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Disney Redefines Fantasy

April 26, 2012 By: Susan Young Travel Agent


Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Families can soar with “Dumbo the Flying Elephant” in an updated section of Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland.


If you think about the travel business, you’ll find many wonderful brands out there, acknowledges Randy Garfield, executive vice president worldwide sales and travel operations, Disney Destinations, and president of the Walt Disney Travel Company. But he also emphasizes: “I would challenge you to tell me about the people who brought an emotional connection to those brands.”

Garfield says it’s true that guests do acquire a connection to a favorite brand as an adult, but that’s far different than people having an emotional connection to that brand from their childhood era. He cites the example of children lining up to meet the Disney princess characters on a Disney Cruise Line ship. It’s a family affair, though. “Look how many adults are in those lines to take pictures with the princesses,” Garfield stresses.

It’s precisely that emotional connection to the company’s iconic movies, Broadway shows, theme parks and cruise ships that keeps clients coming back for more. And there is plenty new at Disney this year.

Fantasy in Florida: At Walt Disney World, the largest Magic Kingdom theme park expansion in history is nearly doubling the size of Fantasyland. The first phase opened in March, more features will come in 2013 and everything will be completed by 2014.

At the new Storybook Circus, families now fly high on “Dumbo the Flying Elephant,” which opened in March. It sports two circling carousels of airborne pachyderms. Fantasyland’s classic “Barnstormer” coaster has a new look. Think Goofy as “The Great Goofini.”

Opening later is a Beauty and the Beast-themed area. Belle’s cottage is home to “Enchanted Tales with Belle,” a new type of storytelling experience. Just across the stone bridge from the cottage is the beast’s castle; its West Wing will feature the 550-seat “Be Our Guest Restaurant,” serving fast food in daytime, and offering table service at night. Nearby in Belle’s Village, guests will find “Gaston’s Tavern” and “Bonjour! Village Gifts.”

A new Fantasyland coaster, “The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train,” will take visitors on a musical ride into a mine to watch animated figures of Snow White and the dwarfs. What’s unique? In a technological innovation, the ride vehicles will swing back and forth responding to the twists and turns of the track.


Disney’s Art of Animation
Kids can relive The Lion King and other iconic tales in the newest Walt Disney World resort property, Disney’s Art of Animation.


A major, new attraction planned at Fantasyland is “Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid.” Riders travel with Ariel and her friends through adventures above and below the waves. And, in “Princess Fairytale Hall,” Aurora, Cinderella and other Disney princesses will greet guests.

Opening in phases starting in late May, the newest Walt Disney World resort is Disney’s Art of Animation, a three-story “Value” property, adjacent to Disney’s Pop Century Resort. Three family suite wings will showcase Finding Nemo, Cars and The Lion King, with elaborate storytelling inside and out.

The 1,120 family suites each include two bathrooms, a kitchenette and three separate sleeping areas that sleep up to six. The Little Mermaid wing, the final phase to open soon, will have 864 standard rooms that sleep up to four. While prices vary by season and availability, Disney says starting rates are $248 for a family suite, $94 for a standard room.

Wherever clients stay at the new property, expect scenic settings, icons like a 35-foot-tall model of King Triton or towering Mufasa, and decor details that celebrate the movie storylines. In “Finding Nemo,” guests will sit on coral-shaped chairs and view bubble ceiling lights, while in “The Lion King” family suites, Zazu takes center stage on the bed headboards and Pumbaa and Timon decorate the shower curtains. At 11,859 square feet, the new hotel’s “Big Blue” pool is the largest pool anywhere at Walt Disney World.

Also at Walt Disney World, clients might check out a new hotel offering at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort-Riverside during spring. In total, 512 Royal Guest Rooms are trimmed with crystals and gold accents, themed to depict fairytales, and sleep four. Rates start at $198 per room.

Fantasy in California: June 15 is the grand opening for several new attractions at Disney California Adventure, including “Cars Land,” “Buena Vista Street” and the “Carthay Circle Theatre.” The milestone signifies the completion of a five-year expansion project at Disneyland Resort.

Enlarging the park by 12 acres, “Cars Land” immerses clients in the thrills of the Disney•Pixar movie Cars. Its “Radiator Springs Racers” is a twisting, turning, high-speed adventure through Ornament Valley and the town of Radiator Springs. “Luigi’s Flying Tires” invites your clients to glide on air aboard special tires, whirling around with friends and family members. At “Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree,” guests will whip around behind a baby tractor and enjoy tunes from a giant jukebox. New dining and shopping venues include Flo’s V8 Café, Ramone’s House of Body Art and Radiator Springs Curios. 

Starting June 15, park goers also will enter Disney California Adventure along “Buena Vista Street,” designed to re-create the Los Angeles of the 1920s—the era when Walt Disney arrived in California. Your clients will ride Red Car Trolleys, inspired by the transport system that once served Southern California. The Carthay Circle Theatre is modeled after the theater where the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs movie premiered in 1937; it has a lounge and an elegant Carthay Circle Restaurant.

Clients visiting this summer will also see a new nighttime “Mad T Party” in Hollywood Land, inspired by Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. And the resort’s Disneyland Hotel also now boasts new pools, themed suites and remodeled rooms.

Fantasy at Sea:  Building on the success of Disney Dream, Disney Cruise Line has launched Disney Fantasy on seven-night cruises from Port Canaveral in Florida. Disney created a more open, spacious atrium, as well as more shade/water areas on the top decks. A new Satellite Falls water relaxation is just for adults while kids have AquaLab, a new water play area.

AquaLab play area
Kids cruising on the new Disney Fantasy will get wet in a new AquaLab play area.

Adults also have new evening adult entertainment choices in Europa, an adaptation of The District on Disney Dream. We loved the changing skylines and unusual drinks concocted in Skyline Lounge within Europa. One unusual hint? Definitely check out the bathrooms within Europa; the Spanish theme and glittery mosaic scenes of a flamenco dancer or matador are stunning.

Disney Fantasy also has two new full-scale production shows entitled Wishes and Disney’s Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular in the Walt Disney Theatre. Interactive art around the ship creates a self-guided detective game for kids, teens and adults. 

A new Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo area turns little girls into princesses by dressing them up in gowns, makeup and hair styles fit for royalty. This new venue was packed on our recent sailing in March. Adults and kids of both sexes can also receive a “Pirate League” makeover during the one night designated as Pirate Night. For the princess treatment, guests will pay from $54.95 for a very basic “Coach” package to $595 for the deluxe “Royal Sea” package. Pirate night dress-up fees vary from $34.95 for a first-mate/empress to $99.95 for a captain/deluxe maiden.

A standout Disney Fantasy feature? At Animator’s Palate, children and adults draw images on their placemats, which are creatively captured by computer imagery and then “come alive” to dance with Disney characters on the walls of the restaurant. “This interactive experience is something incredible to watch as it comes to life and will take any cruiser’s vacation to the next level,” says Dwain Wall, senior vice president and general manager, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc., who sailed on the ship in March.

At press time, Disney Fantasy rates started at $959 per person, double occupancy, for a standard inside stateroom. The ship sails the Caribbean roundtrip from Port Canaveral; itineraries alternate weekly between an eastern route (St. Maarten and St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.) and a western one (Grand Cayman, as well as Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico); both itineraries call at Disney’s private Bahamian island, Castaway Cay.

Fantasy Across the Globe: Adventures by Disney provides guided family tours that take an “edu-tainment” approach to telling the stories of the world’s great destinations. The tour operator has added Greece, northern France and Egypt to its 2012 itineraries. In 2013, it will add Southeast Asia family tours to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Each departure has two dedicated tour guides for more personalized service. Dates and rates are available at For Disney trade information, visit

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About the Author

Susan Young
A veteran of 100-plus cruises, Susan J. Young, is senior contributing editor for cruises – covering ocean, river and niche cruises for Travel Agent and

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