The “Happiest Place on Earth” is now even happier, thanks to an expansion that doubles the size of Fantasyland at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
It’s the largest expansion in the history of the Magic Kingdom park, and after spending time there with my seven year old daughter, I can honestly say the Imagineers, the sharp-thinkers in charge of dreaming up and executing these amazing changes, thought of everything.
Fans know Disney is famous for creating things that leave you in thrilled disbelief, positive in the knowledge that “only Disney would think of that”. The new Fantasyland confirms that once again.
There are big changes, including a new castle, The Beast’s Castle, where park visitors can join the “Be Our Guest” dining experience, set in an elegant ballroom with side rooms that include the Rose Gallery and the “West Wing”.
You’ll get “great food fast” during the day and full table service dining in the evening. Be sure to make time to visit with the knights (who have great conversation with each other), inspect the holographic rose, and the revolving sculpture of Belle and the Beast dancing together.
Or, you can be part of “Enchanted Tales with Belle”, where you are part of the story as Belle shares details of the night she fell in love with the Beast. It’s a “tale as old as time” that becomes new again in an interactive format. Little boys will enjoy this as much as little girls, since they can be part of the fun. Even adults are incorporated into the action.
Gaston’s Tavern is great for the older guys, though the beverage they serve is ideal for everyone. It’s a frothy mixture that doesn’t include alcohol, so anyone can try it.
There’s also “Under the Sea”, a new ride that takes you on an exciting adventure under water (you won’t have to hold your breath, I promise!), following Ariel’s story of love. It’s definitely designed for the younger set, but anyone who enjoys the story of the Little Mermaid will want to give this ride a whirl.
And anyone who has ever waited in line to fly on the fabulous Dumbo ride is going to adore Storybook Circus, where there is now a “big top” experience to help ease the wait. Under the big top the kids will be able to run around, climbing, playing, getting their energy out, instead of standing in a line where they’ll lose their minds (not to mention what happens with yours). Now, you’re given a golden ticket (similar to a restaurant beeper) so that you can go play while you wait for your turn to ride!
Other parts of Storybook Circus include the Barnstormer Coaster which is re-themed for the Great Goofini. It’s a roller coaster for little ones but make no mistake, it’s still a real thrill ride. My tip for this ride is to be sure the heavier individual is on the right side of the cart. It’s no fun to crush your little one on the quick curves of this roller coaster. There’s also Pete’s Silly Slideshow and the Casey Jr. Splasn N’ Soak in Storybook Circus. And some real clowns (yes, clowns, funny ones!) at the entrance. Every time we walked by my seven year old choose to stop in her tracks and watch them perform.
It’s easy to spend half a day, if not longer, in the New Fantasyland, so keep that in mind in future plans to the park. We spent a day and a half there at the Magic Kingdom and only left the New Fantasyland twice. I can’t even imagine how we’ll squeeze in the other fun being developed there with the rollercoaster for the Seven Dwarfs that is still under construction (due to be completed in 2014).
(Special note to readers: My daughter and I were guests of Disney World, invited as members of the media. As always, my opinion remains my own).