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Though the last census only counted ten permanent residents, don't mistake Lake Buena Vista for a sleepy backwater.
In fact, there's a good chance you've probably already been here, even if you didn't know it! As the home to Walt Disney World — with four theme parks, two water parks, four golf courses, and over 20 themed resorts — the town attracts millions of visitors each year. So how does a city with such an established brand remain fresh and relevant? The simple answer: constant reinvention. In the past year alone, Disney unveiled the 11-acre New Fantasyland, the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom history, with a new Beauty and the Beast castle, a Little Mermaid ride, and an expanded Dumbo big top section. Add this to a brand new bowling alley bar at Downtown Disney, a reimagined Test Track racing attraction at Epcot, and the just-opened Art of Animation Resort.
This year, the parks will unveil MagicBands, wristbands with computer chips that can be used as a hotel room key, a debit card for snacks and souvenirs, and even a scheduling tool that will help you avoid long ride lines. Every initiative comes with a healthy dose of whimsical innovation — it's no wonder Disney calls its designers and inventors Imagineers!
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See Epcot blossom into a floral wonderland with the International Flower & Garden Festival, each March through May. In addition to 75 Disney-themed topiaries, you'll find a world's fair of small plates at the Garden Marketplace at World Showcase, such as Japanese fruishi (fruit sushi), rustic French ratatouille tarts, and Moroccan desert rose cocktails.
Celebrate Independence Day at Epcot's American Adventure Pavilion, where you can catch the Voices of Liberty a capella group performing patriotic tunes in period costumes under an acoustically perfect rotunda.
Each November, the Downtown Disney shopping, nightlife, and entertainment district hosts the open-air Disney Festival of the Masters art show. Guests can shop for paintings, photographs, drawings, jewelry, and sculptures from over 150 artists.
Had one too many Mickey-shaped ice cream treats? Start the New Year right with the Walt Disney World Marathon! The 26.2-mile route circles through all four Disney theme parks, and the weekend also includes a number of other races for young runners or the particularly hard-core: There's a 13.1-mile half marathon, a Disney Family Fun Run 5K, runDisney Kids Races, and even the whopping 39.3-mile Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge.