Here are my picks for the best happenings at theme parks and attractions for 2012.
•Best new costumes: Storybook Circus, Magic Kingdom. Step right up and see the red, ringmaster-inspired costumes — complete with tails — that fit the color scheme and theme of the New Fantasyland subsection.
•Best (and biggest) costume change:
•Best rehabs: Test Track at Epcot and the Amazing Adventures of
•Best reimagining of a grassy knoll: Hollywood Drive-In Golf,
•Best way to shake the snot out of you: Rattlesnake, Florida Eco-Safaris. This new zip line has its ups and downs by design. It swings, sways and may alter your swagger.
•Best big, scary, virtual bird award: TurtleTrek,
•Best surprise: Enchanted Tales with Belle, Magic Kingdom. Sure, it's princess-y, but appearances by impressive Audio-Animatronics Lumiere and Madame Wardrobe, performances by guests and even Belle's big dress that moves just so, put some fascination in New Fantasyland.
•Best use of charming orphans and fruit smells: Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Universal Studios. I didn't really care about those sisters … and then I did.
•Best use of Force: "
•Best animal acts caught on video: (Tie) Falling horse at Mickey's Not-So-Scary
•Best semi-submerged attraction: Freshwater Oasis,
•Best way to annoy me with punctuation in an attraction name: Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, Magic Kingdom. Dear
•Best bummer: Jaws, Universal Studios. The ride closed in January, and Amity became a construction site (see below). Runner-up: The demolition of Dixie Stampede.
•Best blankest expression from Disney fans: Snow White's Scary Adventures, Magic Kingdom. One of the original Disney World attractions was closed, and it happened without much outrage.
•Best rumor still not confirmed as fact:
•Best recurring rumor-mill subjects: Death of Avatarland, Disney's Animal Kingdom; birth of Cars Land (or, hey, what about Star Wars Land?) at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Likewise, Disney has been somewhat mute about Avatar, although officially it still gets nods. So naturally, that's the one that rumormongers think is dead in the water. Cars Land, hatched this year at Disney California Adventure to positive reviews, has its fans. Is it just wishful thinking?
Time, or perhaps 2013, will tell.