New Disney World Attractions To Bring Immersive Experience

Disney WorldWalt Disney World in Florida has some new attractions on the way. The new Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom park will be home to the Enchanted Forest, a new park within a park, inspired by the popular Disney films “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast.” The Enchanted Forest officially opens December 6, 2012, but we got a sneak peek during dress rehearsals last weekend, open to the public.

Eventually hosting lush landscapes, roaring waterfalls and two new castles, guests will be able to ride under the sea with a little mermaid, dine in a beast’s castle and even join a “beauty” for a retelling of the “tale as old as time.”

On our visit, we stopped by Enchanted Tales With Belle, an interactive experience (as opposed to a “ride”) that begins when an enchanted mirror transported us from Belle’s house to Beast’s library, where Belle and Lumière invite guests to become part of a lively retelling of the “tale as old as time.”

Unique here is that groups are small and many are invited to participate in the experience that brings guests up close and personal with live action characters from Beauty and the Beast. This is not a passive, sit around and watch attraction.Disney WorldSteps away, Gaston’s Tavern was also open, serving LeFou’s Brew, Roasted Pork Shanks and other snacks. LeFou’s Brew looks like a mug of beer but is actually a “non-alcoholic no-sugar added frozen apple juice with a hint of toasted marshmallow, topped with all-natural passion fruit-mango foam,” we were told. Roasted pork shanks, so popular they ran out while we were there, fit right in with the tavern designed to look like a comfy lodge in the French countryside.

Not all attractions are open as work progresses. A Be Our Guest Restaurant will soon invite guests to savor the classic cuisine of France. Ariel’s Grotto is close to Under the Sea~Journey of The Little Mermaid attraction where Ariel will be on hand to meet new friends, sign autographs and pose for photos. In the same area and opening in 2014, a massive Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, will take guests through the Dwarfs’ diamond mine, along the countryside and on to their cottage to meet up with Snow White and her pals.

New Fantasyland is opening in phases for the largest expansion in the history of Magic Kingdom park, nearly doubling in size and offering more immersive enchantment and interactive experiences.




[Flickr photos by ChrisCruises]

Insider Secrets No Secret To Disney World Cast Members

insider secret castle

Frankly, the best insider secret on how to get the most out of a visit to Walt Disney World is to go with a Disney cast member. They know exactly where to be at any given time for no wait on the best rides. They know what venues have the best food and, if something special is going on, when to be where for that. If a Disney cast member in your back pocket is not in the cards, Disney Insider offers the next best thing.

“Comfy sneakers, sunscreen, and jackets (for chilly nights) are must-haves, but before heading to Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts, you can learn the ropes from experienced Theme Park-goers – especially for first-time visits,” says Disney Insider and their tips ring true.

Giving details on what time of the day to go (afternoon on the weekends) and even which months are best to avoid crowds (October), Disney Insider tells how to get the most out of Extra Magic Hours, Disney’s FastPass service and more.Offering tips on everything from where to find recipes for Disney Gumbo, Mint Juleps or Walt’s Favorite Chili to what time is best to gather for Character Meet and Greets, Disney Insider is available by email subscription, RSS feed and Facebook.

Helping make the most of every magical moment, Disney Insider has the most current information. Almost as current as having a Disney cast member along for the ride.

Did you know that pin collectors can trade with any cast member as long as they don’t already have the same pin? See this new video for more:




Flickr photo by Christian Lambert (DVCphoto92)

Magic Kingdom Worker Gives Candid Interview About Crazy Guests And Working For Disney

magic kingdom During an IAmA (I am a…) discussion on Reddit, a turnstile and parade audience control worker for the Magic Kingdom at Disney World allowed people to ask uncensored questions about crazy guests and what it’s like to work at Disney. Read below to learn what happens when adults act like children, who the worst guests are and which cast members are the most difficult to work with.

Note: These questions were culled from the Reddit community, and the dialogue was taken verbatim. To view the original thread, click here.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen?

That’s really tough, if only because of the sheer volume of incredibly weird people I see. Just the other day there was a pair of fully-grown adults dressed up as Peter Pan and slutty Tinker Bell (it was a child’s costume) who thought it was appropriate and that us not letting them in dressed like that was “ruining the magic for them.” (Adults in costume is against policy anyways, much less when it’s something crazy like that.)

Also, a few weeks ago during the daily flag retreat, right before the band started playing, and all of the background music was off so it was deathly quiet, a lady with Tourette’s walked right through town square shouting obscenities, at first we thought we were gonna have to break up a fight (wouldn’t be the first time), but it was just incredibly awkward.Has anyone ever been so large that they don’t fit through the turnstiles?

Yes. We have gates on either side of the turnstile pairs for strollers and wheelchairs though, so they go through those. Anyone that large is probably going to be wheelchair bound anyways, however.

How much fun is working for Disney?

I really, really enjoy it. There’s some crap, but there’s gonna be that at any job. More often than not, my interactions with guests leave a huge smile on my face. It’s just an experience you can’t get at any other job.

How happy are you required to be?

They like us to smile all the time. Which really isn’t as hard as it sounds.

Do you personally like Disney? Are you a fan, or can you not watch anything Disney because it’s “work”? How many famous people have you seen come through the front gates?

I’m a huge Disney fan. More so since I started working. Famous people don’t usually come through the front gates. I saw a lot when I worked at Toy Story though, especially during ESPN the weekend.

What’s your happiest memory from working at the happiest place on earth?

Oh god, just too many to count. After the parade a couple weeks ago a little girl riding on her moms shoulders walking next to me asked if it was possible to go into the castle. I told her yes and she yelled, “I love you!” and gave me a hug. Things like that happen weekly. It’s awesome.

Does it get annoying hearing the same happy-go-lucky music all day?

Yes and No. It kinda varies. You will catch me singing to it ALL the time.

As someone who I assume can ride/do anything at the park on their day off, what is the best/your favorite attraction? What is the most overrated?

I’m a little biased, but I LOVE Toy Story. It helps that I know how to activate all the secrets. Overrated? Peter Pan’s flight. Not worth the ridiculous wait at all.

Can you please elaborate, what secrets in that ride?

Each game has a “secret” you can activate through doing certain things, look up a guide.

What is the ultimate job(s) within a Disney park? The one(s) that people aspire to get assigned. Do these better jobs just come with experience/ seniority, or is it “political”?

It all depends on your personality. I can transfer to almost any of the entry-level areas, any attraction, any merch, food, etc. Serving, you have to work your way up to the nicer restaurants. A very large amount of cast want to be in entertainment, especially face. Unfortunately, most people don’t fit any character. Other than that, things like moving up in management is almost completely internal, based mainly on your record and experience.

Is it true that Disney provides company underwear for the costumed characters?

Not for years. I’ve read the article, I think that was in 2001 they stopped.

Have you ever had to kick someone out of the park before? How big of a sh*t storm did he throw?

I personally have never had to kick someone out, it doesn’t happen as much at MK as it does at the other parks because there’s no alcohol here. We get people whose tickets are invalid/resold who we can’t let in all the time though, and those people are generally very, very problematic.

Craigslist tickets: am I going to get in with them?

No. Not if you bring them to me, at least. Biometrics work!

Are there certain types of cast members that you or your co-workers think are total jerks?

Total jerks? Nah. If you’re the kind of person who wants to work at Disney, you’re probably a nice person. Some of the older people who work mornings can be crabby, but that’s about it.

Do the cast appreciate how fruitless the half-hearted bag “searches” are at the gate? Is it really just for “optics”? Just checking the main pocket of backpacks really doesn’t stop anyone from bringing a prohibited item into the park.

You’d actually be surprised how much stuff gets caught. They catch a ton of alcohol and knives.

What would be your top tip for guests … something you think is great about Disney World that fewest guests discover?

Master Fastpasses. Go during offseasons. ALWAYS GO TO THE 11 O’CLOCK PARADE. It’s the same as the 9 o’clock one and infinitely less crowded.

I knew someone who worked crowd control for Fantasmic at Disneyland and she would routinely be cursed at, screamed at, physically threatened, and often spit on and pushed. What’s the worst similar story of abuse by a guest that you’ve witnessed or experienced?

I’ve been relatively lucky when it comes to dealing with people. You’ll always get upset people, but I’ve never specifically had a terrible problem. I’ve seen it happen though.

Can you find all the hidden mickeys?

Oh god no. I know where a lot of them are, but certainly not all.

How does the park get cleared out at night?

It’s a pretty thorough process – areas close down back to front, getting full sweeps and then blocking people from going further back in until everything is completely closed. Also, you have to know that there’s custodial and engineering there all night – it’s not like everyone just leaves after a certain time.

is it true that the park releases cats out into the ground to catch any rats?

That happened at Disneyland after it first opened.

Do you ever have to turn people away who are dressed like princesses? …I know my gf was slightly disappointed when we went to Disneyland (her first time) and knew about the no adults in costumes or garb rule.

A couple times. Earlier this week we had an adult Peter Pan and Tinker Bell, with the Tinker Bell being INCREDIBLY inappropriate. She was 40-something, heavyset, and it was clearly a child’s costume. Needless to say, it didn’t fit well. We get a lot of Jack Sparrows as well.

Was it these people: http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2012/06/05/Tinkerbell-teen-told-to-change-at-Disney/UPI-85141338922748/?

(no reply)

When are you the busiest? Also, when giant groups come in (schools, tour groups, etc.) are they usually a problem? I came with my school band in April-ish, and I am surprised no one was arrested.

Yesterday [July 4]! Brazilian tour groups are the worst thing on the planet. That is all.

What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve overheard a parent tell their child or better yet, a child tell their parent?

Well, you’ll get the parents you wanna just smack for ruining the magic “I wanna meet mickey!” “NO YOU DON’T HES JUST A GUY IN A SUIT!” kids face drops as his world crumbles around him
I’ve had parents tell their child that I hate them and that’s why I won’t let them stand in the middle of the sidewalk blocking foot traffic during a parade.
It’s hard to pinpoint outrageous from a child because, hey, we’re at Disney and most of the crazy nonsense you get from them just kinda fits. Also, in general, kids tend to be better behaved overall at Disney than other places they go. It’s just the atmosphere. You’ll get the average spoiled kid occasionally, but I’ve never seen one so crazy it blows my mind.

I am a cheapskate at heart, so I want to think that Disney is over priced, but every time I go to any Disney park, I am blown away by how professional and courteous almost every cast member is. This is in spite of hot or cold weather, nice or nasty guests, etc. I always leave thinking it was totally worth it. What kind of training do you get in customer service?

We spend an entire day doing a “Traditions” class that teaches us what’s expected. Working here, you really feel like part of a legacy, and you don’t wanna be the one who ruins it. So basically, it comes naturally.

Are the people who play the princess’/princes stuck up? I mean in my head when I see pictures of them I just can’t believe the are all nice and sweet like the portray.

Yes. A large number of them have a “better than thou” attitude. Some are very nice though.

Do the stuck up princesses stay around?

You’re only young and pretty for so long.

[image via ross_hawkes]

Photo of the day: Disney silhouette

disney silhouette

Images of Disneyworld fall into two categories: personal snaps and images that look like they could be used as marketing collateral. I love this image of the Magic Kingdom’s iconic Cinderella Castle towers, taken by Flickr user insEyedout, precisely because it falls into neither camp. It’s too pretty to count as a random snap and too sparse to go in a brochure.

That said, it certainly achieves the aim of advertisement. What better way to encapsulate the deep thrill that Disney’s amusements inspire than to reduce those towers to a silhouette on a horizon? How recognizable is this image to hundreds of millions of people?

Upload your photos of Orlando (and Las Vegas, while you’re at it) to the Gadling Group Pool on Flickr. Our favorite images are chosen as Photos of the Day.

A Whirlwind Tour of Walt Disney World


I am not, as far as I can tell, in Walt Disney World’s target demographic. I’m not four. I’m not a family man. I’m not Brazilian. I’m not even a fan of animated movies. But to drive through Central Florida after seeing a shuttle launch and pass up the parks? To miss out on a quintessentially American summertime diversion? To skip a chance to meet the one and only Mickey Mouse? I’m not nuts.

Traveling the American Road – A Whirlwind Tour of Disney


My plan was a whirlwind tour of all four of Disney’s parks, trying my best to try what attractions had been added since my last visit, in 2007. Then, I was in town for the opening of Expedition Everest, a ride that challenged my poor tolerance for roller coasters and impressed me with its ability to make visitors feel like they were hiking the Himalayas, even in the heat of Central Florida.

This time, the big draw was the Wild Africa Trek, a new behind-the-scenes tour of the Animal Kingdom that takes visitors behind the fences, out to Disney’s “savanna” and ends with a killer lunch on an African safari-inspired wildlife watching pavilion far from the crowds. To amp up the excitement, trekkers cross a crocodile enclosure on rope bridges, distressed to look rickety even if they were reinforced by steel cables. Anyone who’s seen “Temple of Doom,” though, can’t get past their primal fear of a rope bridge collapse.

I survived, obviously, to see Epcot and its world pavilions. There’s something hilarious about visiting “France,” “Ireland,” “Italy” and “Mexico” when you’re a travel writer. In every one of the miniature countries, I was studying the architecture, comparing it to my memories, figuring out what it is we remember about the places we visit – and wondering why we forget the things we forget. Is that really what the Eiffel Tower looks like, I asked myself, cocking my head, as I couldn’t clearly remember the original’s shape.

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I tested the limits of my stomach with a ride on the Star Tours simulator, a 3-D ride set in the Star Wars universe, in which C-3PO is an accidental tour guide and passengers fly through the galaxy. A visit to the American Idol Experience impressed not just for its slick production values – from where I was sitting, it could’ve been the real TV show – but also for the talent of the contestants on stage.

I ended my tour at the Magic Kingdom, the park that to me, a person visiting without my kids, seemed the least interesting. But the polish here was the most fine, the smiles on singers the most gleaming, the lawn edging the most precise, the background music the most bubbly. The good news, thanks perhaps to some friends inside Disney: I did manage to meet Mickey. I even put on a set of ears.