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From the moment the first notes played out over the parade route, audiences were in love with the new Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade at the Magic Kingdom. At the very end of the route crowds broke out into spontaneous and sustained applause for both the creators and performers of this fantastic parade. I think they have a real hit on their hands.

Yes. The parade does involve a few ‘recycled’ elements. But that is a long honored tradition among Disney theme parks, something that dates back to the ‘never throw it away’ mentality of Hollywood studios where much of the original creative team for Disneyland were poached. Also, like most of Disney’s recent parades, you could ask for maybe another unit or two of floats. But at nine units and 100 dancers and performers, the parade feels as large as the Magic Kingdom. It really takes multiple viewings to take in everything. So it’s a shame that it only performs once per day.

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I hope you will be able to make it to the Magic Kingdom to see it in person yourself. But if that’s not on the agenda, here’s my full video of the parade from its second day.

I also had the opportunity to interview a few of the creative team responsible for Disney Festival of Fantasy. Among the things I learned, two of the floats have special tributes to previous Magic Kingdom parades, each of the floats has a hidden mickey on it, even some of the costumes feature hidden mickeys. Two of the floats were imported from Japan. Tokyo Disneyland’s Jubilation parade donated the Princess Garden unit and the Finale unit.

Below the break, I have more photos, a description of each parade unit, and that interview with the creative team.

Editor: Please welcome back guest author Zoë Periale with her review of Disneyland’s newest stage show:

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Mickey and the Magical Map is a new show in Disneyland’s Fantasyland Theatre. Many people will know this location to previously house The Princess Fantasy Faire, Snow White: An Enchanting Musical, or one of it’s many other previous shows and events. Upon taking your seat in the theater the first thing you’ll see is naturally, the stage. When not in use a large cloth reminiscent of Yen Sid’s sorcerer’s hat from Fantasia’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice covers what soon will be revealed as the map itself. Surrounding the map and it’s cover are large panels of gold trimmed cartoonish wood as well as multiple buckets of paint.

When the show begins, you are quickly introduced to the main characters. Yen Sid, the Sorcerer who presides not only over the map and his workshop, but as Mickey’s Mentor. Mickey Mouse himself in his classic Sorcerer’s Apprentice robes, as well as a cast of characters called map makers. The story of the show goes as this; Mickey once again is getting ahead of himself, frustrated at simply being an apprentice. Desiring to paint the map like the other map makers, he is not yet allowed as he has not learned the secret of the map; which is the key to graduating from his apprentice role. Chaos ensues as once again, Yen Sid puts too much faith in Mickey and leaves him alone with the map and a paint brush. As seen in the Fantasia Short or even the Junction Point series of video games, Epic Mickey, our curious hero can’t be trusted alone with anything that may be magical.

Tom Staggs

Last night, the media was invited to get acquainted with New Fantasyland expansion at the Magic Kingdom at a special party. When Tom Staggs moved from Disney CFO to Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts he played an important role in moving the expansion away from a princess and pixie dominated attraction mix and into the more balanced mix of attractions it will become when the Mine Train opens in 2014. So it was great to have him give an introduction to the expansion, even if reading off the teleprompter isn’t quite second nature to him yet.

The presentation featured a few clips of Imagineers sharing their excitement for the land and a special new computer simulation of what riding the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster would be like.

Here is the presentation given to the media in its entirety. If you just want to see the new version of the virtual Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Ride, I’ve highlighted that in it’s own video below the jump

That was it. The media will get a larger presentation on what’s new and what’s next on Friday morning. So stay tuned.