"Once upon a time" is now a dream come true, according to Walt Disney World Resort
, which earlier this month announced the opening of Fantasyland, the largest expansion in the 41-year history of the Orlando resort's Magic Kingdom theme park.
Located in the shadow of Disney World's signature Cinderella Castle, Fantasyland recreates the settings from some of Disney's most popular animated fairytales, including "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast" and "Dumbo."
Featuring themed attractions, dining, shopping and character interactions, Fantasyland includes:
• "Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid," which Disney describes as "a major attraction where guests riding in clamshells travel with Ariel and her friends through their exciting adventures above and below the waves — all against a musical backdrop of songs from the film";
• "Be Our Guest Restaurant," a 550-seat restaurant that's located inside a replica of the castle of the Beast from "Beauty and the Beast," outside of which is "Belle's Village," modeled after the French village in the film;
• "Storybook Circus," a circus-themed section of Fantasyland inspired by Dumbo, the flying elephant, a major component of which is the Fantasyland Train Station, serviced by an antique steam engine that circles Magic Kingdom; and
• Princess Fairytale Hall, which will open in 2013 as a home for Disney princesses.
"Walt Disney once promised that Disneyland, and by extension all of our parks, would never be complete as long as there is imagination left in the world," said Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs. "Fantasyland is a spectacular addition to the Magic Kingdom that delivers on Walt's promise. We're thrilled to take guests beyond the walls of Cinderella Castle to discover new worlds featuring iconic Disney characters and stories in ways that are more imaginative, more interactive and more immersive than ever before."