Jump on in, fasten your seatbelts, and get ready for a wild ride! As D23 speeds into the new year, we’ll make some pit stops along the way to check in on our friends around The Walt Disney Company and see what they have in the making for 2012.
Pit Stop No. 1: Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
Welcome to our first stop, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts (WDPR), which is revving up for an exciting new year with countless additions, updates and celebrations around the world!
At Disney California Adventure (DCA), much-awaited Cars Land is gearing up for a summer 2012 launch. The new 12-acre land at the heart of DCA is inspired by the town of Radiator Springs from Disney•Pixar’s Cars franchise. When it gets the green light to open its doors, Cars Land will invite guests to check out exciting new attractions (Luigi’s Flying Tires, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree and Radiator Springs Racers), delicious new eateries (Cozy Cone Motel, Flo’s V8 Café and Fillmore’s Taste-in) and fun new shops (Ramone’s House of Body Art and Radiator Springs Curios). John Lasseter, chief creative officer, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, recently got a chance to test drive Luigi’s Flying Tires. “This was awesome!” he announced afterwards, giving the upcoming attraction two thumbs up. Sounds like a sweet ride! Buena Vista Street, a new themed land representing the California Walt knew in the 1920s, will also open at DCA this summer.
Over at Walt Disney World, the Fantasyland expansion—first announced at the 2009 D23 Expo, with an update given at the 2011 D23 Expo—will more than double the size of the area. The first phase of the expansion, which is set to open this year, will feature fresh attractions and richer experiences. Cruise by to check out Under The Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, Be Our Guest Restaurant and more!
Our other parks and resorts around the world are also getting ready for a high-octane year filled with excitement. At Tokyo Disney Resort, Toy Story Mania! will open in July and Goofy’s Paint and Play House will open in the fall; at Hong Kong Disneyland, the Old West-themed Grizzly Gulch land is set for a summer opening; and Disneyland Paris will kick off its 20th anniversary celebration in style with the new Disney Dreams show, a nighttime spectacular that will dazzle guests beginning in April. And we’d be remiss not to mention the newest addition to the Disney Cruise Line, Disney Fantasy, which starts sailing this March. The cruise liner was specially designed with families in mind, combining sleek style and innovative features created to delight both adults and children.
Pit Stop #2: Walt Disney Studios
Grab some popcorn and put on your high beams—we’re about to take a tour of Walt Disney Studios’ thrilling slate of films. First out of the gate is John Carter, an action adventure story set on Barsoom, the exotic and mysterious planet we know as Mars. Based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs classic novel series,
John Carter is the story that’s inspired a lot of Hollywood’s most imaginative and well-known sci-fi flicks. “My introduction to John Carter was through the Marvel comic series, which led me to the books,” Andrew Stanton, writer and director, said about his first live-action film. “I discovered there were 11 and I proceeded to read them cover to cover.” John Carter—which stars Taylor Kitsch, Willem Dafoe and Lynn Collins, among others—lands in theaters March 9.
We also can’t wait for Disney•Pixar’s summer 2012 film, Brave (in theaters June 22). “It’s our first fantasy adventure, first period film and first lead female character,” John Lasseter says of Pixar’s latest project. For the last five years, Pixar artists have been working tirelessly to create the mythical ancient Scotland in Brave. Whether designing the rugged rock-strewn terrain, a mist-filled forest or one of the rolling green landscapes, the team at Pixar is making sure that they get every last detail right.
Also on the calendar for 2012 are Chimpanzee (in theaters April 20), Marvel’s The Avengers (in theaters May 4), The Odd Life of Timothy Green (in theaters August 15), Frankenweenie (in theaters October 5) and Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Wreck-It Ralph (in theaters November 2).
Pit Stop #3: Disney ABC Television Group and Disney Channel
Now let’s cruise on over to visit our friends at Disney/ABC Television Group, where they have a ton of fun new shows and original movies planned for 2012.
For starters, Disney Junior—at present a programming block on Disney Channel—will become a dedicated cable channel in February. Current shows include the popular Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Special Agent Oso, Handy Manny and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. On Disney XD, Tron: Uprising, an animated science-fiction series set between Tron and Tron: Legacy, will air this summer. On Disney Channel, a Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM) titled Let it Shine—a modern-day story inspired by
the ghostwritten love letters of Cyrano de Bergerac—will premiere in June. The DCOM will feature an ensemble cast that includes Coco Jones, Tyler James Williams, and Trevor Jackson. And Katie, a new syndicated talk show hosted by Katie Couric, is slated to premiere in September.
Pit Stop #4: Disney Consumer Products
No time to refuel! Let’s go full speed ahead over to Disney Consumer Products (DCP) to see what they have in store for 2012. Disney Store’s 25th anniversary celebration—which kicked off at the 2011 D23 Expo—will continue throughout the new year with exclusive collectibles, awesome activities and more.
You’re sure to find something to satisfy every member of your pit crew at Disney Store! And Disney Baby—a special DCP brand designed to create magical moments between parents and baby right from the start—will be at home in the new Disney Baby store, which debuts later this year.
Pit Stop #5: Disney Theatrical Productions
Now approaching on the driver’s right-hand side is Disney Theatrical Productions, where they’ve been hard at work preparing a stirring slate of shows for the new year. Announced this past November, Newsies, the breakout new American musical, will move to Broadway’s Nederlander Theatre for a limited 101-performance run following its critically hailed stint at Paper Mill Playhouse. The musical, featuring a score by eight-time Academy Award® winner Alan Menken and Jack Feldman and a book by four-time Tony® Award winner Harvey Fierstein, will play its first Broadway preview on March 15 prior to its March 29 opening night.
Pit Stop #6: Disney Interactive Media Group
Slow down! Next we have to check in with Disney Interactive Media Group (DIMG). Rolling out in the coming months is Playdom and Marvel’s recently announced Marvel: Avengers Alliance. The new, free-to-play, combat role-playing game on Facebook will feature superheroes such as Captain America, Iron Man and Thor, to name a few, and represents the first Disney entertainment brand to come to Facebook gaming. DIMG will also continue to deliver compelling online experiences and immersive games across console, social networks and mobile devices throughout 2012.
Pit Stop #7: D23
And for our next and final destination, we arrive at D23: The Official Disney Fan Club. After an exciting 2011 that included its second Expo, D23 can’t wait for another year full of Disney magic with spectacular Member-only events from coast-to-coast and, of course, Disney-inspired articles, trivia and more on D23.com.
Happy New Year!