Since the moment Walt Disney World announced its largest expansion in Magic Kingdom’s history, I couldn’t wait to step foot in a new land filled with princesses and pixie dust.
On November 15, 2012, at a very magical Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, my wish was finally granted. Disney had a very special surprise waiting for me, a sneak preview of the New FantasyLand. When I rounded the corner of the large barricades that have blocked our view of the construction for all this time to see a sign welcoming me into a dress rehearsal, I could barely contain myself. My daughter shouted for joy, but her outward excitement was nothing compared to my joy.
New FantasyLand is breathtaking! No attention to detail was spared, and the integration of modern technology truly makes the magic come to life. I was like a photo-taking fool, with my camera in one hand and phone in the other I literally snapped pictures left and right!
What’s in FantasyLand?
Although the expansion is still under construction, and will be through 2014, Belle’s castle and Ariel’s grotto are open for enjoyment. I understand that Ariel’s ride Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid is nearly an identical copy to the DisneyLand version, but having never visited the Anaheim park (bucket list!) it was a brand-new, deep-sea adventure for us. Lead by Ariel’s surface friend, Scuttle, passengers embark on pink clam shell cars, which still smelled of new plastic (adding to my own personal excitement. The ride is filled with colorful characters and plenty of music. It is certainly a delight.
Although there were no lines during this special dress rehearsal, even the queue is a magical sight. The ride itself is built into Prince Eric’s castle, and the line winds through caverns and water displays entertaining guests with Scuttle’s scavenger hunt and interactive blue crabs that help guest sort whosits and whatzits from Ariel’s collection of thingamabobs.
In Belle’s providential town Gaston’s Tavern is open for business serving up LaFou’s Brew, a frozen apple juice with flavors of toasted marshmallow and a generous squirt of passion fruit-mango foam on top. Served in your choice a plastic cup or souvenir mug, we picked up a tip from other guests that the souvenir mug option costs more (of course) but holds less brew. We opted for more brew! The taste test results – sweet! This is one sweet concoction, and my daughter and husband greedily gobbled up the good stuff.
While in Gaston’s Tavern, I could not resist having my photo taken in Gaston’s chair. (I may have hummed along out loud to tunes from Beauty and the Beast the entire time I was in the tavern.)
After taking a quick peak inside the gift shop, filled with high-class souvenirs for Beauty and the Beast fans. Oh how I drooled…
Of course, the visual centerpiece of New FantasyLand is Beast’s castle, and inside the castle guests can dine in style at Be Our Guest. This is where Disney’s Imaginears went all out with grandioso. By day, the castle is home to an up-scale quick serve restaurant complete with a self-serve, touch-screen ordering system. Food is then served on Mrs. Pott’s push cart — too cute! (Check out the lunch menu.)
By night, the dining room becomes a sit-down restaurant befitting, well, a princess. (Check out the dinner menu.) While the dinning areas are divided into three distinct dining rooms: the ballroom, gallery and mysterious “West Wing” of Beast’s castle, I only got a glimpse of the ballroom. It is completely stunning. I cannot wait to go back and enjoy a meal in the castle.
Outside Beast’s Castle, guests will find the most unique experience in New FantasyLand – Enchanting Tales With Belle. It’s not a ride, it’s not a meet and greet and it’s not a show — it is so much more. After touring Maurice’s house, guests are welcomed into Maurice’s workshop where a magical portal opens into the castle. Upon entering the castle, Madame Wardrobe invites kids to take part in the telling of Belle’s magical tale. Equipped with cutouts of the story’s most famous characters, the kiddos are lead into Belle’s library where they get to take part in Belle’s story. Shrieks of joy filled the room when Belle herself entered the library to join in the fun. After the story participants are invited to have their photo taken with Belle and are given a souvenir bookmark.
Quick tip – K was far too shy to take part in the story. But as participants lined up to meet Belle and receive their gift, she looked at me longingly. After asking a cast member, she was quickly invited to line up for her picture and gift as well. So even if you don’t take part in the story, don’t miss your photo opp.
The final and most enchanting moment on our evening in New FantasyLand concluded as we walked out of Enchanting Tales With Belle just in time for the Holiday Wishes fireworks show to begin. With fireworks set off above Cinderella’s castle and Beast’s castle, we were surrounded by magic. It was truly magnificent as every guest stopped in their tracks to stare up at the sky.
It was perfect!
The New FantasyLand soft opening is underway, and the grand opening will take place December 6, 2012.
I was invited to attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.