« April 2013 | Main | June 2013 »

May 2013 Archives

May 2, 2013

Animal Kingdom's New Wilderness Explorers


As promised, I'm planning to share some more details from the "Monstrous Summer" media event last week. I was going to include everything in one blog, but thought it might be more useful if I broke it out into individual topics. So let's get started!

One of the projects featured at last week's "Monstrous Summer" media event at Walt Disney World was the soon-to-debut "Wilderness Explorers" at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

The new program is an interactive experience that invites guests to explore Animal Kingdom in "engaging and challenging ways" aimed at deepening understanding of animals and the natural world we live in. The "Wilderness Explorer" theme is taken from the Disney-Pixar film, "UP!" -- one of the main characters, Russell, is a Wilderness Explorer himself.

Disney California Adventure already has a version of the Wilderness Explorer Program at its Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, but Walt Disney World's edition will obviously be different, due to the nature of its home park.


In the Animal Kingdom iteration of the program, guests will take an official pledge. Then, as new "Explorers," they can wander the park at their leisure, armed with field guides that describe challenges they can complete to earn sticker badges along the way. There will be about 30 different badges available.

Imagineer Alex Wright was on hand at the media event and took a few minutes to describe the program:

According to Wright, many elements of the "Wilderness Explorers" program have already been subtly integrated into the theme park -- we might have walked right past them and not noticed.

Though the activity is geared to children ages 7 to 10, it's something that the whole family will be able to participate in and enjoy. Wright says that he expects that the first Explorers will be earning their badges very soon, within the next few weeks.

The Wilderness Explorers program will be included in admission to Disney's Animal Kingdom.

May 3, 2013

Disney Magic's "Splashtacular" Enhancements


The biggest news from last week's "Monstrous Summer" media event was the announcement that the Disney Magic would be undergoing some significant changes when it goes into dry dock this coming September.


Changes to the ship, the oldest in Disney's fleet, include a redesigned atrium entry, the incorporation of Marvel Comics into the kids' clubs with the addition of the Avengers Academy, new dining experiences and a revamped adult nightclub area. To read more about these enhancements, see the official press release HERE.

Imagineer Joe Lanzisero walked the audience through all of these changes, but seemed most excited by what's planned for the upper deck water play area of the ship.

For kids ages 3 and up, there will be a new AquaLab, an interactive water playground with pop jets, geysers and bubblers in an 1,800-square-foot space. There will also be a new Twist n' Spout water slide with more than 250 feet of loops and turns for guests between 38 and 64 inches tall.


The littlest cruisers (up to age 3) can play in the new Nephews' Splash Zone, an interactive space with pop jets that features Donald Duck's nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie.

While Disney Cruise Line's newest ships, the Dream and the Fantasy, have the "water coaster" known as the AquaDuck, the Magic will be getting a significantly different water feature. Known as the AquaDunk, this is basically a high-speed water slide that drops its brave visitors three stories through a translucent tube that juts out about 20 feet beyond the side of the ship.



Here's Lanzisero outlining the "splastacular" water feature changes coming to the Magic, including a short video of the AquaDunk experience:

And here's Imagineer Peter Ricci giving a few more details of the AquaDunk from The Disney Parks Blog:

The Magic will go into dry dock in Cadiz, Spain, on September 7. In spite of all the enhancements planned, the ship is expected to be completely transformed by the time it is due to leave dry dock on October 10.

Monstrous Summer Preview: Princess Fairytale Hall


During the "Monstrous Summer" media event, I had the chance to get a little peek behind the construction walls surrounding the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and talk to Imagineers about the work being done on both the coaster, due to open in 2014, and the Princess Fairytale Hall, which will debut sometime later this year.

Alas, no photos were permitted behind the wall, but we do have some new artists' renderings of what Princess Fairytale Hall will look like. I was also able to get a few more details about the meet-and-greet location, which will be approximately on the site of the former Snow White's Scary Adventures, from Imagineers Pam Rawlins, assistant producer, and creative designer Jason Grandt.

According to Rawlins, when guests enter Princess Fairytale Hall they will be immersed into the "majestic world of the princesses."

"It will all be very elegant, with dark wood panelings and elegant finishes, with a bit of a gothic motif, so you really feel like you're in the castle," she says. "You will be a royal subject meeting your princess."



"You'll enter through a tournament-type structure into the castle, and you'll pass our stained-glass windows that feature scenes and characters from classic movies, like Jacques and Gus-Gus from Cinderella," Rawlins explains. "Then you'll go through our Royal Gallery. This is a very airy, very open, high-ceilinged gallery, with our framed princess portraits and chandeliers, all very elegant."

Rawlins says you will then be received by your princess, and will be directed to one of two rooms, where you will meet up with either Cinderella and a friend, or Rapunzel and a friend.

"You won't know until that day who the friend will be," Rawlins adds.

Grandt notes that the Princess Fairytale Hall, while similar in purpose, does not borrow anything from the new Fantasy Faire character meeting spot that opened recently at the Disneyland Resort.

"I haven't even seen the California location yet," he says, "though I hope to this coming weekend."

Grandt also emphasizes the "opulent" furnishings and appointments the new Hall will have, particularly mentioning the princess character portraits that have been created.

"They are really beautiful," he adds, "I think you will really enjoy seeing them."

Although construction on the new meet-and-greet location seems to be moving apace, neither Grandt nor Rawlins would be more specific as to an actual opening date. "Later this year" was all either of them would say.



Guess we'll have to wait patiently to meet our new Royal Highnesses! But it will certainly be nice to have them all in one place, in Fantasyland.

May 10, 2013

May the 4th Be With You

As part of Limited Time Magic, Walt Disney World hosted a "May the 4th Be With You" event on May 4th, at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

From all accounts, it was a fun-filled day that included special Jedi Training Academy shows (where adults were allowed to participate), a special Star Wars Dance Party with Jedi Mickey and many others and ended with the wonderful Symphony in the Stars fireworks show.

If you missed any of the fun, or want to relive it, here are our videos from May the 4th!

Jedi Training Academy

Star Wars Dance Party

Symphony in the Stars

Return to Blog Central

About May 2013

This page contains all entries posted to AllEars® Team Blog in May 2013. They are listed from oldest to newest.

April 2013 is the previous archive.

June 2013 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.