New Fantasyland - Early Impressions
New Fantasyland - Early Impressions
Posted Monday, October 15, 2012 at 3:59p Pacific Time
On Friday, on a whim, I decided to go check out New Fantasyland’s progress. I hadn’t been since Enchanted Tales With Belle and Pete’s Silly Sideshow had soft opened and wanted to see all the fun for myself. So my wife Rebekah, 3-year old Gideon and I headed off. As we were about to board the Monorail we received a text that the whole area was soft opening. Wow - what luck!
Entering the Magic Kingdom that day I had a feeling of excitement I hadn’t had entering a theme park in quite a while. It’s not that I’m jaded, but when you go as much as I do, you just don’t get the same excitement you do as when you go sparingly. Even the rides that have opened at Disney and elsewhere in the past few years haven’t given me that giddy feeling as I approached them. (Two notes: I was not excited about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter since I wasn’t a fan off the books or movies, but I was blown away by the land. And I haven’t yet seen Cars Land in California).
We made a point of going past the castle and entering through the new castle walls - that’s how excited we were. We spent a whole lot of Friday day and Saturday night there taking pictures and taking it all in. Below are my impressions, so far, of the Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland. I've separated them out by section and given my pluses and minuses for each.
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+It’s huge: About a year ago I had a chance to go behind-the-walls of New Fantasyland construction and commented how huge the whole thing seemed. Now, having experienced it, it’s even more apparent. At one point I was standing near the Storybook Circus train station realizing just how far away I was from PhilharMagic and Small World. The place is huge.
+It’s beautiful: Particularly the Beauty and the Beast / Little Mermaid area. I often comment how when you’re in Ft. Wilderness you completely forget you’re at Disney World. Well when you’re in the woods of Belle’s or the rockwork of Little Mermaid, it’s easy to forget you’re in the Magic Kingdom.
-Mine Train Construction: The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train construction really is an eyesore. I don’t know how it’ll look by the December 6th official opening, but considering the ride won’t be open until 2014, I imagine it’ll still be an issue. Regardless of the reason, it’s a shame it couldn’t all open at the same time.
+Flowing Water: I love flowing water and there is no shortage of water falls and streams throughout New Fantasyland. In seeing concept are and models, this was one of the things I was most excited about and I’m not disappointed.
+ Castle Walls: I like them. There’s not much to them, but I really like how they separate the old from the new and all the little seating areas, entryways and photo ops they create.
-No Strollers: I know some will see this as a plus but not me. I don’t know if this is just temporary during the dress rehearsals or this is the way it’ll be, but right now strollers are not permitted in the Beauty and the Beast / Mermaid section of the new land. Please tell me the land specifically geared towards children will not be keeping strollers out.
Enchanted Tales With Belle
+A Great Queue: From the woods and props to Maurice’s Cottage, this is a great queue to spend time in. Particularly, in Maurice’s Cottage, there are tons of details to keep you busy.
+The Kids are Cute: The special effects are cool. The Lumiere figure is amazing. But the lingering memory I’ve had after both my times through this attraction is the reaction of the (children and their parents) as they interact with, and meet Belle. I’m a sap and these are the sappy Disney moments that memories are made of
-I Didn’t Meet Belle: As best as I can tell, based on my two times through, only those that choose to participate in the storytelling get to meet and have their picture taken with Belle. Now, as many people as want to can participate, but at the time you make that decision you don’t know that’s what determines whether or not you meet Belle. That said, I’ve heard someone else had a bit different experience so my hope as they’re still working out the wrinkles and ultimately all who want to will be invited to meet her.
+Gaston’s Tavern Decor: He uses antlers in all of his decorating and it’s fun to see all the different ways he does it. This is another great place to check out the details. Don’t forget the “working” fireplace.
-Gaston’s Tavern Food: Despite being indoors, it’s not really a counter service restaurant, it’s more of a snack stand. For lunch, Be Our Guest will be fine but come dinner time, it’d be nice to have more options here.
-Indoor Size: Both Gaston’s Tavern and Bonjour Village Gifts feel small and I dread what they’ll feel like when the crowds come. That said, while the ordering area of Gaston’s was crowded in my experience, the indoor seating area wasn’t (probably because there’s little real food there).
+Gaston Fountain: More flowing water!
-LeFou’s Brew: Butterbear at Harry Potter is awesome and the foam is even better. I had high hopes for LeFou’s Brew and I’m disappointed. The apple-flavored drink itself is just ok. And the foam is as bad as Butterbear’s foam is good.
+Beast’s Castle: A great sight during the day. An awesome sight at night.
Be Our Guest Restaurant
+So far, so good. Since we were only able to look inside, I can’t really comment too much. But I do love the bridge that leads to it and the waterfall and stream that runs under. And the decor inside is so incredibly ornate. I can’t wait to experience it more.
Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid
+Another Great Queue: So my wife tells me we’ve washed up on the shore and are winding our way through the beach and through caves and into a bottom entrance of Prince Eric’s Castle. It makes sense to me and it’s beautiful. Waterfalls, sand and sitting water that’s neither clear nor dark water. It kind of looks sandy to me. And the night lighting is beautiful. Once you get into the caves there’s a kind of strange interactive game that’s cool to look at (even if I can’t figure out how to play), Then a great Scuttle animatronic, a really cool rotunda room and finally the ride. Really, really well done.
+The Ride. I really like this ride. I’ve never been a huge fan of Disney’s movie dark rides but as far as they go, this may be my favorite. The one thing I do wish they had somehow gotten better is the feeling of being underwater. The going under effect is great but after that you completely lose the feeling. Even a few bubbles might help. But as a big fan of this movie, I really like this ride.
Little Mermaid Meet and Greet
+It’s a Real Meeting: Because of its design you end up being able to hold a conversation with Ariel with, at most, one other family present a decent distance away. So you really do have a chance to meet Ariel.
-Not a great queue. We did this at night when it wasn’t particularly warm and being in that queue (which is designed as a cave) was miserably uncomfortable. Hopefully they find a way to fix that.
-Pete’s Silly Sideshow: There’s something a bit off about this one. Granted, we did it late at night and it was almost empty, but being in a circus tent with the circus music and the darkness and fog and characters themed to a sideshow … the person I was with described it perfectly. It felt like we were in “Something Wicked This Way Comes”
+Big Top Souvenirs: I know it’s just a shop in the same place there was a shop before, but I really like this place. The little details, especially in the floor, are great and the yummies that are sold in the center are wonderful. Try the candy corn cupcake!
+Dumbo Queue: Instead of waiting for 30 minutes in the Florida sun you get to sit down in an air conditioned building while your kids burn off some energy climbing and playing. Then your buzzer goes off and you get on the ride. Forget FastPass and interactive queues, this is the answer!!!
All in all, I’m extremely pleased with New Fantasyland. Storybook Circus, while not nearly as exciting as the rest, is fine for what it is. But I really think they nailed the atmosphere for Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid and, given that, I suspect they’ll do the same with the Mine Train. I can’t wait for 2014 to find out. For me, anyway, New Fantasyland has been worth the wait!