Prepare to be wowed as we were, by the new Fantasyland at Walt Disney World – the largest expansion in the Magic Kingdom’s 41-year history, doubling the size of the existing Fantasyland to 21 acres. Expansion began opening in mid-March of 2012, and it’s not over yet.
“Disneyland (and by extension Disney World) will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” – Walt Disney
STORYBOOK CIRCUS AREA
(Opened early-to-mid 2012)
- Dumbo, the Flying Elephant with double the flying Dumbos: Brilliant move by Disney to put in TWO rides AND an indoor play area under the Big Top where you can rest while the kids play. Your place in line is held virtually by a circus ticket pager you’re given at check-in. When the pager goes off, it’s your turn to board! This kiddie favorite just became twice the fun!
- Barnstormer Coaster featuring the Great Goofini: This family rollercoaster was a blast. A good way to use your time while waiting out your Fast Pass to visit Ariel’s Grotto or Enchanted Tales with Belle.
- Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station water play area: Let the kids cool off while you rest your feet and grab a snack from an assortment of food trucks in the area.
- Pete’s Silly Sideshow: Meet Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, Goofy and Donald Duck in this big-top themed character spot.
ENCHANTED FOREST AREA (Opened Dec. 2012)
- Be Our Guest Restaurant: Serving lunch and dinner with a French flair, this ornately decorated restaurant is a “must-do.” Dinner reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance. Since we were unprepared to fit this in on our current visit, I attempted to make reservations for our return in October, but it was too early in April to do so. I let two weeks too long pass and was out of luck. All filled up for the entire month of October.The good news is the quick service lunch is served on a first-come, first-serve basis. No reservations necessary. Be Our Guest opens for lunch at 10:30 am, and a line starts forming at least 30 minutes before and get longer as the noon hour approaches.Why go to this much trouble for lunch? Be Our Guest Restaurant is said to be the best element of the new expansion, and if you miss it, you never get the full experience. With three, elaborately-themed rooms to choose from, your food magically appears at your table with the use of RFID technology after you’ve ordered at a touch screen terminal. Pretty fancy!
- Gaston’s Tavern: Gaston himself welcomes guests into his French lodge offering manly drinks and snacks including his signature non-alcoholic drink: LeFou’s Brew, served in a souvenir goblet.
- Enchanted Tales with Belle:
The Disney Imagineers have created a memorable story-telling experience with Belle herself in a cottage set in a French village. Members of the audience play parts in the story and have many opportunities to have their photos taken with Belle throughout. A PhotoPass card is given to all at the end to purchase their favorites.
- Under the Sea – Journey of The Little Mermaid: Travel under the sea in a clamshell and experience the adventures of Ariel and friends in this whimsical new ride.
- Arial’s Grotto: Highly advised you grab a FastPass if meeting Ariel is on your to-do list. Located right next to the Under the Sea ride, the wait can be long but the photo will be worth it!
- “Rapunzel’s Village:” Nothing official on this area as of yet, but, you will notice the purple banners with yellow lanterns strung between the European-styled buildings, and Rapunzel’s tower high up on the mountain top. We asked a cast member what it was all about. The tower had just been placed there a few weeks prior and he thought that one day Rapunzel may be brought to live in this area eventually.Currently, you can meet Rapunzel in the Town Square Theater, along with Cinderella and Aurora (typically) in this temporary character spot. Until Princess Fairytale Hall is complete that is. The wait for the Princesses was two hours long, so be sure to grab a FastPass if this is on your list, as soon as you pass through the Magic Kingdom gates in the morning. It was a much shorter wait to meet Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, just one hall over.
FUTURE ADDITIONS TO NEW FANTASYLAND
- Princess Fairytale Hall (2013): I’m hoping this will be open when we return in October, as Reagan has several Princesses on her list she’d still like to meet. Including the newly inducted Princess Meridia.
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (2014): Construction was far underway while we were there and it is already impressive. This family-coaster will feature first-of-its-kind, five-car trains that sway independently as they swing around the track combined with the expected musical, rollicking fun!
I love that Disney keeps us coming back for more and that there will always be something new to look forward to in future visits. If you thought you’d seen it all on past visits to Disney Parks, you haven’t seen nothing yet!
Photo credit: All images courtesy of Walt Disney World except for Enchanted Tales with Belle photo which is my own.