After two years of peeking in on construction, stalking the Disney Blog for updates, and getting myself crazy worked up over the largest expansion project in Walt Disney World history, it’s HERE! It’s finally here! The New Fantasyland of Magic Kingdom is open for business!!
Woo hoo!! Where are all my super excited Disney nerds at?!
Technically the New Fantastyland doesn’t open until December, but I had the chance to take part in a “sneak peek preview” thanks to my annual passholder status (I renewed my annual pass in September for this very reason!).
(side note: they’ve been working out the kinks with “dress rehearsal” sneak previews of the area for the last month or so that are open to the public. there’s no guarantee when they’ll be open or how the crowds will be, but if you have plans to visit Disney before December, there is a chance you’ll get to experience it before the grand opening.)
The original email introducing the preview was just a teaser. We had to wait a week to register (which was then pushed back another couple of days as they worked on the system). When they did open registration, the overload of so many annual passholders signing on at once crashed the system. I didn’t get a ticket on the first round, but when they reopened it a couple of hours later I was thankfully able to score a pass for the time and date I wanted (there were a handful of options to choose from).
Disney took this preview VERY seriously. In order to register I had to have my annual pass, birthday, and ID on hand. Then when I arrived at Walt Disney today, there were two different checkpoints I had to check-in at before entering and they made it very clear if you didn’t print the ticket, you wouldn’t be let in.
I arrived about 5 minutes before my scheduled time and checked in at the ticket and transportation center, where I picked up this nifty New Fantastyland wristband
How cute is that button? The lady working the ticket check-in area drew it herself (and had several other options). When she told me I could pick whichever button I wanted, I almost reached through and gave her a hug!
I hopped on the monorail to Magic Kingdom and headed straight to Fantasyland.
The rest of Magic Kingdom was PACKED. As soon as you walked past the roped entrance of the New Fantasyland you could see a noticeable difference of how many people were around. Trust me, it was still busy, but not as crazy as it was in the main area. Because of that fact, I’m so glad I had a chance to see the New Fantasyland today and didn’t wait until after the opening or try for a public sneak peek. Something tells me the crowds are just going to get bigger. It was nice to have room to breathe and take everything in. See, that annual pass does come in handy every once in a while.
As soon as I entered New Fantastyland, I was directed to Enchanted Tales with Belle on the left.
Unfortunately this one did have a bit of a wait (40 minutes), but already knowing a little bit about the show, I knew why. This is a highly interactive show that only allows a couple of dozen of participants in the room at a time. The small, interactive shows are great for getting everyone involved and revving up that personal experience, but boy do they create lines (Olivander’s Wand Shop at Harry Potter World in Universal comes to mind as a good example). If it was 40 minutes today, I can’t imagine how long it will get during the heavier crowds – this might be a good one to FastPass in the future.
The line wrapped around Maurice’s cottage before eventually bringing you inside.
Gotta love Disney’s Imagineer’s attention to detail.
Does this book look familiar? See the bite in the corner?
I believe it’s the one that the sheep took a chunk out of in the opening sequence of Beauty and the Beast.
Oh! Isn’t this amazing? It’s my favorite because you’ll see. Here’s where she meets Prince Charming. But she won’t discover that it’s him till chapter three.
Yes, that song was stuck in my head the rest of the afternoon (or until I went on Little Mermaid, but I’ll get to that in a minute. )
Once we made it to the end of the line, we were ushered into Maurice’s workshop for part 1 of the show.
I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say the mirror plays a huge role in this portion of the show and it does something pretty cool that I wasn’t expecting.
From there we were led to the wardrobe where we learned we would be helping Belle act out the night she and Beast met.
There were several roles that needed to be filled and we were promised that every person would have an important part.
But first, we needed to audition! We were instructed to do different things (march, clap, sings, etc.) for each character and a role was given based on the person’s enthusiasm. I loved seeing how excited the kids were when they were selected, they all took their parts very seriously.
At the end, he asked if anyone who didn’t have a role wanted one, then handed out remaining parts to anyone with their hand raised (this made sure everyone was included! ). I wanted to take everything in, so I sat out this time around.
Once the roles were cast, we were led into the library where we all took a seat and enjoyed the show.
Again, I don’t want to give too much away, but the show was too cute for words. I enjoyed myself as an adult, but I can tell you the kids had even more fun. Belle was amazing and really took her time personally interacting with every participating child on stage, as well as those in the audience. At the end, everyone was handed a bookmark to thank them for participating in the show. I thought the bookmark was a nice touch since it encouraged Belle to ask all of the kids what they were reading and allowed them to take pride in some of their favorite books.
Next to Enchanted Tales was the new Be Our Guest Restaurant
They have a quick service and sit down option (the menu below is for sit down).
Unfortunately I didn’t get a good look inside (the quick service was open and serving lunch, there are themed rooms for the main dining that were blocked off that I kind of wanted to see – maybe next time).
I did see this little number on the wall near the exit that made me smile.
Walking a little further, you’ve entered the town square.
Where modesty is not Gaston’s strong suit.
Gaston’s Tavern is the new quick service/ snack restaurant in New Fantasyland.
The inside definitely had a Gaston feel to it.
The menu already has a bit of buzz building up around it over two things: LeFour’s Brew and Roasted Pork Shank.
LeFou’s Brew is an iced apple juice drink with toasted marshmallow that all the kids seemed to love. I would have tried it, but I’m not a fan of apple juice.
However, I did want to try the roasted pork shank. I know a bunch of people have been comparing it to Disney’ famous turkey leg (in size and portability) and I do love me some turkey leg.
The pork shank did not disappoint in size – this thing was huge! Way too much for one person ( or at least way too much for me). The pork was good – it was tender, flavorful, and juicy.
I wish I had someone to share it with. I could only eat about 1/3 before I was pork-overloaded. I would order it again, but next time I would have a friend.
After I had some lunch, I was ready for The Little Mermaid.
10 minute wait? Sweet!
(Please note the little boy in the up above photo said “Why am I in this line? I’m a boy!!” about 2 minutes after I took the photo. He was so cute when he said it, I couldn’t help but smile.)
The queue had an interactive portion where people in line could guide crabs to help clean up.
Unfortunately (or fortunately?) the line moved too fast to really have a chance to play.
The line moved quick thanks to the constant flow of shell cars to hop on for the ride. The close, quick moving cars, reminded me of the ones that are in Haunted Mansion. It’s the same set-up only you have pink shells instead of black caskets.
The ride was cute (especially if you’re a Little Mermaid lover!). It basically tells the story of Little Mermaid through the various songs. My only complaint was that I wish we got to listen to the songs a little longer!
Oh, and the character animation was a little old school. I’m mixed with appreciating the throwback to classic animatronic design for the ride or wishing they had don’t something to give it more of a modern feel.
That was it for the New Fantastyland thus far. Next to the Little Mermaid Ride is Ariel’s Grotto, where guests can do a meet and greet, but that wasn’t part of the preview package I had signed up for.
There’s also still a lot of construction going on next door for the new Snow White and Seven Dwarf’s ride.
And we can’t forget the Storybook Circus area that recently opened.
After all the wait and hype, I’m so happy I finally had a chance to experience the New Fantasyland for the first time today. Walt Disney World has a lot of potential to grow in that area and so far I like what I’m seeing. I believe both Belle’s Enchanted Tales and the Little Mermaid Ride are going to be hits.
Have you been to New Fantastyland yet? What do you think of the new changes?