|Fantasyland opens. Photo by Paul Williams.|
For a while, it seemed like this day would never arrive. At times, it felt like everyone was waiting for the Fantasyland expansion to be completed for longer than the original 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction was operational! But, it’s here! New Fantasyland is open. Well, most of it is, anyway. The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train coaster still has over a year’s worth of work ahead of it, as it was a somewhat late addition to the area’s lineup, replacing Pixie Hollow and a variety of Princess dwellings that were moved to “old” Fantasyland in the space formerly occupied by Snow White’s Scary Adventures (opening 2013).
But despite the roller coaster crane sitting in the middle of New Fantasyland, the new area is breathtaking in theming and immersive details. Although officially there are only two areas to the expansion (Enchanted Forest and Storybrook Circus), it feels like three right now, possibly due to the Mine Train construction walls dividing things up.
A natural fit for the Enchanted Forest, the elements from Beauty and the Beast are represented through Enchanted Tales with Belle, Be Our Guest Restaurant and Gaston’s Tavern.
|Editor Martin Palicki and freelance photographer Paul Williams sample The Grey Stuff.|
|Be Our Guest ballroom. Photo by Paul Williams|
|Ariel’s home. Photo by Paul Williams.|
Also a part of the Enchanted Forest, although somewhat confusingly, Ariel makes her home in Ariel’s Grotto and in the attraction Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid. The dark ride mirrors the one opened at Disney’s California Adventure in Anaheim last year, although with a significantly more elaborate queue that includes a hidden Nautilus fossil in a nod to the original attraction that called this part of the park home: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Ariel’s Grotto is home to a meet and greet with Ariel, and also houses the most elusive hidden Mickey ever created. Shafts in the rockwork at Ariel’s Grotto allow sunlight to filter down and create a perfect hidden Mickey shape…but only on Mickey’s birthday (November 18th) at high noon. Imagine what crowds will be like on November 18th!!
Storybrook Circus provides a completely different atmosphere from Enchanted Forest, and is packed with attractions for the little ones.
|Storybook Circus. Photo by Paul Williams.|
|Storybook Circus. Photo by Paul Williams.|
The new Fantasyland offerings certainly live up to the Disney promise of quality and detail with careful attention to the timeless Disney narratives that millions flock to central Florida to experience. The addition of Princess Fairytale Hall (2013) and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Coaster (2014) will round out Fantasyland and easily make that section of the park the most popular land in the Kingdom.
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