Hello, and welcome back to Dateline Disney World! This week, we have a huge Magic Kingdom update for you, with lots of new photos of areas of the new Fantasyland expansion which have just been revealed this week! We also share lots of other news happening around the park, so let’s get started!!


Welcome to the Magic Kingdom!!


[center][size=5][b]Construction Kingdom[/b][/size]

Starting over at the new restroom area, there is tons of progress!


A chimney is visible now.



The view from Columbia Harbor House is quite revealing.


We obviously can’t judge this until it is finished, but it looks nice now, and I for one, am excited to see it completed.

Over at the Castle Wall, it is getting more and more clear that we are only a short time away from New Fantasyland opening.



New lighting was installed this week.





This opening is now available to guests at all times.


While standing under this arch, I took these two shots. One is facing old Fantasyland, the other facing the new section.



Pretty cool how the difference happens right there, like the wall acts as a portal to the new world.

Over at the Beauty and the Beast area, things are really close to being completely done, and I got a chance to see almost the whole land this week since almost all the walls are down in there.


Here’s the new signage for Enchanted Tales with Belle.




Also at Belle, the water wheel outside the cottage is now running.


Moving on to the Be Our Guest restaurant, the main drag was revealed this week. In a word, it is stunning.



The forced perspective of the castle works wonderfully from this angle.


The gargoyles hold up the lamp posts.




And the entrance area is amazing.



All the waterfalls on the Be Our Guest restaurant are now running as well.







Garbage cans.


Walkway on the bridge to the restaurant.


The is the sign that will hold the menu.



I cannot say how beautiful this looks now that we can actually see all of it. Between the rock work, the waterfalls, the remarkable details, it all just really comes together, and has a serious wow factor to it. It was hard to stand near the waterfall area and convince myself that I was still in the Magic Kingdom. It just puts other parts of the park to shame, and makes them look weak by comparison. Big thumbs up, and I really hope the restaurant is up to the standard the exterior has set.

Moving on to the village, you can now see Bonjour! Village Gifts head on.




It looks very nice. The popcorn cart in the area is called “Maurice’s Amazing Popping Machine”, which is very clever.


This is the walkway from Be Our Guest to the village. The detail is remarkable!


I bet the photos from that bridge with the waterfalls and everything will be awesome to take.

Here is Gaston’s.


If you look closely, you can see the waterfalls from Under the Sea working in this photo.


Lastly, here is a wide shot of the Be Our Guest entrance leading towards Bonjour!


Moving on to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, things keep growing!


More spiky things.




At Under the Sea, there was some more painting going on, which will eventually be covered by grass.



The signage for Ariel’s Grotto is also out.


Heading into Storybook Circus, the area is really starting to flesh out with all the foliage, and is starting to look like a park, which is fantastic.


Some Big Top shots.




Pete’s Silly Sideshow also opened up last week.



The outside is wonderful looking.




They put this umbrella up to shade the Cast Members, but it kind of doesn’t fit with the theme, and more likely was just backstage when they realized the CMs were baking in the Florida sun and used it.


Pete’s for me is the first (and only) thing in Storybook Circus that let me down. I expected a larger scale thing going on in that tent, but it was just pretty small, and featured characters you can see anywhere. I’ve likened it to the Epcot Character Spot but with circus attire. They have posters for obscure characters, why not just use them?


Also in Storybook, they added this thing to the end of the track that leads to the Casey Jr. area.


[center][size=5][b]This and That[/b][/size]

Lots of walls up in the park this week, like at Monsters Inc.


Also in front of the Flying Carpets attraction.


The Crow’s Nest gift shop has been behind walls for a long time, anyone know why?


This happened a while ago, but I never reported on it. These “idiot-proof” rails were installed on the bridge to Tomorrowland.



I don’t know exactly what an extra 6 inches of railing will do to save a child who is climbing on it anyways, but they have to comply by the law, so oh well.

Well, that wraps things up for this week’s Dateline. Are you guys as blown away as I am by the level of detail in the New Fantasyland? Or are you upset that the offerings don’t include more attractions? Let us know in the comments!!

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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]

  • Malin

    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.

    • mratigan

      They may rebuild the rest of the park;)

  • indianajack

    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.

    • Broadway Guru

      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.

      • indianajack

        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…

  • Ravjay12

    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!

  • jcruise86


    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

  • FerretAfros

    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

  • 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!

    • BC_DisneyGeek

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

    • jcruise86

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

      • jcruise86

        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.

      • ParkerMonroe

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


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

      • ParkerMonroe
      • jcruise86

        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.

    • Kidgenie

      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.

  • WesternMouse


  • Barbaraann

    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.

  • Vaudevillianna

    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.

  • PinkMonorail

    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!

  • SpectroMan

    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.

    • Kidgenie

      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.

      • indianajack

        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.

    • WesternMouse

      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.

  • Disneylandfan85

    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).

    • WesternMouse

      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.

  • mainejeff

    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………..

  • Aotphks

    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.

    • Aotphks

      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.

  • michael darling

    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.

    • WesternMouse

      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.

  • bnichols310

    The figures holding the up the light posts are not actually gargoyles. They are called grotesques, gargoyles are used to divert water. But whatever you call them, they are awesome!

  • Disneylandfan85

    I had a question in regards of Pete’s Silly Sideshow. It said: “Pete’s for me is the first (and only) thing in Storybook Circus that let me down. I expected a larger scale thing going on in that tent, but it was just pretty small, and featured characters you can see anywhere. I’ve likened it to the Epcot Character Spot but with circus attire. They have posters for obscure characters, why not just use them?”

    It would be wonderful to use those obscure characters, but what of the regular characters? If they removed Donald, Goofy, Minnie and Daisy from this section, where would you go to see them?

  • Timekeeper

    It looks good, if not better. Granted they should have built a BatB dark ride, but I think it would have been an underpar version, like the Little Mermaid Platinum DVD ride-through, so well’ll just wait and see if they notice a problem in front of them and maybe by then, they’ll think of building a BatB dark ride, (but probably after the Sea World Orlando opens their Antarctica trackless attraction.) I think a permanent meet’n’greet indoors is nice from outside the Floridan weather, no?


  • WdwTland

    the tland railings are an attempted to keep people from standing on top during the fireworks. Several guests have fallen in the past…

  • lionheartkc

    I was there on Saturday and they opened the whole land up to us. It is visually stunning overall. Enchanted Tales with Belle has some great animatronics and effects, plus wonderful detail, but is totally for kids and primarily girls. Be Our Guest is stunning but feels kind of small. Gaston’s Tavern is pretty small and not as well themed at the counter as the Three Broomsticks at Universal. The food seemed to be well received. The gift shop is well themed and at least carries some specialty items (and has a nice picture of the VP of parks and resorts on the wall). The themeing on the popcorn cart is also very nice. Mermaid cue is absolutely stunning and has some clever interaction, but the ride is a total letdown. I was so hoping, since they were building the ride from scratch, with basically unlimited space, they would fill in the glaring holes in the California version… they didn’t.

    My party’s assessment is, until the coaster opens, everyone will go check it out and then the land will be relegated to families with kids and the adult crowd will probably avoid it except for dining. The coaster will breathe some life into it, but it’s not going to compete with Potter in the long run.

    If Disney’s smart, they will keep building back and use this extension as a gateway to a villians extension, so everyone passes through it to get to the villian areas.

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  • Cheshire

    All these comparisons to Potter at IOA are comparing apples to oranges… I just got back today from WDW and got a chance to see the new Fantasyland in person… it is an amazingly themed addition that was long overdue for Magic Kingdom… but they were not going for a Potter killer with this land… they were simply finally making some improvements to a park that sorely needed it. Potter was a whole new land for IOA, this is just an improvement to an existing land and simply addition of a few more rides, restaurants and attractions. I don’t know how many of you have actually experienced both Potter and the new Fantasyland in person, but I have just done both this week, and there should not be a comparison between the two… they are just two different things created for different reasons. And the LeFrou brew is not a reaction to Butterbeer… its basically the same thing already served in CarsLand with the Apple Freeze (and it was good as was the pork shank).