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New Fantasyland officially opens in Orlando

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla -

Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom marks the grand opening of its new Fantasyland Thursday with new and reimagined attractions inspired by Dumbo, "Beauty and the Beast," and "The Little Mermaid."

It's the largest expansion project in the park's 41-year history, doubling the size of the original Fantasyland.

The central Florida theme park near Orlando is blending classic Disney tales and newer, popular hits with the multimillion dollar expansion.

The new Fantasyland sits just past Cinderella Castle, with two sections: Enchanted Forest, where visitors will find Belle from "Beauty and the Beast" and Ariel from "The Little Mermaid," and Storybook Circus, which is inspired by the Disney film "Dumbo."

VIEW PHOTOS: Fantasyland Expansion

Among the highlights: a ride called Under the Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid, which tells Ariel's story, and Enchanted Tales With Belle, a walk-through experience that features a magical mirror and costumed characters.

Be Our Guest Restaurant is also new. Folks who eat lunch will be served at the counter, while dinner guests will be served tableside. It will also serve wine and beer with dinner, which is the first time alcohol is being sold at the Magic Kingdom.

Some of the old favorites have been improved. An additional Dumbo ride was added, two castles were built and the Barnstormer rollercoaster was remodeled. Other areas were spruced up and redecorated.

Two of Fantasyland's highlights have yet to open. A ride called Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is still under construction, as is Princess Fairytale Hall - where guests can go to meet all of their favorite Disney princesses at once. Disney officials said the princess experience will open next year and the ride is expected to open in 2014.

For Disney traditionalists, never fear: Many of the park's longstanding beloved attractions like Cinderella Castle, and rides based on "It's a Small World" and "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" remain open.

___

Follow Tamara Lush on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tamaralush

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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