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Disney reimagined, again and again and again

ELINOR TATUM Editor in Chief | 1/17/2013, 2:17 p.m.
Each portraying a character from the Disney animated classic "Beauty and the Beast," Magic Kingdom guests join Belle and Lumiere in a fun-filled storytelling adventure at Enchanted Tales with Belle. Part of New Fantasyland, Enchanted Tales with Belle will grand open Dec. 6, 2012 at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kent Phillips, photographer)

The idea of Disneyland and Disney World was not for an amusement park created at one point in time to remain hostage to it forever. When Walt Disney conceived of these magical places, they were envisioned as parks where fun, magic and excitement could be reinvented on a continual basis.

In Disney World, located in Orlando, Fla., this was particularly the case. Walt Disney bought up as much land as he could, making the future of Disney World an open book, giving the park room to grow even farther than our imaginations could take us.

Recently, the Magic Kingdom cut the ribbon on its New Fantasyland. Fantasyland, one of the most enjoyable parts of the park for the under-10 set, has been reimagined and reborn.

From the way visitors spend time waiting in lines to the new attractions and experiences, New Fantasyland has something for everyone young and young at heart.

Central to the reimagining of Fantasyland was the way stories would be told. One of the greatest additions is Enchanted Tales with Belle, where youngsters, and their adults, interact with the characters on a one-on-one basis while being part of a lively show that entertains the whole group. The children--and yes, some adults--play a part in this wonderful experience, and just as the name indicates, they get to meet Belle up-close and spend a moment with her. The attraction is more than just a moment with Belle, more than just a story; it is an experience that children will hold onto and keep as a very fond memory for years to come. As always, Disney imagineers thought of everything to make this experience incredibly special.

Also opening is Journey Under the Sea with the Little Mermaid, where guests get to travel with Ariel in exciting adventures above and below the sea.

One of the major complaints at Disney is the lines. Well, the imagineers have been diligently working on this source of frustration, and in two particular cases, they have practically eliminated the problem altogether. During the wait for the Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride, there is a wonderful indoor playground with tubes and nets and slides where the kids spend their wait time running, climbing and jumping. The adults are given a pager, and when it is time for the ride, it buzzes and off to the main event you go. But in the meantime, it is an excellent place to play, to get out of the sun or the rain while the youngsters have a phenomenal play experience. On your way to the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, you also have a fun line where there are all sorts of activities, making it much easier to keep the little ones occupied. All the enhancements to Fantasyland have made the park-going experience even better.

In addition to the wonderful new attractions and enhancements of New Fantasyland, the park has also unveiled the brand-new Castle of the Beast. At the castle, park-goers can experience what will probably be a park favorite for dining, the Be Our Guest Restaurant. The new 550-seat dining room has fast food by day and table service by night. But the overall experience, from the way you order to the ambiance, is a sight to behold.

All in all, New Fantasyland is a great addition to the Disney magic that was already there. Now there's just a bit more magic tucked under Mickey's hat.