*On Wednesday, October 17, 2012, Walt Disney World and Disneyland resorts took over an area of New York City’s bustling Times Square to present what’s new and what’s next at The Great American Family vacation spots outside New York’s Marriott Marquis Hotel.
The early morning event featured the greatest mouse of them all – Mickey – who brought along some of his friends to meet and greet guests and share with them some of the wonderful things Disney has in store for parkgoers during the “Limited Time Magic.” Mickey was joined by Minnie, Goofy, Pluto and Cinderella and Merida from Disney-Pixar’s “Brave” to assist in handing out balloons and posing for photo ops.
As guests milled about enjoying magical moments with Disney staffers while creating their own memories, they enjoyed an ice exhibit that included a glistening three-story castle display. a 25-foot-tall, 45,000-pound ice castle that took more than 12 hours to construct and craft duplicating everyone’s glass slipper heroine Cinderella’s home.
Six other ice sculptures were also part of the display, and themed to emphasis the importance of memories: a grandparent with a child, a child donning Mouse ears, a family taking a portrait, a balloon vendor, a piano and a pumpkin coach.
Disney officials were on hand to talk about Disney Parks’ “Limited Time Magic” that will take place throughout 2013 at Disneyland Resort in California and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The 52 weeks of magical experiences will take place weekly and feature a different surprise or guest enhancement for a one-week-only engagement and will feature a weekly surprise, many never-before-seen in the Disney Parks, will include entertainment, dining, character experiences and more.
And just like Cinderella, the weekly event will disappear to make room for the next magical surprise. Next year is already a momentous year for Disney Parks – with New Fantasyland as the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom history at Walt Disney World Resort and the first full year of a reimagined Disney California Adventure at Disneyland Resort.
Some many stories high amidst New York’s famed skyline, VIPs and media guests enjoyed a scrumptious breakfast at the Marriott Marquis where they got lots of food for thought on what’s new and what’s next at Disney from Rene Syler, former CBS “The Early Show,” who moderated a panel of experts engaged by Disney to talk about what’s in store for families visiting the great American parks.
Panelists included Leslie Ferraro, EVP global marketing, Disney Parks & Resorts; Susan Newman, Ph.D.; Alpa Pandya, EVP, managing director, Strategy, Sterling Brands. Each woman delivered captivating insights and shared their experiences with how Disney is pulling out all stops to make extra certain that each visitor to their Parks take away a life changing experience that they will pay forward.
Their discussions provided helpful information about the seven Disney Park adventures including: New Fantasyland Takes Flight; Disney Cruise Line Sets Sail from New Destinations; Hit the Road with Mater and Lightning McQueen; Dive into ‘Suite’ Fun with Nemo and Friends; Disney says ‘Aloha’; Adventures by Disney introduces Families to the Far East (2013); and Disneyland Park-New Fantasy Faire Experience (Spring 2013). Other coming attractions include: Test Track Presented by Chevrolet (Fall 2012-Epcot); Splitsville entertainment center (Fall 2012-Downtown Disney West Side); and Adventures by Disney-Scotland: A Brave Adventure (2013).
“Every week starting in January we will have these extra giggles, fun surprises at both Disneyland and Disney World, said Ferraro. “So it’ll be things like on Valentine’s Week, it might be a romance week where we’ll do special things there. We could do a pirate takeover. It could be a Villains dance party. It could even be something like a 3D chalk art festival.”
“Limited Time Magic” is “a way our Disney Parks, at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World resort, are going to allow our guests to have a memorable vacation,” added Jennifer Mason, Disney Ambassador. “We understand how fleeting those moments are, when our families are together. We want them to be memorable.”
Overall, the discussions were very formative and disclosed many types of surprises Disney Parks’ guests may expect during “Limited Time Magic.”
Let the Memories Begin (ongoing) – Disney Parks puts the spotlight on guest memories and how a Disney vacation is the ideal way to build a family memory that will be cherished forever. Vacation time that parents have with their children is precious time, fleeting time. Disney Parks offers more ways than ever for families to make memories to last a lifetime.
New Fantasyland Takes Flight (March 2012) – The largest expansion project in Magic Kingdom history began opening in mid-March 2012 at Walt Disney World Resort, featuring attractions and experiences in an area that will nearly double the size of Fantasyland. Among the novelties, guests are now able to fly high with The Great Goofini or with Dumbo the Flying Elephant. In July 2012 the second Dumbo was added (flying counterclockwise), along with Casey Jr. Splash ‘n’ Soak Station. Grand Opening is scheduled Dec. 6, 2012 for Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Be Our Guest Restaurant, Gaston’s Tavern, Ariel’s Grotto. A 2013 opening is planned for Princess Fairytale Hall and a 2014 opening is planned for The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, taking guests on a musical ride into the mine “where a million diamonds shine.”
Disney Fantasy (March 2012) – The Muppets leading guests in an interactive detective adventure game around the ship. Guests’ own drawings springing to life and dancing with animated Disney characters. Two new Broadway-caliber, spectacular musical stage shows. A Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for magical princess and pirate makeovers. A fanciful water play area called AquaLab. Disney Fantasy, the newest ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet, brings to life these innovations and more, offering a cruise experience from stem to stern that caters to every member of the family. The 4,000-passenger Disney Fantasy sails week-long Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral, Fla.
Disney Dream (January 2011) – Disney Cruise Line launched Disney Dream, a 4000-passenger ship. Like the other ships in the fleet (Disney Fantasy, Disney Magic and Disney Wonder), the Dream provides a cruise vacation where adults find relaxation and indulgence, children engage in immersive, magical adventures with favorite characters and families enjoy quality time together. Featured are original Disney musicals and entertainment, unique dining experiences, customized children’s spaces and areas just for adults. And Disney’s private island paradise – Castaway Cay – provides something for every member of the family.
The Exotics Course featuring “supercars” (January 2012) — Have the need for speed? Richard Petty Driving Experience at Walt Disney World Resort now features a brand-new adrenaline rush, the “Exotic Driving Experience.” The “Exotics Course” at Walt Disney World Speedway, a new one-mile circuit custom-built for the attraction, is home to a riding experience for guests in “supercars” by Ferrari, Lamborghini, Audi, and Porsche. Thrill-seekers can get behind the wheel of these epic vehicles and navigate a circuit offering rapid-acceleration straight-aways with a skill-testing course of turn-on-a-dime maneuvers. The drive-yourself option (alongside a professional driver) starts at $199 for six laps around the circuit. Thrill rides with a professional driver behind the wheel are available for $99.
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort (May 2012) – A new resort hotel inspired by Disney animation features 1,120 family suites themed after “The Lion King,” “Cars” and “Finding Nemo,” and 864 themed rooms in “The Little Mermaid” wings. Animation themes carry throughout building exteriors and room interiors and feature larger-than-life icons from the animated films in courtyard areas. Crowned by a 35-foot-tall model of King Triton, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is located next to Disney’s Pop Century Resort.
Royal Guest Rooms (March 2012) — Beginning spring 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.
Starbucks Coffee (Fall 2012) – Starbucks will open locations at all Disney theme parks at the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. The rollout will begin in summer and each of the Starbucks locations inside the parks will be designed to fit the theme of its surroundings. Cafes will serve Starbucks menu items including beverages, signature sandwiches and desserts.
Splitsville (Fall 2012) — Splitsville, located in Downtown Disney West Side, will reinvent bowling for America with 45,000 square feet of fun and 30 lanes on two floors. Guests will come for the bowling but stay for the food. Between strikes and spares, guests can feast on menu items including hand-tossed pizza, fresh-rolled sushi and hand-cut filet sliders served right at the lane. Beyond a great hangout for friends and families, the all-new day-and-nighttime venue also will be available for birthday parties and corporate events.
Test Track Presented by Chevrolet (Dec. 6, 2012) — Opening Dec. 6, 2012, the re-imagined, design-centric Test Track presented by Chevrolet will feature a sleek new “Chevrolet Design Center at Epcot” where guests will create their own custom concept vehicles prior to buckling into their 6-person “SimCar” ride vehicle and putting their design through its paces on the exhilarating hills, switchbacks and straight-aways of the Test Track circuit.
Kilimanjaro Safaris (Fall 2012) — Planned changes to Kilimanjaro Safaris will give Disney’s Animal Kingdom guests an additional opportunity to see zebra in a reconstructed savannah space featuring a new watering hole for live animals. The attraction will remain operational during the adjustment and changes be completed by fall 2012.
The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow (Late 2012) — The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow debuts fall 2012 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., immersing Walt Disney World Resort guests in all the action and adventure of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film series. Aspiring pirates will experience the story of Jack Sparrow like never before to discover if they have what it takes to join Captain Jack’s crew. The attraction will be included with theme park admission and will be located in Soundstage 4, former space of Journey Into Narnia: Prince Caspian.
Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort (hotel opening 2014) – Also announced as part of the Walt Disney World expansion for the next decade: the 900-acre luxury resort residential community of Golden Oak, anchored by the prestigious Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. The development, along the northeast border of the property, will include a luxury hotel, 18-hole championship golf course, single- and multi-family vacation homes and fractional ownership vacation homes.
Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.