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Pixie-Dusted Pre- & Post-Cruise
 Options In Florida & California

Cars Land comes to life at Disneyland, Anaheim
By Georgina Cruz

Planning a voyage with the family out of Florida or California ports this summer? Good timing, as much magic awaits you on pre- or post-cruise stays at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts! Our family hit both this spring and here are some of our favorite new attractions and lodgings.

Florida

New Attractions: Visitors who have not come to Walt Disney World Resort since last summer, will find a new pixie-dusted world in the New Fantasyland launched in December of 2012. The largest expansion project in Magic Kingdom history, it features attractions and experiences in an area that doubles the size of Fantasyland. New elements include: Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, a ride that takes visitors on an adventure with Ariel under and over the sea; Enchanted Tales with Belle, an interactive attraction that tells the “tale as old as time;” and the Be Our Guest Restaurant, where visitors can dine in the Beast’s Castle. Other new attractions include Gaston’s Tavern, themed to “Beauty and the Beast;” Ariel’s Grotto, where fans of the Little Mermaid can meet her and pose for pictures: Dumbo the Flying Elephant, everyone’s favorite pachyderm—now with two rides; The Great Goofini family coaster, and Casey Jr. Splash ‘n’ Soak Station. New for 2013 is the Princess Fairytale Hall, opening later this year. This is where Aurora, Cinderella and other Disney princesses, such as Tiana and Rapunzel, will greet guests in an elegant royal court. The Princess Fairytale Hall in the Castle Courtyard, has walls of stone and stained glass windows. And a 2014 opening is now scheduled for The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, taking visitors on a musical ride into the mine “where a million diamonds shine.”

Other novelties to check out include a re-imagined Test Track by Chevrolet ride that opened in Epcot’s Future World section in December. A new interactive quest, A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas in Adventureland at Magic Kingdom Park is new for 2013. In A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas, guests use a pirate map and ‘magic’ talisman to help them complete five different pirate raids throughout Adventureland. The goal is to help locate different Treasures of the Seven Seas and fight off pirate enemies like the Royal Navy and Captain Barbossa, among others. New swashbuckling fun also awaits visitors at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow experience. Opened in late December, it gives guests a chance to become immersed in the action and adventure of the four “Pirates of the Caribbean” films. Aspiring buccaneers journey deep into an eerie lost grotto, where a mysterious pirate skull puts them to the test to see if they have what it takes to set sail with Captain Jack’s crew. Along the way, they must face the perils of a pirate’s life as favorite moments from the films come to life. State-of-the-art technology brings the pirate’s life to guests, including an epic ship-to-ship battle. The attraction is located in Soundstage 4 near Pixar Place.

Favorite Lodgings: In the resorts front, our family’s favorite is Disney’s Grand Floridian. A deluxe property near the Magic Kingdom and on the monorail track, it is themed to the turn of the century—with Victorian décor and staff in period dress. It opened a new Senses-A Disney Spa this spring and is slated to open the Disney Vacation Club’s Grand Floridian Vacation Villas, with luxurious accommodations featuring kitchenettes or kitchens and other comforts of home later this year. The new Senses-A Disney Spa blends the turn-of-the-century elegance and modern accoutrements of the Grand Floridian Resort with a dash of Disney whimsy—there is a playful Mad Hatter-themed chair for kids’ pedicures. From water therapy and rejuvenating citrus facials, to Jacuzzi rooms with handmade glass mosaic tiles, the spa is an oasis of relaxation with variations in lighting color and music that harmonizes with the chosen treatments—ideal after an active day in the theme parks. Fifteen treatments rooms offer a variety of options including massages, facials, and manicure/pedicure for visitors looking for a little pampering. And there are added treats: spa goers can sample tasty miniature carrot zucchini cupcakes (or dark chocolate banana, depending on season) plus cucumber-basil infused water, and antioxidant gummies with flavors like mango curry.

Another option? Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is a new economy category hotel, near Disney’s Pop Century Resort, inspired by Disney animation features with 1,120 family suites themed after “The Lion King,” “Cars” and “Finding Nemo,” and 864 themed rooms in “The Little Mermaid” wings. Animation themes carry throughout building exteriors and room interiors and feature larger-than-life icons from the animated films in courtyard areas. Crowned by a 35-foot-tall model of King Triton, the new resort is located next to Disney’s Pop Century Resort.

Info:
disneyworld.com

California

New Attractions: That genius of family entertainment, Walt Disney, himself proclaimed Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as “the Happiest Place on Earth” but now after five years of expansion at the Disney California Adventure Park, next to Disneyland, it is even happier. The largest piece of the expansion, Cars Land, was inaugurated in 2012 and features 12 acres that bring the town of Radiator Springs to life, just as guests remember it from the Disney-Pixar animated movie, “Cars.”

“The crown jewel of our Disney California Adventure expansion, Cars Land is the extraordinary result of a close collaboration between the gifted filmmakers at Pixar Animation Studios and our talented Imagineers and cast members,” said Bob Iger, chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company. “It’s also a spectacular example of our ability to take our characters and stories and bring them to life in new and unexpected ways.”

Three family attractions showcase places and characters from the movie: Luigi’s Flying Tires, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree and Radiator Springs Racers, one of the largest and most elaborate attractions created for a Disney theme park. Themed shops and restaurants also look familiar to fans of the movie, including Flo’s V8 Café, Cozy Cone Motel and Ramone’s House of Body Art. The Radiator Springs locals are at home, so Lightning McQueen and Mater make appearances and pose for photos near the Cozy Cone Motel.

The centerpiece of Cars Land is Radiator Springs Racers, a high-octane, indoor/outdoor adventure that revs through the beautiful mountains of Ornament Valley. Guests board cars, each with their own personality, for a scenic road trip that takes them through Radiator Springs, with a stop at either Luigi’s Casa Della Tires or Ramone’s House of Body Art. After getting some final racing tips from Doc Hudson, the cars zoom over the roadways in a nose-to-nose, high-speed race, never knowing which car may win.

Elsewhere in Cars Land, Luigi invites guests to test-drive his new shipment of Fettuccini-brand “Cuscino D’Aria” tires—which are just like riding on air (or being on an enormous air hockey table). At this festival of flying tires, riders lean left and right aboard Luigi’s Flying Tires, floating and bumping along in a 21st century attraction reminiscent of the classic Disneyland Flying Saucers attraction. Festive music adds to the fun.

Mater provides his own unique siren song, courtesy of a Junkyard Jukebox that has lured baby tractors into Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. There, the tractors dance to Mater’s hoedown tune, swinging guests around in trailers they are pulling behind them. It’s a “tow-si-do” square dance to a playlist of seven songs sung by Mater himself.

The streets of Radiator Springs hum with entertainment, too. DJ, the ultimate party car—a big road-trippin’ mobile boom box with giant speakers and built-in disc changer—invites his crew to “DJ’s Dance ‘n Drive,” an interactive dance party. And Red the Fire Truck recruits guests of all ages to join “Red to the Rescue!”— helping water the flowers and clean up the town of Radiator Springs. (Prepare to get wet!)

The road leading into Cars Land is dotted with large animated neon signs reminiscent of the ’50s era of cross-country travel along Route 66. As with other aspects of the land, the neon signs are three-dimensional representations of recognizable landmarks from the movie “Cars,” and they come to life each night at sundown when it’s cruisin’ time along the boulevard. A selection of Cars Land and other Disney and Disney-Pixar gifts and souvenirs can be found at the shops in Radiator Springs.

Dining options in Cars Land include Flo’s V8 Café, modeled on the quirky roadside eateries along old Route 66. The café serves full meals from a quick-service counter. A windowed “showroom” dining area and adjoining outdoor patio offer views of Cadillac Mountain Range and the vehicles zooming by in Radiator Springs Racers. Next door at Disneyland Park, novelties include an enchanting village next to Sleeping Beauty Castle where stories of Disney’s fairytale heroes and heroines come to life. At The Royal Hall, youngsters and the young at heart can meet Disney royalty in surroundings featuring a beautiful gothic interior with chandeliers and fine woods, and at The Royal Theatre visitors can enjoy two new shows: one with Belle from “Beauty and the Beast,” and the other with Flynn and Rapunzel from “Tangled.”

Favorite Lodgings: Disney’s Grand Californian, a deluxe resort has direct access, via a private gateway, to Disney’s California Adventure Park and is also steps away from Disneyland and the Downtown Disney shopping and dining district. The Grand Californian, inspired in the Arts & Crafts-style of architecture popular in California in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is a cross between two Disney World’s hotels: the Wilderness Lodge with its craftsmanship and rustic feel and the Grand Floridian Resort with its elegant ambiance and excellent service. The Grand Californian offers rooms and Disney Vacation Club Villas (the latter boasting kitchenettes or full kitchens and other such home-like comforts like washer/dryers). Many of the accommodations offer spectacular views into Disney’s California Adventure Park, the resort’s “backyard.” Other amenities include a spa, swimming pools, Pinocchio’s Workshop (child activity center), guest laundry, shops, gas barbeque grills, and restaurants, including the Napa Rose with Wine Country cuisine.

Info:
disneyland.com

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