Sunday, December 9, 2012

GRAND OPENING DAY: New Fantasyland, Test Track, Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow

 I am very thankful to have had the privilege to attend the Grand Opening Ceremony for the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom's history on December 6, 2012 with "NEW FANTASYLAND!"
My excitement really started kicking in when I saw a sign for "Magic Kingdom Press Event Parking" and smoke coming from the area of New Fantasyland as the Ribbon Cutting Press Event was happening for 2,000 invited media.
 As I got in and saw the large screen and camera stage set up, I immediately went toward the stage to try to get a good spot for the "celebratory moment" at the Castle Forecourt Stage.

Everything was roped off:  Media to stage left, VIP in front & center, then the stage right was for selected Guests.  
There were many recognizable VIP's including Robby Benson (voice of Beast), Paige O'Hara (voice of Belle), JoAnne Worley (voice of the wardrobe) - all from Beauty and the Beast.
Jodi Benson (voice of Ariel), John Musker & Ron Plemmons (Directors of The Little Mermaid), Tony from Dancing With The Stars, among many recognizable Disney Executives.

Personally, I was thrilled to be standing feet away from Dave Smith (seen in the black baseball cap on right), a Disney Legend and world renowned retired Disney Archivist whom I am a big fan of and would have loved to have had the opportunity to THANK HIM for preserving so much of the history that we enjoy reading.

I was very fortunate to have been selected by a Cast Member to be in a special front section of selected lucky guests.  Soon after our section was filled, George came over to ask us all if we ok with BEING A PART OF THE SHOW!  
(really, PINCH ME!)  
 George explained "the plan" was at the end of the celebration, Cast Members would open our rope and we would walk THROUGH THE CASTLE behind the Cast and be LED INTO FANTASYLAND as the FIRST OFFICIAL GUESTS!  He then asked if we "were committed" because we're standing in "the spot"...At this point I was a bit teary and shaking with excitement that Disney just asked ME to be a part of such an HISTORIC MOMENT that means so much to me, personally!

The Show began with a very grand group of Trumpeters in such regal form.

Then, whom should appear but Ginnifer Goodwin, Snow White from the current ABC television hit, Once Upon A Time.  At this point, I"m shaking again because I'm such a huge fan of the show and of her personally.  I know that Ginnifer is such a sincere Disney fan, and am so excited that she is sharing this special moment with us!

Next, Ginnifer introduced Jordin Sparks, from American Idol.

Jordin enchanted us with songs from the classics which incorporate New Fantasyland going from Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and even Dumbo.

Having Dumbo and some circus performers come onto the stage was one exciting part of Jordin's performance for me.
I have never seen Dumbo come out in a live show, or out as a character, so I was thrilled that this wonderful classic was included in this historic ceremony!  It was fitting since Dumbo has expanded with New Fantasyland and the queue is new and improved as well!

 After the songs depicting voyages under the sea from tales as old as time, we were joined by Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, Tom Staggs and a very regal Mickey Mouse.  Tom explained that Walt said of Disneyland and it now stands for all of Disney Parks, that they will "never be complete as long as there is imagination left in the world."

Tom thanked the thousands of Imagineers and Cast Members who carried out this labor of love and allowed Ginnifer Goodwin to "do the honors."
Ginnifer's comments were wonderful:
"To all who believe in wishes and dreams.  To all those who are young and young at heart.  And to always believing that Once Upon A Time will end with Happily Ever After, New Fantasyland will always be yours." 
Tom said "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to New Fantasyland" - there was confetti, fireworks, cheering!  Then Mickey said "C'mon Everybody! BE OUR GUEST!"

At that cue, the cast went through the castle followed by my group being led into this wonderful new world!  During my personal MAGICAL moment, I took a few pics as we were led up the castle path and I did turn around to see the massive crowd behind me! - WOAH!  This truly was an amazing experience that I am so thankful to have been allowed to participate.

After entering into Fantasyland, I bumped into Jordin & Ginnifer on the bridge to Be Our Guest Restaurant.  The restaurant was not serving food on this day because it was the hub to invited media.  I said hi as it struck me that they were truly walking right past me - Ginnifer turned to thank her fans and was quickly ushered in for interviews.

My next stop of the day was to EPCOT where Test Track was officially reopened to guests on the same magical day!

Future World was going to close at 3pm for the Media Event to reopen Test Track.

The band, "One Republic" was to perform at that media event. 

 Because of this special day, I waited in my personal LONGEST LINE EVER!  Test Track was already a 2 hour wait, but Fastpasses were all out and NO single riders were allowed in the fast line for the day, so I waited in the massive line.  The queue is very fun!

You start with a Chevrolet Miray and a sign that tells you this car combines engine with hybrid and this may be what future sports cars look like.  GM Engineers are always exploring new styles, ideas and technology, but the futuristic look takes you throughout the new experience.

The actual ride is exactly the same track as it was before, but the EXPERIENCE is completely different!  It is very futuristic and definitely something to check out! 

I have had people tell me that they "are not ride people" and that's fine, but do not let the experience of building your car and testing it out pass you by!  There is an EXIT after you design your car, so you can skip the ride and move on to the "post ride" fun.

The pictures to the right show you my first car at start to the finished product.

You can actually create you car by designing your own shape, color, decor, front, sides, roof, wheels, etc.  Your car will change in power, capability, responsiveness and efficiency depending on your choices.  These numbers change as you select things, so you could select what is most important to you as you create your dream vehicle.  You could even purchase YOUR car if you choose in Test Track's gift shop.

If you do ride, then after you exit the ride, make sure you see create your own personal GM Commercial depending on things you select and you have the opportunity to test drive YOUR vehicle by the standards that you selected. 

Here you can see my car in the beginning & end, as well as my first-time numbers of where my personal creation rates in power, capability, responsiveness & efficiency in the end...this all comes into play when you actually drive it as well.

 My car was good in power (purple), responsiveness (blue), capability (yellow) & efficiency (green).

My last stop was the THIRD Grand Opening of the day, in Hollywood Studios.

The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow has been in Soft Opening for a few weeks now, but this was the official opening day, so I needed to complete my rounds for the day of new beginnings.  I will admit that I was hoping for a bit more in animatronics and props.
This attraction has it's fun moments and includes Captain Jack Sparrow - but probably won't make anyone's Top 10 list.  Most of the attraction is on video screen, but on this one I will allow you to form your own opinions.

A very special thanks to Rich, a member of the 2013 Ambassador Team for making me, and every guest feel like a VIP.

Let me know if you have had the opportunity to take part in the new additions to our Walt Disney World and what you think.  Thanks for reading and THANK YOU to the Imagineers and Cast Members who continue to make dreams come true daily, including MINE!   

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