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Magic Kingdom
Pre- & Post-Cruise Experiences

By Georgina Cruz

The moment a cruise passenger boards a ship is "magic," marine historian John Maxtone-Graham once said. And now, for passengers setting sail from Florida and California ports, there are opportunities for even more magical moments pre- and/or post-cruise.

Disneyland in Anaheim, California, Walt Disney's pioneer park, which he called "the happiest place on earth," is marked its 50th anniversary last year. The celebration, which launched in May, is hu-u-uge with an array of new attractions.

"It will be the biggest event in our history," said Michael Eisner, Disney's CEO. And, as if sprinkled with pixie dust, it not only extends to all Disney parks, including Walt Disney World in Orlando, but it also lasts 18 months.

Here is what was on tap at Disneyland:

Actress Julie Andrews (of Mary Poppins and The Princess Diaries fame, among many other films) has been named the event's ambassador. She was on hand at the announcement of the celebration in 2004 and will, along with other Hollywood stars and dignitaries, officially launch it on May 5.

New attractions at Disneyland will include the following:

* Disneyland - The First 50 Years, presented at the Opera House in the Town Square section of Main Street, features an exhibit of artifacts including authentic attraction models, concept artwork, layouts and maps which relay the story of how Walt Disney and his original team of Imagineers conceived, designed and built the park.

Focal point is the original pencil aerial schematic of Disneyland created by Imagineer Herb Ryman and Walt Disney over a weekend in 1954. The attraction will also feature a new film retrospective highlighting the first five decades of the park using archival photos, familiar Disney tunes, and narration by Walt Disney himself. After the movie, an exhibit showcases attractions and shows planned that never materialized and what is to come in years ahead.

* Remember… Dreams Come True is the most lavish and monumental fireworks display ever presented at Disneyland. It incorporates narration and Walt Disney's own words about the origins of Disneyland.

* Sleeping Beauty Castle, the centerpiece of the park, will sport new paint, special banners and other embellishments including a big number "50" for the celebration.

* Space Mountain, one of Disneyland's most popular roller coasters, has been enhanced with new "rocket ships" and new effects including an encounter with a meteorite.

* Walt Disney's Parade of Dreams is a new parade, one of the biggest ever staged at Disney parks, featuring more than 100 performers, floats rising to 20 ft., confetti showers, choreographed musical numbers, and of course, Disney's beloved characters.

* Block Party Bash, a new street party, will fill Disney's California Adventure, Disneyland's sister park, with music, excitement and fun.

At Walt Disney World in Orlando, the celebration also reaches fairytale proportions. It is highlighted by several new attractions - four of which have been imported from other Disney parks around the world.

"We're giving Walt Disney World guests a chance to sample Disney magic from three continents," said Al Weiss, Walt Disney World President.

The new attractions, which are being imported from Tokyo Disneyland, Disney's California Adventure and Walt Disney Studios Paris to the four Disney theme parks in Orlando (the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney-MGM and Disney's Animal Kingdom) include:

  • "Cinderellabration" - A musical spectacular direct from Tokyo Disneyland, this show will be presented in front of Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom several times daily. The live stage show continues the "happily ever-after" story of Cinderella, with Disney's most beloved princesses gathering to celebrate Cinderella's coronation.
  • "Soarin'" - An import from Disney's California Adventure at Epcot, it enables visitors to "take to the skies" in a thrilling hang-gliding journey over the wonders of the Golden State. The "flight" ends - appropriately-with an aerial view of Disneyland itself. Also new in Epcot is a preview attraction showing scale-models and renderings of the new Hong Kong Disneyland, the 11th Disney park, which is slated to open in that picturesque corner of China in December.
  • "Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show" - This spectacular comes to the Disney-MGM Studios from the Walt Disney Studios Paris and spotlights the bombastic best of stunt masters several times daily. Filled with high-octane energy and choreographed thrills, the live show sends cars, motorcycles and watercraft careening across a re-creation of a European village. The attraction has a 5,000-seat grandstand.
  • "Lucky the dinosaur" - Lucky comes to Disney's Animal Kingdom from the California Adventure park, Disneyland's sister park. A lifelike Audio-Animatronics creature -the first such free-roaming one-it can laugh, sneeze, bray and even hiccup. Lucky will roam the park's DinoLand U.S.A. section, talking with guests and signing autographs.

New attractions, not imported from other parks, at Disney World include Crush 'N' Gusher, opening March 15. It is a white-knuckle "water coaster" thrill ride at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park. While riding it, visitors are whisked along a series of flumes and spill-ways that weave through what appears to be a rusted-out tropical fruit facility. Guests slip and slide through torrents of gushing water, with gravity-defying conditions caused by recent "typhoons" that create crushing bursts, propelling visitors through cavernous twists and turns. The ride will have three "fruit spill-ways" to choose from, each ranging between 410 to 420 feet in length with varying degrees of slopes and turns.

Opening later in the celebration year is Expedition Everest. A thrill attraction in Disney's Animal Kingdom, it will be an adventure themed to the world's highest mountain and will include an encounter with the yeti.

IF YOU GO - Visit www.disneyworld.com or www.disneyland.com. Passengers sailing out of Florida on the Disney Cruise Line may arrange for pre- and post- cruise packages through the cruise line. Visit www.disneycruise.com.


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