It looks like Disney will bring a major new princess meet and greet to Disneyland, too. Fantasy Faire will replace Carnation Gardens, as announced by Disney Parks Chairman Tom Staggs and and Disneyland Resort President George Kalogridis during the Disney Parks & Resorts presentation at the D23 Expo today.
Fantasy Faire will include the Tangled Tower, where visitors can meet the various Disney princesses. There will be new dining and merchandise in this Fantasyland expansion, as well as a Maypole-like ribbon dance in the afternoons, where guests will join the princesses.
A new performance stage will be included, which will continue to host Carnation Gardens' popular swing dancing in the evenings, Staggs said. No opening date was given for the project, nor was there a closing date announced for Carnation Gardens.
Just before announcing Fantasy Faire, Kalogridis and Staggs also teased new "special experiences" for guests at Disneyland Park, including dinners with Imagineers inside the Haunted Mansion, drinking a Tahitian Punch at the old Tahitian Terrace in Adventureland and reliving a showing of "America the Beautiful" in CircleVision 360.
Neither followed up with any details about these teases, but let me take a guess - Disneyland's working on more limited admission, hard-ticket events for the resort, and will be drawing upon former attractions for the themes of some of these events.
Beyond Fantasy Faire, the other somewhat big news at the Expo was the reveal of a few new details about the upcoming Shanghai Disneyland. Staggs and Bob Weis from Walt Disney Imagineering played a video simulation of the new Enchanted Storybook Castle that will stand in the center of the park - the first Disney castle not themed to an individual princess.
The multi-level castle will include a walk-through attraction (like Disneyland), a table-service restaurant (like Disney World), a princess meet and greet, and a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique on the first floor.
The castle's basement also will be the final scene in an as-yet unnamed boat ride that will float through the rest of Fantasyland.
Staggs and Weis said that Disney's Chinese partner is doing site prep work now, and that Disney won't actually begin its construction on the park until next spring. From Weis' comment that "we're well into the blue sky phase of development" on Shanghai Disneyland, it's clear that design work on the park continues, which is why we're not hearing more details about attractions in the park.
Beyond the princess meet and greet, of course.
The seemingly-ubiquitous major princess meet and greet is one of the major features of the New Fantasyland project at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, which was the centerpiece announcement during the first D23 Expo, in 2009. Disney also revealed some fresh details about that project today, specifically about the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Coaster, which has been added to the New Fantasyland project since the 2009 D23 Expo announcement. Here's a computer POV simulation of the new ride:
We've known that the mine train cars will swing as they circle the ride's track. But we got our first look at them in action in a video in the Disney Parks & Resorts pavilion on the D23 Expo show floor:
Here's a mock-up of the train car:
And here's a look a model of the Mine Train ride, on display in the pavilion:
You can get a fuller look at the New Fantasyland model in this video from Disney:
In addition, we heard that Disney Imagineering has developed a Lumiere animatronic for the Belle meet and greet location, which WDI's Bruce Vaughn called "one of toughest animatronics we've ever worked on." Vaughn also revealed that there will be an interacrive element in the queue for the Florida version of The Little Mermaid ride, a scavenger hunt with Scuttle, where visitors are invited to help find whosits and whatsits.
Staggs also reviewed the ongoing construction at Disney California Adventure at the Aulani resort in Hawaii, though we didn't hear anything that we didn't hear at the "What's Next" presentation inside Cars Land last June. We did see a fresh construction photo of the Route 66 section of the Cars Land site:
And I snapped a couple photos of the ride vehicles for Radiator Springs Racers and Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, on display in the Disney Parks pavilion:
Disney also today has released the video fly-through of the new Buena Vista Street entrance to California Adventure:
Chef Andrew Sutton of the acclaimed Napa Rose restaurant in the Theme Park Insider Award-winning Disney's Grand Californian Hotel is developing the new table-service restaurant that will be going into the Carthay Circle Theater that anchors Buena Vista Street. And Staggs and Kalogridis teased a 2012 announcement of the expansion of Club 33-like membership club opportunities at the Disneyland Resort, which could mean a club inside the Carthay Circle, too.
Update: Saturday's news was that Disney will be adding a new Walt and Mickey statue to Buena Vista Street, one that depicts an young Walt and early Mickey to match the 1920s theme of the street. Here's a Disney publicity photo of the model for the statue:
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