Fantasyland – Newer and more fantasy than ever

Last week, my wife and I visited Walt Disney World with some friends.  We were fortunate to be able to stay on the Disney property, which gave us easy and quick access to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.

Since my wife and I have been Vacation Club Members for a number of years, Disney (and DVC) was gracious enough to invite us to see and tour the New Fantasyland area prior to its opening.  This new area is opening in phases, and is scheduled for its grand opening for guests on December 6th of this year.  The nice thing about having the DVC member access, is that we could take our time walking through, since there were only a few other folks in the area.  It’s not often that you have the opportunity to photograph at a Disney park, with virtually no one else in front of you.

As we began our journey I was amazed at the level of detail that this new area offered.   The waterfalls, rocks and boulders, all leading the way up to the ‘Beast’s’ castle which was modeled after the Disney animated classic Beauty and the Beast.   Before proceeding to the castle, we stopped by Gaston’s Tavern, which will soon become familiar to everyone for the great sticky buns that they serve there.

Next we entered the Beast’s castle to view the interactive show titled, “Enchanted Tales with Belle”, previewing some incredible special effects along the way; a mirror that disappears and turns into a secret doorway to the library for one.  We continued into the library where the show resumes to give guests a great opportunity to visit and interact with Lumiere, Cogsworth, and eventually Belle during this lively re-enactment of the story.  There are plenty of photo opportunities with Belle during the finale.

We then crossed the bridge to tour the’ Be Our Guest Restaurant’, which houses 3 magnificent dining rooms, right out of the animated classic.  Complete with its west wing, the major and minor dining rooms, the ballroom, frost on the windows, the famous red rose in its glass case – petals and all.

After our visit with Beauty and the Beast we moved on to Ariel’s Grotto.  Our next attraction was the ‘Under the Sea -Journey of the Little Mermaid’.   As you walk through the entrance, Disney created numerous vignettes along the way featuring the various cast members of The Little Mermaid classic.  These mini-shows are a great idea for entertaining guests as they wait to enter the main attraction.  Finally, you enter Prince Eric’s castle, and board a giant clamshell.  The clamshell takes you through a re-telling of the animated classic, first on land and then you travel under the sea to enter Ariel’s underwater world.  As with Enchanted Tales with Belle, the attention to detail and special effects were astounding.

Unfortunately, we did not have time to visit ‘Storybook Circus’, the new replacement area to Mickey’s Toon-Town.  Visible everywhere, we observed many barricaded areas which enclosed regions under construction, and will eventually be home to many more attraction for this newly designed area.

As we exited, we were informed that after its completion this new area will nearly double Fantasyland’s size.  However, as I’m somewhat of an old-fashioned Disney fan, I do hope that they do retain some of the older attractions.  Granted, many may need some refurbishing and updating, but they are, and always will be part of my fondest memories of the Fantasyland attractions.