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It might not be a vintage year, but there are some new attractions at the Orlando theme parks if you know where to look. Here are a few highlights worth considering while you’re in town for IAAPA Attractions Expo

Double Dumbos!

Attending IAAPA? Here’s what’s new in Orlando

At Walt Disney World, Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland area is being expanded to nearly double its size. Now operating are twin Dumbo rides, the re-themed Goofy’s Barnstormer coaster, Casey Jr Splash ’N‘ Soak station and a new Storybook Circus stop for the Walt Disney World Railroad. See the panel below for news o Fantasyland additions opening after IAAPA. SeaWorld Orlando has opened TurtleTrek, offering close encounters with manatees and sea turtles complemented by a 3D 360-degree dome theatre by Falcon’s Treehouse offering an immersive multimedia experience. Just across the street from SeaWorld, the premium-priced Discovery Cove offers a new addition in the shape of Freshwater Oasis, where guests swim and wade and enjoy face-to-face encounters with playful otters and curious marmosets.

New Fantasy awaits Magic Kingdom guests

Next time you step into Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, be assured that that you are not doing a double take. The sight of two colourful Dumbo rides side by side is the result of a $425 million expansion project – the largest in the Florida park’s history. To increase

capacity at this, the most heavily attended theme park in the world,

The unique swinging cars on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Walt Disney

Imagineering is nearly doubling the size of Fantasyland. When

finished, there will be two smaller new castles joining Sleeping Beauty Castle, including Prince Eric’s Castle from The Little Mermaid and the Beast’s Castle from Beauty and the Beast. Already opened, as well as the second Flying Elephant ride, is the re-themed Great Goofini Barnstormer rollercoaster, Casey Jr Splash ’N’ Soak water play area and a new Storybook Circus stop for the Walt Disney World Railroad. On the way as part of the official relaunch

of Fantasyland, set for December 6, is Under the Sea – Journey of The Little Mermaid, a major new dark ride. A similar attraction already exists at Disney California Adventure, called The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.

Meanwhile the Be Our Guest Restaurant will feature an elegant ballroom dining experience in the mysterious West Wing of the castle. Nearby in Belle’s Village, guests will find Gaston’s Tavern and Bonjour! Village Gifts. Just outside the village is Belle’s cottage and Enchanted Tales with Belle where guests can


share in an interactive re-telling of the “tale as old as time.”

Beyond 2012, there’s more in store for

Fantasyland guests. Located in the Castle Courtyard, Princess Fairytale Hall will feature walls of stone and stained glass windows, opening up into a large gallery. When it’s time for their audience with a princess, guests will proceed to elegantly finished rooms to meet Aurora, Cinderella and other Disney princesses.

One of the highlights of the new

Fantasyland, for which you’ll have to wait until 2014, is sure to be The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Passengers on this new-style coaster will travel through the diamond mine of the Seven Dwarfs with a train of vehicles that swing back and forth, responding to every twist and turn of the track. Details of the ride system, to be built by Vekoma, can be found in US patent application 2011/ 0319178 assigned to Derek Howard of Disney Enterprises. It describes a device that provides guest compartments with a roll degree of freedom through a pivoting connection. The compartment is attached to a track such that it rides substantially above the track but has a roll degree of freedom relative to the chassis.

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem has opened at Universal Studios Florida, Universal Orlando Resort. Replacing Jimmy Neutron’s Nicktoon Blast, it uses the latest 3D technology to take families on their own minion adventure. At the same park, Universal’s Superstar Parade features characters from Despicable Me and the hit comedy Hop, plus Nickelodeon favourites Dora, Diego and SpongeBob SquarePants. The multi-million dollar upgrade of The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at neighbouring Islands of Adventure features digital high-definition animation, new 3D glasses and upgrades to the set, audio and lighting systems – providing a new level of detail for guests to discover. In the Universal CityWalk entertainment district that welcomes guests to Universal Orlando, Hollywood Drive- In Golf is highly a themed 36-hole/two course miniature golf experience. At nearby at Wet ‘n’ Wild, Orlando’s premier waterpark has added Blastaway Beach, which in turn is billed as Florida’s largest family water play area. If you’ve not been to Legoland Florida yet and fancy a ride out to Winter Haven (about 45 minutes’ drive from Orlando), then take your bathing suit. New for 2012 is the Legoland Water Park, an overhaul of Cypress Gardens’ old Splash Island waterpark featuring Lego theming and, debuting in November, a Lego Star Wars cluster in Miniland. A little further afield, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay remains arguably one of Orlando’s most attractive theme parks, worth a visit if you have a day to spare. A new ice- skating show, Iceploration, is the most noteworthy addition this season.

Whatever you do, have fun in the Florida sun!

Turtle Trek at SeaWorld

Wet ’n’ Wild’s new Blastaway Beach

An artist’s impression of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train


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