A new Fantasyland is on its way to the Magic Kingdom in Florida’s Walt Disney World. Disney has been openings sections as the work is completed. We visited a month apart-Labor Day and Columbus Day weekends-and even though the major construction is happening behind high green walls, you could see the progress.
By September, the iconic Dumbo ride had been moved to the other side of the tea cups. It has gotten a facelift and a second has been added to speed up the line of one of the favorites. Fastpass holders now have their own attraction. You enter the line at what looks like a carnival ticket booth and queue through the big top where a play area is available while you wait. Knowing the everyone wants a picture sitting in their own Dumbo elephant, the designers have added a stationary photo spot to speed up the ride turnover.
This new Storybook area of Fantasyland also includes the barnstormer beginner roller coaster and an overhauled train station. New additions include a water park type play area for children with a Casey Junior Train theme and two more big tops. The big tops have only been open a week. The larger one, closer to the Storybook entrance, is a souvenir shops with unique items only available in this part of the park.
In the center is a concession area with carnival type food offerings-candied apples, fudge, caramel corn, etc. The cast member uniforms are great and work perfectly with the theme.
The hidden gem in this section of Fantasyland is the meet and greet big top behind the souvenir tent. I am sure it will not take long for the crowds to find this, but for now go enjoy meeting the characters when they have the time to play along with you. Specially themed Disney favorites are there to sign autographs and share photos. Barnstormer Goofy is there with this bike crashing through the wall. We got a great one who flirted and played with us since there was no one behind us in line. I am not sure who had more fun, us or the photographer who laughed the whole time. After Goofy, you get to meet Snake Charmer Donald Duck. A great costume for this character.
The line on the other side of the tent (and you have to stand in both separately if you want pictures with all four characters) is for Minnie and Daisy Duck. Daisy is dressed as a fortune teller and stands in front of her gypsy wagon. I am not a huge Minnie fan; she is too prissy for me. Daisy is adorable however. On our second visit to the tent (we had to see both sides), the lines on the Minnie/Daisy side were far longer. If you have to make a choice, go for Goofy and Donald. You’ll enjoy a shorter line and have more fun with the characters.
Most of the rest of Fantasyland is scheduled to open in December. The reservation line for passholders to try to get a spot for a preview opens at the end of the week. This is after a delay. We certainly saw lots of progress. The area where Dumbo used to be was an open area in September. A month later it was covered with the castle gates (which provided a great backdrop to our fireworks pictures).
The beast’s castle is lit at night; it is in the construction area. The reservations for Gaston’s Tavern are already sold out through the beginning of the year. They were gone within minutes of the phone lines opening. There will be a table service area for which you will need reservations and a quick service side. The quick service option might be the only way people will get to see it for a while .
Ironically, the one attraction not scheduled to open until 2014 is the mine train ride following a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Theme which is in the dead center of the new Fantasyland. I am not surprised that the preparation of this attraction will take longer, only that they would choose to open all the areas around it and have to try to hide it and work in the center.
Who knows? Maybe it is a way to heighten the anticipation.
Fall is a wonderful time to visit WDW. If you can swing it, try to visit Fantasyland now through mid December when crowds will be lighter and you can see the before and after. With Disney, there is always something to look forward to.