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Disney unveils new Fantasyland expansion details

20 January 2011 by By JASON GARCIA AND DEWAYNE BEVIL crline Orlando Sentinel

Walt Disney World said Tuesday it will build a new indoor roller coaster in the Magic Kingdom as part of its expansion of the theme park's Fantasyland section.

Dubbed ``The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train,'' the moderately intense attraction will feature a first-of-its-kind ride system in which vehicles swing back and forth along a twisting track. The attraction will be set to music from the classic animated movie ``Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.''

The coaster is among several new elements Disney has added to its Fantasyland project, which was initially announced in September 2009 and is scheduled to open in phases beginning late next year. Company executives acknowledged last summer that they were redrawing parts of the original plan -- which initially focused heavily on Disney's girl-centric princess and fairies franchises -- to broaden the expansion's overall appeal.

As part of the revisions, Disney will scrap a pair of elaborately themed areas where guests could have danced with Cinderella or celebrated a birthday party with Sleeping Beauty's Aurora. Instead, those two characters will be given a new home together -- along some of the company's other animated heroines -- in a new set dubbed ``Princess Fairytale Hall.'' The meet-and-greet area will replace one of Disney World's original attractions, ``Snow White's Scary Adventure.''

Disney said it will also devise a new circus theme for portions of Mickey's Toowntown Fair, which will close next month to make way for further Fantasyland construction. ``Storybook Circus'' will include ``The Great Goofini,'' a rethemed version of the ``Barnstormer'' children's coaster. The area will also include a previously announced expanded version of the popular children's airborne-carousel ride ``Dumbo the Flying Elephant,'' which will be moved from its current location in Fantasyland, doubled in size and given a new, games-filled queue for those waiting to get on.

Gone entirely are earlier plans for a fairy-themed area that Disney had originally said was to be called ``Pixie Hollow.'' Disney said it will instead build a greeting area for fairies inside its Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park.

Some elements of the original Fantasyland expansion remain. Among them: ``Under the Sea -- Journey of the Little Mermaid,'' an indoor ride featuring an Omnimover motion system and singing animatronics. It will be identical to an attraction being built in Disney California Adventure park in Anaheim, Calif.

Also remaining in the updated plans is an elaborately themed, 550-seat restaurant dubbed ``Be Our Guest.'' Based on the Disney movie ``Beauty and the Beast,'' the restaurant will offer counter-service meals during the day and pricier, sit-down fare in the evenings. The area around the restaurant will also include a smaller eatery called ``Gaston's Tavern''; a retail area called ``Bonjour! Village Gifts''; and ``Enchanted Tales with Belle,'' a cottage in which guests will be able to interact with the princess.

Disney formally unveiled details of the revised expansion Tuesday evening during a media event inside the Magic Kingdom. The event was timed to take advantage of the presence of scores of travel writers already in Central Florida for Wednesday's scheduled departure of a preview voyage aboard Disney's new $900 million cruise ship, the Disney Dream.

Disney also used the Tuesday event to unveil a central feature of its ``Let the Memories Begin'' advertising campaign: the projection of hundreds of photos taken by guests onto Cinderella Castle. Disney said the castle and Disneyland's ``it's a small world'' attraction will continue to feature such projections throughout 2011.


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