In spring 2012, Disney guests can fly like no elephant (or Disney guest) has ever flown, subdue villains with magic spells, sail the azure waters of the Caribbean aboard a brand-new luxury ship, and settle down for the night in rooms celebrating Disney royalty.
January-May 2012 at Walt Disney World Resort also is a time when road runners take to the streets and byways of the Vacation Kingdom in marquee runDisney events, Major League Baseball returns to Champion Stadium, Epcot blooms and Disney celebrates the possibilities of youth.
Here’s a look at what’s in store …
Look! Dumbo is going the wrong way!
Actually, Dumbo is just reversing decades of flying in counter-clockwise circles. Call it “unwinding,” if you will. And in a new location within Magic Kingdom.
Guests will board Dumbo the Flying Elephant from the lovable critter’s left side — like mounting a horse … and unlike the way guests hop aboard for a whirl at Disney parks on three continents. It is scheduled to begin happening in early 2012 when select experiences in the Storybook Circus neighborhood of New Fantasyland debut just northeast of Mad Tea Party.
Also early 2012, the existing Dumbo attraction near Prince Charming Regal Carrousel will close, be refurbished and be moved to a location in Storybook Circus next to the new Dumbo attraction. The result when completed later in 2012: double Dumbos, one going this-a-way, one going that-a-way … a real circus act, if you will.
There also will be a “big top” that serves as a queue area for the popular attraction. It will feature a variety of interactive experiences currently being developed.
Two other Storybook Circus elements planned for opening early in the year are The Barnstormer and Fantasyland Station. Guests who enjoyed The Barnstormer at Goofy’s Wiseacre Farm will be happy to know the junior coaster thrills of that attraction are back with a thematic change: Goofy has sold the farm and is now a circus stunt pilot and magician, The Great Goofini. The completely re-imagined train station will serve as the gateway to Storybook Circus and all Fantasyland points beyond.
Cruella de Vil, meet the apprentice sorcerers! And you, too, Scar. And, for that matter, a legion of other Disney villains!
When Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom premieres in early 2012, Merlin the magician will recruit guests as apprentice sorcerers to undertake missions to subdue the “baddies” in what Disney Imagineering calls an “immersive role-playing adventure.”
Armed with what appear to be nothing more potent than cards, guests engage with villains at special locations throughout the park. But the fact is: The cards have magic powers players can use in their quest to defeat the villains.
A ‘Dreamy’ ship with a ‘Fantasy’ identity all its own
When Disney Fantasy departs on her maiden voyage March 31, 2012, the new Disney Cruise Line ship will bring to life many innovative features of the recently launched sister ship Disney Dream. But these siblings are anything but identical twins!
The 4,000-passenger Fantasy will take guests on week-long Caribbean cruises during which distinctive experiences begin with the Art Nouveau-inspired details of the three-deck atrium lobby where the pièce de résistance is a cast bronze statue of Mademoiselle Minnie Mouse dressed in vintage 1920s-30s fashion with a parasol and steamer luggage at her side.
Distinctive touches continue at meal time, show time and party time aboard Disney Fantasy:
- Animator’s Palate, a dinnertime favorite on all the Disney cruise ships, features a brand new show, “Animation Magic,” for which guests do a bit of character doodling or drawing. The climax of the show involves Sorcerer Mickey conjuring the guests’ drawings — fully animated and brought to life — into onscreen action.
- For a fully coiffed entrance to dinner at the new Royal Court Restaurant, aspiring young princes and princesses can make an appointment at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, a popular salon at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort that’s taking to the high seas for the first time with special makeovers: Captain Mickey Mouse, Princess Minnie Mouse and First Mate Minnie Mouse plus Under the Sea packages.
- On pirate party nights, the salon transforms into the Pirate’s League, where swashbuckling boys, girls and grownups can get ready for the pirate life with two pirate packages: First Mate (includes bandana, facial scars tattoos, fake teeth, earring, eye patch, sword and sheath) or Empress (includes bandana, shimmering makeup, face gem, tattoos, nail polish, earring, eye patch, sword and sheath).
- The exclusive live theater production “Disney’s Aladdin — A Musical Spectacular” is staged in the luxurious, 1,340-seat Walt Disney Theatre. In the fast-paced 45-minute musical comedy, Aladdin is back as the “street rat” of Agrabah meeting up with a Genie who grants him three wishes, battling the evil Jafar, and falling in love with Princess Jasmine.
- Guests 18 and older can head off to an evening of club hopping at Europa, a nighttime entertainment district featuring sophisticated bars and trendy lounges inspired by the very best in European travel.
Rooms with a ‘royal touch’
Imagine waking up in a place where Disney Princes and Princesses have stayed. Beginning mid-February 2012, when Walt Disney World guests stay in the Royal Guest Rooms at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort—-Riverside, they’ll discover special treasures left behind by the stars of favorite animated films such as “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Princess and the Frog.”
In quarters befitting not only the young Princes and Princesses of the family but also their grown-up King and Queen parents, guests can unwind amid remarkable décor. They’ll be able to watch “fireworks” swirl as they recline in ornate beds, curl up in custom linens and more. It’s majesty and fun, all rolled into one. Each of the 512 Royal Guest Rooms sleeps up to four guests in two queen beds.
Blooms, Baseball and more
Several popular events return to Walt Disney World Resort in early 2012. Here’s a snapshot:
- The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival presented by HGTV is a spring special event filled with Disney character topiaries, a colorful array of flowers, gardens, live music and special presentations. The 19th edition will burst into full bloom March 7, 2012, and continued through May 20, 2012. More information is available online at disneyworld.com/flowerandgarden.
- Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves return to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in February 2012 for their 15th season of spring training at Walt Disney World Resort, including a schedule of “Grapefruit League” games in March at 9,500-seat Champion Stadium. For more information, guests can visit www.espnwwos.com or call 407/939-GAME.
- Every mile is filled with Disney fun at the 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by CIGNA on Jan. 5-8, 2012. It is a weekend of races that are both magical and memorable, climaxed by the 19th Disney Marathon through all four Walt Disney World theme parks. The weekend also features a half marathon and Disney’s Health & Fitness Expo. More information is available at www.rundisney.com.
- Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend on Feb. 24-26, 2012, brings women of all ages together to participate in a magical event designed just for them. The Disney Princesses are the inspiration for the weekend’s events and will focus on the attributes every princess possesses: commitment, courage, determination, fantasy, perseverance, and strength. The weekend includes the signature 13.1-mile run through Magic Kingdom and Epcot plus a family 5K, kids’ races and Disney’s Fit for a Princess Expo. More information is available at www.rundisney.com.
- The fifth class of Disney’s Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine will be in session March 8-11, 2012, when 100 high school students from across America converge on Walt Disney World Resort for a stimulating and inspiring extended weekend of special events, immersive educational workshops, personal enhancement and professional enrichment. More information is available www.disneysdreamersacademy.com.