When I was in Walt Disney World for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon, I had the opportunity to preview the brand new but not open to the public yet Fantasyland. I was not sure what to expect. There has been so much hype, could Disney live up to it all?
My family got to the roped off section that leads to the new Fantasyland and we were all given wristbands that gave us access to the rides and attractions. Our first stop was Story Time with Belle. This attraction is so innovative! You wait in a line that leads you through Belle's yard, then through the cottage, then into Maurice's workshop. This is when the show starts! I don't want to ruin all the surprises for you, but it is a truly magical experience. Members of the audience are invited to play parts of the story. My son was asked to be the Beast. The show was so well done. Not a single detail was overlooked. We loved the experience so much, that we did it three times. After Story Time with Belle, we explored Belle's village. We stopped in Gaston's Tavern for a famous Disney cinnamon roll.
After checking out the village, we went under the sea. We rode the Voyage of the Little Mermaid. The ride it's self was a lot of fun and very well done, but I had rode it before. It's the same ride as in Disneyland's California Adventure park. What was extraordinary about the east coast version of the ride the ride entry queue. There were no people in the line for the ride, but we still chose to take our time and take in all the wonder that was the ride entry line. The Imagineers really out did themselves on this one! The way they take you from a beautiful seaside village to under the sea is simply amazing. The intricate attention to detail is astounding. The ride vehicle is a clam shell. The ride it classics Disney animatronics, but with a modern update.
After the ride, we again went under the sea, but this time for a visit Ariel herself at Ariel's Grotto. The same attention to detail was observed at the grotto as it was the ride. When it was our turn, we got to visit with Ariel--the mermaid. My family has met Ariel plenty of times in many different locations, but she was always wearing her human legs. It was so much fun to meet Ariel the mermaid. The actress did an amazing job. She stayed in character the whole time, flipping her fins and asking my kids how far their swim was to get to her. Her costume was so beautiful and life like. The experience as so much fun and so magical for my family.
After the princesses, we had a chance to check out the new Storybook Circus area. This is where not one, but two Dumbo rides are. Disney created a new and innovative ride queue concept with this attraction. Guests are given a pager, just like the one you get at a restaurant. Families can play in the brand new, indoor circus play area until they are paged. The line area for this ride is very short--you do your waiting in the interactive play area instead of a boring line. What a great way to pass the wait time for your ride! When it's your turn, you pager goes off and you head to the ride. Also in this area is an arcade and the Barnstormer, a children's roller coaster. As with all of the new Fantasyland, the attention to detail with the new Dumbo ride is amazing. I could have spent all day just marveling at the details put into the designs.
My family was so fortunate to be part of the new Fantasyland preview. Disney really outdid itself on this one. I had very high expectations for the new Fantasyland. My expectations were met and surpassed for sure. As Walt would say, they took a great idea and they "plused it"! The new Fantasyland grand opening is December 5th, 2012.