Disney’s Happiest Places on Earth
It really is a small world when it comes to Disney. The vacation giant has global tours, cruises & famous parks. Which of these 13 adventures should you take?
Discover what’s new in Disney-related travel, including a Hawaiian resort, a Bahamas-bound cruise ship and an expanded Disney’s California Adventure theme park.
Disney Cruise Line is offering its first Alaska cruises this year. The Disney Wonder will depart Vancouver, British Columbia, for seven-night cruises to Tracy Arm, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan. The Alaska cruise season is May 3 to Aug. 30.
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, is scheduled to open Aug. 29 at Ko Olina marina on Oahu. The resort will have 359 hotel rooms and 481 Disney Vacation Club villas, two restaurants, a wedding lawn and a spa center. Water attractions will include a tube-floating watercourse, body slides and a snorkeling lagoon.
Vacations in Egypt
Adventures by Disney offers guided family vacations on six continents. In April, it will launch its first Egypt itineraries. Disney guests can visit the pyramids and Great Sphinx in Giza, take a Nile River cruise and experience Cairo on seven- and nine-night tours.
Expansion of California Adventure Theme Park
The Paradise Pier area of Disney’s California Adventure in Anaheim, Calif., gets a refresh this year with new shops and dining spots. A highlight will be Goofy’s Sky School, a steel roller coaster that takes passengers on a wild ride through sharp turns, steep drops and sudden stops. Another new attraction will be The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.
Nighttime Water Spectacular
Get ready to watch a kaleidoscope of electric red, screaming yellow and neon green flashing across giant fountains. The World of Color Nighttime Water Spectacular opened last summer at Disney’s California Adventure in Anaheim, Calif. This colossal new attraction turns Paradise Bay into a dance of color, light and music, including scenes from familiar Disney movies.
Star Tours in 3-D
Disney is reinventing its Star Tours motion-simulator rides at both Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Fla., and Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. They will be in 3-D for the first time. Passengers will zip to Coruscant and other destinations in the “Star Wars” galaxy. Look for the new rides to open in late spring at Disney World and early summer at Disneyland.
Grand Californian Gets a Makeover
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa in Anaheim, Calif. is undergoing a renovation that will include a new restaurant, pool and guest rooms. The Fairy Tale Suite, a 750-square-foot retreat for couples, will overlook Disneyland through floor-to-ceiling windows. Guests to the Fairy Tale Suite will be welcomed by pixie dust and the appearance of Tinker Bell. Resort renovations are scheduled for completion in 2012.
Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship, the 4,000-passenger Disney Dream, sets sail on its maiden voyage Jan. 26. The Dream will sail from Port Canaveral, Fla., on three-, four- and five-night cruises to the Bahamas. Ride the AquaDuck water coaster on deck 12, and you’ll plunge through an acrylic tube that shoots out over the ocean and back to the ship.
Upgrades to Disneyland Hotel
Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, Calif., is upgrading its pool and courtyard areas. It is building a new pool and water play area, renovating an existing pool, opening a new restaurant and bar, and restoring the original midcentury style of the classic hotel. The pool area will now include two water slides that plunge 26 feet into a splash pool.
Fantasyland at Disney World in Orlando, Fla. is about to double in size and will feature a new indoor roller coaster and a new place to interact with Disney princesses. Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Aurora and Belle will have their own themed villages within Fantasyland Forest. The Fantasyland expansion project in Disney’s Magic Kingdom began in 2010 and will open in phases starting in late 2012.
Wild Africa Trek
Disney’s Animal Kingdom near Orlando, Fla. opens its Wild Africa Trek on Jan. 16. On this three-hour guided tour, guests trek through Harambe Wildlife Reserve, walk on winding pathways through dense fern, bamboo and vine forests, and encounter crocodiles and hippos in the waters below. Guests can unwind at a private safari camp with views of living, breathing wildebeests, giraffes, elephants, gazelles and antelopes.
A More Pleasing Pleasure Island
Disney World in Orlando, Fla. is revamping Pleasure Island within Downtown Disney. Pleasure Island will evolve into Hyperion Wharf, a bustling port district with new boutiques and restaurants. The wharf district will also have a lakeside park and new eateries that will expand the dining choices at Downtown Disney by more than 25 percent.
Raytheon’s Sum of All Thrills
Want to design your own thrill ride? Raytheon’s Sum of All Thrills, an interactive attraction at Epcot, near Orlando, Fla., allows guests to do so using math tools, a touch-screen table and a robotic simulator. The ride, which opened in 2009, is designed to educate and inspire students about the power of math. It’s geared toward middle-school students to get them excited about exploring science, technology, engineering and math careers.