A Fire-breathing dragon in Florida? To celebrate the opening of new Fantasyland, Disney World’s largest expansion in 41 years, a flying dragon appeared above Cinderella’s Castle in Florida last night, as the new area’s guardian against evil.
As the story goes, there was a curse cast upon Fantasyland long ago, which was lifted, doubling the area in size. Actually a variation of an ultralight vehicle, the dragon is a manned aircraft powered by an engine and assisted by a parachute overhead.
Not a regularly scheduled part of the park experience, future opportunities to view the dragon are unclear.
“Indeed your eyes didn’t deceive you. Our dragon made a brief appearance as part of celebrating the grand opening of New Fantasyland. You never know where or when a dragon might appear again!” Disney spokesman Rick Sylvain told Inside The Magic.
When you travel to visit Mickey this spring, you won’t find him in his house. Walt Disney World has announced that the Mickey’s Toontown Fair area of the park will close after Feb. 11, 2011.
The area features the side-by-side houses of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, Goofy’s Barnstormer – a kiddie coaster, Donald’s Boat – a playground for toddlers, and a large character greeting area where guests can meet Mickey and Minnie, Tinker Bell and her fairy friends, and several Disney princesses.
Mickey’s Toontown Fair is being closed as part of Disney’s grand plans for the largest Walt Disney World expansion ever. Princess castles, restaurants, and a new ride based on The Little Mermaid are being added to Fantasyland.
The construction is set to be completed in 2013.
Mickey’s Toontown Fair opened as a new “land” at Walt Disney World in 1988, when it was called Mickey’s Birthdayland in celebration of the Mouse’s 60th birthday.
Many Disney enthusiasts dislike the cartoon theming of the area and say that it doesn’t fit in with the rest of Walt Disney World. But the land in the northeast corner of the Magic Kingdom has proven popular with families.
The Disney Parks Blog says that Disney World guests will still be able to meet their favorite characters after Toontown Fair closes. Mickey, Minnie and the Disney Princesses will greet guests in a building in the Magic Kingdom’s Town Square. Tinker Bell will move to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and her fairy friends will flutter over to Epcot.
Now a meet and greet with the characters from the new movie “Tangled” appears to be a further experiment in delivering an experience to go with kids’ souvenir photos and autographs.
Instead of just waiting in a line to see Rapunzel and Flynn Rider, Walt Disney World has set aside an area called Fairytale Garden for the new characters’ appearances. About 10-15 minutes before the characters are due to come out (the “set time” in Disney parlance), children are welcomed into the Fairytale Garden and given a coloring activity to do while they wait.
(The parents are not so lucky; they are expected to line up to hold a place for their child.)
When Rapunzel and Flynn Rider make their entrance, they come down to the coloring table to dance with the children before starting to take photos and sign autographs.
Music from the movie’s soundtrack plays while they join hands and dance around the table.
Of course, when the dancing is done, the kids go join their parents in – you guessed it – a line.But I suppose the whole thing adds up to more “quality time” with the characters and an opportunity to make a memory (“I danced with Rapunzel!”), rather than just a picture (“I waited in line for 30 minutes to take this picture with Rapunzel!”).
Here’s a video look at the festivities:
The plans for Fantasyland include similar experience-based meet and greets. Park guests will be able to watch Cinderella transform from servant clothing to her ball gown, and boys will be trained to be part of her royal guard. And Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) will be having a birthday, and children will be asked to make birthday cards and help her fairy godmothers prepare for the party.