In anticipation of the summer season, the folks at Walt Disney World have been showing off the resort to members of the media this week, and I've been fortunate enough to attend. It's been a whirlwind of tours, presentations by Imagineers, and previews of the latest goodies. Here are a few of the interesting tidbits I've discovered about Mickey's Florida home:
- The new Storybook Circus area, which is the first phase of the Fantaysland expansion at the Magic Kingdom to have opened, includes faux peanut shells embedded in the ground near the Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride. Now that is a commitment to the story -- and a charming example of Disney whimsy.
- Going behind the construction wall, it was exciting to see the progress being made on the rest of the expanded Fantasyland area. It was also plain to see how utterly different the façade of the Little Mermaid ride being built in Disney World will be from the original attraction that opened last year at Disney California Adventure -- although the ride itself will be identical.
- The new Art of Animation Resort, the first phase of which is scheduled to open May 31, is stunning. It seems much more visually appealing than the hyperactive design found at Disney World's other Value resorts, and its suites have a spacious and clever layout that larger families and groups will embrace. One of the suites' more intriguing features is the Murphy table/beds. A simple pull or push on the furniture easily converts it to either a table or a bed. In either position, the Imagineers have decorated the hybrid space-saver with incredibly cute renderings of Disney and Pixar animation.
Photos: Top: Now you see it: A table in one of the Art of Animation Resort suites. Bottom: Now you don't: The table easily converts into a bed. © Arthur Levine, 2012. Licensed to About.com.