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Fairies at Work

Meanwhile, over at Disneyland, they are busy putting the finishing touches on three new or reworked attractions in Fantasyland. The Pixie Hollow area we told you about early this year is getting ready to open by Halloween. Basically set up as an elaborate outdoor walk through, the success of the Princess Fantasy Faire in attracting little girls and their parents wallets was the guiding principle here. Burbank has big plans for this new Pixie franchise and the potential merchandise sales at the parks and the malls, so expect them to push this thing hard for the Christmas season.

Pixie ghetto
Pixie Hollow last Sunday.

Across the way at Sleeping Beauty Castle, the original Disneyland walk-through is getting ready to debut for the holiday season. This one should be the charming, small scale cousin to the larger and brasher Pixie Hollow, but it will likely be more popular with the diehard Disney fans for purely sentimental reasons. People who have previewed the Castle walk through say that the lighting and artistry is stunning.

small world; big changes

And then there's the third remade attraction in Fantasyland, the beloved it's a small world. We've broken several stories on the small world saga over the past year, much to the annoyance of both TDA and Burbank. The truth that the circa 1964 boats were increasingly getting stuck under the weight of circa 2008 bottoms was an embarrassing story that Disney didn't want to touch with a ten foot churro.

Faced with reports on the weighty matter from media outlets around the country, and reports by actual park visitors that they had been asked to step out of boats that got stuck in the flume, TDA finally issued a terse reply that it was actually a "build up of fiberglass" in the flume that was causing the boats to stop, and not the actual weight of their valued customers.

Churro-proofing
Recent testing of the new, more buoyant, small world boats

This excuse was hysterical to anyone who had recently worked a shift at it's a small world, as it is widely known that the heavy boats often first come to a stop in the tight S curves just inside the building, where the flume has no seams to repair and where no fiberglass patching had been done. Ride operators also know that a boat full of lanky girl scouts somehow never has a problem, but a boat with too many large people in it suddenly encounters TDA's mysterious fiberglass build up.

Regardless of what was causing the boats to ride lower in the water, what really got Disney's goat was when we ran the news that they were planning on adding Disney character dolls to all the sets inside the classic 1960's ride, and were considering replacing the Rainforest and Papua New Guinea scene with an "Americana" scene. That really sent both Glendale and Burbank into damage control mode, and not since we told you about Tom Sawyer Island being changed into Pirates Lair have we gotten the evil eye from Disney like we did with that one.

And now, with the attraction six weeks away from reopening, we can tell you that the original Rainforest and Papua New Guinea scenes from the 1964 World's Fair have in fact been removed from the room between the Polynesian scene and the Grand Finale. In their place, the latest version of the "Americana" scene has just been installed.

So...
small world at Disneyland Paris

As your boat drifts through the gentle curve of that room you will pass by pastel colored versions of haystacks, cactus, football stadiums and modern cities. Multi-cultural American children will sing next to Pixar's Woody as your more buoyant new boat nears the end of its voyage 'round the world. You will have passed plenty of other Disney characters by this point as well, as they join the children of the world in song just as they have in Hong Kong's eight minute long version of the fifteen minute long Disneyland original.

...garish
small world at Disneyland Paris

However, should you visit the attraction in November, the only change you'll likely notice is the new plastic boats that conveniently float several inches higher in the water. Why? Because the new Americana scene will be hidden this Christmas season behind the floor-to-ceiling black curtains that always shield that part of the ride during the Holiday remake, with the shiny goodwill slogans hanging from the ceiling. The newly added Disney characters will also be hidden from view for the Holiday version this year. But once the attraction closes again in January to take down all the Christmas lights and decorations, the Disney characters and the Americana scene will be revealed later in the winter.

It's hoped that this two-phased opening of small world, with most of the big changes hidden from view at first, will lessen the impact of any unflattering media frenzy that might flare up again. Time will tell on that one, especially now that the word is out, but there are plenty of folks in TDA and Glendale who were not amused when the story first got away from them.

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2008 Al Lutz

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