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Ears the News with Richard

Photo Courtesy of Disney Parks Blog

The Magic Kingdom's newest merchandise location opened on 9/30/2012 in Storybook Circus in the new Fantasyland.  Not only does Big Souvenirs look great inside, it offers a great array of gifts, as well as an amazing on-stage kitchen producing all kinds of baked goods and treats. Look for exclusive cupcakes, including the cotton candy cupcake, the caramel corn cupcake, and the special Dumbo cupcake.

You can find everything in Big Top Souvenirs, from T-Shirts, plush Dumbos, iPhone cases, holiday ornaments, hats with embroidery service, toys, books, and much more. It feels like a combined and condensed version of the Emporium and Main Street Confectionary. 

Throughout the building are lots of great details, with everything having a high quality look and feel. It is also really well laid out, with the circular building having the on-stage kitchen in the center, with the merchandise surrounding it, and registers at the edges. It is spacious to walk around, and is a pleasant place to be to escape the crowds outside for a while.

Along with the grand opening of Big Top Souvenirs, the Magic Kingdom also opened up the third big top tent, which contains FASTPASS distribution for Dumbo and Barnstormer, along with a seating area and snack carts.

The center of this new area is setup like a small park, with a central tree, surrounded by tables and chairs, and elaborately themed snack carts at the edges. Food offerings consist of hot dogs, pretzels, and the usual range of beverages. It is clear that Disney has aimed at guest comfort with this area, as it includes shade, lots of seating, and easy access to snacks from the carts and inside Big Top Souvenirs. The area will be particularly useful to grab a seat to eat some of those Big Top Souvenirs treats that are not so easy to eat on the move. The area can also be used by parents whose kids are playing in the nearby splash zone. The restrooms are located adjacent to this area.

Marie is now meeting and greeting guests on Main Street USA at the Magic Kingdom. The popular character from the Aristocats movie has now left Epcot's France Pavilion, and will be appearing daily at the flagpole in Town Square at the Magic Kingdom. She can also be seen in the morning Welcome Show prior to the park opening at the Main Street Station.

Epcot turned 30 on 10/1/2012 and the fans showed up en masse. Special guide maps, times guides, and pins were handed out at the turnstiles after the park opened. Immediately upon opening, the merchandise buying frenzy kicked into full force with lines soon extending all the way from Leave a Legacy to Mouse Gear. Causing a guest flow issue, the line was later rerouted to the other side, with the line then extending all the way to World Showcase Plaza. Yours truly got into that line the second it formed and did not get into Mouse Gear until a little after 11:00 AM. While the operation was very well organized I did feel that it was way understaffed with only 6-8 registers running in a small corner of Mouse Gear.

Check out a quick cell phone video of the line courtesy of WDWMagic.com


The Celebration did not stop with maps and merchandise. At 1:00 PM, a panel of Disney Imagineers presented Designing the Future: Past and Present at the World ShowPlace venue.

At 3:00 PM., Epcot VP Erin Youngs, former Epcot vice president and current senior vice president at Walt Disney World Jim McPhee, and president of Disney theme park operations in the United States and Paris Meg Crofton gave speeches and were joined with musical performances by Mariachi Cobre and the Voices of Liberty. Both musical acts have entertained guests since the park first opened on 10/1/1982, with several of the performers having performed in the park since that opening day.  Finally, Marty Sklar made two presentations at 4:30 and 6:30 titled Epcot: How it Changed the World.

Of course, no Disney anniversary would be complete without fireworks and Epcot’s 30th would not disappoint. A special 30th anniversary tag was added to Illuminations.

Video from WDWMagic.com


Disney has announced that special passholder previews of New Fantasyland will begin on 11/3/2012, with registration for the events opening at midday on Monday 10/8/2012. Registration will be online via the passholder website at http://www.disneyworld.com/passholder.

Here is the full text from Disney.

Be among the first to experience New Fantasyland during a special Passholder Preview in November 2012!
You're invited to be among the first to experience the enchantment of New Fantasyland during a special Passholder Preview in November 2012! Upon completion, Fantasyland will nearly double in size - the largest expansion in the history of Magic Kingdom park.

Preview Dates and Times
Dates and times for Passholder Previews are as follows:
Saturday, November 3, 2012
8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, November 10, 2012
8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 11, 2012
8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Preview Itineraries
You can experience one of the following itineraries during your Passholder Preview:

Enchanted Tales With Belle Itinerary, which lets you:
Take a tour of Be Our Guest Restaurant Be Our Guest Restaurant
Ride on Under the Sea — Journey of the Little Mermaid
Experience Enchanted Tales with Belle

The Ariel's Grotto Itinerary, which lets you:
Take a tour of Be Our Guest Restaurant Be Our Guest Restaurant
Ride on Under the Sea — Journey of the Little Mermaid
Take photos and receive autographs from Ariel

Whatever itinerary you choose, you can look forward to all-new excitement at Magic Kingdom park!
Important Registration Information
Registration for this event is limited. You may register up to 8 Guests total; every member of your party must be a valid Passholder at both time of registration and time of event.
If you are on the Annual Pass Monthly Payment Program, you must be current with your payments at both time of registration and the time of the event for which you register. If you have questions about your Annual Pass payments, please call  (888) 701-4100.
Valid Magic Kingdom admission is required for all registered Guests in order to attend the event. Epcot after 4 and Weekday Select Passholders: please note that your Annual Pass is not valid for admission to Magic Kingdom park on the Passholder Preview dates. If you wish to register for a Passholder Preview, you may visit any theme park ticket window to inquire about an upgrade or to purchase a ticket.
Passholder Preview event registration is limited to one event per Passholder.
In order to register, you will need the names, dates of birth, and Annual Passes for each member of your party.
When you have completed your registration you will receive a confirmation via email. You must print the confirmation page and bring it to the event check-in location in order to be admitted to your Passholder Preview. Confirmation pages on cell phones, tablets or other electronic devices cannot be accepted for this event.

Disney has unveiled a lineup of 'New Fantasyland Commemorative Collection' merchandise. In celebration of the opening of New Fantasyland, the items will only be available for purchase online 10/1 – 10/14/ 2012.  Items include men’s and women’s shirts, magnets, pins, and a cap - all of which you can see in the photos below. According to Disney's FAQ, the New Fantasyland Commemorative Collection merchandise will not be available for purchase during the New Fantasyland Preview Events, and will no longer be available to order after 11/14/2012.

Disney's Hollywood Studios is now testing the complimentary guest Wi-Fi Internet service.

Photo Courtesy of Disney Parks Blog
The latest Magic Kingdom character meet and greet, Pete's Silly Sideshow, opened on 10/4/2012 in Storybook Circus in the new Fantasyland. The attraction is divided into two sides, with two separate queues. On one side, guests can meet Minnie Magnifique and Madame Daisy Fortuna; on the other guests will find The Great Goofini and The Astounding Donaldo.  This final opening in Storybook Circus completes this section of Fantasyland, with everything now open to guests.

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