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Last night Walt Disney World hosted the opening night party for International Pow Wow, the largest travel industry trade show, coordinated by the U.S. Travel Association. Nearly 4,000 people attended the after-hours affair at the Magic Kingdom, where Disney executives showcased plans for an impending park expansion and unveiled new event props for the first time.
“The members of Pow Wow are important to our industry, and given we have a major expansion right around the corner, we wanted to showcase our founding park,” said Ann Williams, Disney’s director of catering and convention services and park event operations, in regard to Fantasyland’s current renovations, scheduled to be completed in 2013. “This will also be the fist time that the large majority of the props and decor we’ve been fabricating will premiere.”
Though Sunday's event was the first time the Magic Kingdom has hosted Pow Wow, it marked the fourth time a Disney park has welcomed the group, after Epcot in 2001, Animal Kingdom in 2006, and Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, in 2007.
Williams worked with park events operations director John Stafford and their teams for eight months to coordinate the three-hour party. The team took inspiration from the park’s rides and themed lands in three areas: Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and the Haunted Mansion.
With rides like Space Mountain and Monsters Inc. nearby, Tomorrowland had a futuristic theme with clear acrylic furniture, illuminated serving trays, ice bars, and neon colors throughout the decor to create a futuristic club atmosphere. Fantasyland—with its Cinderella, Peter Pan, and Dumbo attractions—took a more childlike approach with comfort food stations atop teacup decor inspired by the nearby Alice in Wonderland ride and an expansive candy buffet near the carousel. The Haunted Mansion area brought spooky to the street with dark red rose centerpieces wrapped in spider webs on the tables and tombstone menu displays and Ouija board serving trays on the food stations, one of which moved as though it was haunted.
The attractions remained open for guests, and characters from the respective rides held meet-and-greets with guests. DJs, bands, and roaming performers entertained throughout the night.
The party wrapped up with a 15-minute fireworks display over Cinderella’s Castle at the center of the park. As an added effect, park employees had guests don 3-D glasses that showed the silhouette of Mickey's head from every burst of light.