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Banner day for Walt Disney World as New Fantasyland, Test Track 2.0 and Pirates attraction open to guests

New Fantasyland Grand Opening with Mickey

December 6, 2012 was a big day for Walt Disney World, with major new and updated attractions making their official debuts at three of the resort's four theme parks.

The main event was the grand opening of the expanded New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, which was preceded by a high-profile stunt in which a "flying dragon" took to the skies above the park. Meanwhile, at Epcot, the refurbished Test Track - Presented by Chevrolet is now fully up-and-running, while the Pirates of the Caribbean-themed The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow is also open at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Previews of New Fantasyland have been taking place since November 19, with the updated area now being fully open to all guests at the Magic Kingdom. The Storybook Circus section, which hosts duel Dumbo the Flying Elephant rides and the Barnstormer - Hosted by the Great Goofini roller coaster opened earlier this year. This left the Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid dark ride and the Beauty and the Beast-themed Belle's Village area as the major new elements for the grand opening.

New Fantasyland Grand Opening

Image © Disney

Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid is almost identical to The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure, which opened at Disney California Adventure on June 3, 2011. It features an OmniMover ride system similar to that used in the Haunted Mansion ride, and is hosted in a recreation of Prince Eric's Castle as seen in the movie.

Another castle, the Beast's Castle, dominates the Belle's Village area. It hosts the heavily-themed Be Our Guest restaurant, which offers quick-service dining at lunch times and a full table service during the evening. The area also hosts a second restaurant dubbed Gaston's Tavern, a retail outlet called Bonjour! Village Gifts and Belle's father's cottage. In the cottage, guests are able to interact with the movie's heroine, as the classic story is re-told in the Enchanted Tales with Belle experience.

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs was on hand to open New Fantasyland, as can be seen in the official video below:

Although Disney is billing the December 6 celebrations as the grand opening of the expanded "New Fantasyland", it won't be fully completed until the debut of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster in 2014. Large construction walls still sit at the heart of the land, where Disney is in the process of installing the ride.

Test Track - Presented by Chevrolet cars

Image © Disney

At Epcot, fans queued to design their own custom "SimCar" as part of the updated Tes Track experience, which has seen Chevrolet take over as the attraction's sponsor from parent company General Motors. First opened in 1999, the ride takes guests through a simulated set of tests on their car. It sees riders seated in mock vehicles as they traverse a set of low-speed indoor tests before racing at speeds of up to 65 miles per hour around an outdoor section.

The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow

Image © Disney

Finally, at Disney's Hollywood Studios, The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow is now officially open. The new addition to the park is a walkthrough experience based on the smash-hit movie series, rather than the original Pirates of the Caribbean theme park ride. It offers guests a view of key moments in the films from the perspective of Captain Jack Sparrow, and has replaced the former Journey into Narnia: Prince Caspian attraction.

You can keep up to date with the latest confirmed and rumored opening dates for new attractions through Theme Park Tourist's "New Attraction Watch" section, and by signing up for our weekly newsletter.

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