Happy New Year! 2012 will be an exciting year at the Walt Disney World theme parks. Every trip to the Disney theme parks is a magical one but Disney promises to deliver something a little extra special for Disney fans and families over the next twelve months.
Here’s my list of ten things I’m looking forward to during my next Disney vacation.
1. Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. One of the things I love about the Disney Parks is that they are more than simply attractions. The parks are an experience with all the rides, shows, character greetings, parades, fireworks, street performers, and theming; one of the things that makes the Disney Parks so successful is that there is something for everyone. The Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom embraces this philosophy with its interactive role-playing game. Guests will explore the details in the parks as they work to defeat Disney villains.
2. Art of Animation Resort. The DVC resort grounds are beautiful, the DVC member discounts are great, and the savings off the regular room rates are fabulous but the most valuable aspect of the DVC membership for my family is space. Staying in a “family suite” has changed the way we vacation. I’m beyond thrilled that the Walt Disney World Resort is expanding this lodging concept for families in an affordable way with the Art of Animation Resort.
3. Characters in Flight. This isn’t a new Disney experience in 2012 but it is new to me. I’ve tried to get a birds-eye view of the Walt Disney World Resort from this tethered balloon in the past but weather has always grounded the flight when I’ve been in Downtown Disney. I’m hoping this is the year for me.
4. Dueling Dumbos. Our first stop on every visit to the Magic Kingdom is Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Despite arriving for rope drop and our best efforts, we still have a wait due to the low capacity on this classic Walt Disney World attraction. I am very much looking forward to the new dueling Dumbos that will be rolled out as part of the Storybook Circus.
5. Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid. My favorite Disney movie back in the day was The Little Mermaid so it’s natural that I’m looking forward to this new Fantasyland attraction that will transport guests to an undersea world. The technology previews I’ve seen are one of the most exciting things about this ride. The hair on the Ariel Audio-Animatronic will actually gently wave as it would under water.
6. Epcot Wine Walk. This is another *new to me* experience. With two small children in tow, it’s been tough to find the opportunity to visit the three wineries in Epcot’s World Showcase and sample two vintages in each. I did learn that you don’t have to complete the Wine Walk all at once so armed with this information and an adults-only research trip this summer, we should be able to conquer the Epcot Wine Walk.
7. Power Pack in Hollywood Studios. I cheered when I read about the introduction of power packs in some of the Hollywood Studios counter service locations. For about $6, children receive a smorgasbord of kid-friendly, healthier snacks than Mickey Bars or cupcakes loaded with frosting. The power pack includes yogurt, a cheese stick, goldfish crackers, carrots, milk, and a cookie. For my kids, who love the “snack plates” their dad makes, this will be a real winner.
8. Specialty Waffles at Sleepy Hollow. The Disney Food Blog reported that Sleepy Hollow in the Magic Kingdom is offering specialty waffles: Nutella and Fruit; Sweet and Spicy Chicken; and Ham and Prosciutto and Swiss. I honestly don’t know which I’d choose!
9. Re-Opening of the Great Goofini (Previously known as Goofy’s Barnstormer). My kindergartener’s first Disney coaster was Goofy’s Barnstormer in Mickey’s Toontown Fair. It was a sad day in my house when Mickey’s Toontown Fair was closed to make way for the Fantasyland Expansion but one bright spot was the news that the Barnstormer mini-roller coaster would be re-themed and re-opened. It will be the perfect first coaster for my soon-to-be three year old this fall.
10. One More Disney Day Sweepstakes. Sixty chances to win a vacation to the Walt Disney World or Disneyland resorts sounds pretty good to me!
Lisa M. Battista is the author of Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to Walt Disney World with Preschoolers and a columnist for WDW Fan Zone. When she’s not chasing after her little ones, you can most likely find her at the beach or in the kitchen trying her hand at a new recipe. You can follow her on Twitter @DisneyExplorer or become a fan of Beyond the Attractions on Facebook.