As a special spectacle soaring over the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World unleashed a fire-breathing flying dragon to commemorate the official opening of New Fantasyland, the theme park’s biggest-ever expansion. This unique sight completes the story Disney has woven online leading up to the unveiling of New Fantasyland, with this dragon acting as the new area’s guardian against evil.
The dragon entered sight tonight around 7:30pm, during a media party celebrating the expansion on the evening before its official ribbon cutting and dedication. The park had already closed to day guests, leaving attending press, travel agents, executives, and their guests with a chance to see the fire-breathing creature impressively flying overhead.
The ultra-realistic flying creature flapped its wings, moved its head and tail, all while making aerial maneuvers high above Beast’s castle, The Little Mermaid ride, and the rest of New Fantasyland. And, occasionally, it even breathed fire.
Take a look at the flying dragon in action over the Magic Kingdom in the video below.
VIDEO: Walt Disney World debuts flying dragon for New Fantasyland
Nearly simultaneously with its appearance in the park, Disney also released their own video online of dragon flying over Beast’s castle, shot earlier this week:
Though meant as a surprise for tonight’s press festivities, fans have been anticipating this dragon’s arrival for months, since it was first spotted taking test flights over a California airfield back in June.
The dragon is a variation of an ultralight vehicle, a manned aircraft powered by an engine and aided in flight by a parachute overhead, as seen in the photos here. But the mechanics behind the carefully crafted dragon were completely hidden from view in person, with a bright spotlight illuminating only the beast’s body, leaving all in attendance in awe. Music and roars piped into the area carefully masked the aircraft’s low engine rumble, which was faintly heard by some at the party standing away from the park’s speakers.
Earlier today, Walt Disney Imagineering representatives told me the dragon was not their creation, but rather an idea hatched by Walt Disney World for tonight’s event.
Will this dragon make another appearance after tonight? When asked this question, Disney spokesman Rick Sylvain tells me, “Indeed your eyes didn’t deceive you. Our dragon made a brief appearance as part of celebrating the grand opening of New Fantasyland. You never know where or when a dragon might appear again!”
But the text at the beginning of Disney’s official video makes it clear this was a “special, one-night appearance,” at least in its current form. This dragon will not be part of the regular New Fantasyland entertainment.
New Fantasyland will have a public grand opening in front of Cinderella Castle tomorrow morning at 10 a.m., after which the area will be open to all who enter the Magic Kingdom. Whether or not that experience includes future appearances by this now infamous flying beast remains to be seen, though is trending toward unlikely. Of course, there’s always Avatar land…