Beast bids visitors to “be
his guest” at Walt Disney
World’s New Fantasyland.
(Inset) With 3-D, Universal’s
attraction will get guests’
“spidey senses” tingling.
By T. Foster Jones
AS SOMEONE WHO loves theme parks and
movies, I have been particularly interested in
the growing trend at some parks to transform
movie experiences into live attractions. When
I recently walked through Walt Disney World’s
New Fantasyland and the Universal Orlando
Resort, I found myself walking into live stories.
Expanding Universal’s universe
Not resting on its 2010 Harry Potter and
the Wizarding World laurels, Universal has
been busy upgrading or creating new attractions along this movie-to-attraction theme.
;e Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, one
of its most popular theme park experiences, is
now mind-blowingly better. All-new 4K digital high-de;nition animation, a new highly
sophisticated 3-D projection system, a new
music score and new high-tech 3-D glasses let
guests experience “spider ;ight” like Spider-Man himself.
“;e Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
was so wonderful before,” says comic book
icon and Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee. “But
now—with all of the new technology that’s
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been added—it is indescribably spectacular.”
And, in the coming months, Universal
will be introducing another major new ;lm-based attraction. A $100 million 3-D ride
based on the Transformers movies will bring
the intergalactic battle between the Autobots
and the Decepticons to Florida in summer
2013. Visitors will come face to face with
Megatron, dodge explosions and attacks by
the Decepticons and ;ght to save mankind
alongside Optimus Prime.
“We want to continue to transform pop
culture’s most compelling stories and characters into amazing theme park entertainment
experiences,” says Tom Schroder, Universal’s
vice president of corporate communications.
“To accomplish those things, we must continually push ourselves toward more powerful
and innovative attraction experiences.”
Making Fantasy(land) a reality
The largest expansion project in Walt
Disney World’s 41-year history, the New
Fantasyland doubles the size of the original.
Sitting just past Cinderella Castle, the new
area features two sections: Enchanted Forest,
where visitors will ;nd Belle from Beauty and
the Beast and Ariel from ;e Little Mermaid,
and Storybook Circus, which is inspired by
the Disney ;lm Dumbo.
“It’s really about immersing people in a
number of stories, characters and music that
they love,” says Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT
WALT DISNE Y RESOR T
Chairman Tom Staggs.
A big part of that immersive quality is the
level of detail that Disney brings to, well, everything (even the wait lines at many of the new
attractions have been designed to entertain
adults or provide play for restless youngsters).
From the forest setting and Beast’s Castle, to
Maurice’s Cottage—which creates an experience where the magic mirror becomes a portal
into Beast’s Castle, and guests can have engaging encounters with Belle and a startlingly realistic three-dimensional Lumière—no element
is too tiny to overlook.
“Disney is known for layering in the
detail,” says Chris Beatty, creative director of
New Fantasyland. “Our goal has been to blow
away not only casual fans of the ;lms, but also
the die-hard fans who know those ;lms for-
ward and backward, and who notice even the
most subtle details.”
“We live to get even the smallest details
right,” adds Bruce Vaughn, chief creative
executive of Walt Disney Imagineering. “Even
the projected snow that can be seen falling
outside the windows [of Beast’s castle] was
inspired by the movie.”
“We even spent time with some of the
;lms’ original animators, who o;ered their
very personal perspectives on these stories
and characters,” says Beatty. “All of that
research was invaluable as we worked to turn
those very familiar ;lm worlds into immedi-
ately recognizable physical worlds.” C