Year in Review 2012: A Look Back at Walt Disney World

The most magical place on Earth, Walt Disney World ® was even more magical in 2012 with new resorts, rides and the biggest expansion in Magic Kingdom ® history. Plus, as usual, the Orlando theme park spread the magic with their annual food and wine festivals, concerts and holiday events. Here is a quick look back at what happened at Walt Disney World ® in 2012.

In May Walt Disney World ® opened its 25th resort, the Art of Animation with family suites that were themed after popular Disney ® movies like Finding Nemo, The Lion King, Cars and The Little Mermaid.

Also in May, Disney’s newest princess, Merida from the new animated film Brave began meeting and greeting guests at Magic Kingdom ®. Located just to the right of Cinderella Castle inside Fairytale Garden, the new interactive meet-and-greet features a photo opportunity with Merida and the three mischievous bears from the movie as well as a chance to learn archery skills and color with the princess.

Just two months later, Downtown Disney ® added a bowling alley, Splitsville to its entertainment lineup. With a massive two-level, 50,000-square-foot venue Splitsville is the fifth and largest Splitsville in the country. The unique bowling alley offers billiards, dining, live entertainment, nightlife and of course bowling – 30 lanes of bowling to be exact!

Then on October, 1 Walt Disney World ® celebrated its 40th anniversary with a special presentation at the Cinderella Castle Forecourt stage in Magic Kingdom ®. The party included a performance by the Main Street Philharmonic band, who played a medley of classic Disney ® songs; a parade down Main Street U.S.A. with 40 of Disney’s ® most popular characters; a speech by Walt Disney World ® president Meg Crofton and Magic Kingdom ® vice president Phil Holmes; a sing along of “When You Wish Upon a Star” by Dapper Dans and a special daytime fireworks display led by the Fairy Godmother, Snow White, Rapunzel and other Disney ® characters.

But perhaps the biggest thing to happen in Walt Disney World ® in 2012 was the Fantasyland expansion in Magic Kingdom ®. Guests got their first glimpse of the new magical area in mid-summer with the grand opening of the second "Dumbo the Flying Elephant," (the first one opened in March) and its air-conditioned, indoor, interactive Big Top queue. Additionally, the Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak Station also opened in time for guests to cool off in the summer heat. Then, on Dec. 6, a Dragon flew over the Magic Kingdom, and the New Fantasyland expansion had its grand opening where guests were finally able to experience characters, scenes and places from their favorite Disney ® movies with rides and attractions like Under the Sea~Journey of the Little Mermaid, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Ariel's Grotto, Gaston’s Tavern, Be Our Guest Restaurant and more! Also, The New Test Track Presented by Chevrolet opened at Epcot ®, and The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow opened in Hollywood Studios.

So, what’s in store for 2013? Disney’s Limited Time Magic was announced in 2012, which will make every week at Disney World in 2013 unique, and yet another addition to New Fantasyland is coming called Princess Fairytale Hall, where you can meet Cinderella (Cinderalla,) Aurora (Sleeping Beauty,) Tiana (The Princess and the Frog,) and Rapunzel (Tangled.) Like always, we’ll be here to get the inside scoop on everything Disney World.

From everybody at Best of Orlando have a Happy New Year and we’ll see you next year with plenty more Orlando Theme Park news!

Orlando, FL – 12/24/12


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