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Guests take a spin on the Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride on March 12, 2012. The first part of the attraction features Dumbo spinning clockwise for the first time in Magic Kingdom history.

David Roark

A Disney cruise leaving from Port Canaveral, Fla., would probably be strange without a visit to Walt Disney World in nearby Orlando, either before or afterward.

In the centre of the Magic Kingdom last week, a wide chunk of Fantasyland attractions are under construction. As one of the Magic Kingdom's original parks, the area is set for a major expansion and scheduled to open in phases, starting this spring.

A small section of the new "Storybook Circus" area was already up and running, including the shiny new Dumbo ride and an old-fashioned-looking new station for Disney's relaxing park-circling steam train. The pavement under the Dumbo lineup is embedded with scattered peanut shells, no doubt meant to have been dropped from Dumbo's own snout. But the new Barnstormer kid-friendly roller coaster shut down briefly while we were there, as a squadron of Disney staff scurried about and patrons were turned away.

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Disney says it is the largest expansion of the attraction in its history. When completed over the coming years, Fantasyland will double in size, with new rides and experiences designed to "immerse" guests in the company's seemingly endless supply of princesses.

At the zenith of the flying Dumbo ride, we could see the towers of the yet-to-be completed "Beast's Castle" from Beauty and the Beast in the distance.

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