Three, two, one – Happy New Year! The New Year holiday is probably one of my favorites (following my birthday which I’m still trying to make a national holiday). In summer 1997, I celebrated the New Year nearly every night when I worked at Pleasure Island merchandise on the Disney College Program. There is something about the closing of one chapter and starting a new one that is refreshing to me. At Disney Parks, we have created a few items to help ring in the New Year.
One of my favorite items is the clock-inspired Disney Ear Hat pictured above. It was designed by Mark Seppala from Disney Design Group who you may recall from a previous article about Disney Character Ear Hats. He explained that “Alice in Wonderland” partially inspired him to create the hat.
“I used the mouse ear swirl in something else I designed that had an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ theme,” explained Mark. “I ended up turning the hat into a clock with the numbers circling the hat. I like how the number 12 fits perfectly on the front which is a nice connection to midnight and the New Year.”
The clock theme continues with a new limited edition Disney pin featuring Tinker Bell. Disney pins have been commemorating the New Year since the Millennium celebration in 2000. There are two additional New Year pins that will be released at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort respectively.
As 2011 draws to a close, you will begin to see new 2012 merchandise arriving in merchandise locations. Our “dated” items (merchandise with a specific date) are some of the most popular souvenirs at Disney Parks. The artwork shown above will be featured on everything from license plates to T-shirts to Vinylmation.
On behalf of the Disney Theme Park Merchandise team, I want to thank you for a great year. I have enjoyed reading your comments and I look forward to sharing more news in 2012. Happy New Year!
Walt Disney World Resort sure had a memorable year – from celebrating major anniversaries to marking continued progress on new attractions, the Disney Parks Blog team really had a lot of exciting news to cover in 2011.
That said, here are our picks for the top-five Walt Disney World Resort stories of the year. What would you add to the list?
When I talk about Cars Land, people often ask me which of our three new attractions is my favorite. That is an impossible question to answer! I love them all and for different reasons. Recently we began ride testing Luigi’s Flying Tires and it is promising to be a fantastic experience. There’s nothing like it anywhere in the world.
The vehicles have been made to look like oversized Fettuccini brand tires – the same tires Luigi proudly displays in his shop, Luigi’s Casa della Tires. Once guests are seated inside their tires, Luigi will direct Guido to turn on the air compressor. With that command, air will be pumped up through openings in the floor of the tire yard and the vehicles will begin to float and fly. With Luigi’s Flying Tires, the guest is really in control of the vehicle. By shifting your weight around, you can control the direction of your travel. And if that’s not enough fun, you can always turn a lever and make your tire spin!
John Lasseter recently stopped by to visit with the team and to take a tire for a flight and, as you can see in our video, he has quickly become one of our best flyers. The Imagineer is who is riding with John and giving flying directions is Mike Kilbert, our lead ride engineer and designer for the attraction. Also, John’s son Bennett and Ben’s girlfriend Holly were there and got a chance to try their hand at it – they’re pretty good for a couple of novices! I think you can tell by John’s reaction that he thinks we’ve got a winner on our hands. I couldn’t agree more!
I love tee-shirts. I have two dresser drawers filled with shirts that I’ve acquired over the years (I’ll save the discussion about my “Aloha” shirt collection for a future Disney Parks Blog post). During my recent search for holiday gifts from World Showcase in Epcot, I photographed several new shirts that caught my eye (like I need another shirt!). The top image features two new shirts that made me long for yet another Kalua pork slider from the Hawai’i Marketplace at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. I know I will be sporting either shirt during a future trip around the world.
I asked Sylvie Brumbaugh, product developer for World Showcase, about the new shirts I found in the Norway and Canada Pavilions.
“We wanted to add an element of fun to the World Showcase shirt assortment,” explained Sylvie. “The ‘How to Dress’ shirts were a nod to the ‘How To’ cartoons staring Goofy. In Norway, one of the most popular items is the Viking helmet. I wanted a shirt that would complete the story, so we introduced a Viking body shirt. I’m considering turning that shirt into an apron as it would be perfect for grilling season.”
Sylvie also created a new shirt using with the ever popular Norwegian trolls. She said drinkware using the image and tagline pictured above is also coming soon.
Another item arriving soon is a shirt for Germany Pavilion featuring Grumpy. The back of the shirt has the German translation of the phrase found on the front – “Ich kann ein bisschen Deutsch.”
I also liked the strong graphic-focused shirts found in several countries. There is a new “opening year” program that comes in both shirt and hoodie styles. I particularly liked the shirt from France Pavilion with the words “vin, pain and fromage” – my dinner of champions.
There will be additional graphic shirts coming in the next few months – including one arriving in Germany Pavilion this spring that had me yelling, “Goooooooal!” But that’s a story for another time.
When my family and I visit Magic Kingdom Park, we like to get there early. Not only is it a great time to catch the most popular attractions with little or no waiting, but we get to see one of our favorite shows – the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show.
This once-a-day happening takes place in front of Main Street Station 10 minutes before the park is even open. The gathering crowd is greeted cheerily by some of the citizens of Main Street, U.S.A., led by Mayor Weaver (or sometimes Chief Smokey Miller or Scoop Sanderson), who all serenade us with a chorus of “Good Morning.” Before long, one of the steam locomotives of the Walt Disney World Railroad comes puffing down the track to “Casey, Jr.” The Engineer waves enthusiastically from the cab, excited to see everyone and to be bringing in a trainload of many of our favorite Disney characters.
According to Show Director Tara Anderson, “We have the Mayor and the other citizens and the characters, but we really can’t open the park until we have the help of the guests. They make that magic that truly opens the park.”
The excitement on my boys’ faces as Mickey and the gang come riding in on the train is absolutely priceless. When they get to join in the countdown to launch the pyro and streamers to officially open the park, it’s one of those quintessential Disney moments that just gives you goose bumps. Next thing you know, we’re off to fly with Peter Pan, explore the Hundred Acre Wood with Winnie the Pooh or get caught up in any number of other adventures.
Although Santa Claus has returned to the North Pole for the year, Santa Goofy has taken his place at Downtown Disney and will be meeting and greeting guests from 3-10 p.m., daily, through Jan. 1, 2012.
Look for him at Santa’s Chalet in the Downtown Disney Marketplace area – and don’t forget to bring your cameras!
Sure, it’s early but we wanted to be the first to wish you a Merry Christmas. Everyone at the Disney Parks Blog hopes your day is filled with happiness and joy. And this year, some of our authors at the Disneyland Resort are sharing a special greeting based around a question that I’m sure regular blog readers can answer.
Of course, we’ll have more holiday stories to come later today and before the New Year so be sure and stop by and leave a comment or two. Merry Christmas!
Join me in taking a look back through the magic of Disney Parks and their relation to music, films and TV! Over the past few months, Disney Parks Blog author Greg Ehrbar has given our readers an inside look behind many beloved Disney movies and songs. Below are just a few of our favorites from the “Sights & Sounds” series. Happy holidays!