THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY
Relive your favorite big screen memories at Walt Disney World
It's no secret that kids--and kids at heart--love Disney movies. Whether it's Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Dumbo, Belle and the Beast, the Little Mermaid or a cast of dozens of other creations, Disney movies have been bringing magical characters, settings, and more to life for decades.
More and more, all of the Walt Disney World theme parks in Orlando, Fla., are unveiling new attractions to give guests an up-close-and-personal experience to movie sets, characters, adventures and experiences.
The list of attractions where Disney movies and more are brought to life is in the dozens, including long-time favorites like Cinderella Castle, Swiss Family Treehouse and Indiana Jones as well as more recent additions to Magic Kingdom's New Fantasyland, including Under the Sea--Journey of the Little Mermaid, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Be Our Guest Restaurant, and Dumbo, the Flying Elephant.
When Magic Kingdom first opened in 1971, it was the only theme park at Walt Disney World. Guests were awed by the 189-foot Cinderella Castle, which still remains the iconic centerpiece, while Mickey, Minnie and many other movie characters roamed the park to greet early guests.
But that was only the beginning. Other movie-related attractions added over the years have included: Peter Pan's Flight; Mad Tea Party; Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin; Seas with Nemo & Friends; Voyage of the Little Mermaid; Toy Story Mania; Muppet Vision 3-D; Star Tours-The Adventures Continue; Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular; Festival of the Lion King; Finding Nemo; Beauty & the Beast; and so many more. Magic Kingdom's Pirates of the Caribbean is unique, in that it actually inspired the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
While Walt Disney World has always done well with translating films and characters into attractions, already-popular options at New Fantasyland have taken experiences to another level.
Fantasyland is the largest expansion in Walt Disney World's nearly 43-year-old history, with attractions, dining, shopping, character interactions, recreation, and much more laid out, fairy tale-style attractions amid waterfalls, grottoes, arched bridges, forests, and circus big tops.
Based on Beauty & the Beast, Enchanted Tales with Belle is set in a far off French village, where an enchanted mirror becomes the gateway to a new kind of storytelling experience. Through costumes, props and other interaction, visitors to the village step right into the movie's storyline and setting--meeting Belle, Madame Wardrobe, and Lumiere, and sharing in the lively re-telling of a tale as old as time.
Be Our Guest Restaurant continues the immersion in Beauty & the Beast with a dining experience unlike anything found in Walt Disney World--or many other places for that matter. This lavish dining experience takes place in the elegant ballroom, delicate Rose Gallery and mysterious "west wing" of the Beast's Castle. Fittingly French-inspired cuisine is certainly a highlight, but so is the setting, which changes in style as guests move through the restaurant.
In addition, Gaston's Tavern welcomes guests to a French lodge that pays homage to Gaston. The casual menu includes LeFou's Brew, a cooling concoction named for Gaston's sidekick.
Set amid a musical backdrop of beloved songs from the film, Fantasyland's Under the Sea--Journey of the Little Mermaid has guests riding in clam shells and travelling with Ariel and her friends through their adventures both above and below the waves. Before the experience even begins, while waiting in line, there's whimsical and interactive fun that sets the stage under Prince Eric's Castle. Afterward, guests meet the princess herself in Ariel's Grotto.
Fantasyland icon Dumbo, the Flying Elephant has doubled in size. Two Dumbos--one going clockwise and the other going counterclockwise--take guests circling above Storybook Circus in ride vehicles that maneuver themselves. The two Dumbos are connected to an indoor big top area, where lucky Dumbo fans enjoy circus-themed activities while awaiting their ride with the lovable pachyderm. There's also The Barnstormer Featuring the Great Goofini. It's a coaster for the whole family, with riders dipping and soaring daredevil-like above the circus grounds.
Goofy also gets into the act at Pete's Silly Sideshow, where Disney characters as aspiring circus stars are on hand to meet adoring fans. Decked out in their big top finery, Goofy is joined by Minnie Mouse, Daisy and Donald Duck, and others as they await their big break-and pose for photos with their fans.
Added more recently to Fantasyland is Princess Fairytale Hall, the new home for Disney princesses to meet their loyal subjects in the Magic Kingdom. Set in the Castle Courtyard, the regal space provides the perfect setting for meeting Cinderella, Aurora, Tiara, and other fabled Disney princesses.
Set to open this spring, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will take Magic Kingdom visitors on a musical ride to the mine where a million diamonds shine.
Of course, Disney's Hollywood Stuidos remains a great place to head for a variety of movie tie-ins in a wide variety of entertaining ways. It's easy to step into the action with attractions and entertaiment based on blockbusters, thanks to a movie set-like setting with eight areas: Hollywood Boulevard; Sunset Boulevard; Mickey Avenue; Streets of America; Commissary Lane; Pixar Place; Echo Lake; and Animation Courtyard.
Hollywood Studios attraction highlights for movie buffs have to include: The Great Movie Ride; the American Film Institute Showcase and the Studio Backlot Tour; the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza; Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure; The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow; Star Tours-The Adventure Continues; Toy Story Midway Mania!; the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror; Voyage of the Little Mermaid; and Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!
Based on the iconic Lucasfilm Star Wars films, the new 2011 version of the popular Star Tours-The Adventure Continue attraction includes immersive new elements, with more than 50 story combinations involving many familiar places in the Star Wars galaxy.
Did You Know?
*New Fantasyland is the largest expansion in the history of Magic Kingdom and doubles the size of Fantasyland.
*Beauty and the Beast-Live on Stage debuted at Disney's Hollywood Studios Theater of the Stars the same day the feature film opened in theaters, making it the first time a stage version of the film that inspired it opened on the same day as the movie.
*At the new Be Our Guest Restaurant, the delicate Rose Gallery adorned with rose accents, paintings, and tapestries, is centered by a music box nearly seven feet tall that twirls Belle and the Beast. The restaurant's chandelier is more than 12 feet tall and 11 feet wide.
*The new Be Our Guest Restaurant joins more than 200 varied dining choices at Walt Disney World, where "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" takes on a whole new meaning where Disney movie characters are known to join guests for meals.
*A version of the popular Dumbo attraction has been in every Disney-style park since the first one in 1955.
*Pete, sometimes known as Peg-Leg Pete and featured in New Fantasyland's Pete's Silly Slideshow, is the longest running continuous Disney character, debuting in 1925 in the Disney short, Alice Solves a Puzzle.
*New Fantasyland's Storybook Circus is in Carolwood Park, which references the steam train that was in Walt Disney's backyard.
*There are more than 12,000 books in the library at Enchanted Tales with Belle.
*There are an incredible 183 characters in Under the Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid and 128 of them are featured in the "Under the Sea" scene.