What will they think up next? Disney theme park fans were treated to that answer at The Wonderful World of Disney Parks and Resorts presentation in the D23 Arena on Friday, August 19, 2011. The creative visionaries at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts had plenty of sweet surprises and updates, including a first look at an Audio-Animatronics® version of Lumiere for Belle’s Cottage in the new Fantasyland at Walt Disney World, which was previewed with a computer-generated mock-up; a digital ride through of some of the track layout for Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster, also coming to Walt Disney World; a computer-generated rendering of the Enchanted Storybook Castle, which will be at the center of Shanghai Disney Resort; a hint that an additional dining experience, similar to Club 33, is on its way to Disneyland Resort soon; an announcement that the Carnation Plaza Gardens at Disneyland will transform into a storybook village square called Fantasy Faire, which will include Tangled Tower, an iconic sculpture that was inspired by the film; and, as icing on the cake, one lucky D23 Member in the audience was randomly selected to win a trip to Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa, Ko Olina, Hawai’i.
The entire room cheered when Bruce Vaughn, executive vice president, Creative, Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) previewed a CGI ride-through of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster attraction that’s in the works for Magic Kingdom. “This is the first time in any of our parks where we’ve focused specifically on the Seven Dwarfs and their story,” Bruce said. “One thing we love to do at Imagineering is find those moments in our films that make us say, ‘I’d love to do that!’ and we feel the scene from Snow White where the mine cars race through the diamond mines is just that sort of moment.” The attraction will have an entirely new ride system and new special effects to help take guests on a swinging good time on the rocking mine cars.
The plans for Shanghai Disney Resort calls for Enchanted Storybook Castle—the largest castle in any Disney theme park yet. This stunning new vision will be the first Disney theme park castle not dedicated to a specific princess, and it will house Once Upon a Time Adventure, an all-new walk-through experience, the first-ever Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique princess makeover experience inside a castle, the Court of the Princesses character meet and greet, a table-side restaurant, as well as being part of a new boat ride attraction in Fantasyland. “This is going to be a gorgeous attraction,” Bob Weiss, executive vice president, Creative, WDI, says. “As the boat enters the dark grotto beneath the castle, bright fountains leap from shadowy pools, and the waters dance in a magical eruption of music and color.”
Tom Staggs, chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, teased the capacity crowd even more. “We’re excited to announce that we are working on a series of special experiences that will enable our guests to interact with their favorite attractions and characters in a whole new way,” Tom revealed. Tom and team may not be ready to tell us more of what’s in store, but after all the amazing new experience announced today, Disney theme park fans still have plenty to talk—and dream—about.
By D23′s Billy Stanek