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Disney: Still buzzing over Fantasyland

By SHARON KENNEDY WYNNE

Times Staff Writer

Walt Disney World's theme parks in Orlando are not offering much new this summer besides some interactive games, but they don't have to. Magic Kingdom is still enjoying the buzz created from the first wave of attractions in its 21-acre Fantasyland expansion.

The first Fantasyland additions opened last summer and fall, including a hugely popular Beauty and the Beast-themed restaurant, Be Our Guest.

The restaurant — designed after Beast's castle and the first Magic Kingdom restaurant to offer beer and wine — is so popular that dinner reservations are recommended 180 days in advance of your visit. You can visit for lunch without a reservation, and visitors are seen lining up at 10:30 a.m., well before the restaurant opens.

In the new Fantasyland, Dumbo's ride has been expanded and Snow White and Cinderella are now pairing up with the next generation of Disney princesses, where visitors can have their picture taken with Ariel of The Little Mermaid and Belle of Beauty and the Beast. Enchanted Tales With Belle has some stunning special effects (you won't believe your eyes with Lumiere). The next big ride, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, a steel family coaster, doesn't open until 2014.

Some of the other new features you will see at Disney parks this summer:

• Animal Kingdom has added Adventurers Outpost, a character meet and greet spot with Mickey and Minnie.

• A game called Wilderness Explorer at Animal Kingdom is based on the movie Up and challenges visitors to wander the park armed with field guides that describe challenges they can complete to earn sticker badges along the way. There will be about 30 different badges available.

• A pirate-themed game is coming to Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom this summer. Guests will go on pirate treasure raids with a magic talisman and treasure map and interact with Adventureland's scenery such as shooting a cannon or opening a large oyster that holds a pearl. The goal is to follow the map's clues and uncover the treasure.

• The Kinsey Collection, art and artifacts documenting African-American history, opened in the American Adventure building at Epcot this year. Check out the Imagineered lanterns, designed to decorate and inform (and showcase stars such as Whoopi Goldberg). Whenever you touch the lanterns, it gives you a little bit more in-depth story. You'll see flickering photos inside, sort of a cross between a flame and a tiny movie.

The Magic Kingdom will stay open from 6 a.m. this Friday to 6 a.m. Saturday. It's part of the hoopla surrounding the June 21 release of Disney Pixar's Monsters University. During the "all-nighter,'' movie characters Mike and Sulley will be the grand marshals of the "Celebrate a Dream Come True'' day parade and make appearances in Tomorrowland. Characters will dress in their PJs, and the Cinderella Castle will host late-night dance parties. Park tickets are $89, but go to disneyworld.com for ticket deals and info on all of the parks.

Disney: Still buzzing over Fantasyland 05/22/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 6:37pm]
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