Hello, and welcome to a special edition of Dateline Disney World! This week, I go to go behind the construction walls at the Magic Kingdom and the New Fantasyland to experience the Enchanted Tales with Belle 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!!
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.
The forced perspective on Beast’s Castle works much better from inside the new land.
They were obviously in rehearsal mode here, so there were signs alerting guests to it.
Was great to see these lights from the OTHER side of the wall!
Approaching Maurice’s cottage, there are lots of wonderful details, even in the lampposts.
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!
There is stroller parking to the left of the attraction.
As you get closer to the cottage, the castle looks further and further away.
Here is where you wait outside. This will be a very hot queue in the dead of summer.
Getting closer, castle looking more high up!
The queue is full of details with hearts on them, which I would take a guess is Belle’s doing, and not Maurice’s.
This is at the top of the cottage.
There are new Cast Member costumes to go with this area.
These buckets and wheelbarrow are right next to the entrance to the cottage.
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.
Once entering the cottage, you step into a living/common room. In it, there are lots of things.
You can see how tall you are compared to Belle’s height at her different ages.
There is a desk in here, again continuing the heart theming.
There are also fairytale books laid out in this room.
And some sketches of Maurice’s work.
After waiting for a few minutes, a big wooden door opens, and a Cast Member guides you into Maurice’s work room.
In here, there are more great details, like this wood carving of Belle and Beast.
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.
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.
Also notice how the projection is spot on what the shots from outside that I already showed you look.
We then walk through the portal and into the Beast’s castle.
Here we change gears completely and have a very elegant, and again, exceptionally well themed room.
There are beautiful details everywhere.
The chandeliers are great.
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.
We also meet a VERY enthusiastic Cast Member who is there to assist the Wardrobe.
The CM gives members of the group roles to play in the story, like the guards and horses, along with Maurice and Beast.
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.
The library is another incredibly themed room, with more details to look at than time allows.
Again, another beautiful chandelier.
Let’s talk for a second about the Lumiere Audio Animatronic now.
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.
From here, we are told to be quiet since we will be surprising Belle, and then she arrives.
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.
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.
Gargoyles hold up the lightposts on the bridge that leads to the restaurant.
The gate to the restaurant is steel.
This is the bridge to the restaurant that will eventually go over a river. It looks fantastic in person.
I think this little bridge also leads to Be Our Guest.
And then these guys sit at the entrance.
Here’s a view of Cinderella Castle along with the Castle Wall.
Here is Bonjour! Village Gifts, and it is nice to be able to see some of the bottom of it!
Here is the view of Under the Sea from where Enchanted Tales with Belle takes place.
And also a view of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
Here is a view of the Beast’s Castle framed by some of the lovely trees planted in the area.
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?
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, Disney Photography Blog. And if you like listening more than reading, you can hear us talk about Disney and photography on my podcast, ISO5571