"Frozen" snow days and more Soarin' are coming to Epcot summer 2016. Video posted April 20, 2016, by Jennifer Sangalang, FLORIDA TODAY
Vacation club packages offered in U.S. and abroad.
ORLANDO — Beyond its roots in central Florida, Disney has plans to expand its vacation club offerings in the U.S. and abroad.
That includes new destinations for Disney Cruise Line and an introduction to the river cruise business. Hanging with an astronaut on the Space Coast is on the agenda as well.
At Disney's Awaken Summer media preview this week, executives hinted at what's to come starting summer 2017. Next year, for example, Disney Cruise Line will sail to four new destinations: Amsterdam; Portland, England; Alaska; and the Southern Caribbean (Aruba and Curacao).
Guests aboard the Disney Dream will visit Castaway Key twice during select Bahamian voyages, said Karl Holz, president of New Vacation Operations and Disney Cruise Line.
"We will build two new ships, scheduled to be completed in 2021 and 2023," he added. That expands Disney's fleet to six ships.
Design plans, ship names and itineraries still are in development.
According to the Disney Parks blog, "on May 13, 2017, the Disney Magic embarks on a 15-night transatlantic crossing from Port Canaveral, Florida, to Copenhagen, with a stop in Amsterdam along the way. This itinerary also includes a call on Portland, England – another first-time port for Disney Cruise Line. Portland is a short distance from Stonehenge, the prehistoric ring of standing stones monument that is one of the Seven Wonders of the Medieval World."
In addition to the destinations, Holz was excited about the experience inside the ships, too.
Earlier this year, Disney Cruise Line partnered with Lucasfilm for "Star Wars" experiences — there's a Millennium Falcon flight deck on the Disney Dream, "Star Wars" day at sea and Jedi training.
"All of these offerings have been hugely popular," Holz said, adding more "Star Wars" day at sea events are coming next year.
Disney's entertainment team has been hard at work, too. The Broadway production "Tangled: The Musical" premiered on the Disney Magic in November.
Ken Potrock, senior vice president and general manager of Disney Vacation Club and Adventures by Disney, talked about the company's Backstage Magic Central Florida program.
Members will get "VIP access to the parks if you stay at Disney World, behind-the-scenes experiences, interactive experiences with Imagineers and other great storytellers at Disney," Potrock said. "Looking at Central Florida like Walt (Disney) might have looked at it, years and years ago."
Backstage Magic spotlights the eco side of Central Florida, where guests will go horseback riding at a local ranch and zoom across wetlands on an airboat ride. Then, Potrock said, guests can "head out to NASA and spend time with astronauts and learn more about the Space Coast."
"Tangled" the musical on Disney Magic. Video by Craig Rubadoux, FLORIDA TODAY Posted March 22, 2016
Beyond Florida, Disney will foray into glamping or glamour camping at Yellowstone National Park. Those who don't mind roughing it can try their hand dude ranching at Big Sky, Montana, where, Potrock explained, "truly your inner cowboy or cowgirl comes to life."
Disney partnered with AmaWaterways to offer river cruise vacations for families. The packages include trips to 8 destinations in four countries along the Danube River.
But perhaps Disney's most exotic trip is a voyage to the far East.
Said Potrock: "Lots of people want to travel to Asia. You begin in Hong Kong, go to Beijing, go to Shanghai ... and you end your visit at a little theme park that we're building called Shanghai Disneyland."
Stay tuned for updates on Disney's vacation club offerings and news about Disney Cruise Line.
Sangalang is FLORIDA TODAY's entertainment reporter and Nerdgirl column. Contact Sangalang at 321-242-3630 or email@example.com.