat at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the mornings. This will be the only current opportunity to meet Piglet outside of dining at Crystal Palace.

This information comes from a very reliable source in the way of WDW Character Hunt which also reports some upcoming buzz for the October changes:

  • Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from Disney’s Tangled will begin making appearances
  • Belle’s Storytime will close (the show will return in some form in the Fantasy Forest expansion)

The site also reports that it’s basically a given that Phineas and Ferb will not be appearing in the parks until at least 2011.

We will report more news as it becomes available.

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8 thoughts on “Character Changes Coming to Disney World for April/May 2010: Ariel’s Grotto Closes, Lotso Arrives

  1. A small correction: Not all 4 of the Country Bears are leaving the Frontierland Hoedown to make way for Clarabelle & Horace.

    Wendell and Big Al will continue to appear in it, but only Liver Lips and Shaker are leaving it.

  2. Going in May….good to know where to find the displaced Ariel. Too bad she won't be in mermaid form, though.

  3. Wow, a rare Horace Horsecollar sighting in the parks. I guess the only older character would be an Oswald, though Pete never really appears either.

  4. Up until the past year or so (and a little more I guess), Clarabelle and Horace had actually been regulars in Town Square, albeit it for a relatively short time. They were also featured at the last D23 event at Walt Disney World.

  5. I am leaving for WDW next week. I am so bummed I dont even want to go now!! My 3 year olds favorite is Ariel. And I was looking forward to seeing her reaction to seeing her in person. WOW! I feel like a deflated balloon from UP….sigh.

  6. to see ariel in adventureland is different.maybe she got tired of her sea area.and just wanted to go on a adventure and see more of the park lands.taking advenureland as a favorite.

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