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When Beauty and the Beast‘s French-themed restaurant opens in Walt Disney World come November, it may want to ask Oprah to be its first guest. Last week, Walt Disney Company CFO Jay Rasulo revealed the near-completed Enchanted Forest area may have never come to fruition without an indirect nudge from the ABC veteran.
During a question-and-answer session at Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference Rasulo said the idea for Fantasyland upgrades were triggered by a nugget in “O Magazine” that suggested overcrowding in the park’s current area:
“I am not a regular reader of O Magazine, but I have seen it from time to time because, remember, mothers are our customer in parks and resorts. They make a lot of the vacation decisions. And O Magazine said I don’t know 10 years ago now maybe eight years ago that 66% of their readers thought Walt Disney World was the toughest place to be in the middle of the summer because of overcrowding. And I kinda ripped the page out and I called the folks that were running our business at that time and said I really want to look into this.”
After research, they found this to be exactly true.
“It turned out that when we studied day after day, something they knew, but informed me
of in a very statistical way that there are many days that Fantasyland was an uncomfortable place to be.”
In response, the decision was made to expand and add more content to the Magic Kingdom for the first time since 1972.
According to Rasulo, the Magic Kingdom is the most visited park in the world, and the park’s Fantasyland is the most visited of any in the location.
Though the “Beauty and the Beast”-themed restaurant will open in November, the rest of the Enchanted Forest complete with a “Little Mermaid” area is slated to open December 6.
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