I managed to make it back to the motor lodge, but I’m not sure I can keep my eyes open long enough to say anything intelligible. For those of you planning on coming to D23 next year, I recommend an extensive training regimen and sleep deprivation training. It’s hard core.
Anyway, if you don’t know what happened today I doubt you’ve been paying attention. Parks head Jay Rasulo confirmed that Walt Disney World will indeed be getting its new Fantasyland, and it’s spectacular. I won’t get the images up until I get home, but you can easily find them around and about. Most remarkable is the fact that the plans pretty much mirror those that were leaked a few months ago; who would have guessed that they would have survived the budgeting axe?
The princess attractions we had so many questions about are not rides, but they’re not plain meet-and-greets either. They sound like interactive experiences with a storyline and special effects, and should keep the kiddies entertained. For those of us less princess-inclined, we’ll have a lushly landscaped Fantasyland to look at, with lots of moving water and new buildings.
The “Be Our Guest Restaurant” will feature a lot of interactive elements, but is a completely different project than the original Beauty and the Beast show concept from Paris. More intriguing is the fact that it will operate as a quick-service venue for lunch, and convert to a table service restaurant for dinner. It makes a lot of sense, really, and fills a couple of underserved niches nicely.
We’ll get the “dueling” Dumbo spinners, in an entirely new area themed to that film. Since its construction will necessitate the demolition of Mickey’s Toontown Fair (yay!), that area’s train station will be rethemed to become the Fantasyland Station. The Barnstormer coaster, another Toontown property, will receive circus theming as well. I noted that one of the renderings featured a Casey Jr. Circus Train, and the Imagineers confirmed that it’s something that’s being considered for the area’s second phase. They say that it might not take the exact same form as the matching attraction at Disneyland, but it will hopefully be incorporated in some way.
The new ride based on The Little Mermaid will be built in part on the old 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea foundations. It will feature a facade designed specifically for Florida, but the actual ride will mirror that being planned for California Adventure in 2011.
These major additions are planned for completion by 2012. The Pixie Hollow area is now intended for a phase two opening in 2013. Design on that area is not complete, so there’s a lot to be figured out, but the Imagineers hinted that the final plan might include more attractions.
The other big reveal was the long, long overdue Star Tours 2. Disney is working with Lucasfilm now on updating the attraction, which will debut in 2011. The ride film will be in digital 3-D; they showed a teaser at the presentation that set the ride in a podracing sequence from the prequel trilogy.
Other tidbits include that Imagineers have several ideas for where to relocate Mickey once his Toontown home is bulldozed, and also that plans are underway to update and refresh the One Man’s Dream exhibit at the Hollywood Studios.
The day actually began before the Parks and Resorts presentation, with an early presentation by animation producer Don Hahn. Hahn, who wrote the recent The Alchemy of Animation, had a great lecture about the animation process with plenty of good art. Most notably, he included a slide of concept art from The Snow Queen, a new film now under development at Walt Disney Animation Studios. Hahn is also the producer of Tim Burton’s new stop-motion project Frankenweenie; he confirmed that puppet construction is already underway for the film.
There’s lots more to talk about, and plenty of pictures and art to show, but sleep must come now. After all, D23 waits for no man…