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The close of 2012 brought one last big celebration for Disney. After an eventful year that included the completion of Disneyland’s five-year expansion, the introduction of the new Disney Fantasy cruise ship and a move into the construction phase for Shanghai Disney Resort, Walt Disney World celebrated the opening of New Fantasyland — marking the largest expansion in the Magic Kingdom’s 41-year history.
Family Getaways participated in the opening festivities, celebrated in true Disney style with fireworks, the debut of an awe-inspiring castle projection show and the appearance of a fire-breathing dragon soaring high above park guests.
Designed to create more immersive experiences and to provide families with even greater ease navigating through park attractions and dining facilities, New Fantasyland is comprised of two areas: the Enchanted Forest and the Storybook Circus.
Major attractions inside the Enchanted Forest are Under the Sea — Journey of the Little Mermaid and Enchanted Tales with Belle. Journey of the Little Mermaid ventures “beneath the ocean,” taking guests on a clamshell ride and showing off new technological innovations. Enchanted Tales with Belle is a first-of-its-kind attraction for Disney, combining a character meet-and-greet with a storytelling adventure where guests are part of the fun.
Another first for Disney is the Be Our Guest Restaurant inside the Enchanted Forest. Designed in the elegant style of the film “Beauty and the Beast,” this ballroom features a new concept for quick-service lunch that adds ease to the mealtime experience.
Perhaps the greatest improvement to a classic Disney attraction is found in Storybook Circus at Dumbo, The Flying Elephant. The ride has doubled in size and is now connected to an air-conditioned “big top” where kids can play in a larger-than-life, circus-style jungle gym until their pagers buzz when it’s time to enjoy the ride.
With the debut of major expansions at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World in 2012, Randy Garfield, executive vice president of worldwide sales and travel for Disney Destinations and president of the Walt Disney Travel Company, offered some valuable advice for clients deciding between a Walt Disney World or Disneyland vacation.
“Disneyland is where the company started. It’s got a heritage and a legacy,” said Garfield. “It’s a fabulous destination, but it’s probably a three- to five-day stay. It has two great theme parks which are not only unique, but pedestrian friendly. Walt Disney World encompasses four theme parks, two water parks, golf, 35,000 hotel rooms and a more extended immersive experience from the standpoint of duration. You can cherry-pick what you want to see, but to see everything here you need much longer than a week.”
Garfield added that, once travelers visit one Disney theme park, it enhances their interest in seeing another, but he also highlighted the importance of knowing how much travel time is available for your clients’ Disney family getaway. www.disneyparks.com