LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Nemo, Dory, Marlin and the rest of the cast of the motion picture "Finding Nemo" have achieved critical acclaim with the Academy Award as best animated feature film and have been adored by people everywhere as the highest grossing animated film ever. So what could they possibly be doing next?
Like sports heroes and people celebrating all other sorts of worthy accomplishments, they are going to Disney World!
As an encore to the Disney presentation of a Pixar smash-hit film, Nemo the clownfish and his motion picture family and friends will be starring in a new attraction at Epcot and a new live theater musical production at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Both are debuting during fall 2006 as highlights of a season that also includes the return of popular events as Walt Disney World Resort tempts the senses with music, art, pageantry, food, wine, sports and star-gazing.
Here's a closer look at what's in store:
Disney's Animal Kingdom Guests Will Find 'Nemo' in Dazzling Musical Spectacular
The undersea world that charmed audiences around the world in the film "Finding Nemo" comes to life in an all-new musical stage show, "Finding Nemo-The Musical," debuting at Disney's Animal Kingdom in late 2006. Featuring original songs by Tony Award-winning "Avenue Q" composer Robert Lopez and a cappella musical "Along the Way" composer Kristen Anderson-Lopez, the show will immerse guests of all ages in the story of Marlin and Nemo, an overprotective clownfish father and his curious son, through a dazzling production that combines puppets, dancers, acrobats and animated backdrops.
The theme park's newly enclosed Theater in the Wild will become a magical undersea environment through innovative lighting, sound, special effects and the theatrical puppetry of Michael Curry, who designed the richly detailed character puppets seen in the Broadway version of Disney's "The Lion King." Principal characters such as Marlin, Nemo and Dory will be represented by live performers operating larger-than-life puppets. Peripheral characters will be realized by a diverse array of puppetry styles, including rod, bunraku and shadow.
Produced by Disney Creative Entertainment, the 30-minute show represents the first time Disney has taken a non-musical animated feature and transformed it into an original musical production. "Finding Nemo-The Musical" will be staged several times daily.
The Seas with Nemo & Friends Brings Familiar Characters to Life Inside Epcot Aquarium
The Seas with Nemo & Friends, a whimsical and visually stunning attraction for guests of all ages, picks up where the motion picture "Finding Nemo" left off. Featuring technology that causes the stars of the motion picture to magically appear swimming amid the live marine life of the huge aquarium in The Seas pavilion at Epcot, the adventure begins when guests board "clamobiles" for an undersea voyage in a colorful coral reef setting.
They first meet Mr. Ray and his class on a field trip and soon learn that Nemo has wandered off. The journey in search of Nemo includes familiar characters such as Dory, Bruce, Marlin, Squirt and Crush. These deep sea friends inhabit a variety of vibrant vignettes, including the actual aquarium -- a 5.7-million-gallon saltwater environment containing more than 65 species of marine life. In the musical finale of the attraction, Nemo is happily reunited with his class and friends.
Upon exiting the new attraction, guests can explore the rest of the pavilion, which is home to "Turtle Talk With Crush," the smash-hit recent addition featuring the movie's laid-back sea turtle, who interacts with guests in real-time, unscripted conversations; Bruce's Shark World, an interactive area with colorful graphics and fun facts about sharks; and live marine life in both the large aquarium and specialized exhibits.
Select Guestrooms at Disney's All-Star Music Resort Remade into All-Star Family Suites
Families, friends or anyone just needing more "room to roam" will have it with the introduction of Disney's All-Star Resort Family Suites at Disney's All-Star Music Resort. Nearly 400 guestrooms are being converted to 192 family suites at the value-priced resort, with completion of the rooms-to-suites makeover set for mid-October.
Featuring two bathrooms and sleeping up to six people, each suite also includes a generously sized kitchenette with counter space, sink, microwave, coffee maker and under-counter refrigerator. Other amenities include a private "master" bedroom with its own flat-screen television, desk and lounge chair.
Festivals and Events Fill Fall with Fun
The special events begin as September dawns ... and they're still going strong when fireworks are heralding the start of a new year. With nearly a dozen events and festivals on the calendar, there's extra special fun on more than 100 days. Here's what's in store:
Tom Joyner Family Reunion (Sept. 1-5) -- Tom Joyner, host of the nation's No. 1 urban morning radio show, is the celebrity host for the nation's largest Labor Day weekend family reunion celebration -- involving his "extended family" of listeners who are treated to performances by some of the country's best-known musicians, comedians and gospel acts plus theme park fun, parties, family fitness workouts, book club discussions and a slate of family-oriented events to delight guests of every age.
The celebrity lineup of entertainers will include Aretha Franklin, Sinbad, LL Cool J, Chris Brown, Ne-yo, Keyshia Cole -- and more! For more information about the events and to book specially priced packages, log onto blackamericaweb or call 1-888/TJ-FAMILY (888/853-2645) 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Night of Joy (Sept. 8-9) -- Honored this spring with the Gospel Music Association's Lifetime Achievement Award, Night of Joy returns to Walt Disney World Resort for the 24th year with a lineup featuring contemporary Christian music's reigning group of the year and reigning king of urban gospel among more than a dozen acts that will present concerts during two evenings of music and theme park fun in the Magic Kingdom.
Casting Crowns, the 2006 GMA Music Awards' Dove-Award Group of the Year as well as the Grammy Award winner for pop/contemporary gospel album, and Kirk Franklin, who added to his legacy of accolades this year with Doves for Best Urban Album and Urban Recorded Song of the Year, are joined by MercyMe, tobyMac, BarlowGirl, Rebecca St. James, Jeremy Camp, Todd Agnew, David Crowder Band, Smokie Norful, ZOEgirl, Building 429, Matthew West, Hawk Nelson and Vicky Beeching. All acts will play either Friday or Saturday except for BarlowGirl, which will perform both nights.
The Night of Joy fun begins at 7:30 p.m. (after regular Magic Kingdom closing) and continues till 12:30 a.m. and requires a special ticket. Advance tickets ($39.95 plus tax for one night, $67.95 plus tax for both nights) are available by calling 407/W-DISNEY or by visiting disneyworld.com/nightofjoy online. Tickets purchased on the date of the event will be $44.95 plus tax if available (Night of Joy is frequently sold out in advance).
Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (Sept. 15, 22, 29, Oct. 2, 5, 6, 10, 12, 16, 17, 19, 20, 23, 24, 26, 27, 30 and 31) -- With 18 party nights scheduled, Walt Disney World Resort's one-of-a-kind Halloween bash that immerses guests in the fantasy of Magic Kingdom is bigger than ever in 2006.
Guests are invited to dress in costumes and trick-or-treat through the park from 7 p.m. to midnight each evening (the party begins after park closing and requires a special ticket). The family-friendly fun includes the newly expanded "Boo-to-You" Halloween parade and the bewitching "Happy HalloWishes" fireworks spectacular. The most popular Magic Kingdom attractions are operating, too.
Tickets are $42.95 plus tax (ages 10/up) and $35.95 plus tax (ages 3-9) -- with advance-purchase savings of $6 per ticket for dates through Oct. 26 (advance-purchase savings do not apply for Oct. 27, 30 and 31). Note that historically many event nights have sold out in advance -- particularly Friday nights and the last week of October. For ticket information, guests can contact 407/W-DISNEY or visit Disneyworld.com/halloween online.
Epcot International Food and Wine Festival (Sept. 29-Nov. 12) -- With the theme "Exploring Regional Flavors," the 11th annual festival will showcase more than two dozen international marketplaces around Epcot World Showcase featuring cuisine and wine from regions of countries that include Spain, India, Italy, Turkey, Ireland, Poland and more. Guests can immerse themselves in cultural experiences or sip to learn at a wine seminar. They can expand their culinary repertoire at one of many cooking demonstrations. The opportunities are many when Future World and World Showcase overflow with first-rate food, wine and beer experiences during the six-week-long festival.
New this year is a once-a-week "Teen Cuisine" cooking seminar for kids 11-16 that also will tie in the regional flavors theme.
The festival also features a lineup of winemakers and guest chefs, elegant dinners, wine schools, tastings and pairings. In addition, the fest's nightly Eat to the Beat! concert series features a varied lineup of musical entertainment.
Festival entertainment, culinary demonstrations and wine-tasting seminars are included in the price of Epcot theme-park admission. Epcot guests can sample the marketplace cuisine and wines for $1.50-$4.50. Special events booked by reservation start at about $35-$40 with daily Food and Wine Pairings at a variety of Epcot restaurants ... and range upward to about $200 for elegant five-course dinners with celebrity and Walt Disney World chefs and renowned wine professionals. In addition, the acclaimed Party for the Senses grand tasting returns each weekend with an abundance of gourmet tastes, fine wines and first-rate entertainment.
Guests can call 407/WDW-FEST for information or reservations for special events and programs. By summer, festival details will be posted on the Web site: disneyworld.com.
Funai Classic at Walt Disney World Resort (Oct. 19-22) -- A field of 144 top PGA TOUR players will be in a quest for shares of a Classic-record $4.6 million purse. The 72-hole event is played on Disney's Magnolia and Palm courses. The winner earns $828,000 and takes part in a 36-year Classic tradition: a winner's-circle pose with Mickey Mouse.
Lucas Glover, in his second year on TOUR in 2005, added his name to a roster of Classic champions that includes Vijay Singh, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ray Floyd, Payne Stewart, Mark O'Meara and Larry Nelson. For ticket information, call 407/835-2525.
Festival of the Masters (Nov. 10-12) -- Sculptors, photographers and painters -- more than 200 award-winning fine artists in all -- will show off their diverse creations, transforming Downtown Disney into an outdoor gallery. Now in its 31st year, the juried art show also features children's activities and live entertainment. There is no charge for admission or parking.
ABC Super Soap Weekend (Nov. 11-12) -- Presented by Colgate Total, the annual fan-fest will bring out more than 30 ABC Daytime stars at Disney-MGM Studios. There'll be star-filled parades, autograph sessions, star conversations, concerts and more. Stars from the three soap operas on the ABC Daytime schedule -- "All My Children," "One Life To Live" and "General Hospital" -- will highlight the two-day festival. The fun is included with regular Disney-MGM Studios admission.
Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights (Nov. 13- Jan. 7, 2007) -- As snow falls overhead, the Streets of America backlot cityscape at Disney-MGM Studios comes alive with millions of sparkling lights each evening. Snowflakes sparkle while colored lights put on a show -- twirling as carousels, marching on air as toy soldiers and taking flight as Santa and his reindeer. The lightshow is in collaboration with Arkansas businessman Jennings Osborne, who developed the display for his daughter. When his idea outgrew his home, he worked with Disney to provide a new home for the seasonal fun. The dazzling spectacle is included with Disney-MGM Studios admission.
Holidays Around the World/Candlelight Processional (Nov. 24-Dec. 30) -- An Epcot tradition continues, with holiday customs from around the globe, international storytellers, a nightly character tree-lighting ceremony, a stunning display of snow-white and colored lights, and Candlelight Processional -- guest narrators accompanied by a massed choir and 50-piece orchestra for a retelling of the Christmas story. Every evening concludes with a special holiday-themed finale to the "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth" show. The holiday fun is included with regular Epcot admission.
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (Nov. 13, 17, 27, 28, 30 and Dec. 1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12, 14, 15, 18, 19, 21, 22) -- On 18 special evenings, holiday merriment fills Magic Kingdom from 7 p.m. till midnight during an after-hours party complete with snow flurries, carolers, cocoa and Christmas cookies.
Guests experience the enchantment of "Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade" (featuring Santa and Mrs. Claus), "Holiday Wishes-Celebrate the Spirit of the Season" fireworks spectacular, and two live holiday stage shows. There are character greetings and even snow on Main Street, U.S.A. Plus, guests can experience the most popular Magic Kingdom attractions.
Admission to the party requires a separate ticket. Tickets are $45.95 plus tax (ages 10/up) and $37.95 plus tax (ages 3-9) -- with advance-purchase savings of $6 per ticket for select dates. Note: Many party nights historically have sold out in advance. For ticket information, call 407/W-DISNEY or visit disneyworld.com.
Pop Warner Super Bowl (Dec. 3-9) -- Now in its 77th year of providing an organizational structure for youth football, Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc. brings its Pop Warner Super Bowl and National Cheer & Dance Championships to Walt Disney World Resort for an unprecedented 12th consecutive year. The football national championships involve 64 teams from across the country competing in four age groups from 8 to 14 on the fields of the 220-acre Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex. The NFL Player's Association estimates that between 60 and 70 percent of the current players in the NFL got their start playing Pop Warner Football. More than 400 squads will strut their stuff during the National Cheer & Dance Championships in The Milk House.
In addition to the festivals, special events and opening of a new attraction and show, the fall/holidays 2006 season also showcases the newest Walt Disney World E-ticket attraction, Expedition Everest, which rises above the horizon at Disney's Animal Kingdom. A runaway train adventure featuring a close encounter with the legendary yeti, Expedition Everest opened in April.
For additional information and reservations, guests can call 407/W-DISNEY, go online to disneyworld.com, or visit a local travel agent.