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Gain Some Space, Lose Some Weight

What's new for 2003 at Walt Disney World and Disneyland

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Mission: Space Epcot picture

Mission: Space opens at Epcot later this year

Disney
The 100 Years event at Walt Disney World, marking the anniversary of the man behind the Mouse, ends in late February. There are no plans for any similar large-scale celebrations at any of the Disney resorts, nor are there any new parks opening this year. But 2003 will bring its share of exciting Disney attractions, including one out-of-this-world Epcot E-Ticket ride.

Mission: Space
Epcot, Walt Disney World, Florida
There has been a lot of activity going on behind the construction wall at the Future World building that used to house the Horizons attraction. Scheduled to open sometime this year (the latest rumors peg the fall), Mission: Space will simulate rocket flight using a wild, new ride system. Unlike the corny old Tomorrowland ride, Mission to Mars, the Epcot attraction will purportedly deliver a deliriously lifelike launch into the stratosphere that will include a healthy dose of honest-to-goodness weightlessness. (Here's hoping Disney has figured out a way to eliminate the motion sickness that could accompany said weightlessness.) NASA helped develop the attraction. While the concept sounds like a blast, Disney has been relatively tight-lipped about M: S and the technology behind it.

Mission: SPACE Update--Ride review, overview, and pictures

Mickey's Philharmagic
Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Florida
Every Walt Disney World park, except the Magic Kingdom, has a 3-D attraction--until Mickey's Philharmagic completes the set when it opens in Fantasyland later this year (rumored to be late summer). The animated film will feature Mickey, Donald, and their classic toon pals as well as Ariel, Simba, and some of the newer Disney characters as they engage in some musical mayhem. Like most 3-D shows, expect some in-theater effects. The presentation will be in the same building that housed Disney's first 3-D attraction, Magic Journeys (which premiered in Epcot before it moved to the Magic Kingdom). The theater has come full circle, in a sense. When the Magic Kingdom first opened, it presented the animatronic Mickey Mouse Revue, which also featured symphonic silliness, in the building. (That attraction moved to Tokyo Disneyland, where it remains.)

The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, California
Similar to the attraction at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, this dark ride will take guests for a romp through the 100 Acre Woods of Pooh fame. It replaces the classic Country Bear Jamboree. Scheduled to open in April.

Disney's Aladdin-- A Musical Spectacular
Disney's California Adventure, Disneyland Resort, California
The Disney parks have always been known for their ambitious live productions. But they kicked it up a notch with the Hunchback of Notre Dame Show at Disney-MGM Studios in Florida (which, sadly, has closed). The new Aladdin show features similar Broadway-caliber performances and innovative effects. The 40-minute presentation also offers a new tune, "To Be Free," by the film's composer, Alan Menken. After debuting in January, Aladdin is getting rave reviews.

A Bug's Land
Disney's California Adventure, Disneyland Resort, California
This land, which actually opened last year, is still new enough to merit some mention. Based on the popular "A Bug's Life" movie, the area incorporates the 3-D It's Tough to be a Bug attraction with the new Flik's Fun Fair area. Young kids, especially, love the miniature railroad, hot air balloon, and spinning ladybug rides. And everyone appreciates the water playground, especially on hot days. The whole area is presented from the perspective of the bugs and includes oversized props like a giant, leaky garden hose.

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