At a press event Tuesday night, Walt Disney World announced a new projection show on the facade of Cinderella Castle, more details about the New Fantasyland expansion, and the official opening date for Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. The brief Star Tours announcement, made by Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton and interrupted even more briefly by Darth Vader and four Stormtroopers, noted that the revised attraction's opening date will be May 20 of this year.
New Fantasyland will double the size of the existing land. The announcement featured a mix of previously-announced features and new additions. As previously announced, an anchor of the land will be the new attraction Under the Sea: The Journey of the Little Mermaid. This new attraction, a copy of the one being installed at Disney California Adventure park, is under construction on the former site of the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea lagoon.
The show building for Under the Sea: The Journey of The Little Mermaid continues toward completion, growing toward the backstage tents near Mickey's Toontown Fair that will become part of Storybook Circus land. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Also previously announced, Beast's Castle will feature the Be Our Guest Restaurant, which will change between "good food fast" during the day and table service in the evening. Nearby, Belle's Village will feature Gaston's Tavern, the Bonjour gift shop, and Belle's Cottage; the latter will be a replica of Maurice and Belle's cottage, from which a magic mirror will grant you access to the Beast's Library where you will enjoy Enchanted Storytelling with Belle.
The originally-announced Cinderella's chateau and Aurora's cottage princess meet-and-greets have been merged with all of the other princesses into the Princess Fairy Tale Hall, a large-scale themed meet-and-greet location where Snow White's Scary Adventures is currently located. On the site previously assigned to the princesses, a Seven Dwarfs Mine Train coaster will provide guests with a chance to ride through the workplace of Snow White's little men. The coaster will feature new technology that allows the mine cars to rock from side to side as the mine cars did in the original movie. "[O]ur guests are going to be able to get in the car and sort of experience that side-to-side rocking motion which is really activated by centrifugal force," Eric Jacobson, Senior Vice President of Creative Development for Walt Disney Imagineering told MousePlanet. "When you go around a curve to the right, the car will swing to the right, so you're going to have more of an exciting feeling than you're going to have on a typical roller coaster where you sort of lock down and you move to the right. You'll sort of swing to the right. You'll get a little -- I don't know if airborne is the right term -- but really it's that sort of a lift."
Dumbo the Flying Elephant will, as previously planned, be relocated to the current site of Mickey's Toontown Fair with two ride spinners to double its capacity. While details of the "queue-less waiting system" are still not complete, according to Jacobson, guests will be able to play in a big top-themed atmosphere while awaiting their turn to ride an elephant. Near Dumbo, The Great Goofini stars Goofy as a flying acrobatic pilot flying over the circus in a re-themed Goofy's Barnstormer roller coaster. The Storybook Circus-themed area will be the first to come online, with the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast-themed areas also opening to guests in 2012. The Seven Dwarfs-themed coaster will open in 2013, and the Princess Fairy Tale Hall may also push into 2013.
Concept artwork for the New Fantasyland expansion shows (clockwise from left) Maurice's cottage; Beast's Castle; Belle's village; Under the Sea: The Journey of The Little Mermaid; a Dumbo's Circus-themed land featuring Storybook Circus tents, a Casey Jr.-themed wet play area, a redesigned railroad station, the Great Goofini coaster, and two Dumbo spinners with circus-themed queueless waiting area; Mad Tea Party; and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train coaster. Image © Disney.
Mark Goldhaber interviews Imagineering Vice President Eric Jacobson about the New Fantasyland expansion.
During Tuesday night's event, the new The Magic, The Memories, and You projection show was previewed for the assembled press. The show debuted to the public the next night, and a separately-customized version will have its debut on the facade of "it's a small world" at Disneyland Park next week.
In the show, the castle becomes a canvas as well as part of the show. The show displays 500 guest photos taken earlier in the day by Disney's PhotoPass cast members on the facade of the castle as part of the show. Arguably, though, the most amazing show effects include castle turrets spinning, the castle turning into a chalk drawing of itself, and -- most spectacularly -- a turret becoming a rocket ship and taking off.
"[A]t one point, you'll see the bricks in the castle do the wave," Alan Bruun, Associate Creative Director of Entertainment for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, told MousePlanet. "You'll see a turret take off for space. You'll see two other turrets spin. You'll see the castle turn into a toy version of itself, into a chalk drawing of itself. You'll see the castle go from day to night in a matter of seconds, over and over again. And you'll see it turn into a vintage movie of itself. So we've worked a lot at making the castle the hero of the show, and to use it as a transformational backdrop for our guests' memories and for the photos of our guests' memories."
Photos will be selected based on how well they fit the various sections of the show, such as Fun, Adventure, Heroic, and Family, as well as the quality of the photo and how authentic the emotions are in the image. "You've got to be able to read the emotion in the face in less than a second," said Bruun. Once the photos are selected, they are placed into the appropriate places in the show by a computer.
Mark Goldhaber interviews Associate Creative Director of Entertainment Alan Bruun about The Magic, The Memories, and You.
"Everyone, when they have their photo taken, is informed that their photograph might be used as part of that show, and there are a number of ways that they can opt out if they choose not to, so it's always with their permission."
Whether it proves enough of an attraction to boost attendance is a huge question mark, but the show is very impressive, and will be a great addition to the park's nighttime lineup.
View the world premiere of The Magic, The Memories, and You.
The show will run between the Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes most nights, and will run a second time (using a different set of 500 photos) when the park is open later and a second parade or fireworks show will take place.
The Disney Cruise Line christened its newest ship, the Disney Dream, in typical Disney style last week: with pageantry, favorite Disney characters, celebrities, and a larger-than-life finale featuring fireworks.
Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs, Academy Award-winner Jennifer Hudson (serving as the ship's godmother), Mickey Mouse, the Navy Band Southeast marching band from the U.S. Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida, and a host of singers, dancers, characters joined together to provide a proper send-off to the ship. Also in the audience were Disney Cruise Line President Karl Holz and former Walt Disney Park & Resorts Chairman (and now Walt Disney Company Chief Financial Officer) Jay Rasulo, under whose watch the ship's construction was begun.
"For over a decade, Disney Cruise Line has been making vacation dreams come true for millions of families and we continue that tradition today with the launch of the Disney Dream," Iger said. "The mix of imagination and innovation found on the Disney Dream is unparalleled and elevates the family cruise experience to new heights."
After revealing a giant 16-foot-tall bottle, Mickey Mouse told Iger that "anyone can break a bottle of champagne over a ship. we're going to fill our bottle with dreams!" That was followed by a group of performances illustrating dreams of Adventure (pirates bearing the gifts of adventure, discovery, and escape, featuring Captain Jack Sparrow in the crow's nest of a pirate ship sailing by), Happily Ever After (Disney princesses and their princes bringing the gifts of fantasy, friendship and romance), and Having Fun Together (singers, dancers and musicians performing "We're All In This Together" from High School Musical while the giant puppets from Disney California Adventure's World of Color pre-show paraded and danced in the main aisle through the crowd.
Iger and Staggs thanked the team that designed and built the ship, as well as those who will be serving as the ship's crew. "But no one is more deserving of our admiration, our respect, and our gratitude than the incredible group of people that will take this spectacular ship to sea," said Staggs, as the ship's crew waved towels from verandahs all over the ship. Acknowledging the crew, Staggs noted, "It's really fitting that you all join us here on center stage, because it's you who will bring this ship to life, and create fantastic memories for millions of guests and their families for years to come."
Following a performance by Hudson and the traditional maritime blessing by Reverend Warren Langer, as Hudson intoned "The Disney Dream: may God bless this ship and all who sail upon her," the christening itself was performed by a helicopter, which tapped the hull of the ship with the 16-foot bottle of "dreams" that rained fireworks and touched off a larger display of fireworks from the ship.
Following the ceremony and a short reception at the terminal, the executives, the celebrities, the media, and invited others boarded the ship for a two-day Christening Voyage to Castaway Cay and back. I've begun reporting on that voyage on my blog, and will have more in the coming days and weeks. We'll also have coverage of the Dream from other MousePlanet staff who will be on the official "Maiden Voyage" departing this Wednesday.
Following the Christening Voyage, the Disney Dream sailed a two-night cruise to Castaway Cay with invited members of the Boys and Girls Clubs on Central Florida and their families, as well as fundraisers and other invited guests. It is currently on a three-night cruise with selected travel agents. Starting with its official "Maiden Voyage" with the general public departing Wednesday, the Dream will sail 3-, 4- and 5-night cruises, with stops at Castaway Cay and Nassau, Bahamas.
Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
…Ride vehicles with lap bars are being tested during Splash Mountain's refurbishment.
…The 2011 Disney’ Princess Half Marathon is 94 percent full for individual and team registrations. Disney's Royal Family 5K and Kids' Races are each 60 percent full. You can register at the official event web site (link).
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Discounts of 15-30 percent are available for room-only reservations for stays at Walt Disney World for most nights February 17 – April 16, 2011.
Deals are also available for January 2 – February 16, 2011. Discount percentages appear to match those for the other dates.
You can book the deal from now through February 13, 2011. Note that the rooms may go fast. The number of rooms available at these rates is limited. Minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals.
Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World Web site (link), by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-7678, or your travel agent and using booking code XV9. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link) and Small World Vacations (link).
Room-only discounts are being offered for April 28 to June 14 and August 14 to October 1, for which you must make your reservations by March 27. Fall discounts are for five percentage points more than the late spring discounts, and discounts vary by type of resort. Here are the discounts applicable for each resort type:
|Resorts||April 28 - June 14||August 14 - October 1|
|All-Star Movies||15 percent||20 percent|
|Remaining Values, Port Orleans French Quarter||20 percent||25 percent|
|Remaining Moderates, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Polynesian||25 percent||30 percent|
|Remaining Deluxes||30 percent||35 percent|
|Deluxe Villas||35 percent||40 percent|
Note that the rooms may go fast. The number of rooms available at these rates is limited. Minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals.
Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World Web site (link), by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-7722, or your travel agent and using booking code TSU. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link) and Small World Vacations (link).
Walt Disney World has released a Kids Stay and Play Free offer that has availability February 17 to April 16 (book by February 13), as well as April 28 to June 14 and August 14 to October 1 (book by March 27). When booking a non-discounted room and ticket package, kids ages 3 to 9 staying in the same room as an adult get a free base Magic Your Way pass. Additional restrictions may apply.
Note that the rooms may go fast. The number of rooms available at these rates is limited. Minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals.
Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World Web site (link), by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-7684, or your travel agent and using booking code GW8. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link) and Small World Vacations (link).
Passholders can save 32 to 42 percent off their room rates for stays at Walt Disney World for most nights February 6 – April 16, 2011.
Deals are also available for January 2 – February 5, 2011. Discount percentages appear to match those for the other dates.
You can book the deal from now through your day of arrival, through the rooms may go fast. The number of rooms available at these rates is limited. Suites and 3-bedroom Grand Villas are not included. An adult passholder must show their pass at check-in. Minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals.
Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World Web site (link), by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-7939, or your travel agent and using booking code AU6. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link) and Small World Vacations (link).
From now through September 28, 2011, active and retired U.S. military personnel can purchase 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets with either the Park Hopper or Water Parks Fun and More option for $138 per ticket, plus tax, or with both the Park Hopper and Water Parks Fun and More options for $165 per ticket, plus tax. No Base ticket is available with this offer.
The tickets expire and may not be used after October 1, 2011. The tickets may not be used at all Walt Disney World theme parks and other gated attractions on the following blockout dates: December 27-31, 2010 and April 17-23, 2011. Additionally, the tickets may not be used at the Magic Kingdom on July 4, 2011.
Eligible service members include active or retired members of the U.S. military including the U.S. Coast Guard, National Guard, and Reservists. Disney Military Promotional Tickets can be purchased at Shades of Green or at a participating military base (MWR/ITT) office. There is no tax charged for these tickets but they must be activated at a theme park ticket window. Tickets may also be purchased at Walt Disney World Park Ticket Offices and Guest Relations Offices where tax will be charged. No more than six tickets may be purchased by any eligible member of the U.S. military (or their spouse, but not both) for themselves, family members, and friends, and all tickets must be purchased at the same time. If the immediate family has more than five dependents, additional tickets may be purchased for the dependents, however, additional tickets for guests may not be purchased. Valid military identification is required. The tickets are non-transferable and may not be resold.
The tickets may be upgraded to Seasonal Passes or Florida Resident Weekday Select Passes (for Florida Residents), or Annual Passes, Premium Annual Passes, or Disney Premier Pass with credit toward the upgrade based on the actual price paid. The no-expiration option and other upgrades, such as additional days, are not available.
For complete information regarding Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets, military personnel may call (407) 939-7830 or participating U.S. military base ticket offices.
(Send an email to Mark Goldhaber)
Mark (@MPMark) is a veteran of dozens of trips to Walt Disney World starting in 1972, with a few Disneyland trips thrown in for good measure. As a Disney stockholder and a Disney Vacation Club member, Mark is always in touch with what's going on with The Mouse. Mark serves as MousePlanet's Walt Disney World content coordinator. Mark is a senior information technology manager working for the State of New York. He lives in the suburbs outside Albany, New York, with his wife and son.