Pictured here left-to-right are “Once Upon a Time” star Ginnifer Goodwin, Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs, singer Jordin Sparks and Mickey Mouse pose December 6, 2012 at the grand opening of New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
New Fantasyland is a new area in the Magic Kingdom and is the largest expansion in the 41-year history of the theme park.
Photo by Kent Phillips, courtesy Walt Disney World Resort
We first reported that Walt Disney World was seeking circus acts for its Storybook Circus portion of the New Fantasyland Expansion a few months ago. At the time, it was noted that solo clown acts were not being sought out, which many misconstrued as meaning clowns were not going to be an element in the Magic Kingdom’s expansion, which officially opens this Thursday, December 6.
Yesterday, the official Disney Parks blog shattered those hopes by announcing that the area will feature a clown act, known as the Storybook Circus Giggle Gang. While the Disney community at large reacted poorly to the news, the sentiment was only bolstered by the Disney Parks blog itself. Receiving relatively few comments, initially nearly half of the moderated comments were negative; at press time, the number has dwindled to nearly one-fourth.
Aside from a general distaste for the choice of entertainment, there is the very real and recognized irrational fear of clowns by millions of children and adults, known as coulrophobia. While specific fears are not broken down, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), nearly 14% of 18-59 year olds suffer from irrational fears. While spiders, flying and some others tend to top the list, many respected sources within the psychological field cite coulrophobia as being high on the list. This, of course, speaks for adults, but clearly children must be more open and accepting of clowns due to their child-like behavior, right? Not so.
One oft-cited example as to the extreme of how universally despised clowns are by children is a survey conducted by the University of Sheffield in 2007. The survey interviewed more than 250 children regarding proposed changes to a hospital’s decor. While not intending to single out clowns specifically (the survey consisted of all sorts of possibilities), the researchers couldn’t help but notice that every single one of the children, aged 4 – 16, rejected the use of clowns, with many children cited as referring to the clowns as scary.
Few professions can likely stake claim that they terrify their customers by their very nature of being — dentistry perhaps? Yet it is openly acknowledged and discussed by and amongst professional clowns that there is a large number of the population that — for lack of a better word — fears them. In an article from Psychology Today, titled ‘No Laughing Matter,’ one professional clown is quoted as explaining, ‘to a toddler, there’s nothing funny about a clown — he’s a monster.’
The professional discourtesy does not end there. The website of one professional entertainer, MollieTheClown.com, devotes an entire paragraph to understanding the fear of clowns by both adults and children and how she is willing to adapt to the stituation. And when it comes to the grand-daddy of clown infestations, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, clown-fearing is well known by the profession. In an interview titled ‘5 Clown Questions Debunked From a Ringling Bros. Pro,’ professional clown Frances Tiffin is quoted as saying, ‘You know, we’re all quick on our feet, so we tend to get used to it. But it never came up as a serious thing to think about. Not in a class, but definitely at work. I mean we talk about it all the time. Maybe clown schools should think about adding one. After all, so many of us do have some form of coulrophobia.’ After noting that as a female, she seems to be more approachable to children, she added, ‘I’ve heard a number of guys say that it’s frustrating that kids will shy away from them.’
For most people that fear clowns, there is one simple solution: avoiding them. Nobody who doesn’t like the circus makes a big stink out of it (other than PETA, that is), they simply don’t patronize them. Unfortunately when it comes to the most visited theme park in the world, the choice isn’t as clear. Nor is the Magic Kingdom even remotely near synonymous with clowns in general.
Most articles that attempt to explain why the fear of clowns is so prominent (as seen in Psychology Today, Scientific American, Time, et al.) present a sane argument that children don’t react well to something anthropomorphic, or something that seems like it should be part of their norm, but clearly isn’t. After all, haven’t we all been behind that screaming, tantrum-throwing child that refuses to go near Mickey Mouse at Walt Disney World, belonging to the screaming, tantrum-throwing parent that insists they will pose for the photo to make for nice memories? So goes with clowns. As for adults, therapists argue that clown makeup acts as a mask and there is an inherent distrust of someone wearing a mask — that and the obligatory reference to horror films.
But perhaps it is time that Walt Disney World embraces clowns, after all, Universal Studios Orlando has had them for years — as part of its Halloween Horror Nights. Perhaps this is just the second half of the Disney Parks 2013 initiative: ‘Limited Time Magic, Unlimited Terror.’
With just under a week before the official grand opening of the New Fantasyland expansion the Magic Kingdom, the Walt Disney World Resort has shared some interesting facts and statistics about the expansion as well as Fantasyland at Disneyland theme parks around the globe.
- Doubles the size of Fantasyland. Originally 10 acres; today’s Fantasyland with expansion: 21 acres.
- Largest expansion in the 41-year history of the Magic Kingdom.
- Between Walt Disney Imagineers and their partners, it took more than 140 disciplines to bring New Fantasyland to life.
- Future additions to New Fantasyland include Princess Fairytale Hall (2013) and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (2014).
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will feature five-car trains that are designed to sway independently as they swing around the track.
- There are over 12,000 “books” in the library at Enchanted Tales with Belle.
- There are 115 windows in the Beast’s Castle.
- The lion-like figures flanking the door at the entrance to Be Our Guest Restaurant were referred to as “golions” by the design team, a combination of goat and lion.
- Figures above the entrance doors, eagles with snake tails, are called “sneagles.”
- The six stone figures on the bridge leading to Be Our Guest Restaurant were all given the name “Frank” during the design phase simply as a way to identify them.
- Centerpiece chandelier at Be Our Guest Restaurant measures more than 12 feet tall and 11 feet wide. It boasts more than 84 candles and more than 100 jewels that hang down to give it added shine.
- At Be Our Guest Restaurant, the delicate Rose Gallery adorned with rose accents, paintings and tapestries, is centered by a music box nearly 7 feet tall with a twirling Belle and the Beast.
- Storybook Circus has set up in Carolwood Park – this name references the steam train that was in Walt Disney’s backyard.
- At the Magic Kingdom Park, Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, and at the Disneyland Resort, Timothy Mouse carries a magic feather atop the Dumbo attraction. At Tokyo Disneyland, he holds a circus whip.
- A version of the popular attraction “Dumbo” has been included in every Disneyland-style park since the first one in 1955:
- Magic Kingdom, WDW, October 1, 1971
- Tokyo Disneyland, April 15, 1983
- Disneyland Paris, April 12, 1992
- Hong Kong Disneyland, September 12, 2005
- The music heard from the old fashioned calliope in the front of Pete’s Silly Sideshow was recorded from a set of antique circus crank organs owned by a collector in Southern California.
- Pete’s Silly Sideshow resembles a type of sideshow called a Ten-in-One, which traditionally offered a series of acts performing various tricks and daredevil stunts.
- Pete, sometimes known as Peg-Leg Pete, is the longest running continuous Disney character, debuting in 1925 in the Disney short, Alice Solves a Puzzle.
- There are 183 characters in Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid. More than 70 percent (128, to be exact) are featured in the “Under the Sea” scene.
- The Audio-Animatronics figure of the sea witch Ursula is 7 1/2-feet tall and 12 feet wide.
If the grand mural in the load-in area were turned on its side, it would reach a depth of more than 14 fathoms.
- More than 20,000 live and artificial plants decorate the attraction, inside and out.
A new post on the official Disney Parks blog teases what appears to be the Flying Dragon puppet/vehicle that was spotted during testing earlier this year at Minter Field Airport in Shafter, California. Using blurry video footage, the video appears to spotlight the vehicle and in fact the post does tease that it involves a dragon of some sort, noting some of which even breathe fire, which the Disney flying vehicle reportedly does.
The blog entry also links to a new tumblr account which chronicles these so-called dragon sightings (not really), but perhaps what’s most interesting about the tumblr’s posts is that they are tagged with New Fantasyland, indicating that the flying dragon puppet/vehicle may soon be making its public debut over the skies of the Enchanted Forest in the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort.
It’s time to get your game on, as the winter issue of Disney twenty-three, the flagship magazine of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club, takes readers on a vivid journey through the world of Wreck-It Ralph, the sensational new film from Walt Disney Feature Animation. The hilarious and touching film begs the question, What would happen if a video game bad guy decided he was tired of being bad?
Available nationwide on November 13, Disney twenty-three answers this question through exclusive interviews with director Rich Moore, writer Phil Johnston, star Sarah Silverman and more. The naturally animated Silverman also offers her personal take on getting toon-ed into the sassy character Vanellope von Schweetz. Along with the new issue, D23 Gold Members will receive a special member-only gift: a vibrant set of pixelated Wreck-It Ralph window clings featuring Ralph, Fix-It Felix, Jr. and the Nicelanders.
“Wreck It Ralph is an imaginative, heartfelt adventure that connects many of our favorite classic video game characters with a host of new ones and is sure to delight Disney fans of all ages,” said Steven Clark, head of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club. “In the winter issue, we invite D23 Members to get in the game as we take them behind the scenes with the stars and creative team of the film.”
The winter issue also celebrates the opening of the new Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs exhibit at the Walt Disney Family Museum with an in-depth look at the collection with a peek from Walt’s daughter, Diane Disney Miller, and an exclusive interview with Snow White’s live-action reference model, Marge Champion. Plus, ‘Epic Mickey’ creative director Warren Spector writes about digging into the Walt Disney Archives to create blockbuster Disney video games.
Disney twenty-three also offers the latest on exciting new projects from the world of Disney and a look at some celebrated classics. In its pages, Disney fans will be able to:
- Take to the stage as D23’s Billy Stanek and Radio Disney DJ Jake Whetter step into roles in Newsies and Mary Poppins on Broadway
- Learn “30 Thing You Just Might Not Know About Epcot” from never-built attractions to roaming eight-foot-tall dolls
- Enter the Magic Kingdom for a look at Walt Disney World’s spectacular Fantasyland expansion
- Get answers to “23 Questions” with The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Newsies composer Alan Menken
- Enjoy a tour D23 Presents Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives and see some of the iconic pieces now on display at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum
In conjunction with the release of winter issue of Disney twenty-three, www.D23.com will feature original and exclusive stories that complement the contents of D23’s beautiful, glossy magazine. Only available on D23.com, beginning November 13:
- Exclusive outtakes and insights from Warren Spector’s revelations about the creation of Disney video games.
- In celebration of The Lion King on Broadway’s 15th anniversary, Julie Taymor and Thomas Schumacher reflect on the opening night of what has become the fifth-longest running show on Broadway.
- Expanded interviews and behind-the-castle-walls photos of the Fantasyland expansion at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom
Disney twenty-three is delivered directly to the doorstep of all D23 Gold Members, along with a special gift. Disney twenty-three magazine is also available at retail locations across the country for $15.95, and can also be purchased online at DisneyStore.com andthroughout the Disneyland® and Walt Disney World® Resorts.
D23: The Official Disney Fan Club celebrates the remarkable past, present and future of Disney, taking its name from 1923, the year Walt Disney founded his world-famous company. D23 brings its members a host of exclusive benefits, including a weekly e-mail newsletter; an array of discounts and special offers; free gifts throughout the year; and exclusive, member-only special events.
Disney fans can join the world’s only Official Disney Fan Club by visiting www.D23.com, or at select shops at the Disneyland® Resort, the Walt Disney World® Resort and www.DisneyStore.com/D23. To keep up with all the latest D23 news and events, follow “DisneyD23” on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.
Earlier today, the official Disney Parks blog held an internet chat with Walt Disney Imagineer Chris Beatty who is overseeing the New Fantasyland expansion at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. Featured in the chat was the reveal of the ‘forbidden’ West Wing inside the Beast’s castle which is represented in the New Fantasyland Fantasy Forest area as the ‘Be Our Guest’ restaurant.
The chat opened up with this video featuring Imagineers Tim Warzecha, Ted Robledo and Chris Kelly as they toured the restaurant, including the West Wing section, and gave an overview into the design and thought process behind the new dining location.
Inside the West Wing, diners will find both the enchanted rose from Beauty and the Beast as well as the portrait of the Beast hanging over the fireplace. Guests who are able to dine in the room will be able to witness petals magically appearing to fall from the rose — when the last petal falls, a ‘lightning storm’ occurs, causing the windows by the rose to flash colors and the painting of the Beast will transition into the Prince before the guests’ eyes. While Beatty stopped short of explaining the frequency of this magical moment, he noted that the timing was balanced so that each guest dining would be able to experience it, but it wouldn’t occur often enough as to become repetitive, or not special.
Beatty also spoke on the music box centerpiece of Belle and the Beast dancing, located in the Rose Gallery section of the restaurant. The music box serves as a gift to the couple from Belle’s father, Maurice. Inside Maurice’s workshop at Enchanted Tales with Belle, just before guests enter the magic mirror to visit Belle in the castle, they can find the maquette of the statue as well as plans, hidden amongst Maurice’s work (SPOILER: the maquette can actually be found looming in the dark in the top left corner of the wall that contains the magic mirror). Inside the restaurant, the music box will play the same music found throughout the restaurant; as guests move from the ballroom, where the music is played as full orchestration, it will turn into a music box form inside the Rose Gallery.
While it’s set to open on December 6, New Fantasyland is currently undergoing a ‘dress rehearsal’ — or soft opening — on most days. Not all of the new expansion’s features can be found today, however, as Beatty hints there is an object currently missing from beside Gaston’s portrait inside the tavern.
During the chat, the Disney Parks blog also announced it will soon be offering a special Disney Parks blog meetup on November 17, allowing guests to visit Be Our Guest along with the Imagineers. Details have yet to be announced.
Walt Disney World has released these images of some of the art featured in the ‘Be Our Guest Restaurant’ which will soon open in the Fantasy Forest section of the New Fantasyland expansion at the Magic Kingdom. The restaurant features intricate works of art designed to convey the elegance of the Beast’s Castle in Beauty and the Beast, such as that seen here in close-up as well as an overall view.
Located in Magic Kingdom, the stylish restaurant will serve French-inspired cuisine for quick-service lunch and table-service dinner, becoming the first and as of yet only dining location to serve alcohol in the park. Part of New Fantasyland, Be Our Guest Restaurant will grand open Dec. 6, 2012 at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Photos by David Roark, courtesy Walt Disney World Resort.
Casting notices have gone up seeking saxophone, clarinet and percussionists with ‘energetic and outgoing personalities’ for a new entertainment experience at the Magic Kingdom. There is no indication where the performances will be held, but the theme park has recently put out casting calls for circus acts and other improv groups believed to be used as part of the New Fantasyland Expansion at the Magic Kingdom.
While the saxophone and clarinet positions are listed as being on a substitution basis, the percussion act is a full time gig and adds that familiarity with Spike Jones’ music is desired. All of the positions are described as being part of a ‘highly interactive, comedic and unique atmospheric experience [that] will bring fantasy and fun to each Guest. Each experience demands high energy and a passion for seeking out guest interaction.’
Like the circus acts, auditions for these roles are by appointment only on a limited first come, first serve basis and must be made by calling 407-397-3285.
Walt Disney World has just released this image of the Rose Gallery located inside the ‘Be Our Guest’ restaurant located in the Enchanted Forest section of the New Fantasyland Expansion at the Magic Kingdom.
Featuring a large music box centerpiece nearly 7 feet tall with Belle and the Beast slowly twirling atop, the Rose Gallery is one of three dining rooms at Be Our Guest Restaurant. Adorned with rose accents, paintings and tapestries, the Rose Gallery features French-inspired cuisine for quick-service lunch. Part of New Fantasyland, Be Our Guest Restaurant will grand open December 6, 2012.
Photo by David Roark, courtesy Walt Disney World
‘New Fantasyland’ Preview for D23, Annual Passholders Announced; Limited Edition Merchandise Pre-Order
Disney D23, the official club for fans of The Walt Disney Company, has announced it will be offering its members the opportunity to obtain free tickets to be among the first to preview the Fantasy Forest area of the ‘New Fantasyland’ expansion at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom on the weekend of November 3-4, 2012.
On October 8 at 1 pm ET, timed tickets for either day will become available for members to register for themselves and one guest. The timed blocks are 3 1/2 hours each, available at both 8 – 11:30 am and 5:00 – 8:30 pm and will include a choice of either a meet and greet with Ariel in her new Grotto or the opportunity to play and greet with Belle in the new ‘Enchanted Tales with Belle’ attraction. Other areas will be available to explore at members’ leisure, including limited dining opportunities, but ‘Be Our Guest’ will not be serving at this time.
A ‘New Fantasyland Commemorative Collection’ consisting of a small number of merchandise created for the event has also been announced and is now available for pre-order throughout most of October. This merchandise must be ordered online in advance and will not be available for purchase at the event or anywhere else beyond this opportunity.
To see the full collection of available merchandise, click here. For more information for this opportunity for D23 members and to claim tickets when available, see the official event page. Registered Annual Passholders are advised to look for an email announcing the opportunity to register.