In a pioneering partnership aiming to go online Tuesday, Google Earth and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts will make it easy to take a virtual trip to Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center, Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and 22 Disney hotels and resorts, according to USA Today.

Users will be able to click on maps that show about 1,500 rides, restaurants and attractions all in 3-D. The mega-map, with interactive features, will be available via disneyworld.com/3dparks or Google Earth for free. “It’s a virtual walk-through of the whole property … the most amazing virtual tour of any place in the world,” Walt Disney Parks and Resorts chairman Jay Rasulo says.

“While Google Earth offers a growing number of 3-D images and gives bird’s-eye views of non-Disney theme parks, with links to information about them, the Disney project is the most ambitious and detailed 3-D production yet. It’s “truly innovative and unique,” says Google Earth maps director John Hanke.

One example of how this might work – click on Space Mountain and you can view a video of the ride as well as get information such as height requirements. Another example – place your mouse on the Grand Floridian and a video of the resort pops up. You also can check availability and rates and make a reservation.

For now, the map shows only exteriors, but in the near future web visitors might be able to stroll into Cinderella’s Castle or walk into a room at a Disney resort. Photographers are at work to map Disneyland Resort Paris (Euro Disney); other Disney properties are sure to follow.

Technology such as this will be a wonderful addition for people who are not privileged enough to have ever visited a Disney park. Sure it will not be as wonderful as being there in person but it sure beats postcards and pictorial books. It may even help detailed planners such as myself, get more out of a Disney theme park experience.

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