The world of fantasy awaits visitors to Walt Disney World in Orlando and at Great Wolf Lodges across the country. Now you can immerse your favorite youngsters in the world of make-believe, where they can interact with some of their favorite storybook characters.
In Florida, Disney’s Imagineers have opened the largest expansion to the Magic Kingdom in the park’s more than 40-year history. Located just beyond Cinderella’s Castle, Fantasyland offers an Enchanted Forest where elephants fly, castles touch the sky, beauty meets the beast and a mermaid plays under the sea.
Enter a clamshell to take an underwater adventure with the Little Mermaid. “Under the Sea” tells the story of Ariel and her cast of characters. You won’t get wet, but will feel a wind and a slight splash of water as the adventure begins.
Next cross a stone bridge to a charming French village where Belle awaits to tell “Enchanted Tales.” Follow a stone pathway to Maurice’s cottage, where a magic mirror is the doorway to step right into the story of Beauty and the Beast.
High up on a mountain, the castle of the Beast stands majestically. Crossing the drawbridge can be tricky as gargoyles on lamp posts guard every step, but it’s worth the trip to dine at Be Our Guest, the newest restaurant at Disney World. Entering the tall, ornate gates, you pass through a hallway where knights in armor check you out and discuss whether or not you should be admitted to the castle.
Dine in the elegant ballroom with giant chandeliers, or the mysterious West Wing of the castle. Tall arched windows offer views of the French countryside where a light snow is falling. With seating for 550, Be Our Guest offers a French-inspired lunch or dinner.
It’s always fun when the circus comes to town, and Disney’s “Storybook Circus” provides a fun day for all ages. Kids can take a cooling break among the circus wagons where monkeys, elephants and camels squirt water over their guests. There’s even a misty spray from the engine Casey Jr.
Look up in amazement to see not one, but two Dumbos spinning through the sky above the Storybook Circus. The Barnstormer coaster offers aerial acrobatics.
Trains are a part of circus history, and the Fantasyland Train Station pays homage to the elegant train travel of America’s past. Walt Disney loved trains and a Casey Jr. weathervane and Carolwood Park sign represent the steam engine Disney had running through his own backyard. The Magic Kingdom passenger train stops here, and whisks you back to the main gate after your visit.
After a day of fun, the storybook fantasy continues at the Art of Imagination Resort, where guests can move right into their favorite Disney story.
The resort features family suites that sleep six, with plenty of room to bring along a grandparent or two. Four themes from Disney films — Cars, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King or Finding Nemo — immerse guests in the story. Don’t be surprised if Bruce the shark swims by on the shower curtain.
Crush the turtle and four noisy sea gulls stand guard at the 310,000-gallon Little Mermaid pool, where the characters can be heard conversing under water. Landscaping around the pool, the largest at Disney World, is reminiscent of kelp.
Lightning McQueen and Mater stand guard at the Cars Resort where a paved street leads to the pool area, and cabanas are shaped like road cones. Cars fans will be delighted to stay here.
Whatever your favorite Disney tale is, you’ll be right at home at this resort. For reservations call 407-939-7923, or visit www.disneyworld.disney.go.com.
Great Wolf Lodges across the country have added a touch of magic with their new MagiQuest Game. This interactive adventure game takes players through the resort via a magic wand where they explore an enchanted kingdom.
After a brief stint in the magic wand training school, players move throughout the entire resort from one themed setting to another. Along the way they learn from an ancient wizard, befriend a pixie, and battle a dragon. Along with unlocking the mysteries, the wand also creates music, activates animatronics and opens treasure chests.
Behind the scenes, the game is built on a proprietary technology platform that is customized exclusively for Great Wolf Resorts Inc. Guests may return to MagiQuest at any time, at any Great Wolf location.
Both children and adults enjoy MagiQuest; small children like to just wave their wands to light up a scene, while teens and adults work their way through the quests described in the Ancient Book of Wisdom.
For the ultimate fantasy experience, the resort’s store features medieval-themed costumes for knights, princes and princesses, and even dragons.
Great Wolf Lodges are all-inclusive resorts, with family suites, indoor and outdoor water parks, restaurants, the Northern Lights arcade and Cub Club activities for young guests.
There are 11 Great Wolf locations, in Sandusky and Mason, Ohio; Wisconsin Dells, Wis.; Traverse City, Mich.; Kansas City, Kansas; Williamsburg, Va.; Grapevine, Texas; Grand Mound, Wash.; Concord, N.C.; the Pocono Montains in Pennsylvania; and Niagara Falls, Canada.
For more information visit www.greatwolf.com.