Disney Parks in 2012
Since Disneyland opened, there have been some very big years when major new attractions or even other Disney parks opened. Here are some of the biggest in the history of the Disney Parks. Then let’s compare them to what has happened this year alone in 2012.
Major Disney Park Additions
1959. The mighty Matterhorn, the Submarine voyage, the Disneyland Alweg monorail all opened at Disneyland along with new Autopia freeways and the motorboat cruise. All this and the skyway goes through the mountain!
1967. On the heels of opening it’s a small world, the Primeval World diorama and New Orleans Square in 1966, Disneyland takes an amazing step forward with the opening of Pirates of the Caribbean along with a whole new Tomorrowland featuring the Carousel of Progress, Adventure Through Inner Space, The Rocket Jets, and the People Mover. Older attractions re-open in the form of Flight to the Moon (formerly Rocket to the Moon) and Circle-Vision 360 (formerly Circarama, U.S.A.)
1971. Walt Disney World opens with the Magic Kingdom which includes Main Street, U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, and a barely-0pened Tomorrowland. Two hotels–the Polynesian and Contemporary; the Fort Wilderness Campground; two golf courses and a slew of recreational options. Now there are two Disney Parks, with Tokyo Disneyland opening the following year.
1982. Epcot is dedicated with Spaceship Earth, The Land, World of Motion, Universe of Energy, Communicore, and 9 World Showcase countries. Journey Into Imagination would open a few months later before year’s end making this the third Disney Park.
1989. Things only get bigger. This year was enormous due to the opening of the Disney-MGM Studios, Pleasure Island, and Typhoon Lagoon. The Wonders of Life also opened at Epcot. Not to be forgotten, Disneyland opens its fourth mountain with Splash Mountain and a revised land to be called Critter Country. The park welcomed its 300-millionth guest that year. Finally, Disney and Jim Henson sign a deal that would result in the muppets coming to Disney. While nothing major has happened this year in Tokyo Disneyland, Disney Parks are on a roll.
1997. But this year might rank even bigger, in that not only was Disney’s Animal Kingdom the largest park in terms of physical size, but DisneyQuest, and Cirque du Soleil opened that year. The Disney Cruise Line began operations in this same year with the Disney Magic. Plus, there were resort additions and the introduction of new animation facilities and Fantasmic! at Disney-MGM Studios. On the west coast, it was a quieter year with only Aladdin’s Oasis opening and the failed Light Magic opening and closing. It ended better with it’s a small world Holiday beginning premiering at the end of the year. In Disneyland Paris, they celebrated its 5th anniversary as a Disney park with parades, festivities and a castle decked out to the themes from Festival of Fools in Hunchback of Notre Dame.
2001. Now things happen in a big global way in Disney parks around the world. Walt Disney World’s parks offer minor new attractions in the form of Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, TriceraTop Spin, and Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama. But it offers a major new resort in the form of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, and then hosts a major property wide celebration in the form of 100 Years of Magic with four new or adapted parades. Still bigger in cost, but disappointing in scope is the opening of Disney’s California Adventure, with its Paradise Pier, Grizzly Peak and Hollywood Land. Included is a major new car garage; a whole new shopping experience named Downtown Disney; and a major hotel in the form of Disney’s Grand California Resort. All of these activities would be dwarfed by the opening of Tokyo Disney Seas with its Mediterranean Harbor, Mysterious Island, Mermaid Lagoon, Arabian Coast, Lost River Delta, Port Discovery and American Waterfront. Plus the Hotel Mira Costa.
2012. That brings us to 2012. World-wide, there could not be a bigger year for Disney Parks. The scope has been breathtaking and far-reaching.
Disney Parks Additions in 2012
Disney Cruise Line. January sees The Disney Dream set sail with it’s 4,000 passenger capacity. A couple of months later Disney Fantasy sets sail in March with a similar size ship. Combined, the two will cost more than $1.8 billion.
Shanghai Disneyland. Still a few years from opening, it is deep in construction, with some $4.4 billion to be spent to open the park and resort. Disney will pay for some 43% of that initial bill.
Disneyland Paris.With new parades, fireworks, and other events, Disneyland Paris celebrates its 20th anniversary in April. A new Ratatouille dark-ride attraction is under construction at Walt Disney Studios Park.
Tokyo Disney Sea. The most unusual Fantasmic to ever play opens in Mediterranean Harbor in April. In July Toy Story Mania goes into operation at the American Waterfront. The latter was built at the cost of around 11.5 billion yen or about $137 million in U.S. dollars.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Wild Africa Trek blazes a trail through Africa, and Kilimanjaro Safaris changes the end of its tour with a new visit to a herd of zebras.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Phineas and Ferb’s play ‘n’ greet experience also comes on board in April. The Legend of Jack Sparrow opens in November on the other side of the park. A new American Film Institute museum opens at the end of the year.
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. Some 1,120 suites and 864 rooms are themed to Cars, Finding Nemo, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid. Across property a new Disney Vacation Club location gets under construction at Disney’s Grand Floridan Resort.
Disneyland. Ironically, the first attraction to be part of a major addition, the mighty Matterhorn, is updated dramatically with a new look and new ride vehicles. Restaurant row on Main Street, U.S.A. is dramatically updated to include the Jolly Holiday Bakery.
Disney California Adventure. In the most extensive remodeling of a theme park ever, the park is re-dedicated with a newly refurbished Buena Vista Street and Cars Land. This completes a revamp estimated at some 1.1 billion dollars. Outside its gates the Disneyland Hotel completes a major renovation with new windows, rooms, pools and restaurants.
Disneyland Hong Kong. After opening Toy Story land in late 2011, Grizzly Gulch opens in July complete with a Big Grizzly Mountain roller coaster like experience. Mystic Point should open in the first half of 2013. Disney will spend some $450 million with some slightly more than that spent by the Hong Kong government.
Star Wars. Not a park event per se, but the 4 billion dollar purchase of George Lucas’s Lucasfilm holdings is a major milestone in the future of Disney attractions.
Epcot. A newly revised Test Track comes online with Chevrolet as the sponsor. Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure replaces Kim Possible. Habit Heroes opens and then closes to bad publicity. Monsieur Paul creates a new upstairs dining experience upstairs at France while the Boulangerie Patisserie down on the street undergoes a major expansion.
Downtown Disney–Walt Disney World. A new Characters in Flight balloon rises after the previous balloon was grounded due to an accident in Hong Kong. Splitsville with it’s retro bowling alley occupies the former space vacated in years previous by Virgin.
Magic Kingdom. Big Thunder Mountain and the Country Bear Jamboree and even the Sunshine Tree Terrace open after major updates and revisions. But this is nothing when the largest expansion came to the most popular land in the most popular theme park in the world. By the end of the year that 26-acre expansion would include new themed attractions, restaurants and shops based on Dumbo, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast. All this is estimated at $425 million.
Next Gen. Disney tests is next generation of FastPass Technology throughout the year, and introduces a new game called Sorcerers in the Magic Kingdom using similar infrared technologies. Eventually this will not only include ride reservations, but other features that enhances and personalizes the entire resort stay. In all this investment in technologies that will affect Disney parks world-wide is over $1 billion.
Was 2012 the Biggest?
What do you think? Is this Disney Park’s biggest year ever? When Bob Iger says he doesn’t stay up at night thinking about how much money he has spent, he’s serious. This is a major amount of capital going to theme parks–not considered in business one of your safer forms of financial investment. But Disney is clearly committed to bringing the park experience world-wide to all of its parks. And 2012 is its best demonstration of that ever. You may see places where attention is needed, but has attention ever been played at such a dramatic level world-wide? Surely, no one can complain.
Agree? Or disagree?
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