by Debra Martin Koma
AllEars® Senior Editor
OK, OK, I know I said I’d write a Day 2 recap, and it’s coming, I promise… but we have breaking news from TODAY.
And when the news breaks, the news breaks!
So, what’s so important?
Well, today, at a presentation I attended just a little more than two hours ago, Jay Rasulo, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Chairman, made some really exciting announcements that I wanted to share right away!
First, the rumored expansion of Walt Disney World’s Fantasyland is TRUE!
They are going to be more than doubling the size of Fantasyland and adding a number of
amazing new attractions.
The down side? Toontown is going to go away. Completely. Although the Imagineers have said they are going to try to save Goofy’s Barnstormer somehow… they’re just not sure how yet.
Based on Rasulo’s presentation, and a press conference I attended afterward with several Imagineers and Rasulo as well, here are some of the major features of the expansion:
— A country chateau where Cinderella lives with her stepmother and stepsisters, where you’ll see her transform.
— An area for Sleeping Beauty, in which you can make birthday cards for Aurora’s Sweet 16 birthday party and give them to her.
— Beast’s Castle, which will house a 552-seat restaurant that is counter service by day, table service by night. The castle will have three areas, including the “West Wing”, in which you will be able to see the Beast’s private antechamber and the rose with dropping petals, featured in the animated film, Beauty and the Beast.
— An “under the sea with Ariel” attraction, like the new Little Mermaid attraction in Disneyland, only with a completely different queue area.
–Expanded Dumbo — Basically two Dumbo rides, and NO queue. Instead, there will be a 3-Ring Circus interactive play area with bleachers for adults, so that you can have fun while you wait for your “feather” to be called so that you can ride.
— Pixie Hollow, which will be a second phase of the expansion, will eventually join the rest of Fantasyland.
Construction on the first phase of the expansion is expected to start soon, and, according to the Imagineers, impact on guests and existing attractions in Fantasyland should be minimal. The new areas should be completed by 2012, with the second phase following in 2013.
The second biggest announcement came as a good news/bad news thing.
The bad news? Star Tours in Disneyland is going to close in October 2010.
The good news? A whole new Star Tours, in 3D, will open in 2011!
The new attraction will feature scenes like the Pod Race in The Phantom Menace.
Although it was unclear when Star Tours in Walt Disney World will close, it, too, will be
receiving the new makeover.
For the official press release on this and other remarks Rasulo made today at the D23
Expo, as well as some artist renderings, check out our Disney News Blog HERE.
I’ll be back more later with a recap of Day 2 and 3!