Hello, and welcome to a special edition of [B]Dateline Disney World![/B] This week, I go to go behind the construction walls at the Magic Kingdom and the [B]New Fantasyland[/B] to experience the [B]Enchanted Tales with Belle[/B] attraction!  We also take some photos of the rest of the expansion from inside the walls. There will be spoilers in this column, so if you don’t want to see things or know story stuff before physically coming to Walt Disney World to see it, you may want to head to another page now! Lots of pictures to see here, so let’s get started!!

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When I saw that the new construction wall path had been altered to go through the Castle Wall, I knew there was a good chance something would happen. Thankfully, I walked over to the construction wall where a door was open and Cast Members were letting people into the New Fantasyland!

This is what the bottom of the Castle Wall archway that I went under looked like.

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The forced perspective on Beast’s Castle works much better from inside the new land.

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They were obviously in rehearsal mode here, so there were signs alerting guests to it.

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Was great to see these lights from the OTHER side of the wall!

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Approaching Maurice’s cottage, there are lots of wonderful details, even in the lampposts.

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Here are some exterior shots of the Cottage itself. It was very nice to be able to get the whole cottage in the frame, and not just the roof like I’m used to!

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There is stroller parking to the left of the attraction.

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As you get closer to the cottage, the castle looks further and further away.

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Here is where you wait outside. This will be a very hot queue in the dead of summer.

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More details.

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Getting closer, castle looking more high up!

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The queue is full of details with hearts on them, which I would take a guess is Belle’s doing, and not Maurice’s.

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This is at the top of the cottage.

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There are new Cast Member costumes to go with this area.

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These buckets and wheelbarrow are right next to the entrance to the cottage.

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This shot was taken at the doorway to the cottage. Note how at this point, you can no longer even see all of the Beast’s Castle.

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Once entering the cottage, you step into a living/common room. In it, there are lots of things.

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You can see how tall you are compared to Belle’s height at her different ages.

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Family portrait.

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There is a desk in here, again continuing the heart theming.

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There are also fairytale books laid out in this room.

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And some sketches of Maurice’s work.

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After waiting for a few minutes, a big wooden door opens, and a Cast Member guides you into Maurice’s work room.

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In here, there are more great details, like this wood carving of Belle and Beast.

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There is also a mirror that looks rather out of place. That is because it is described as a gift from Belle and Beast to Maurice so that he can magically visit them in the Castle whenever he wants.

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A projection trick is then used to show the portal open to the Beast’s Castle, and then open for us to walk through. It also is supposed to take us back in time to the night where Belle falls in love with Beast. These shots were all taken at the same focal length to show how the mirror gets bigger over time so we can fit through it.

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Also notice how the projection is spot on what the shots from outside that I already showed you look.

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We then walk through the portal and into the Beast’s castle.

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Here we change gears completely and have a very elegant, and again, exceptionally well themed room.

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There are beautiful details everywhere.

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The chandeliers are great.

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Inside this room, we meet the Wardrobe, who is quite the over the top animatronic, combing both very fluid movement with projection on the eyes.

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We also meet a VERY enthusiastic Cast Member who is there to assist the Wardrobe.

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The CM gives members of the group roles to play in the story, like the guards and horses, along with Maurice and Beast.

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After handing out roles to everyone who wants one, we hear Lumiere’s voice coming from afar inviting us into the Library, which is the main show room for this attraction.

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The library is another incredibly themed room, with more details to look at than time allows.

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Again, another beautiful chandelier.

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Let’s talk for a second about the Lumiere Audio Animatronic now.

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He acts as the main narrator for this main part of the attraction, and is again a combination of movement and projections on his face and flames. And it is simply put, stunning. The fluid motion of this AA is some of, if not the best I’ve seen. Outrageously convincing.

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From here, we are told to be quiet since we will be surprising Belle, and then she arrives.

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Lumiere tells the story of Belle and Beast to Belle (and us) moments before she is to have her big dinner date with Beast that we see in the movie. Everyone who was given a part in the story then marches around the room led by Belle.

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Lastly, the boy picked for Beast gets to have a dance with Belle. Also, while all of this is happening, a Photopass photographer is documenting everything as well as parents taking photos of their kids.

At this point, all of the children receive a bookmark which is autographed by Belle, Belle goes on her date with the Beast, and we are escorted out of the exit and back into New Fantasyland.

So, how do I feel about the attraction? Well, surprised, to be honest. From the time it was announced back in 2009, I really did not care for this concept. I thought it would be just another silly way to have a meet and greet. Even up until this week, I didn’t care about it. When I got access to New Fantasyland, I even contemplated not seeing it and just spending time taking photos of the new area. But, after going in, I think it was really well executed, and I think the best judge of that was the reactions I saw on the kids’ faces. Almost every child wanted to participate in the show, and they were all really into it. It really is NOT a meet and greet. It is more of a show where the guests are part of the cast. You don’t stand in switchbacks waiting to get your picture and autograph in a makeshift backdrop setting from the story. You visit real scenes and real elements from the movie, which to me makes it far more than a meet and greet. Am I the target demographic for this? No. Will I be doing this every chance I get when I’m at the Magic Kingdom? Gosh no. Would I have been terribly upset if three of these were built like in the original plans? Oh, you know it. But, as the only one, I think it will really work. The theming and detail are far better than anything I’ve ever seen in Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom. The village area is wonderful, and once all the foliage grows in, it really will be beautiful. I was pleasantly surprised.

Now, let’s look at some other shots from inside these walls!!

Here are some details from the nearby Be Our Guest restaurant.

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Gargoyles hold up the lightposts on the bridge that leads to the restaurant.

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The gate to the restaurant is steel.

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This is the bridge to the restaurant that will eventually go over a river. It looks fantastic in person.

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I think this little bridge also leads to Be Our Guest.

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And then these guys sit at the entrance.

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Here’s a view of Cinderella Castle along with the Castle Wall.

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Here is Bonjour! Village Gifts, and it is nice to be able to see some of the bottom of it!

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Here is the view of Under the Sea from where Enchanted Tales with Belle takes place.

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And also a view of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

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Here is a view of the Beast’s Castle framed by some of the lovely trees planted in the area.

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Well, that wraps it up for our special look at the other side of the construction walls at the New Fantasyland. What are your thoughts on Enchanted Tales with Belle? Excited to finally just get past the rest of these walls and see some of the most detailed things ever built in the Magic Kingdom?

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If you enjoyed the column, especially the photos, and you want to check out more photos and tutorials on Disney photography, please check out my photo site, [URL=”http://www.DisneyPhotographyBlog.com”]Disney Photography Blog[/URL]. And if you like listening more than reading, you can hear us talk about Disney and photography on my podcast, [URL=”http://www.ISO5571.com”]ISO5571[/URL]

  • Internitty

    Awesome photos and very informative, thank you so much for sharing. If this is the level of detail we can expect in the new Fantasyland I can’t wait to visit 🙂

  • lynxwiler

    It’s beautiful, stunning, and gorgeous! But I’d rather go to Harry Potter’s Wizarding World, sorry. The new Fantasyland looks like every little girl’s dream and I’m not a little girl.

    • Cory Disbrow

      Very true, it seems that the New Fantasyland skews more towards the little girls than the boys. But, in this attraction in particular, there were elements of it there to keep the boys’ interest. Imagine what it would have been like if Staggs never visited with his boys and instead of the mine train we got two more of these princess get togethers!

  • Zeathos51

    Looks good. I’m out here in California but man , is Orlando looking good. The Star Trek Experience in Vegas did the same interactive show and it really brought you into the ride. The Borg show toward the end was really good. They had a woman being pulled up into the roof, a fully costumed drone and an incredible 3D show.

    That mirror transition is very smart and those animotronics look really state of the art. The 2D to 3D proportions were well executed and the projected eyes really add more life.

    Thanks again and enjoy Orlando.

  • mtpelepele

    The only thing that concerns me here is capacity. This looks like it will be a SLOW moving line during busy times!

    • Cory Disbrow

      That is a definite concern. The whole experience was quite long, and the rooms don’t fit too many people, so capacity during busy times of the year will almost definitely be an issue. Don’t be surprised if the show eventually gets rushed or shortened a tad to make sure the lines keep moving and the guests stay happy.

      • PeaJay18

        I had heard that there are 2 rooms after the Wardrobe scene – one on her left, one on the right so there can in fact be 2 Lumiere/Belle scenes to help with capacity.
        Did it look like this was the case?

      • Truecoat

        In watching the video on the Disney parks blog, there looks to be 3 doors on one side and one on the other. Not sure if they are all used for this attraction but they were decorated the same. There is also an exit door plus the actual entrance to this hallway with the wardrobe. I would think that there is at least two but up to 4 of these rooms.

      • Truecoat

        In looking at another video, it appears that one of the 4 doors I was talking about is the entrance. In that video, they went to the left of the wardrobe so there are at least 2 rooms. One thing I am wondering about is the portal to the hallway. I wonder if maybe there is another hallway opposite of this one which would have 2 more rooms for busier days.

  • mratigan

    This looks fantastic

  • Great job Cory. Your photos and information were awesome and very helpful to those of us who live so far away.

    And while I’m impressed with the detail of everything, and those two unbelievable animatronics, this is really just an attraction for little girls. It’s story time with Belle, but indoors and at the end of a very long, but elaborate, queue.

    One interesting side note: the portal effect was used at the first D23 expo in the Imaginering pavilion.

  • michael darling

    I agree with Dusty. This looks amazing and I can’t wait to see it in person, yet, the build up is still a meet and greet. And yes, for little girls. Still, the themeing and animatonics are amazing! WOW. A lot better addition to Fantasyland than what was there before.

    I wonder (negativity alert)…..if I don’t want to see Belle and parade around a room, and I can’t get a reservation to eat in the castle……this seems to take a bug chunk of the new area out of my day. Although it seems unlikely, it would be awsome to FINISH the story, and let us see BEAST in his environment. i.e. a dark ride. Maybe they need to expand a little bit more.

    (Back to positive). Your ground shots of the new Mine ride reveal, like nothing to date, just how tall and impressive the attraction will be! It will block Under the Sea, which is perfect. And to finally see Snow White’s cottage and forest realized will truly be magical and long overdue.

    Recent shots of the Tangled/Bathroom area are also pretty impressive, and look like it will round out FL with a nice new ‘skyline’.

    THANKS for this article!

  • Algernon

    The words “target demographic” say it all. Walt Disney wanted a place for entire families, but lately, everything is becoming polarized. They got rid of the family friendly Snow White and replaced it with a roller coaster. And this attraction is mainly for little girls. Once again, Walt Disney would have been sitting on a bench, bored, while his daughters went on it, and would probably have been thinking of making a place for the entire family to go.

    • DaParkMan

      ADMIN NOTE: Comment from Sock Puppet of previously banned member deleted.

  • SpectroMan

    Loving the detail of Belle’s area but rather disappointed that such a large expanse was created just for this. A B&B dark ride would have been beyond incredible. Oh well…next time.

  • skoolpsyk

    It’s skewed away from boys. that is, boys that have already had themselves skewed in a particular direction in the first place…
    maybe people shouldn’t be so quick to skewer their children…

  • gtsouthard

    I dont under stand what the attraction actually is? is it interacting with the belle character?

    • It’s essentially a fancy meet and greet/story time with Belle.

  • DARTH MAUL

    Was that the best Belle they could find? :/

  • Erica

    These photos are great — thank you for sharing your experience! I love seeing all the beautiful details and, as always, your photography itself is wonderful too.

    As a person who was a young child when Beauty and the Beast originally released, I am sad to see it so geared towards kids considering there is a whole group of 20-something adults who have been waiting to be able to visit Belle’s world. I was actually really excited as I was reading your description all the way until you got to the hold up cardboard cutouts and walk around the room part. I think they could easily adapt the live interaction section in the future to change the age-range appeal; but, it sounds like their goal was a kid’s meet & greet. At least I will get to explore the village area! I am still looking forward to experiencing the attraction but I bet I won’t go out of my way to do it again and again. I just hope they will let me have a bookmark signed by Belle! My inner little girl would be so happy 🙂

  • Susan Hughes

    The new Fantasyland expansion is quite elaborate and highly detailed. But as much as I like what they’re doing, I do wonder if it will generate the excitement they’ll need to steer people away from Universal.
    I hate to be, yet another, Cars Land fanatic. But I have to bring it up. Cars Land is a HUGE success because it seems everybody…regardless of age or gender…really enjoys the whole experience.
    I think the new Fantasyland will be quite popular with mothers and daughters. But fathers and sons will just be tagging along with sour faces. I think an expansion of Tomorrowland or Adventureland may have been the better choice.

  • KCmike

    I want to be excited about the new fantasyland expansion but I have to honestly say that I am in no hurry to see it. I hope the mine cart roller/ride is of some substance because WDW continues to not impress me. Disneyland’s fantasyland even with their older dark rides dominates my favorite land of Disney parks. I love that area in DL. Next generation meet and greets just don’t do it for me. The pictures are beautiful and thanks for the updates though.

  • ralzap

    Thanks for the update. The expansion will not see me going to Orlando soon. WDW you need more up your pockets than this…..
    No more Disneyland recreations.
    WDW needs new unique rides…

    • Susan Hughes

      That’s what I thought. The “new look” of the Fantasyland expansion is pretty much Disneyland’s Fantasyland.

  • Bronco21

    Great update and I am very impressed with the details in new fantasyland, but it still doesn’t make up for the whole expansion still not involving an e-ticket. If they were serious about wanting to compete with WWoHP, they would have built an e-ticket not an elaborate meet and greet. The detail is nice to see, but hardly makes up for the years of crap TDO has given us over the years.

  • Timekeeper

    I first saw the Belle meet’n’greet AA’s from a Disney Imagineering Youtube Video and I made mistake assuming the interior where we meet the Wardrobe AA was from the Main Street Theater, not a different building entirely. I’m sure that area must be gorgeous in person, but that room reminds me of a hotel hallway, no offense to the other people reading this and the columnist.

    Timekeeper

  • BuckyRister

    My wife loves Beauty and the Beast, and it is easily her favorite…when she saw little kids stomping around the room holding up placards over their face, she looked at me as if to say, “Are you kidding?” And the wardrobe? Ear-shredding, and frankly, frightening. I told her this thing looked so tacky, it makes The Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management look like a meeting at the Brookings Institution.

    Here’s my issue — I don’t think Disney should ever pitch a park attraction to a small demographic. Even the dark rides can be enjoyed by everyone. That’s what makes the parks so special — they are inclusive. And I don’t think Disney should ever chase buzzwords like “Interactivity”. That’s what gave us “Light Magic” in Anaheim. I was very worried about the plans for Meet and Greets throughout the New Fantasyland, because that seemed like a cheap way to create new attractions. Thankfully we only have one, but this preview proves me right. This looks like a $1000/hr. day care center. It isn’t why I take my family to WDW, and it doesn’t increase my desire to go.

    Oh – and Belle was living in that cottage since she was at least 12 months old? She must have a really good memory. “There goes the baker with his tray like always, the same old bread and rolls to sell, every morning just the same, since the morning that we came to this poor provincial town…” And Gaston said he fell for Belle since the first moment that he saw her. I guess Gaston is new to town, if she’s been running around the place since she was in diapers.

    • BuckyRister

      And does Belle really spend all day wearing that Prom Dress?
      :p

  • Spongeocto4

    Thanks for the update, the walkthrough looks nice except the recreating story part for Belle…I am sorry but this makes the walkthrough look VERY cheesy.

  • Aotphks

    Thanks for the great photos and descriptions. The level of quality of the details is really awesome, which I believe to be something that’s sorely missing in the Magic Kingdom Park, when you compare it to other Disneyland Parks in California and abroad. So I am elated to see this level of theme and visual quality finally brought to the old Magic Kingdom park.

    However, I’m a little concerned about this type of attraction. I guess I’m in the minority based on what I’ve read from other replies, but I don’t like much the idea of visitors participating in the story telling of the movie. Seems a little childish and not something that I would enjoy. I am more the passive visitor where I much rather sit back, relax and enjoy the show or ride as opposed to “being in” the show. Not sure my 10 and 8 years old children would enjoy this as much as a preschool kid would. I’m further dismayed by two statements made by the author of this report, one, he is not part of the demographic and would not re-visit this attraction. Two, PhotoPass employees recording the visitors’ every move. So, I wonder.. what is the demographics of this attraction? Little girls? In regards to the photopass employees.. why do they have to make a profit on this experience? Was this the only reason why this particular new addition to Fantasyland was designed the way it is, as a walk through experience?

    I am sure when the time comes for my family and I to visit, I may enjoy this more for the theme and details.. Oh and one more observation… The photo of the employee in his new uniform clearly shows a young boy walking (balancing?) on what appears to be rocks. This bothers me to the core! My kids would never do that as I would not allow it. I think it’s sad that after all the work put into making this new area so enchanting, some parents would allow their children to climb and over time destroy the quality of the details, and since the maintenance at the Magic Kingdom park seems to lack most time, I wonder how long it will be before all these wonderful details begin to look run down and mistreated. Time will tell I guess.

    Thanks for the photos and the report.