With 2011 about to appear in our rearview mirrors, D23 is already racing full speed ahead with a first look at what’s to come in the wonderful world of Disney in 2012.
Pit Stop #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 in store for guests around the world!
For starters, let’s visit Disney California Adventure (DCA), where we find Cars Land gearing up for a summer 2012 launch. Cars Land is the new 12-acre land at the heart of DCA that’s inspired by the town of Radiator Springs from the Disney•Pixar film Cars. 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, Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, recently got a chance to test drive Luigi’s Flying Tires—”This was awesome!” he announced afterwards—and gave the upcoming attraction two big thumbs up. Sounds like one sweet ride! Buena Vista Street, a new-themed land representing the California Walt knew in the 1920s, will also open at DCA in summer 2012.
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 opens in summer 2012 and 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. At Tokyo Disney Resort, Toy Story Mania will open in July 2012 and Goofy’s Paint and Play House will open in the fall; at Hong Kong Disneyland (HKDL), Grizzly Gulch—HKDL’s equivalent of Frontierland and Critter Country—will open its doors in summer 2012; 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 April 2012.
And we’d be remiss not to mention the newest addition to the Disney Cruise Line, Disney Fantasy, which starts sailing in March 2012. Disney Fantasy is a majestic sailing vessel where early 20th-century design—recalling the golden age of cruising—meets state-of-the-art technology. As can be expected, the cruise liner was specially designed with families in mind, combining sleek style and convenient facilities with splashes of Disney magic.
Pit Stop #2: Walt Disney Studios and Pixar Animation
Grab some popcorn and put on your high beams—we’re about to take a tour of Walt Disney Studios and Pixar Animations’ thrilling slate of films for the new year.
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 inspired many of the most imaginative and well-known Hollywood movies, past and present. “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 2012.
We also can’t wait for Disney•Pixar’s summer 2012 original film, Brave. “It’s our first fairy tale, 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 mystical 10th century world of 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 The Avengers (in theaters May 4), Frankenweenie (in theaters October 5), and Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Wreck-It Ralph (in theaters November 2)! Keep checking back on D23.com for updates on all of these and other exciting Disney films premiering in the new year.
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 and Disney Channel, where they have a ton of fun new shows and original movies planned for 2012.
For starters, Disney Junior—currently a programming block on Disney Channel—will become its own American-based cable channel in February 2012. Current programming includes the popular Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Special Agent Oso, Handy Manny, and others. 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, which follows a talented musician who writes romantic rhymes, will premiere in June. The DCOM will feature an ensemble cast that includes Coco Jones, Tyler James Williams, and Trevor Jackson, to name a few. And on ABC, Katie, a new talk show hosted by the oh-so-talented 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—which kicked off at the 2011 D23 Expo!—will continue through the new year with exclusive collectibles, fun celebrations, and more. You’re sure to find something to satisfy every member of your pit crew! And Disney Baby—a special DCP line designed with babies and their parents in mind—will be right at home in the new Disney Baby stores, which are scheduled to open on both coasts in 2012.
Pit Stop #5: Disney Theatrical Productions
Now approaching on the driver’s right-hand side is Disney Theatrical Productions (DTP), where they’ve been hard at work preparing a thrilling new slate of shows for the new year.
As we announced here on D23.com this past November, Newsies, the breakout new American musical, will move to Broadway’s Nederlander Theatre (208 W 41st St) for a strictly limited 101 performance run following its critically hailed stint at Paper Mill Playhouse earlier this fall. The musical, featuring a score by eight-time Academy Award® winner Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Sister Act) and Jack Feldman and a book by four-time Tony® Award winner Harvey Fierstein (La Cage aux Folles, Torch Song Trilogy), will play its first Broadway preview on March 15 prior to its March 29 opening night; the final performance is scheduled for June 10.
Also headed to Broadway in 2012 is Peter and the Starcatcher, an adaptation of Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s prequel to the tale of Peter Pan. The off-Broadway production of Peter and the Starcatcher first opened March 9, 2011, to rave reviews, twice extending its run.
Pit Stop #6: Disney Interactive Media Group
Slow down! We have to check in with Disney Interactive Media Group (DIMG) to learn what they have planned for the new year!
DIMG has several new mobile apps and fun games planned for 2012, so keep checking back to learn more!
Pit Stop #7: D23
And for our next and final destination, we arrive back at D23, home of the Official Disney Fan Club. After an exciting 2011 that included D23′s second Expo, exclusive member events, and more, we can’t wait for another year full of Disney magic and memories.
Be sure to tune in throughout the year for new seasons of Disney Geek and Armchair Archivist; Member-only events and extras; and, of course, Disney-inspired articles, trivia, and more on D23.com!
Happy New Year!