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On Monday, March 12, the Storybook Circus area of Orlando's Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World soft-opened a few attractions mid-morning. The land and attractions are scheduled to open for regular business on March 31, but like most attractions, they were finished early enough to allow for testing by the ride operators AND for "soft opening" testing to the general public.

The newly-constructed Dumbo, the Barnstormer, and the train depot were all open for business. To judge by the theming of the attractions and the little details scattered around the land, Disney has a winner on its hands here. Today's update is the last of three parts, heavy on the pictures, and lighter than usual on the commentary.

Read what you’re missing...

The Fantasyland train station was open.

A front view of the train.

Nice theming, again.

Themed weathervane.

This depot has a large building that remained shuttered – is there more line inside?

Backside of the train station. Note the Luggage. Unnecessary Theming! I love it!

There’s a curious “open” area with benches in the line that was in use, almost like a place for adults to sit and then rejoin the line later.

The themed elements here include multiple mentions of Carolwood, in honor of the backyard train that Walt maintained in his family home (he had nicknamed it the Carolwood Pacific).

The elevation continues a tradition at Disney park stations (and others, to be sure).
There’s another Carolwood reference just inside the hallway at the restrooms too.

The restrooms were impressive.

The building looks solid.

Inside is full of echoes, like a locker room.

Are there themed restrooms in the parks which surpass these? The brickwork alone is worthy of comment, to say nothing of the “roundhouse” tracks. It looks expensive.

The roundhouse tracks are my favorite (composite photo).

I like that the Storybook Circus warrants its own trashcans.

The theme is a bit cartoony and circus-like, which is simultaneously (1) the whole point and (2) the irritating “non-interesting” argument again. Walt kept trying to add an active circus to Disneyland. After the second failure he concluded people came to Disneyland to see Disneyland, and I kind of wish they axiom was held up here, but that’s not the fault of the folks who made all these details; it’s the fault of whoever decided on the theme.

But there’s more to say about the trashcans. I found a second design in at least two places in the land. This one looks like wooden planks, almost like a Frontierland design (and yes, it’s new).

Plastic and fake.

Here’s the thing: it’s a giant sticker rather than painted on. And it looks tacky and out of place, especially considering how rich and expensive everything else looks in the new area. It’s chintzy, and the one obvious dissonant note.

The walkway to Tomorrowland is open.

The only other note of dissonance is the theme mismatch hinted at earlier. If this is a circus, why is there a barnstorming opportunity? (Maybe they are common at circuses?)

Great new costumes!

There’s background music that plays softly through the land. I didn’t dwell long enough to hear it all the way through, but I can say I was in the land for 20 minutes before I noticed it. It’s understated, in theme to a circus, and not overwhelming. That just about reads like the very job description for background music if you ask me, so they did a fantastic job.

There are tracks through part of the land. These end near the water tower.

Overall they really have done a fantastic job. I may have minor quibbles about the theme selected for the land, but the execution has mostly been first-rate, and I wouldn’t want to signal that I was disappointed with the land. On the contrary, it was fabulous to welcome a new themed environment to Walt Disney World, especially one done with this much care and expense. I’m encouraged all the more now to see what the rest of New Fantasyland brings.

The tents are a bit more visible, and they appear to be empty inside so far.

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Kevin Yee may be e-mailed at [email protected] - Please keep in mind he may not be able to respond to each note personally. FTC-Mandated Disclosure: As of December 2009, bloggers are required by the Federal Trade Commission to disclose payments and freebies. Kevin Yee pays for his own admission to theme parks and their associated events, unless otherwise explicitly noted.

© 2012 Kevin Yee

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Readers are invited to join Kevin on Facebook, where he offers regular "Where in Walt Disney World" photo quizzes.

On his public Facebook page, Twitter feed, and Google+ account, he also offers regular smaller updates on the parks.

Kevin’s Disney Books

Kevin is the author of many books on Disney theme parks, including:

  • Jason’s Disneyland Almanac (co-written with Jason Schultz) is an exhaustive listing of every day in Disneyland history, from 1955 to 2010. You’ll find park operating hours, weather and temperatures, and openings and closings of any park attraction, shop, or restaurant… for every day in the park’s history.
  • The Unofficial Walt Disney World ‘Earbook 2010 is a photo-rich volume of 70 pages that park fans will find especially useful if they want to know what’s changed at WDW since their last visit.
  • Walt Disney World Hidden History: Remnants of Former Attractions and Other Tributes As the title implies, this is all about those little things in the parks that have significance to insiders and long-timers, but are never explained or highlighted.
  • Your Day at the Magic Kingdomis a full-color, hardcover interactive children’s book, where readers decide which attraction to ride next (and thus which page to turn to) - but watch out for some unexpected surprises!
  • Mouse Trap: Memoir of a Disneyland Cast Memberprovides the first authentic glimpse of what it’s like to work at Disneyland.
  • Tokyo Disney Made Easy is a travel guide to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySeas, written to make the entire trip stress-free for non-speakers of Japanese.
  • Magic Quizdom offers an exhaustive trivia quiz on Disneyland park, with expansive paragraph-length answers that flesh out the fuller story on this place rich with details.
  • 101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland is a list-oriented book that covers ground left intentionally unexposed in the trivia book, namely the tributes and homages around Disneyland, especially to past rides and attractions.

More information on the above titles, along with ordering options are at this link.