Land of the Rising Mickey - Aug 9, 2001

Land of the Rising Mickey
Page 5 of 13

Fortress Explorations at Explorers Landing

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Architecture, artistry, craftsmanship, and good clean fun combine in this collection of interactive attractions. Some people may think this place just for kids. Well, this kid doesn't think so. I could spend half the day there (maybe more?). Two days may seem like enough time at a virtually empty theme park, but for me, at DisneySea, it wasn't even close to enough. There's still a lot of this area I haven't experienced and it's the first place I'm headed when I get back.

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The Fortress - Home for nearly 500 years to the Society of Explorers and Adventurers (S.E.A.), a group which promotes the advancement of navigation and exploration of the sea (I wanna be a S.E.A.!), this  Spanish/Portuguese Renaissance citadel is constructed of stone, plaster and oak.

Parapets and stairs lead to a variety of unique rooms (see below) which wind from a central courtyard. I found it all (not that I could find everything) an enjoyably confusing atmosphere of wonder, in a strikingly beautiful and realistic setting.

The Renaissance - A nearly 100 foot long authentic recreation of a 16th century wooden galleon, with "working" cannons which guests can fire, a number of hands-on seafaring devices, as well as the crew's living and working quarters. What can I say? It's an authentic recreation.

The Quay (pronounced "Kee") - Situated in this area on the shores in front of the Fortress is the Cargo Playground, a children's play area of stacked barrels and crates and another area of "leaky" barrels where the kids can have fun getting wet from jets of water.

Chambers and other points of interest inside The Fortress:

I only managed to see (or find, for that matter!) a couple of these rooms, so I'm going to leave the descriptions up to the press kit.

Illusion Room - To the naked eye, the mural painted on the walls, floor and ceiling of this room stands out as being distorted. Yet, when viewed through a framed concave lens strategically positioned at a certain point, the room appears as one surface containing a large classically painted picture with the proper perspective of an ancient civilization being destroyed by an erupting volcano.

Pendulum Room - The rotation of the Earth is demonstrated through a swinging pendulum which knocks over wooden pegs one by one at specific intervals throughout the day.

Explorers' Hall - This hallway introduces guests to the founding fathers of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers (S.E.A.). It also depicts some of the great achievements in exploration up to the 16th century.

Camera Obscura - The light emitted through a periscopic mirror/lens assembly in the room's cupola reflects a view of the outside world onto a tabletop. By turning a handwheel. Guests can rotate the assembly 360° and see various views of Mediterranean Harbor.

Chamber of Planets - Inside this planetarium, guests can interact with an "orrery," a large model of the solar system as known to astronomers of the 16th century. By turning cranks, they can make the planets spin around the sun.

Flying Machine - This ornithopter-like contraption looks like a machine designed by Leonardo Da Vinci. It seats two guests and allows one to work the pedals which turns the propeller, and the other to pull levers which make the wings flap up and down.

Alchemy Laboratory - Here, guests can view a 16th century alchemist laboratory with furnaces, flasks, potions and bubbling liquids.

Navigation Centre - This room features an interactive sailing game that depicts how some sailors of the period imagined the earth as being flat. From any of the eight coin-operated stations located around an old navigational map, guests can attempt to sail one of eight radio-controlled galleons across the map through a maze of islands. Various seafaring hazards such as rainstorms, whirlpools and sea monsters suddenly appear, making each voyage a challenging one.