What's New At Disney for 2012

By Nancy Schretter, Editor

The realm of Disney dream vacations extends far beyond the Disney theme parks - especially in 2012. In addition to an extra leap year day, Disney guests will be having non-stop fun on both land and sea. There are so many new things happening in the world of Disney this year.

In 2012, Disney premieres will include Disney Cruise Line's launch of the Disney Fantasy and exciting new horizons for the cruise line, the opening of the first phase of the new Fantasyland - Disney's largest expansion project in Magic Kingdom history, an all-new "Sorcerers" interactive experience at the Magic Kingdom, new Royal Guest Rooms at Disney's Port Orleans Resort - Riverside, and so much more.

In addition, 2012's leap year has inspired Disney's new 'One More Disney Day' promotion. As part of this event, Disney will turn February 29th into 24-hours of non-stop fun and magic at both the Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World in Florida and the Disneyland Resort in California. Families will also have additional opportunities to celebrate an additional Disney day in 2012 as well.

Here are the highlights of what's happening at Disney in 2012:

Exotic Driving Experience (January 2012) - In mid-January, Walt Disney World's Richard Petty Driving Experience will launch a brand new attraction for guests called the "Exotic Driving Experience." A new one-mile circuit custom-built for this experience, the Exotics Course at Walt Disney World Speedway, will be the home turf for this new attraction. Participants will ride in "supercars" built by Ferrari, Lamborghini, Audi and Porche. Participants will be able to get behind the wheel of these exciting new cars or navigate the Exotics Course will a professional driver. Make your reservations early - spaces for this adrenaline rush will go fast. www.exoticdriving.com.

'One More Disney Day' (Early 2012) - Leap Year 2012 is a great reason to celebrate 'One More Disney Day' at Disney Parks in Florida and California. For the first time in Disney history, both the Magic Kingdom Park and the Disneyland Park will stay open for 24 consecutive hours from 6 a.m. on February 29 to 6 a.m. on March 1, 2012 local time. In addition, for the next 60 days through February 29, 2012, families can enter the "Disney Parks One More Disney Day Sweepstakes" for a chance to receive a Disney Parks vacation for four. A new winner will be chosen daily, so visit www.OneMoreDisneyDay.com for your chance to win. A special extra day offer is also available for booking through January 31, 2012. Families will receive one extra day and night free when they purchase a 3-night/3-day non-discounted Walt Disney Travel Company room and ticket package at select Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resort hotels for arrivals most nights between February 26 - March 10, 2012. The number of rooms available for this offer is limited, so make your reservations soon.

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom (Early 2012) - In an all-new interactive experience at Disney's Orlando theme park, Merlin the magician will encourage guests to become apprentice sorcerers and help him overcome villains and other bad sorts. In "Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom," guests will be given special cards containing magic spells. They must then search for the magic symbols that will reveal the way to the hiding places of the animated villains. Players will cast spells using their magical cards and combat villains like Kronk, Yzma and others who are hiding throughout the Magic Kingdom. This special role-playing experience is included free as part of admission to the Magic Kingdom park.

New Fantasyland Phased Opening (2012) - Disney is nearly doubling the size of Fantasyland as part of the largest expansion project in the history of the Magic Kingdom. This newest Fantasyland phases will be opening with some great rides. Guests can fly high with The Great Goofini or with Dumbo the Flying Elephant, go "under da sea" in Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid, and "be our guest" at the Beast's Castle. The New Fantasyland project is scheduled to be completed in 2014 with most new rides and experiences open by 2013.

Royal Guest Rooms (Mid-February 2012) - Walt Disney World resort guests staying at Disney's Port Orleans Resort - Riverside will be able to enjoy special rooms with unique special treasures and animated features. Families in these Royal Guest Rooms will be able to watch "fireworks" as they lay in their ornate beds, curl up in custom linens befitting royalty, and much more. Each of the 512 Royal Guest Rooms sleeps up to four guests in two queen beds.

Disney Cruise Line Fantasy Launch (March 2012) - The new Disney Fantasy is a unique and dreamy ship for families. Here, the Muppets lead guests in an interactive detective adventure game throughout the ship. Guests' drawings come to life and dance with animated Disney characters. Two new Broadway-type musical stage spectaculars are performed for guests' enjoyment. Kids can come to the ship's Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for magical princess and pirate makeovers. And - there's a fanciful water play area called Aqua Lab aboard. This is one ship that's not to be missed! The 4,000-passenger Disney Fantasy will sail on week-long Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral, Florida. The ship's inaugural voyage is scheduled for March 31, 2012. For more information, visit www.disneycruise.com, click on the Ships & Activities tab, and click on Disney Fantasy.

New Disney Cruise Ports and Itineraries (Starting May, 2012) - For the first time in its history, Disney Cruise Line will sail from three new ports in 2012. These new ports - New York, Seattle and Galveston, Texas - will also usher in a series of new itineraries as well. Beginning in May, 2012, the Disney Magic will sail 20 cruises from New York. These will include eight-night cruises from the Bahamas, five-night New England/Canada cruises up the coast, and two-night weekend cruises. Starting in May, the Disney Wonder will launch 14 seven-night cruises from the Port of Seattle to Tracy Arm, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, Alaska - as well as calling on Victoria, British Columbia. Starting in September, the Disney Magic will sail 12 seven-night cruises from Galveston, Texas to ports in the Western Caribbean. To learn more about Disney Cruise Line or to book a cruise, families can visit www.disneycruise.com, call Disney Cruise Line at 1-888-DCL-2500, or contact their favorite travel agent.

Disney's Art of Animation Resort Opening (May 2012) - A major new Walt Disney World resort hotel inspired by Disney animation will be opening next to Disney's Pop Century Resort in mid-2012. This exciting new property will feature 1,120 family suites themed after "The Lion King," "Cars" and "Finding Nemo" and an additional 864 themed rooms in "The Little Mermaid" wings. Animated scenes will be features throughout the buildings' exteriors and room interiors. In addition, courtyard areas will be themed with larger-than-life icons from Disney's beloved animated films. The Nemo wing will be the first two open in May, 2012. The "Cars" wing is planned to open in late July and "The Lion King" wing will debut in late September. The final wing, themed after "The Little Mermaid" is planned to open its doors in late 2012.

Opening of Cars Land at Disney California Adventure (summer 2012) - Topping off Disney California Adventure's multi-year expansion project will be the opening of Cars Land, inspired by the blockbuster movie "Cars." Cars Land will feature three immersive family entertainment attractions showcasing characters and settings from this family-favorite film. Radiator Springs Racers, one of the largest and most elaborate attractions ever created for a Disney park, features twisting, turning, high-speed adventures families will love. Other Cars Land attractions will include Luigi's Flying Tires (think the Flying Saucers that used to be found in Tomorrowland) and Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, a whirling attraction with a hoedown musical flair. Families can also take advantage of "Cars"-themed dining and shopping locations throughout Cars Land.

Splittsville, An Upscale Entertainment Center (late 2012)- This 50,000-square-foot facility combining bowling and billiards with dining, music and nightlife, is in development for Downtown Disney West Side and is planned to open late in the year.

For information about all things Disney, visit www.disney.com. To learn more about Florida's Walt Disney World Resort, visit www.disneyworld.com and for Disneyland Resort in California, visit www.disneyland.com.

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