When you think of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, what comes to mind? Venturing with Jack Sparrow on Pirates of the Caribbean? Anxiously waiting for Splash or Space Mountain? Perhaps you think of turkey legs or the smell of popcorn drawing you in outside of Liberty Square. While all of these factors make my trips to Magic Kingdom complete, my many thoughts about Disney’s most popular park are drawn to the perfect, wonderful Fantasyland.
During my first trip to WDW in 2000, Fantasyland was bustling with Mickey ears and tiaras just as it is today. The general make up, however, was quite different. Classics such as Peter Pan, Snow White, and Winnie the Pooh were featured and It’s a Small World was stuck in your head all day as you navigated around the empty lagoon. The magic quickly ended, however, as guests were funneled into Mickey’s Toon Town Fair (cute, yes, but not what Magic Kingdom needed). Characters were missing and park-goers (at least this park-goer) ended up feeling like something wasn’t quite complete. Disney realized this dilemma and began construction on the New Fantasyland several years ago.
What can you expect to find at the New Fantasyland?
Today, the back side of Cinderella’s castle is more or less the same as it was ten years ago, lined with Mickey’s Philar Magic, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and Peter Pan’s Flight. Snow White’s Scary Adventures, however, has been removed after forty-some years to make room for the Princess Fairytale Hall opening later this year.It’s a Small World and the adjacent restaurant are still in tact but joining Fantasyland in this area is Rapunzel. This section of the park is simply a rest area but the film is well represented with lanterns, frying pans, and the princess’ tower rising over the treeline.
Rejoining Fantasyland behind Cinderella’s castle is Dumbo in an improved version of the original attraction. Goofy’s Barnstormer also returns, providing guests with a bit of Toon Town nostalgia.
Magnificent and brand new are areas devoted to two of my favorite princesses: Ariel and Belle. Towards the back of Fantasyland lies Prince Eric’s castle, rising over the churning waterfalls of the Atlantic ocean and serving as the facade to Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid. A classic dark ride, Under the Sea is innovation for its time and provides guests with a spectacular animatronic retelling of the favorite story. Directly adjacent to this new attraction is Ariel’s Grotto, a spot devoted to Ariel herself. Deep in the depths of a sea cave awaits Ariel ready to mingle and pose with her greatest fans.
Sitting comfortably next to Eric’s castle is the mighty beast’s castle which hosts Be Our Guest, a fine dining experience that allows lucky customers to enjoy lunch or dinner in the beast’s ball room. The area also allows guests to see Gaston’s tavern and hear Belle’s classic story in the interactive Enchanted Tales with Belle.
If anything can be said about the construction done to justify two of Disney’s most heroic princesses, it’s that no better job could have been done. As a fan, I had many hopes and visions of what these areas could look like and I could not have been happier or more impressed. Disney certainly didn’t sacrifice detail, accuracy, or humor when incorporating Ariel and Belle and I definitely believe that you will be just as relieved and happy as I was.
What can you find at Fantasyland in the future?
Princess Fairytale Hall is opening later this year and will be a host site for all things Disney Princess. “Princess Fairytale Hall will immerse guests in a world of Disney princesses like never before, with stained glass windows, portraits of the princesses, and four elegantly finished chambers.”
In 2014, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will return Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Fantasyland in the form of family style coaster. Construction for the attraction is well under way and windows in the work area walls allow guests to view progress and sneak peaks of the train.
As a young adult, how can you best experience and enjoy the New (and old!) Fantasyland?
*Shop! This area holds much of the merchandise that features your favorite fairy tale characters.
*Eat! Many locations serving sweets can be found in Fantasyland.
*Play! This is by far the most magical place not just in Disney World, but anywhere. Keep an open mind, try not to judge or criticize, and simply enjoy Disney for Disney!
*Save this part of Magic Kingdom for last. Enjoy Tomorrowland, Liberty Square, Frontierland, Adventureland, and Main Street USA before even considering Fantasyland. Let this magic end your day. After all, this is why we come to Disney.
Get all of the information that you need and want for the new Fantasyland here: