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A few months ago we brought you a series of articles dedicated to the history of Walt Disney World in honor of Walt Disney World's 40th anniversary. We called it 40 Years, 40 Days and it was a huge success. March is now upon us and two huge events are occurring: The first part of the Fantasyland Expansion is opening in Walt Disney World and the preview cruise for Disney Cruise Line's newest ship, The Disney Fantasy will set sail (with me aboard!). I think it would only be appropriate to discuss all things Fantasy in March in honor of these two momentous occasions. So ladies and gentlemen, I give you...

...A Fantasy Filled Month

March 31, 2012

31 days. That's a long time. It's a whole month actually and in the past month we've talked about a lot of things, but today I want to bring all of those things together.

Let's begin by taking a look at the past. When Disney first came into the world back in 1901 the world had no idea what was in store for them. The world had received a man who is, arguably, the most creative and imaginative person in the world. More importantly, Walt Disney knew the secret to making Fantasy a Reality.

A lot of Disney fans live in their own Fantasy World and sometimes its tough to let things in our world disappear in fear that the future may be a scary thing. This doesn't just deal with Disney parks or movies, but real life as well. Sometimes the unknown is the scariest thing on earth. Who knows if our gambles will pay off for the better? Maybe our lives will be amazingly better or maybe we will be five steps back from where we were when we made the gamble. It's always unknown. The same is with the Disney parks.

When the Fantasyland Expansion was announced back in 2009 excitement filled the air, but we soon realized that some things we loved dearly would be leaving us to make way for new things. Exciting, but at the same time devastating. It was very bittersweet losing Scuttle's Landing, Ariel's Grotto, the Town Square Theater (in its glory days with short cartoons and nods to Disney films), Pooh's Playful Spot, and most importantly, Toontown.

But as we've seen as Storybook Circus has slowly opened the past month, losing some things has actually helped pave way for bigger and better things. So far the Expansion is amazing and well worth the wait. True, part of us will always miss splashing through Donald's Boat, taking a look at the Mickey, Donald, and Goofy shaped ping pong paddles, or taking a look at Minnie's spice rack (Good Thyme anyone?), but with the loss of great fun finds we have now found water barrels for elephants, a place where Wise Acres Farms never disappears, and a fountain that can only be described as breathtaking.

The Disney Fantasy has set sail and it has shown us that Disney truly can pull anything off. With its past ships guests have been delighted in the amazing spirit of the cast and details to the ship, but Disney has one upped itself again and made an experience that will want guests going back for more.

Over the past month we have seen Dumbo take the spotlight in more ways than one. The only title character to never speak a word has gone from losing his prime real estate in Fantasyland to showing us that the heart of Fantasyland doesn't need to be front and center to make the land more believable. We just need flying elephants. Dumbo has shown us that setting sail on the ocean doesn't require a fancy boat. It just requires an elephant setting sail to a path where dreams really do come true.

It's been an amazing month. It began with staying awake from midnight to 6AM (the final six hours in a 24 hour live broadcast) and its ending here with the realization that dreams really do come true. With all the change and fun and fantasy I think its time we take note of what has happened with Disney for the past 31 days and set off on our own path to making our greatest Fantasy a very real reality. Dreams really do come true so listen to your heart (that's right, an elephant with rather large ears) and set sail to a place where reality and fantasy go hand in hand...wherever that is for you.

Thank you for joining us the past 31 days!


March 30, 2012

It's kind of crazy to think we are on our thirtieth article out of thirty-one. We've come a long way in that time (which we'll focus on tomorrow), but what is even crazier is the past four days.

As most of you know from the 26th through the 29th (which is when I'm writing this) I had the great privilege of being aboard Disney's newest ship, the Disney Fantasy. While aboard I experienced every nook and cranny of the ship making sure I could report back here with a lot of fun finds, trivia, and more. The Disney Fantasy is an amazing ship.

This was my first Disney cruise and I had always heard there is something for everyone aboard and man alive, they weren't kidding! From it's a small world nursery to shuffleboard on deck four, there is something for anyone and everyone on board. There is no dull moment and there is so much interactive fun that you will wish you could spend weeks there having a chance to solve clues with Kermit or ride the AquaDuck. I have been off the ship for about 14 hours now and can't wait to go back.

Going on the trip was a dream come true, but while there you can't help but feel like you are in a world of pure fantasy. Book now!


March 29, 2012

Ahh, a day at sea is the life for me!

Today we spent the entire day at sea, but it was extremely action filled. After eating (naturally) we hopped aboard my third trip on the AquaDuck (love that slide!) and then changed real quickly due to the fact that we had received a special notice the night before. The Disney Dream was in Castaway Cay and the Fantasy would pass it later that day! So around 10:45ish we approached the island and the two ships competed in a horn battle where their horns played every song from "it's a small world" to "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" and everything in between.

We tried out the detective game on the ship and played all three versions (with the Muppets version being absolutely hilarious) and then it was a day of exploration. I would be surprised if I didn't see every nook of that ship at one point or another. There's so much to share, but I'll save that for tomorrow's post. Just wait to see what's in store!


March 28, 2012

Today was another amazing day out at sea, and land! We began the day over at Castaway Cay and it started out with a bang. While walking down the path we heard shouting coming from a dune and out of nowhere appeared Jack Sparrow ("I believe there should be a Captain in there somewhere"). We got our pictures taken and then made our way around the island. We first head off to the lookout and eventually made our way to the 18 and older Serenity Bay, which was fairly dead. We wanted some more action packed fun so headed back to the main part of the island.

Once there we stopped by the new Pelican Plunge water slide and decided to do some snorkeling. If you do one thing on Castaway Cay, SNORKEL! Man alive was it great! Way out in the middle of the ocean is one of the old Nautilus ships from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a Mickey statue, and a Minnie statue, along with several other fun finds! Perdido, 1796 anyone?

After spending nearly eight hours on the island we made our way back to our ship, the Fantasy. We grabbed some snacks and explored the ship some more (including another ride on the AquaDuck) until our dinner at Animator's Palette. Hands down the greatest place to eat anywhere on or off Disney property. The walls were adorned with Disney animation and eventually came to life with several clips that lasted a whole 45 minutes (yes, I did record the entire thing).

I haven't mentioned our wait staff at restaurants (who rotate restaurants with you), but our two Sara and Aswald, are hands down the greatest crew members onboard. They are fun, nice, and Aswald spends the entire dinner doing brain teasers with us. This is my kind of dinner!

After dinner we headed to the nighttime show, Wishes (no not in the Magic Kingdom). The show focuses around three high school seniors that are about to graduate and are trying to figure out how to deal with life's changes. Luckily they are transported through different Disney films to learn their lesson!

Next up was the Pirates in the Caribbean party! The show featured appearances by Captain Jack Sparrow AND fireworks! Not a bad way to spend a night.

Other highlights of the trip consist of the people who are onboard with us. This is a media event so naturally there are a few familiar faces onboard. We've seen people like Ridley Pearson, author of Kingdom Keepers, but (no offense to Mr. Pearson) a cooler celebrity is aboard the ship: The Travelocity Roaming Gnome! That's right! We have been called his biggest fans by his caregiver, which naturally makes my life complete!

It's time for me to go explore the ship (yes, it is 2AM), but we only have one more day left! Expect more fun tomorrow!


March 27, 2012

I've always wanted to go on a Disney Cruise and I'm extremely happy to say that I am writing this article on the 10th deck of the Disney Fantasy!

We've had one unbelievable day so far! I rode the Aquaduck, ate an amazing meal (times three...alright five), explored an unbelievable ship, saw Aladdin the Musical, and realized that the Cruise Director has the coolest name of all time: Brent! Yes, life here is not bad at all. Today I figured I'd like to give people a few tips I've learned on how to enjoy their Disney cruise. First off, most people would tell you to relax. While that sounds like fun, it's tough for someone like me to sit on a deck while a kajillion things are going on all around, so my tip is to explore the ship like no other!

All around there are pictures waiting to be discovered, Crew Members that need to be talked to, food that NEEDS to be eaten, and fun finds all around! So far, it's been an unbelievable experience, but we are now backing into Castaway Cay so it's time to go on island time! I hope everyone is having great time and keep checking our Disney Fantasy page for more updates!


March 26, 2012

I'm set to depart for the Disney Fantasy in less than 12 hours! Yes, I feel like a little kid the night before Christmas. I am currently sitting on the fifth floor lobby of the Wilderness Lodge (a nice little addition Disney threw in as part of our victory) and can't help but feel like the luckiest guy in the world.

I have personally never been on a Disney Cruise before. I once cruised to Alaska and the Caribbean through two different cruise lines and was amazed at how much fun you truly can have while out at sea. Here you are, sitting on a boat in the middle of open water and you are rock climbing or miniature golfing or eating or swimming in a pool or eating or watching shows or eating. All while on a boat!

My first cruise, in Alaska, wasn't too thrilling. I loved the land portion, but I was 17 at the time and too old for the teen club and too young for all the adult things that there wasn't a lot of things that I could do...except play Ping Pong. I became pretty good at Ping Pong that trip. During my Caribbean cruise I had a blast though! There were activities going on every half hour and each time you would place in the top three in the competitions going on you would get a cruise buck!

I'm extremely competitive so the majority of time on water was spent playing basketball, miniature golf, rock climbing, etc. all so I could buy everything in the store at the end of the trip. The great thing was, I became close to others on the ship due to all of us going to the competitions each day as well.

As for the Disney Fantasy I really don't know what is in store for me tomorrow. Disney has always gone above and beyond in guest service so my standards are set pretty high already. I don't know if there will be constant competitions or anything like that going on, but I really can't wait. Come back tomorrow for my summary of Day 1 and make sure you stop by our Disney Fantasy page for constant updates throughout the day!


March 25, 2012

We've spent a lot of time talking this month about the changes the Fantasyland Expansion has brought to Fantasyland. What we haven't really discussed is the changes the new game, Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, has brought to Fantasyland. Let's head over to Sir Mickey's to take a look at a window before and after the game was added.

Below we have a (kind of blurry) picture of Daisy sitting in her bedchamber adoring herself in her mirror:


Upon her dresser is a picture of Princess Minnie (from The Brave Little Tailor) and just across the way (behind where this picture was taken) is a display featuring Donald getting angry at his nephews with a wanted poster for Willie the Giant in the background. The two windows fit perfectly together and showed that within this Magic Kingdom and world of Fantasy, Donald, Daisy, and their nephews fit right in with the idea of being royal subjects. Since Sorcerers has been added, the Daisy window has changed drastically:

As you can see from the picture above, the window now features a bunch of potions, Archimedes' birdhouse, and a Higitus Figitus potion written on a chalkboard. The window now fits in perfect with the concept of Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom focusing around The Sword in the Stone. It's great to see the changes, but it's always sad to see the classic characters disappear in one way or another around the parks.


March 24, 2012

The world is filled with dreamers...and I'm happy to say that I am one of them.

There are realists that will tell you that what you want in life isn't worth going after. It's just a dream. Those people are wrong. Today is my birthday and today I am going to fill in the gaps for our Fantasy Filled Month with some Fantasy Filled stories.

I still remember my sophomore year of high school extremely well. I had some friends that I was getting sick of and instead of going out with them one weekend I decided to stay in and watch a movie, but not just any movie: Peter Pan. I fell in love with the movie all over again and realized that watching movies, specifically children's movies, was a relaxing way of life.

A few weeks later I rewatched one of my favorite films while growing up, The Muppet Movie. Kermit the Frog had a line in there that would help mold who I would later become. He pointed out that some day he wanted to make millions of people happy. 1 million people happy? Didn't sound like too bad of a goal. After all, there are six billion people in the world. Making .16% of them happy shouldn't be too tough. A new goal was born and I set out from there with Kermit's plan in the back of my mind as mine as well.

The key to success and making people happy is making sure you are happy first. After all, a sad person can't usually make someone else happy...unless they step on a rake and it hits them in the face. That's pretty funny. One of my biggest dreams was to work for Walt Disney World. I vividly remember sitting in my Grandparents kitchen with my Grandma and telling her some day I would work there. In 2004, my dream came true. Where would I work? The place we've been talking about so much: Fantasyland.

While in Fantasyland I began to appreciate the wonderful details scattered throughout the park more and more and it made me go to the park literally every day for an entire year. It wasn't a bad life. Not bad at all. During this time the idea of a book came to mind and my friends began to point out that I was the ultimate expert on Disney (among their friends that is) and a new goal came to mind: I wanted to be the go to Disney person for not just my friends, but millions of people. I wanted my love of Disney and my knowledge of it to make one million people happy.

Through a domino affect that began in Fantasyland in 2004 I eventually found myself in the year 2010 with a Disney podcast, website, and book. Life was definitely good. Later in the year D23, the official Disney fan club, would host the D23 Disneyland Scavenger Hunt. My friend Dave, my dad, and I participated, had a lot of fun and Dave pointed out that we could easily win a Walt Disney World version of the hunt. My dream was realized. I could be that Disney go to guy for others.

With an extremely supportive team, months of studying, and a solid game plan, the Peoplemovers, My dad, Dave, our other friend Frank, and I won the event and a cruise on the brand new Disney Fantasy. My dream has been years in the making. While our dreams appear instantly while we sleep in reality they sometimes take years to actually come into being. Sure, this isn't the most popular Disney website out there and my podcast may not reach thousands of listeners each week, but none of that really matters.

What matters in life is that you follow your dreams. If you don't you'll always wonder what if? One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from the book The Alchemist where they point out "it's the possibility of a dream coming true that makes life interesting." While that is very true, Mary Poppins pointed out something that is even more true: "Anything can happen if you let it."

Thanks for stopping by with your support and friendship. We may not have reached one million people yet, but as they say, "it's only just begun..."


March 23, 2012

While looking through some old footage and pictures I have of the Fantasyland Expansion I realized it'd be a lot of fun to take a look back at how far the expansion has come. I began to cover the Fantasyland Expansion shortly after moving down to Florida by making a video for Pooh's Playful Spot (the day after it disappeared). Shortly after I began to ride Dumbo the Flying Elephant (in its original location) to peer over the wall. Let's go back almost two years and take a look at what the Fantasyland Expansion looked like in late April of 2010:


Quite a lot looks different than what is present now. For instance, look at all the trees! They are everywhere! Mr. Sanders tree is still in its original area and for a very brief moment you can spot Mickey's Toontown Fair off in the distance. There are no additional castles or double the number of Dumbos. It's Fantasyland, almost the way it was back in 1971 (minus submarines, skyways, and toads of course). It's something that kids who visit Fantasyland today will never get to experience and I'm thankful I did experience as a child and as a, well, bigger child.

Looking at this old footage makes me wonder what we have in store and how it'll feel accepting the new Fantasyland. Will some changes be tough to accept or will the bigger is better motto going to be true? Only time will tell, but until it is time for those changes to be fully here, it's a lot of fun taking a look at a Fantasyland where Dumbo was placed in the center of it all.


March 22, 2012

What's in a name? Apparently quite a bit! When the Fantasyland Expansion began to go underway there was a slight change that caused quite an uproar among Disney fans (including yours truly).

The oldest attraction in Walt Disney World, Cinderella's Golden Carousel received a name change to Prince Charming Regal Carrousel. What does this mean and why on earth was their a name change? As always there was a story behind it!

Prince Charming is an excellent jouster (who knew from his handful of lines from the film?) and he spends most of his time practicing his jousting here on his carousel before going into competition just outside the castle walls (which is where the rest of the Fantasyland Expansion will take place). I know what you are thinking: So why a name change?

Honestly, there was no big reason for such a name change other than the fact that Prince Charming did need a little more of a back story since he doesn't have much of one in the film Cinderella. In addition to that, Cinderella was really overrunning the area with her items: Cinderella Castle, Cinderella's Fountain, Cinderella's Wishing Well, and Cinderella's Golden Carousel. It just made sense that Prince Charming would own one of the items in the area since technically Cinderella did marry into royalty and not the other way around.

Come back tomorrow as we take a look back at the past three years of Fantasyland construction!


March 21, 2012

So Snow White went on a long vacation and took several pictures. After the trip was done she went to Walgreens to develop her pictures and returned to her cottage. The dwarfs, curious about her trip, asked to see some of the pictures from the trip. She responded, "Some day my prints will come."

Alright, extremely corny joke and has very little to do with today's Fantasy Filled article, but it's all I could think about while taking pictures for today's article. You see throughout Storybook Circus you can find several different prints on the ground of animals (I know far stretch from one type of prints to another) so what's going on here?

Let's start off by talking about something I often talk about in excruciating detail: story. For decades Disney has been the master of telling great stories throughout the parks, but one of the things they do extremely well is showing the theme of each land. When Disneyland opened in 1955 and Magic Kingdom opened in 1971 the theming was amazing, but they didn't put as much detail in it as they do now. For instance, next time while walking through Tomorrowland pay attention to the ground. Not as detailed as it would be if made today.

When Disney's Animal Kingdom opened they truly knocked the idea of including the ground into the storyline too out of the park. While walking through Asia you can find several different bike marks and footprints scattered throughout showing that Anadapur is truly a bustling town.

Now back to Storybook Circus. While walking through the land you can see that the circus really has come to town and along with it are several animals!

As you can see from the picture above not only does it seem as if the animals just came to town, but that this ground has been walked upon for generations (when in reality it's only been 8 days!)! Pay close attention to the ground while walking around to figure out how many animal prints you recognize!


March 20, 2012

I've always said there are two types of Disney fans: Park fans and Movie fans. No, that doesn't mean that park fans don't like the films and movie fans don't like the parks, I just feel that people tend to favor one over the other quite a bit.

I grew up with both Disney parks and movies (which led to a book, podcast, and website focusing on t he marriage of the two) and always love when the two connect in one way or another. For instance, who doesn't love taking flight on Peter Pan's Flight (inspired by 1953's Peter Pan) or watching Pirates of the Caribbean (inspired by the park attraction) or seeing Lewis passing through Todayland in Meet the Robinsons (inspired by Disneyland's Tomorrowland). There are just so many great partnerships, and the brand new Storybook Circus promises to keep that tradition alive.

Let's take a look at the following poster to figure out what is in store for us:

There are three characters featuerd here (Dumbo, Casey Jr., and Goofy) that we already know what their role in the expansion will be. Dumbo is featured over at the new and improved Dumbo the Flying Elephant attraction, Goofy stars at The Barnstormer as The Great Goofini, and Casey Jr. will soon be joining us at the Casey Jr. Splash 'N" Soak Station! What about Pete and Humphrey?

For months we have seen posters discussing Pete's Side Show, but that has led guests to question what will be featured here. Will it be a shop, an actual show, or will Pete be home to face painting like he was in Mickey's Toontown Fair? Humphrey is a much rarer character and his existence is still unknown as to why he is featured on the poster. At first I had people explain that it has to do with Goofy's stunts since a bear is featured on one of The Great Goofini's posters, but I found the poster and it is actually Lumpjaw from the Bongo section of Fun and Fancy Free (another great, yet very subtle reference):

So what will Humphrey's role be? Only time will tell. There have been so many great finds in the expansion so far and it's not even a quarter of the way done! Who knows what we'll find there tomorrow!


March 19, 2012

With the opening of the new Barnstormer in Fantasyland Goofy has received an alter ego: The Great Goofini! Of course, as always, Disney has a backstory for the world famous Goof in order to make the attraction more believable. So what is the story?

Goofy is a stuntman called The Great Goofini who attempts to wow crowds at the new circus by performing amazing feats! What types of performances does The Great Goofini put on? Everything from being shot out of a cannon... riding rockets... riding the dreaded wheel of peril...


...which luckily guests can participate in the fun as well:


So how does The Barnstormer fit into all of this? Well, Goofy is attempting some brand new stunts today and the sky is definitely the limit. This time The Great Goofini will be doing some daring acrobatics in a plane and lucky (or unlucky for that matter) for you, you are invited to join him in the sky! So while just a little over a year ago guests that wanted to board The Barnstormer would be helping Goofy dust his crops, we are now invited to star in daring acrobatics. Help us all...



March 18, 2012

Welcome to the happiest cruise that ever sailed! With the Disney Fantasy preview cruise being only eight days away I feel we should take a look at the first Disney cruise, "it's a small world!"

Back in 1964 Walt Disney was asked by UNICEF to create an attraction for the 1964 World's Fair. The attraction, which was located not too far away from where the Disney Fantasy was docked just a few weeks ago, was partially used as a test run to see how people on the East coast would accept a Disney based attraction.

Walt turned to his two hit song writers, The Sherman Brothers, who decided to write a prayer for peace. The slow moving melody would allow guests to realize how small our world truly was and that together we can unite to make the world a better place. Walt realized that the attraction shouldn't be a slow moving melody, but a happy go lucky song that would allow guests to leave with a smile on the face. The tune was quickened and turned into the song we all know and love today.

After the success of the World's Fair, Disney brought "it's a small world" back to California where it opened in 1966 to the delight of Disney fans. When the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971 the attraction joined the park as one of the signature attractions. The attraction, being a classic, is present in Magic Kingdom's around the world. While the first Disney cruise never landed at Castaway Cay, it does visit all seven continents.

So next week while sailing the seven seas it is important to remember that there is just one moon and one golden sun, and a smile truly does mean friendship to everyone...


March 17, 2012

I've brought up a few times about the old Toontown Train Station. It was pretty dull and as a Cast Member I talked to recently pointed out, "Not inviting whatsoever." To prove the point take a look at it below:

It served the purpose of allowing guests to wait for a train while staying out of the sun or rain, but other than that it truly screamed "temporary." And unfortunately for guests, this temporary station lasted for over twenty years! Luckily, the Fantasyland Expansion has brought us a brand new beautiful train station that, unlike it's former station, is extremely inviting to guests:

The station now has a much more permanent look to it and has details galore just awaiting guests eager to ride the rails. I attended a question and answer session with an Imagineer a little over two years ago and asked what the train station was going to be themed around. I suggested Casey Jr. and he pointed out that it had crossed their mind. While Casey Jr. may not have a train station themed around him (he will have an interactive play area in the near future), you can see the weather vane on top of the building that is shaped like the famous engine that knew he could.

The clock that you see above has a nice history to it. Most Disney fans know that Walt Disney had a love of trains and actually had a model train (that was ridable) that ran throughout his backyard called the Carolwood Pacific. To keep Walt's love of trains alive the brand new train station has a nod to Walt's backyard train:

Join us once again tomorrow as we prepare to take off on the Disney Fantasy by taking a look at Disney's original cruise experience for guests!


March 16, 2012

Have you ever seen a Goof fly? Most likely yes. When the Fantasyland Expansion was first announced two and a half years ago I was extremely excited about all of the new additions coming in, but one thing that worried me was the disappearance of The Barnstormer. You see, most children that come to Walt Disney World experience their first roller coaster ever and when Mickey's Toontown Fair received The Barnstormer, it instantly became a child's first "thrill ride."

With the disappearance of Toontown the question of whether or not The Barnstormer would stick around was up in the air at first, but Disney soon realized that they needed this first thrilling experience for younger guests and the attraction received a new theme:

While I would love to discuss all the new fun finds that are scattered throughout the queue and attraction, I felt that today we should first take a look back at the former attraction:

The original story still centered around Goofy, but here he was the owner of Wise Acres Farms and would often fly overhead doing crop dusting. Wise Acres Farms was a good little farm filled with puns galore. While walking through line guests could find squash (that was actually squashed), corn (shaped like popcorn), and of course chickens from another extinct attraction, World of Motion.

Goofy would often take flight (after having a crash course in flying) over Wise Acres Farms in order to help his crazy crops grow. When the area was rethemed towards a circus theme Goofy retired from the farming business and went into the danger business. He has now set up his own act called The Great Goofini where he attempts high flying acts with a dangerous twist. It's odd going back to The Barnstormer (which still has the same name) and thinking of Wise Acres Farms being gone.

I'll always remember riding through the barn (where the sounds of chickens went off) and hearing the laughter of children attempting their first true thrill ride. Luckily, The Barnstormer is back and although it is rethemed, the original attraction will never be forgotten.

Wise Acres Farms is not gone forever, however. To learn of a new reference to it make sure you stop by Fun Find Friday!


March 15, 2012

Yesterday I asked if you had ever seen an elephant fly and if you've been to Disney I'm sure the answer is yes. Dumbo the Flying Elephant has always been a signature attraction at the Magic Kingdom and has permanently relocated to the new Storybook Circus! Let's explore the new area by taking a look at some pictures!

While the original Dumbo attraction, which is not yet installed in the area, featured Timothy Mouse standing on top, the new attraction has only one reference to him and that's on the wait time sign:

In addition to a regular standby line, you can also find the booth pictured below which has a Fastpass Return clock placed on the top which would be the first time Dumbo would actually feature a Fastpass function!

After taking a closer look at the clock you can see that the words Disney's Fastpass Return are lightly itched in the red, but not quite ready to be revealed. here you will also notice that the little hand on the clock is actually the magic feather that helps Dumbo fly!

The new layout for Dumbo has a lot of similarities to the original, but also has a lot of features that make it extremely unique. Let's take a closer look at all levels of the new attraction:

On the bottom there is actually a water function spraying a pool of water below the Dumbos! Interestingly enough, the original Dumbo at the Magic Kingdom was the only Dumbo not to feature this special feature in the past. This was due to the fact that below the original attraction was the utilidors which allowed Cast Members to walk around freely without ruining the show for the guests. The main reason for not having water was due to the fact that Imagineers felt it may add to much weight to the ground resulting in a cave in.

Just above the water, but still at the base of the attraction you can find the following:

Just like Cinderella's Royal Carousel (alright, Prince Charming Regal Carousel), Dumbo has added a group of panels with paintings on it depicting the film. This allows guests watching from the side to see the entire film played out before their eyes from Dumbo's delivery (seen above) to mayhem in the circus (below)!

Above the spokes that hold Dumbo together you can find the always smiling face of Mrs. Jumbo, Dumbo's mother, who wasn't present during the original attraction!

Above Mrs. Jumbo you can find Mr. Stork carrying the little bundle of joy, Dumbo himself!

Besides the eye popping detail shown here, there are a few other things that should be noted. All around Storybook Circus you can find pieces of peanuts embedded into the ground symbolizing the fact that you are actually at a circus (where peanuts are the food of choice). If you look at the pictures above you will notice that peanuts seem to be scattered everywhere in very subtle ways.

In addition to that the always amazing magic feather can be found scattered throughout the sculptings throughout the attraction as well. I know all of this seems quite amazing, but there is in fact more! When you head over to check out Dumbo make sure you ask for a Dumbo collector's card! This is actually your pilot's license (similar to the driver's license that are given away at the Tomorrowland Speedway) and looks like this:

While we have taken a small look at the new Dumbo attraction (and trust me, there is a lot more to talk about in the coming weeks), I must ask you one question that will be answered tomorrow: Have you ever seen a goof fly?


March 14, 2012

The Fantasyland Expansion is officially underway! As of two days ago the first phase of the first phase has had its soft opening. That's right, Storybook Circus is not 100% done, but about half of it is open to the general public so far. So what have we discovered so far? A lot actually!

Let's start by taking a look at the trusty map.

Ahh, park maps! I love them! I love looking back at them throughout the years and see what's new and what's old and how everything fits together in the great Walt Disney World timeline. Naturally with a new section to the park being added a new map is added as well showcasing four attractions. Three of these attractions have in one way or another already had a place here at the Magic Kingdom: Dumbo the Flying Elephant, The Walt Disney World Railroad, and The Barnstormer (now starring The Great Goofini!). The fourth item, number 35 is for the Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak Station, which according to the description is "Coming Soon!" In addition to our park maps you can also find the following posted on some of the construction walls:

As you can see we have a lot of fun ahead of us. While it was great riding The Barnstormer once again, I really can't wait to see Casey Jr., Pete, and Humphrey the Bear and the role they will play in the new expansion.  Along with the new signage, Cast Members are also sporting a new look that is similar to the one Timothy Mouse and the Ring Master had in the film:

Not quite sure how much the Cast Members we saw loved these costumes, but it really seems to fit in well with the theming of the area. Speaking of theme, check out the new trash cans!

Everything we have covered so far barely scratches the entrance way into Storybook Circus. Our Fantasy Filled Month will continue with more updates in the weeks to come. Our first topic will be tomorrow where I want one simple question answered...

Have you ever seen an elephant fly?

March 13, 2012

Walt loved trains so when Disneyland opened up in 1955 there was one rule that was pretty much in place: there must be a train that would circle the park. The same philosophy stood true in 1971 when the Magic Kingdom first opened and trains have become a staple of Disney ever since.

The Magic Kingdom has had quite a history with the Walt Disney World Railroad. While most guests who have ventured to Walt Disney World in recent years will recall there being three train stations others will realize that that was not always the case. In fact, when the Magic Kingdom opened up there were only two stops on the Walt Disney World Railroad: Main Street, USA and Frontierland. So if you were using the train to get to Tomorrowland the more scenic route, well that just wasn't going to happen.

Then 1988 rolled around and a brand new train station was built in honor of Mickey's Birthdayland! Alright, maybe it wasn't a station, but a few blue bars holding up a overhead stating it was in fact a train station. But the train ride was so much fun. You would circle the bend while the birthday song was playing overhead, but the train station itself wasn't too much to the eyes for guests.

This was due to the fact that, as we stated earlier this week, this was planned to be a temporary land only. So the train station itself was planned to only be temporary. In 2009 all of that changed, however. The plans for the Fantasyland Expansion were announced and one of the first things to disappear after the construction began was those eyesore of blue bars holding up that overhang. With the expansion the train station was promised to be a station any guest would be proud to visit. What's it look like? I guess you'll just have to come back later to find out!


March 12, 2012

Just after exiting Mickey's PhilharMagic you will encounter our next topic of Fantasy which is inside the shop of Fantasy Faire!

A few days ago we talked about Fantasia and how it impacted the history of both Disney and films forever, but even after all this time, the unforgettable music seems to continue to pop in different places throughout the park. While Mickey's PhilharMagic focuses around music it would only make sense to theme the shop adjacent to it around the same topic as well.

Here you can find musical instruments galore and Donald Duck hanging from the ceiling (in a tuba) angry as can be. What most guests tend to miss however is the fact that there are musical notes found throughout the shop just below the ceiling. What on earth would these musical notes sound like if played on one of the instruments in the room? The Sorcerer's Apprentice piece from Fantasia of course! Just to show that Fantasy can be found anywhere...even in the most unexpected places.


March 11, 2012

Disney Cruise Line is the only cruise line in the world to offer a unique nighttime activity: fireworks! Disney and fireworks have gone hand in hand for ages, but keeping with our fantasy themed month, today we are going to talk about Wishes predecessor, Fantasy in the Sky!

The show originally debuted in Disneyland all the way back in 1958 and when Walt Disney World opened in 1971 it made its impact on the Magic Kingdom as well. In fact, the show would run from 1971 all the way through 2003 when Wishes replaced it. So what was the storyline?

There wasn't an underlying theme like Wishes, however the show featured some of the most beloved Disney songs and connected them in a masterpiece that would join songs like Yo Ho Yo Ho A Pirate's Life for Me with I've Got No Strings and Grim Grinning Ghosts. In fact, it was this weird combination of songs that made the show such a hit. While most Disney productions at the opening of Walt Disney World tended to focus around the same theme, Fantasy in the Sky combined a huge ensemble to allow guests to feel a range of emotions.

As the show continued to go strong some music pieces were added or taken away and the show was no longer just a mix of beloved Disney songs, but a group of songs that would allow guests to reflect upon their day. While listening to the songs guests could quickly reminisce their time on Pirates of the Caribbean or Splash Mountain. Overall, it was a great way to close out the night at the Magic Kingdom just like a night on the Disney Fantasy will feature fireworks that will surly bring a smile to guests face as well.


March 10, 2012

We've talked about it a few times this month, but if anyone has mastered the art of bring Fantasy to life it's Disney. And as we talked about, Disney has been pulling off this feat since the 1920s and there are hundreds to story to tell, but we can only tell 31 here. Today we'll be talking about how Disney coined a new synonym for Fantasy in 1940.

Walt was an innovator: always thinking of new things that would keep him ahead from his competition. In the late 30s he came up with an idea for a motion picture that would take the world by storm: Fantasia. Here he would feature several different short cartoons that would be set to famous musical scores. Some of the animation would tell the story the original composer wanted, while others would take an animators twist to the story.

While that was an unheard of idea at the time (kind of since you could argue he had been doing it for years with his Silly Symphonies), Walt had an even greater unheard of idea to go along with it. The first of these big ideas was this film would be the first to never leave movie theaters. It would continue to play and every year one or two sections of the film would disappear in order to make way for one or two new shorts. Unfortunately the film didn't do as well as they hoped and this idea never came into being until 60 years later when Walt's nephew, Roy E. Disney, would bring Fantasia 2000 to the big screen which featured one of the original pieces and several new ones.

The other idea was quite impressive, especially when you think of the time period. 12 years prior to Fantasia films were just introducing sound (like Disney's own Steamboat Willie). In 1940 Disney introduced the very first surround sound theater system called Fantasound made specifically for Fantasia. While the idea truly helped enhance the experience it was too expensive to install in all theaters around the country. So in 1940 when Fantasia debuted, just a dozen theaters added Fantasound to get the full effect.

The innovation doesn't just end there though, but that's a story for another day...


March 9, 2012

We've already talked about it this month, but unfortunately in order to make way for new things some times old things have to disappear. Main Street, USA was affected by this change two years ago.

When Mickey and Minnie received their eviction notices to their homes in Florida (don't worry, they still hold residency in California) Disney decided they needed to find a new place for guests to meet the famous mice. The solution? Town Square on Main Street, USA. With this change came the disappearance of one of my favorite sections in all of Walt Disney World.

The Town Square Theater featured a small theater where guests could watch Steamboat Willie, Flowers and Trees, and the Band Concert. It was a great place to sit back and relax. On the back wall (opposite of the screen) was one of my favorite finds in all of Walt Disney World: The Milestones in Disney Animation.

This wall shared the milestones of the Disney Company from the creation of Mickey Mouse all the way through 2001 with the release of Monsters, Inc. While I have been told the poster is still around somewhere it is unsure whether or not this amazing time capsule of Disney's animation history will return to the parks ever for the public eye.

Some guests I have talked to were disappointed with the disappearance of this marvelous wall (me being one of them), but as Walt once said Imagineers must keep moving forward with ideas and unfortunately sometimes that results in the disappearance of old ideas. Here are pictures of the rest of the wall as it appeared in 2009:


March 8, 2012

Why have one castle, when you could have three? One odd thing is occurring in the Magic Kingdom. Since 1955, Disney parks that are fashioned like the Magic Kingdom have a signature icon: a castle.

Lately though the skyline has changed with Cinderella Castle not being the sole castle in the park, but with Beast's Castle (from 1991's Beauty and the Beast) and Prince Eric's Castle (from 1989's The Little Mermaid) joining it as well. So what brought on this change?

Since Disneyland opened in 1955 Walt truly believed that there should be objects off in the distance that would draw guests closer to the specific attraction (like Tower of Terror at the end of Sunset Boulevard). With two new locations opening up (Be Our Guest Restaurant and The Little Mermaid Attraction) that aren't extremely close to the entrance of Fantasyland a new brainstorming idea went into motion.

While most attractions in Fantasyland have the simple "the carnival is in town" facade upon them, The Little Mermaid needed a much grander entrance to draw the guests closer to it. By deciding to not keep with the theme of the rest of Fantasyland a new addition to Fantasyland was born in the Fantasy Forest, a place located outside the walls of the Castle Courtyard. So while we have seen through the years that Disney characters do interact and live near one another off screen, this will be much more true in the months ahead!


March 7, 2012

A little before 2007 guests were given a brand new opportunity in Downtown Disney that would delight any princess in trainings heart: Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.

In 2007 the popular shop opened its doors in Cinderella Castle allowing princesses to get a makeover from their "Fairy Godmother in Traning" and get in touch with the likes of Cinderella, Belle, and so many other famous Disney princesses. What's amazing about this makeover process wasn't the basic concept of it (sure Disney had another money maker on their hands), but the reaction boys had to it. In fact, several boys began to complain that there was no spot on Disney property for them to get a makeover as well.

In 2009 the wish was granted by opening up the Pirate's League in Adventureland: a place where guests would get their own makeover. This time you wouldn't get prettied up though, but transformed into a pirate! Alright, today we have been all over the place and have barely even touched on our topic of Fantasy (despite mentioning the Cinderella Castle shop located in Fantasyland) so what gives?

Disney is constantly trying to figure out ways how to improve the guest experience on both land and sea and with both the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and Pirate's League they have done so on land, but when the Disney Fantasy sets sail later this month these experiences will also be joining them! During the entire trip the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique will be available to transform girls into the princesses they truly are, and during the special Pirates In The Caribbean night the beauty salon will transform into a location where everyone can be a pirate!


March 6, 2012

Almost every time I talk about the Fantasyland Expansion with someone I get the same question: But why are they taking out Snow white's Scary Adventures? I answered a similar question during my video that took a closer look at Pooh's Playful Spot (the first spot taken away to make room for the expansion):

As explained in the video Piglet can be found in the tree, but not as a meet and greet character around the corner. The reasoning? He can't be at two places at the same time. This is very similar to Snow White's Scary Adventures. When the expansion is complete there will be a thrilling attraction called the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. This attraction will feature the seven dwarfs and Snow White. With the attraction being located just across the way from Snow White's Scary Adventures, the storyline wouldn't match up between the two.

Just like Piglet, Snow White and the Dwarfs can't be in two places at once (even if it is just in audio-animatronic form). Because of this Imagineers had to make the heartbreaking decision to let an opening day attraction go in order to make way for a new ride that will (hopefully) be better than the original. For those wanting to ride Snow White one last time you still have a chance. It is scheduled to make its final scary trip on May 31st.


March 5, 2012

The Fantasyland Storybook Circus is coming to town in the very near future, but there is one question on everybody's mind: Do people still enjoy the circus?

Well, Disney has touched upon the circus theme several times in the past, whether it was with Disney's animated classic Dumbo, or with the often overlooked film "Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks with a Circus." Today we are going to be talking about Disney's first attempt at bringing the circus to the park.

Beginning in 1955, the Mouseketeers from the Mickey Mouse Club would put on live shows in a circus tent called Mickey Mouse Club Circus. The acts would include trapeze, animal acts, and more! Unfortunately due to the Mouseketeers tight schedule of doing the circus show, the television show, and school, the show only lasted for about a year. The circus tent didn't disappear with that.

The World's Largest Candy-Striped Circus Tent, which is where the show took place, remained open after the Mickey Mouse Club Circus closed as part of a new temporary land called Holidayland, which opened in 1957. This "land" actually had its own separate entrance and played the part of a local park more than a part of the Happiest Place on Earth. Since the section wasn't technically part of the park, it actually did sell alcohol which made it different than its neighbor.

What happened? Well, it ends up that most guests going to Disney didn't really want to attend a circus, but ride the attractions instead. More importantly, the circus just wasn't as exciting as other things. So how have things changed since 1961 when Holidayland closed? Disney has learned that the thing that wasn't working with Holidayland wasn't the circus idea, but the circus itself. So with the new Fantasyland Expansion opening up soon the land won't focus around an actual circus, but around (what Disney does best) the theme of a circus coming to town? Will it work? I think so!


March 4, 2012

Walt Disney once pointed out that the land he had purchased in Florida was more than enough to fill all of the dreams the Imagineers could ever think up. Unfortunately, there won't always be enough land at some point and because of that, some of our favorite attractions will have to disappear.

The Fantasyland Expansion is an amazing dream for Disney. Doubling the size of Fantasyland is an idea that at first seemed undoable, but as time went on and plans were announced, Disney fans realized that the company really could make these dreams come true, but of course there was a price: the disappearance of Mickey's Toontown Fair.

Mickey's Toontown Fair has an interesting story behind it that most guests forget about. It actually opened up in 1988 as Mickey's Birthdayland, a place where guests could celebrate Mickey's 60th birthday for two straight years. In 1990 Disney realized that the celebration needed to end, but this temporary land should get an upgrade. So in 1990 Mickey's Starland opened, and four years later Mickey's Toontown Fair would follow.

What began as a temporary land remained open for almost 23 full years until it closed last February to make way for the Fantasyland Expansion. What's even more impressive about this land is what spawned off from it. In 1993 Mickey's Toontown opened up in Disneyland and in 1996, Toontown opened up in Tokyo Disneyland both with the intention of being permanent lands. The premise of Disneyland and Walt Disney World began off with a simple idea. Why not let guests come visit their favorite characters while at the parks, but with Mickey's Birthdayland a brand new concept was born: Why not allow guests to actually visit the homes of Mickey, Minnie, and Donald? And guests did for 23 amazing years.

So even though Mickey's Toontown Fair is now gone to make way for Fantasyland, it did create two permanent lands in two other parks around the world which makes you realize that Mickey's Birthdayland did bring guests one of the greatest presents of them all. A chance to see our favorite characters in their world.


March 3, 2012

We need your help. We have found a baby elephant that has wondered off away from their mother. We fear their may be poachers in the area.

Yesterday we talked about one elephant and today we will talk about another. The quote above is from Kilimanjaro Safaris, the amazing attraction (that could fit the entire Magic Kingdom inside of it) at Disney's Animal Kingdom. I know what you are already thinking: this has nothing to do with Fantasy so where's the connection? The connection is the name of the elephants. When the attraction first opened up in 1998 the baby elephant was name Little Red while his mother was Big Red.

Big Red was an important name in the Disney family before this actually. You see, most Disney fans often look back at 1998 when the Disney Magic set sail as the inaugural trip for Disney on the seven seas. That's not actually true. Disney first started taking guests out onto open water starting in 1985, 13 years before Disney Cruise Line became known as one of the big cruise companies. So what's the story?

Premier Cruise Line, a completely separate company was founded in 1983 allowing travelers to depart from Port Canaveral into the Caribbean. In 1985 Disney decided to try out a new vacation mode for their guests and decided to partner with Premier in hopes that they could learn the ropes just in case they would attempt it on their own at all. While the cruise wasn't 100% authentic Disney, it did help Disney pave the road...or their future in world class cruiseline standards.

So how's the connect back to Kilimanjaro Safaris? The name of the boat just happened to be Big Red Boat!


March 2, 2012

Today we are going to focus on the Fantasyland Expansion aspect of our Fantasy inspired month. When you take a look at all of the lands in Walt Disney World and Disneyland there always seems to be that one attraction that symbolizes the land more than others. In Tomorrowland we have Space Mountain, Africa has Kilimanjaro Safaris, and Disney's Hollywood Studios simply has The Great Movie Ride.

When most people think of Fantasyland they will typically think of a few different things. The Castle, their favorite ride (Peter Pan's Flight for me), or the attraction that seems to be the heart of Fantasyland in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland:

When I think of Fantasyland Dumbo is almost always the first image that comes to mind. After all, what symbolizes Fantasy more than a flying elephant. Out of all the other things in Fantasyland, carousels, boat rides, Neverland, there doesn't seem to be anything as simple or magical as the idea of seeing an elephant fly for the first time.

The thing I worry about the most with the Fantasyland Expansion is Dumbo will no longer be sitting in the "heart" of Fantasyland, but way off to the side. How is that going to affect the look and feel of the land? We'll see when the Expansion is done, but it doesn't mark the first time Dumbo hasn't been center stage at a Fantasyland.

When Disneyland first opened there were a few things that appeared in different locations than their current locations today. The two biggest being The Mad Tea Party and Dumbo The Flying Elephant. The two were actually in different locations than where they now stand, but after years of having their not so permanent locations, Disney decided that a flying elephant would be the perfect center piece for this magical land. Will Dumbo return to its former location in Walt Disney World's Fantasyland? Most likely no. But no matter where Dumbo stands, I know for sure that I'll be grabbing a magic feather and heading to the skies because Dumbo truly is the heart of this magical land.


March 1, 2012

Fantasy is one of the staples of the Disney Company. So many of their stories and ideas begin with some larger than life idea that was either thought up by them or derived from a fairytale years before. If you look at the pieces of the puzzle though, you can realize that everything connects and there is a storyline that Disney has laid out for us to discover that deals with Fantasy beginning with Walt and ending with this months events. Alright, well, maybe not laid out for us, but I'm going to tell you a story. And as all stories go, this one has 31 unique steps that will just happen to fill 31 days of articles!

Our story begins with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but not the 1937 animated classic we all know and love today. It actually goes back to Walt's childhood. This is where our story begins...

Have you ever looked at a child and wondered, "What on earth is going on in their head?" Their imaginations are mind blowingly awesome and it's so much fun talking to kids about their space adventures, trip to Antarctica, or pogo stick competition with the President. What is even more mind blowing is when you begin to think about what Walt Disney would have been like as a child. Here you have this child who would eventually become known as one of the most imaginative people ever to live living in the Midwest just waiting for someone to unlock that door to great story telling.

Luckily for us, Walt received that key at an early age. You see, in my opinion, there are two types of people in the world: storytellers and everyone else. Neither category is better than the other, but storytellers are typically very interesting people to talk to. They can go on and on about nothing (clearly I'm a storyteller) and make people believe every word they are saying. So when young Walt went to see plays and silent films for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Peter Pan, and many other classic fairytales, the key was unlocked for Walt. And a life time of wonder and Fantasy opened up just waiting for us to discover...


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