Hundreds of fans gathered early this morning at the Magic Kingdom theme park in Walt Disney World to celebrate the induction of Princess Merida from Disney/Pixar’s Brave into the Disney Princess Royal Court. An honor bestowed to just ten before her, Merida arrived at Cinderella Castle in style atop her faithful steed Angus before receiving the crown from none other than her own mother, Queen Elinor, who made an exceptionally rare appearance. The pair were joined by the other members of the Disney Princess Royal Court along with emcee U.S. Gymnastics 2-time Olympic champion, Gabby Douglas, who was joined on stage by her own mother, Natalie Hawkins.
Other VIPs spotted included ‘Jessie’ star Debby Ryan, who was filming a segment for Disney Channel’s Disney365 news segments. Child entertainers/reporters Sophia Grace and Rosie, of the Ellen Degeneres show, were also at the event, warming up the crowd with a special rap performance created especially for the event.
Below you will find some of our photos from the event as well as some video (with more coming). Be sure to click on any of the thumbnails to see a larger version.
Here’s a quick video we uploaded on site of the royal procession featuring Merida and Angus. Sorry that it was flipped.
After officially inducting Tiana into the royal Disney Princess family in New York City in 2010 and Rapunzel at London’s Kensington Palace in 2011, Disney Consumer Products is preparing to shine the spotlight on its first official Pixar princess, Merida, from Disney/Pixar’s Brave. This time around, the ceremony will be held at 9:30 am on May 11, 2013 at Cinderella Castle located in the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort. The occasion will mark the first time that the ceremony itself is open to anyone visiting the theme park that day.
At the event, Merida will become the 11th princess to receive the Disney Princess title and join the popular franchise, standing alongside Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana and Rapunzel, all of whom are anticipated to be in attendance.
There is no word yet on who else may be in attendance of the event, but Disney star Debby Ryan has announced via her Facebook page that she plans on witnessing the ceremony of Disney’s ‘new ginger princess.’
Yesterday, the official Disney Parks blog offered some new details on the Disneyland location of Starbucks, as the Market House is slated to close next month to begin the conversion for the parks’ Starbucks location, opening this fall — an exact closure date has not yet been announced. This will finalize plans for the Disneyland Resort where the first location has already been thriving at Disney California Adventure at the Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Café.
On the east coast, we’ve been keeping tabs on the development as plans for the Magic Kingdom and Epcot have already been announced and — in the case of the former — are well underway.
The most recent date we have for a scheduled opening for Starbucks at the Magic Kingdom is June 19, 2013.
Today we also received additional information for the Epcot location which will be at the current Fountainview Ice Cream Shop. While preliminary reports had the location closing this month for the conversion with a re-opening for summer, we have learned that the current plans have the location closing on April 8, 2013 with a re-opening slated for fall. A new ice cream shop in France, where the bakery previously was, will open in June.
Locations for Disney’s Hollywood studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom have yet to be confirmed.
We received a few new updates from Walt Disney World over the past week or so regarding upcoming refurbishments and have new additions as well as several date revisions. While we recommend verifying all of the changes by visiting our ReSearch page, here are some of the highlights:
- Main Street Bakery — which is being converted over to the Magic Kingdom’s Starbucks location — is now slated to open on June 19, 2013. This is actually the second delay we have seen before (it was initially slated to open on May 18, then was pushed back to May 28).
- Mad Tea Party is currently expected to close on April 10 and is expected to re-open on May 22, 2013.
- Carousel of Progress is currently expected to close on May 13 and is expected to re-open on May 16, 2013.
- Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel is currently expected to close on May 28 and is expected to re-open on June 11, 2013.
Disney Parks has updated its ‘Limited Time Magic’ schedule to include events that begin today, February 1 and run through February 11, 2013.
At the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort is the ‘Countdown to Super Sunday,’ running from February 1 through February 9. There will be a daily pre-parade including an MVP appearance on February 4. Just before the Celebrate a Dream Come True parade, Disney football ‘star’ Goofy will hit the streets of the park for a lively pigskin celebration.
Also from February 1 to February 9, 2013, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe in Tomorrowland will be dishing up Super Sunday menu items, including ‘Soup-er Bowls’ of lobster bisque and tomato basil bisque.
Meanwhile at Disneyland Resort’s Disney California Adventure, it’s all about the Lunar New Year, from February 8 through February 11. Guests are invited to celebrate the Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cultures for the most magical Lunar New Year Party under the moon. Festivities include Mulan’s Chinese New Year Procession, cultural performances and fun-filled activities — as well as Disney Character greetings with Mulan, Mushu, Mickey and Minnie dressed in traditional Chinese outfits. A limited-edition pin will be available while supplies last.
Disney Parks has updated its official Limited Time Magic schedule to include ‘Long Lost Friends Week’ at the Walt Disney World Resorts.
According to the description, ‘for one week—from January 21 to January 27, 2013—some long-lost Disney friends are returning to Magic Kingdom park to meet you and your family! Be sure to have your camera ready, as this is a rare chance to brush shoulders with classic Disney Characters like Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar, Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, The Three Little Pigs and more!’
An addition was also made to the Disneyland Resort section of the page, in which promotes a discounted 3 day park hopper bonus ticket through February 27.
As promised, Disney Parks made its first official schedule announcement for the upcoming ‘Limited Time Magic’ campaign in 2013 via the special LIMITEDTIMEMAGIC.COM website.
Walt Disney World will feature a nightly New Year’s Eve celebration dance party in Tomorrowland beginning December 30 and running through January 5 at the Magic Kingdom theme park. The parties will feature interaction with Disney characters as well as an hourly countdown for those little (and not-so-little) ones who struggle to make it to midnight.
Over at Disneyland Resort, two events have been announced: the Three Kings Celebration and the Salute to Golden Horseshoe Revue. From January 4 through January 6 at the Disneyland theme park, guests are invited to celebrate the end of the holiday season at Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree with music, activities and cuisine that pays tribute to Southern California’s Mexican Culture.
Finally, from Thursday through Monday, January 10 through February 4, Miss Lilly and her Saloon Girls make a triumphant return to Frontierland as Disneyland will proudly present its salute to the classic theme park entertainment which opened with the park in 1955 and ran through 1986.
As we reported earlier today, we also anticipate Disney Parks announcing another campaign of sorts, titled ‘Disney Time,’ during the ABC broadcast of ‘Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest.’
According to internal documents dating various refurbishments around the Walt Disney World, we can currently expect Walt Disney World’s first in-park Starbucks to open at the Magic Kingdom theme park on May 18, 2012.
The restaurant will be located at the Main Street Bakery which is scheduled for closure between January 6, 2013 and May 17, indicating it will emerge as a Starbucks-branded location on May 18, 2013. As with its west coast counterpart, the Main Street, USA location Starbucks will remain themed to its location with cast members donning costumes that lend themselves to the theme park’s land.
This will be the second of six announced in-park locations, one at each theme park between the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts. The first opened earlier this year at Disney California Adventure as part of the new Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Café in the Buena Vista Street area of the park. A location at Epcot’s Fountain View has also been announced, though it will close for its changeover at some point in March, re-opening in late summer.
Another recently announced upcoming closures at the Walt Disney World resort include: Liberty Belle (February 1 – 7), Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage (January 7 – 12), Disney Junior: Live on Stage (January 14 – February 13) and Kali River Rapids (January 6 – February 15).
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.’