I’ll admit it: I didn’t like the idea of Storybook Circus when I initially saw the concept. Sure, I’m biased because I loved Mickey’s Toontown Fair, but it was more than that. While I questioned how many children have actually seen the movie Dumbo, more than anything I felt that the idea of a circus doesn’t resonate with children very much today. The idea seemed outdated at best and at worst, slightly indulgent.
I’ll say it here: I was wrong. The area is so richly detailed, anyone will enjoy visiting Storybook Circus, which is in part influenced by the movie Dumbo. Disney fans will love the nods to Disney history and how the Imagineers have honored that past. I was lucky to visit a few days after the first Dumbo opened in March and was surprised at how beautiful it was, right down to the multicolored water feature at the bottom. The entire area is both pretty and functional, with a huge, walled off stroller-parking area, large (and clean!) restrooms that cleverly double as a roundhouse, and plenty of tiny details that will charm guests each time they visit. I had big plans for my last trip and people to spend time with, but I kept finding myself drawn back there for another look.
Still, when pictures of the new Casey Jr. Splash N Soak Station, the latest Fantasyland attraction to open, popped up online, I wasn’t impressed. If you spend any time on Disney online forums, you know that I wasn’t alone. A lot of fans wondered why it was so small and disliked the fence that goes around the engine in front. Fortunately, pictures don’t do Casey Jr. any justice. The area is huge and the fence, which seems too prominent in pictures, is a non-issue. Yes, it’s there. But it doesn’t detract from the look of the area once you see it in person.
The idea behind this attraction is simple: Casey Jr. has come to town with his circus cars full of monkeys, giraffes, elephants and camels. The train is stopped in front of the beautifully detailed roundhouse. Monkeys spray you with flowers, camels spit, and elephants squirt water through their trunks. You might notice that the back of each car has numbers which correspond to the opening dates of the four Disney World parks: 71, 82, 89, and 98. The industrial overhead lighting, meant to look like it’s part of a railroad crossing, fits in perfectly with the theme and is especially festive at night.
If you remember the water play area near Donald’s Boat in the old (beloved) Toontown, you probably recall that it was possible to play in that area and not get soaked. This isn’t the case with Casey Jr. Go in with the expectation that you’re going to be doused and then some. Disney was smart to put a cart right next to the area selling towels, flip flops, and other items. Save yourself some money and bring the kids (and maybe yourself) extra shoes, towels and clothing.
The only fault I can find with Casey Jr. is that it’s going to be impossible to get kids out of there. I visited several times and each time I saw many delighted kids running around in the water. In fact, I think it will change how people visit the Magic Kingdom. If you’re someone who wants to stick to a schedule, try coming here after you’ve done all your “must do” attractions for that day, that way you can stay and enjoy it.
I’m so pleased that everything I’ve seen so far from the new Fantasyland has exceeded my expectations. I can’t wait (no, literally, I can’t) to see what the next few months has to offer.
Special thanks to Cory Disbrow at DisneyPhotographyBlog.com for the use of his spectacular photos.
So what do you think? Have you visited Casey Jr. yet? If so, what did you think?
Park Wise is written by Chris Wood.
You can find Chris at Everything Walt Disney World.
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