Expansion plans announced

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Walt Disney, owner of about 26,000 hotel rooms in the US, is expanding its accommodations in Florida and Los Angeles. The Grand Californian Hotel and Spa in Anaheim is increasing by more than 30 per cent to add more than 200 hotel rooms and 50 vacation villas with kitchens, Disney said.

The company is also building more accommodation and shopping areas at Disney World Orlando to help boost sales and profit margins at its theme park and resort unit. Disney’s visitor attendance at its US resorts has increased to record numbers thanks to new attractions. The Finding Nemo ride at Disneyland in Anaheim and the Expedition Everest roller coaster at Walt Disney World in Orlando have helped boost sales.

Expedition Everest opened in April 2006 in Disney World’s Animal Kingdom theme park and mixes a roller coaster with a story about a Yeti creature and a mountain and the ride. It has been a hit with teenagers and young adults without scaring away their parents or younger siblings.

Meanwhile, Busch Gardens in Florida has announced that it is blending a thrill ride with wildlife for its next big attraction in 2008. Jungala will be a combination of attractions within Busch Gardens’ existing Congo area.

There will be no wild roller coasters involved, like the park’s SheiKra, nor any vast, open wildlife areas, such as the park’s Serengeti Plain. Instead, the plan for Jungala is to weave tiger, gibbon and orang-utan into dense landscapes with paths, waterways, waterfalls, stone structures, a hidden village and other attractions. The new area will also feature encounters with animals led by animal trainers.