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Tweaks make the Disney experience even more magical

Magic Kingdom: Now even the lines are fun

Forget the FastPass: At the Magic Kingdom, waiting in line is cool again. Two key attractions now feature new line queues that are arguably as much fun, and madly inventive, as the rides themselves.

The Haunted Mansion: Guests now have the option of boarding the ride or taking a left and wandering through a tricked-out graveyard, which expands on those old punny tombstones with imagineering fiendishness. Minor characters seen on the ride now have story lines threaded outside, including moaning sea captain Culpepper Clyne, whose hulking crypt leaks water on your shoes and blows bubbles. If you play certain keys on a haunted pipe organ, you get zapped with water or air. Armchair Disney scholars take note: "Ravenscroft" is inscribed on the organ, referencing the basso profundo of Thurl Ravenscroft, the lead singer of the busts in the graveyard scene. He also sang You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch in the Dr. Seuss classic. There are tons of inside jokes to be found here, so take your time. And watch out for that aggressive bookcase . . .

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: As the father of two wee daughters, I'm sensing kid mayhem on this one. Guests now enter Pooh's ride through Rabbit's garden, an absolutely gorgeous, color-rich play zone that's being ravaged by happy bouncing gophers; kids control the critters through all manner of gizmos, including stomping on parts of the walkway. Dizzying diversions are everywhere, which may make it tough for parents wrangling kiddos. One incentive to keep walking? There's a giant interactive "honey wall" at the end, a mondo touchscreen that lets you play in a streaming waterfall of ooze. Some folks have taken to mashing their faces in the honey. Maybe not sanitary, but hey, tons o' fun regardless.

Sean Daly, Times staff writer

Fairy Tale Castle: More cool stuff!

The fairy tale castle becomes a canvas for Disney images and photographs in a new light show, The Magic, The Memories and You! Disney added the 10-minute show in January, giving visitors yet another reason to stay at the park until the closing bell. The show uses 16 projectors to splash colorful special effects on the castle, from vines growing up the side to balloons floating across it. At one point, the castle appears to burst into flames — in a nod to Pirates of the Caribbean. Later, Mickey flies away on Dumbo. The show plays to a mashup of original music and favorite Disney tunes, including Be Our Guest and It's a Small World. The show includes up to 500 photos of cute kids "making memories'' at the park that day. An old clip of Walt Disney poignantly ends the show with a burst of fireworks. Depending on the day, shows are at 8:45, 9:45 and/or 10:35 p.m., followed by the ever popular Wishes fireworks show. Time your visit right, and on some nights you can also see the Main Street Electrical Parade.

Susan Thurston, Times staff writer

Mickey & Minnie: Snap the pics

Disney did families a favor by putting Mickey and Minnie Mouse and the princesses near the entrance of the Magic Kingdom, even if it's only temporary. The park recently moved the character greetings to Main Street's Exposition Hall, now the Town Square Theater, when Mickey's Toontown Fair closed to make way for Fantasyland's expansion, which begins in 2012. While young kids might miss Mickey and Minnie's cute houses in Toontown, having photo ops at the front of the park translates to fresh-looking, happy pictures. Besides, plans for the Fantasyland addition, which include the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, look pretty impressive. Disney also added FastPass for the characters to help cut wait times. It's best to avoid the greetings after the Main Street parades let out. Meet-and-greets end one hour before the park closes.

Susan Thurston, Times staff writer

If you go: Magic Kingdom

Tickets to the Magic Kingdom start at $73.80 for adult Florida residents. Parking is $14. 3111 World Drive, Lake Buena Vista; disneyworld.disney.go.com; (407) 824-4321.

Tweaks make the Disney experience even more magical 05/25/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 5:44pm]
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