New Fantasyland Expansion at Magic Kingdom Nears Completion

Written by Cory Disbrow. Posted in Dateline Disney World, Walt Disney World

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Published on October 12, 2012 at 1:58 am with 38 Comments

About Cory Disbrow

Cory likes Walt Disney World so much, he recently packed his bags and moved to Orlando. Cory is a photographer and writes MiceChat's Dateline Disney World columns every Friday.

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38 Comments

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  1. I have said for some time New Fantasyland is going to make the rest of the Park look poor in comparison. But I never expected it to be on the level of quality shown in Cory’s pictures. This has blown all my expectations. It might be attraction lite until the Seven Drawfs Mine Train opens. But for now we have what is looking like an incredible new Restaurant. The fun Storybook Circus area. And the Little Mermaid attraction which is a fun dark ride. I think it’s a good balance of offerings.

    • They may rebuild the rest of the park;)

  2. While it looks beautiful the area is sorely missing a Beauty and the Beast dark ride spectacular. Mermaid is just not up to that level to carry the new land. It’s as if Wizarding World got constructed but without the Forbidden Journey uber-ride. Guests are going to see all these Beauty and the Beast elements and expect a great ride where there won’t be one.
    In addition, Minnie’s house was a much better place for a meet ‘n greet than the new tent. We also lost Mickey’s great walkthrough house, and the classic Snow White dark ride. MK should have added without the subtracting, what a shame.

    • The Belle meet and greet is supposed to be the “uber-ride.” Disney counts meets and greets as attractions and let’s face it; it’s a lot cheaper to pay a Florida college girl $10/hour to put on the yellow dress than it is to maintain ride machinery.

      • The Belle Meet ‘n Greet is Ollivander’s Wand Shop. It’s nice but Disney still needs to put in the uber Beauty and the Beast dark ride. Of course as you note, that’s a lot more expensive. Sigh…

  3. Wow! Great pictures and update! It’s a great time to be a theme park fan! All these theme parks dedicating themselves to really putting away the cheap carnival rides and truly make incredible immersive themed experiences. I’m really glad that they opened up the budgets on these projects and really let the imagineers do what they do best. Hopefully, Disney will see how successful they can be by not holding back on the budgets and going all out on their projects. Can’t wait to see them top themselves, again!

  4. Impressive!

    Disney seems to have risen to the challenge of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And, Cory, in your update you seem to have risen to the challenge of capturing much of this beautiful and inspired Imagineering. Thanks, Cory, and thank you, Universal, for raising the bar for Disney!

    Though its ambition fails reach the WWoHP or Disneyland’s Carsland, I actually prefer the look of much of Fantasyland over Carsland. Disney can’t really capture the grandeur of nature as they tried magnificently to do in Carsland (or as they fail to do in the still worthwhile Grand Canyon section of the train ride to Main Street), but they can improve upon European architecture and ornament as they’ve done with their mythical creature statues pictured above. (My favorite details, btw.)

    With the night-time lights and the celebration of Route 66, low-budget quirkiness, Carsland scores for originality, but I’d rather be in the creative, lower-budget (I mean lower than the European originals, not lower than Carsland, foot by foot) versions of Europe. And the mixing in of landscaping with the the new Fantasyland reminds me of Jane Austin’s eloquent description of Darcy’s estate. Am I going over the top? No, because here is something superior, something that can be enjoyed by the majority of Americans, not just society’s richest people. I can’t run all over Buckingham Palace, but Walt Disney World is mine. And unlike the palace at Versailles, there are rides!

    –Tom Sinsky

  5. The ‘idiot proof’ railings at the Tomorrowland entrance appear to just be a way to bring them up to modern building codes. Modern codes require that a guardrail (what keeps you from falling over the edge) be 42″ tall, while a handrail (the part that you actually hold on to while walking up stairs/ramps) is 36″. Many older facilities have a 36″ guardrail/handrail combo, so we’ll likely see more of these ‘enhancements’ in the future.

    While the extra height seems a little silly, at least they did a better job integrating it than the handrails/guardrails at DL’s Golden Horseshoe, where they seemingly added rails to anything and everything in sight

  6. Absolutely beautiful and the highest level of theme in the park. However, for the vast amount of space, they are only building two new attractions (Mermaid and the little mine ride), but they closed the Snow White ride in the process. So the net gain is only 1. And if you count the closed Sub ride, there is no gain. What a lost opportunity. Just looking at what the Imagineers are capable of, can you imagine if they had been allowed to build an honest to goodness E Ticket?! What’s a new land without an E Ticket?

    It looks like Harry Potter quality, but without the big ride to draw you in. It’s unbelievable how foolish Disney can be. They came just short of doing something really spectacular. But how on earth are they going to promote a sort of lame new dark ride (Mermaid just isn’t that strong of an attraction), short kiddie coaster, character meet and greets and a restaurant? When Walt did big expansions, he always made sure that there was a big anchor attraction that his marketing folks could use as a hook. There’s no hook here.

    So who’s to blame for this, Meg, Tom or Bob? Because, when they are eaten alive by the media (which they will be all except for the mommy bloggers) someone will have to take the fall for spending so much money and not delivering any bang for the buck! That’s the way a publicaly run company works. You have to justify the money. I don’t see how that’s possible here without a marketable ride.

    But it’s all really pretty, right!

    • I agree with this. It looks lovely, but where’s the substance?

    • Maybe Disney is hoping they’ll be too drunk to notice.

      • Dusty, I just tried to find evidence that your pessimism was unfounded, but instead I came across an aerial photo of the Snow White coaster. I hope I’m wrong, but it doesn’t appear to be the size of a family coaster–it looks to be the size of a kiddie coaster. Jay Rasulo was the original “visionary” here and Thomas Staggs was too timid in improving Rasulo’s cheap development that was aimed only at little girls.

      • jcruise86 – This looks slightly more impressive than a “kiddie coaster”.

        http://cdn.wdwmagic.com/imgstore/ElementGalleryItems/attractions/Fullsize/Fantasyland_Full_17121.jpg

        This appears to be closer in size and substance to Big Thunder than the Barnstormer. Am I right?

      • ParkerMonroe,
        THANK YOU for posting those photo links!
        Your aerial photo is better than the one I saw. I’d like to know the track length for the new Dwarf coaster, Big Thunder, and the late Gadget’s Go Coaster. (As I typed in “the Dwarf coaster” I felt like I had created a nickname that will stick.) I hope the Dwarf coaster surpasses my expectations as RSR did in California Adventure.

    • I don’t know about that. I agree with most of what you say but I do not think the media is going to eat them up alive. Disneyland’s 1983 Fantasyland had no new e-ticket. When Epcot opened it had not e-tickets. When Hollywood Studios opened it had no e-tickets and barely any attractions. DAK had Kilo and CTX but a very slim offering after that. Mermaid opened at DCA as the marque attraction in summer of 2011, and it was well received.

      There are plenty examples of things being added to the parks with out an E-ticket winny as the main draw. I will give you that compared to Carsland, new Fantasyland pales. But I also think it will get a more conservative marketing budget that Disney put into DCA’s grand re opening. AS we all to often reminded of on miceage/chat, most of WDW’s guest are not DL passholders, or DL guests, and are first time or second time visitors to WDW. I think they will enjoy new Fantasyland rather then compare it to DCA and judge it to be inferior.

  7. Yawn.

  8. I am headed to Disney World in April, and having not been there in almost 4 years, I can’t really say how I am going to feel. Looks like I will be taking lots of pictures, thats for sure.

  9. That “thing” at the end of the track of the “Casey Jr.” short line siding is called a “bumper.” They are used to stop rolling stock from accidentally going off the end of a track at a siding.

  10. I think it’s gorgeous, and I hope it’s successful and starts a trend of improving the look and feel of the lands. I wonder if they’re putting BOGR up against Mythos? Almost seems like it.
    Great article and photos!

  11. Beautiful job theming the B&B area – looks just like Potter in terms of level – but no attractions. HUGE waste. Sure, the restaurant will do ridiculously well, but a single Mermaid ride (until the coaster opens) for that much land? Yes, the Subs may have taken up that much space, but Ariel doesn’t. Ugh, the lost potential is painful.

    • But really… we knew all that from the beginning did we not? now of this is a suprised…. right? And people keep comparing the mine coaster to BTMRR and wow…. they are going to be so disappointed when it opens. The main lift is already peaked, you can see it from new Fantasyland and seriously, its about as high as barnstormer. It really is that low. I would expected a longer barnstormer with a lot more landscape/theming, and a small darkride like show scene or two. But hardly a BTMRR. And really it should have had money thrown at it so it could open with the rest of new Fantasyland. This phase opening is working against the would be wow factor of opening it all up at once.

      • I’ve been saying from the beginning that the New Fantasyland was underwhelming from what it could/should be. I miss Snow White already, and I don’t think the Dwarves coaster will match it for immersive themeing and storytelling.

    • Agree. As another poster put it–where’s the substance? WDW wants only to build what will lead you to leaving more of your money at the parks: food, drink, merchandise. Before you facepalm me, think about this. You pay to enter the park to be entertained, not to buy more stuff. Worse yet, nobody can argue that there is park-specific merchandise to buy because of the Disney Parks generic philosophy driving merchandise. What WDW is doing is the equivalent to charging you an exorbitant fee to enter a mall. That’s all this is. You wanted rides? They’ll give you another worthless spinner and new coaster no better than what they’ve taken away when they shut down Snow White. Lots of theming, but no substance.

      Potter has been hugely successful doing the same thing. The difference is that no Disney circus book has the following that Potter has. The new Fantasyland is just kiddie “awwwwee look how cuuuuute” material. Potter immerses fans in an environment fans want to be in. Disney is attempting to build the emotional connection with little girls through the addition of Princessland in the hopes that as they grow and have their own families, the now-grown girls will be the drivers of the family budget who will want to go to WDW.

      I’m not sure that Potter will have the staying power ten years from now without further books and movies in the media. I am sure that the theme of the new Fantasyland does not inspire excitement or the level of fun Disney is capable of producing.

  12. It looks all beautiful. Who besides me thinks that the position of the Beast’s castle looks like Cinderella’s castle as seen from Disneyland’s Storybook Land boat ride?

    And also, there are now TWO references to “Melody Time” in the park, the other being the Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe in Frontierland (“Pecos Bill” is the last and longest section of that movie).

    • Not sure about the height comparison, but the Beast castle is a complete knockoff/fabrication of the Beast castle found on the Casey Jr ride at DLRP. Nothing new to see here.

  13. I think that Disney did a great job with theming the new Fantasyland expansion but missed the boat on their new attractions line-up. If they had built a trackless BATB dark ride………they would have hit one out of the park. Now they are stuck with a less than stellar Little Mermaid ride copied from DL…….and a meet & greet (albeit an awesome looking experience within that realm). But here’s the sad but true fact coming down the pike……….Disney is going into the 2014 Orlando theme park battle with a “family” (being generous) coaster while Universal opens their Potter expansion with a highly anticipated E-ticket (Gringotts indoor coaster) and Hogwarts Express (highly anticipated connector ride between the 2 Potter lands). I know who I am placing my bets on………..

  14. Thank you Mr. Disbrow for the wonderful pictures of the new Fantasyland areas. I am quite pleased to see this level of theme and details in the Magic Kingdom park. It’s the closest in quality to what I saw at Tokyo Disney Sea last year.. It even makes the Story book Circus look flat and uninspired. I also share your opinion on the rest of the park looking inferior, which will become quite apparent once this new area opens. If we were to place blame, then those in charge of the operation of the Magic Kingdom should bear it. This tribulation is what decades of neglect and lack of significant cosmetic upgrades have brought to the Magic Kingdom park. (The botched and aborted new Tomorrowland project in the 90s is yet another example of neglect in my book) I can only hope that moving forward once this project is finished, the management in the park will turn their attention to other areas and rebuild if necessary. As for the new Fantasyland, my hope is that all the new fountains and waterfalls and other details are maintained in good shape and operational for years to come.

    • Forgot to add… I would like to see them address the overly expansive and flat area behind the carrousel and the new castle wall, where the original Dumbo used to be. It’s pity that such nice theming has to be preceded by such a waste of good space, ripe for nice theming and atmosphere. Would it hurt them to plant a few trees and flower beds in this area? Some shade and greenery as a preshow to the new Fantasyland would be a nice touch.

  15. The Little Mermaid area looks unbelievable. They did a fantastic job there. Belle’s village looks just as great, albeit quite a bit of real estate devoted to shops, a restaurant, and a M&G. I do think the Snow White area may surprise us. It is a vast area that unfortunately will not be an E-ticket, but the themeing and presence will be welcome in Fantasyland. Especially the cottage…personally my most anticipated structure. WDW needs to get back to RIDES and off this M&G kick. Once you’ve met a character, there’s no need to stand in a long line again. Also, they are taking the fun away from ‘happening’ upon a character who happens to be out and about. Those moments are golden. You get excited….you see a crowd…which character is it? Or, those moments when they come gliding thru and parting the crowds, like Snow White and the Dwarves do (did?). Those are the best times.
    I must say, seeing the posters of humphrey, clara cluck and others made me hopeful that there was actually a ‘silly sideshow’. You know, perhaps sets/stages with animatronic animals that did stunts and then disappeared behind curtains (like Big AL), stages that revolved to showcase another famous character doing something. And dispersed around the room, some M&G’s. To me, that would’ve been fun and something I’d return to see. Much like the MM Review, but individual characters spread out around the perimeter of the tent. Ah well……. I think Disney needs to realize a few things about their customers and quit letting ‘target market research’ determine what they create. Go for magic, not money. Make magic and we will spend the money.

    • Agree. Imagine if WDW announced they were building DisneySea’s Ariel’s Undersea Kingdom? Now that would draw people in. A nicely themed show building is great, but I prefer more rides.