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Ariel and more: What’s coming to Disney World

Homework, homework. To preview what’s coming to Florida’s theme parks, I visited California Adventure Park at Disneyland in Southern California and rode The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. The ride opened there in May and is under construction at Magic Kingdom in Orlando, scheduled to open next fall as Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid. Little mermaid attraction rendering

It’s a sweet ride, targeting girls who love Ariel and anyone who loves the music from the movie. Mechanically, the cars and track layout are set up much like the Haunted Mansion, with clamshell-shaped cars that move relatively slowly – but with no hitchhiking ghosts. We’re welcomed by Scuttle the Seagull, and soon head for the first big scene, "Under the Sea." It’s a dark, indoor ride but not a scary one, and the scenes with scores of animatronic characters are set to the music of the movie.

The ride is part of the expansion of Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom, a project that will be completed in phases during 2012 and 2013.

A truly fabulous attraction at California Adventure Park is World of Color, a light show in which classic Disney scenes and characters are projected on a wall of water created by a thousand jets of water. The effect is stunning. The show opened in California in 2010, but Disney World so far has no plans to build it there. C’mon, Disney, bring it to Florida!

What Disney World is getting as a first is a theme-park "land" in Animal Kingdom based on the movie Avatar, tentatively scheduled to open in 2016. The attractions will be based on the film’s fictional world of Pandora. Construction is expected to begin in 2013 and is projected to cost about half a billion dollars.

The rendering above, from Disney World, shows the Journey of the Little Mermaid ride now under construction.