Welcome to New Fantasyland! The Doors Will Open Automagically Toward You…

It’s here it’s here it’s here it’s here IT’S HERE!!!!

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Today is the grand opening of New Fantasyland at Disney World. Also the re-opening of Test Track. And the Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow in Disney Studios. And the preview of Splitsville in Downtown Disney (well, the press preview is tomorrow night, but close enough). Everyone joins the party except Animal Kingdom. Like an unwanted feral child…poor Notazoo.

It’s a big day.

So tell me, why am I not in Orlando right now, experiencing it all? Not sure.

Unfortunately I will not get down to Orlando myself until January. Until then, I will have to live vicariously through those who are, via the internet.


But for now, let me express my excitement by giving my general thoughts on each of the new attractions, which are at present only colored by press releases, youtube, and other whispers abouts the interwebs.

First…

New Fantasyland

It’s the biggest expansion the Magic Kingdom has ever seen. And I’m pumped. Yes, I was disappointed that the dragon just turned out to be a one night stand (he promised so much!). But that doesn’t change the fact that this park looks like my dreams come true. Literally, I have always wanted to step into the movie Beauty and the Beast. And now you’re telling me I actually get to!? Disney…have you been reading my diary?

For those who don’t know about all the attractions, you can get a quick taste from this segment of Good Morning America.

Watched it? Thought Gaston’s voice wasn’t nearly deep enough? Me too. But still, super cool right?

Mmk. Now for my magical breakdown.

The New Fantasyland is divided into two parts, but let’s start with the attractions found in…

Fantasyland Forest

1. Be Our Guest Restaurant

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Yes, that is an actual replica of the iconic ballroom in Beauty and the Beast.

This is the attraction I’m most jazzed about. It’s taken story immersion to a whole new level. And no, this isn’t a ride. It’s a restaurant. And I thought “50’s Prime Time” had great theming. This is…something else. The entrance is a foreboding ruined castle, imagineers reportedly wanted to give it a “cold” feeling, almost akin to the “Haunted Mansion.” They want you to question whether or not you should proceed further.

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Although I applaud this sentiment, I immediately envision having my excitement spoiled by the inevitable screaming toddler who is convinced the Beast is going to come eat her.

“No, he’s not a monster! He’s just misunderstood!” I will explain. The parents will shield their child and quickly walk away. Leaving one less person in the wait line in front of me. Excellent.

The detail and ambiance is no less meticulous inside, where suits of armor not only line the halls but reportedly whisper, sing, and snore.

I just love Disney imagineers.

The study is where lunch goers will order their food and dinner attendees will (sorry, but insert fangirl squeal here) meet with the Beast himself for a photo op. He’s all dressed up!

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Diners can choose from three dining rooms in three different timelines of the movie. The majestic ballroom, which not only replicates the scene down to the last rosy cheek on the ceiling cherubs, but a magical snowfall effect transports you far away from Orlando. The West Wing is a smaller more intimate room that is purposely dilapidated and foreboding. The magical rose and haunted prince portrait make an appearance here, as I’m sure will more screaming children. The Rose Room, used only for overflow and lunch, is West Wing’s warm and inviting antithesis. Portraits of the castle’s residents adorn the walls and a larger than life music box sits front and center.

Take a look!

Disney is really trying to take a step forward with the food in this attraction, as well. The head chef stated that they really wanted to do more than burgers and fries. I’m really happy to see this effort from the Disney food staff (what are they called, imagichefs?). Feeding people en masse and doing it well? Not an easy task. But Disney is really putting forth the extra effort to revolutionize the way we think about theme park food. Will it work? Time will tell.  From the reviews I’ve seen so far, it’s far and away the best food in the Magic Kingdom. But not in all of Disney World. It’s good, but not great.  People seemed to be more pleased with its counter service than dinner. I’ll have to report back after my trip in January.

I don’t know how to summarize my feelings about this attraction except for…wow. And fan girl squeals. Once I get in this place, I may never leave.

Quick tip, if you’re looking for the “grey stuff” (it’s delicious!), you won’t find it on the menu. They actually only added it after viral internet demands. But it has to be a special occasion for you to get it. So just say it’s your cat’s anniversary or something.

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2. Enchanted Tales with Belle

I have to admit, I’m of two minds with this attraction. It’s basically the same little kid’s show they had in Fairytale Garden, but with an Extreme Makeover. And the makeover…is just so pretty! It’s like, the actual village! With the actual cottage! And you walk in the cottage and there’s books and movie props and and and…fangirl squeal!!!

Sorry. Won’t happen again.

But this looks like it will definitely hit the warm goo inside any “Beauty and the Beast” fan.

So Disney entices all the adults in with this stunningly elaborate queue…which seems to be more interesting than the actual attraction. Sure, they’ve got two pretty cool animatronics inside. But then you have to sit through the same show they had in the Fairytale Garden that no adult without children under the age of eight would possibly be able to sit through, no matter how persistent their inner child. So…can we have a walk through option here, Disney?

The whole gimmick is that the audience is taken back in time to the day Belle and Beast fell in love to reenact (with Belle) how Belle and Beast “met.” “Met”… “was captured by”… they’re the same things, right? Inviting a whole new generation of kids to embrace Stockholm! I approve.

If I were an enchanted object trying to make two people fall in love I might not bring up that the way they met was one imprisoning the other after doing a life swap for her father. Might ruin the mood. But that’s just me.

Moving on.

To…the library! In the hype for this attraction, we were promised the Beast’s library. And, well, I have been searching for the real life version of this library my whole life. Look at it!

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Every book nerd’s dream. Unfortunately, I guess because of time and budget…it got whittled down to this:

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Not even close.

I know, I’m knit picking. The queue is gorgeous and it is, after all, a little kid’s attraction…but if they were going to do this library then they should have done it right. And if they couldn’t do it right they shouldn’t have done it at all. They could have easily made this the study or a parlor or something that didn’t define my childhood. Well, I guess you can’t have everything. Next renovation?

3. Gaston’s Tavern

More approval on this one. Just another extension of the picturesque, immersive quality of this new land.  This is the only time I will ever approve of the use of antlers in decorating.

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I also love the addition of the fountain from the beginning of the movie, but with the twist that Gaston put a statue of himself on top. He would.

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And I know that the drink “LeFou’s Brew,” exclusively available in this tavern (and in Cars Land in Disneyland), is a shameless and fruitless attempt to compete with butterbeer…but I really wanna try it anyway. Goblet and all.

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But with the manly mug.  You know, to lower my estrogen level a little bit after all the fan girl squealing.

4. Under the Sea- Journey of the Little Mermaid

This one is getting a lot less hype than the rest, probably because it’s not technically new. It’s an almost exact replica of the one that exists in Disneyland’s California Adventure. Still, the exterior looks just as spectacular as the rest of the new land.

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My west coast friend, who is a big Ariel fan, says the ride in Disneyland is nothing to write home about. It’s fun, but all the clams smooshed together makes a crowded feeling that lacks intimacy.

But once again, the theming looks spectacular. And, in keeping with WDI’s latest trend of interactive queues, there’s a fun little touch screen game where you help crabs clean up the “human stuff.”

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I’m purposefully avoiding watching videos of this ride, so this will be another thing I’ll have to report back on after my visit.

5. Ariel’s Grotto

Not much to say here. It’s just a more elaborately themed version of the meet-and-greet that existed before.

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As always, beware of old pervs ogling the half naked fish lady.

And on that note, we move to…

Storybook Circus

1. Dumbo

I’m sure parents of young children everywhere are thanking Disney on bended knee for this. Dumbo, for many young spawn, is a must-see-or-I-will-scream-and-ruin-your-vacation-by-giving-you-a-migraine-and-calling-security kind of attraction. Unfortunately, with the demand and the slow loading process, the waits could be monstrous. So, Disney decides not only to increase loading speed by adding a second ride vehicle, but to get rid of that whole “line” thing all together by creating an indoor circus themed play area. The little tykes run around while the parents wait with a buzzer to tell them when it’s their turn to ride.

“Here kids, have a playground plucked from your favorite movie! Parents, have a seat!” And they weep for joy.

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2. The Barnstormer

Nothing really to say here. It’s the same attraction as before. Basic little kid coaster. Fun for the kiddies, nothing to write home about.

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3. Pete’s Silly Sideshow

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Again, not much to say. It’s a fun way to theme a character meet and greet. And I always approve of taking long lines out of the sun.

Moving on to the other parks now, who have less exciting but still cool openings.

Epcot’s Test Track Update

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Thank you, Disney. This was definitely needed.

I’m actually strangely happy that they haven’t changed the track at all for this. Just the design. Which, well, got a little boring after the first ride. The “you’re going into to crash into a wall!” gimmick was amusing….once. And then you just noticed how much black space there was.

They’ve remade this ride to look more computer-like. People are saying it looks like it’s straight out of the movie “Tron.” As someone who cares nothing about Tron, I’m happy they didn’t just make it a “Tron” ride. Frankly, there’s not enough original standalones left in the parks anymore. It’s refreshing to see something left untouched by a movie franchise, even if it does heavily advertise their sponsor.  But I knitpick, I know.

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This update also adds to Disney’s effort to erase that whole “wait” nuisance through interactive queues. Throughout the queue you go through a very detailed and extensive design process that takes a good part of the wait. The design then comes with you onto the ride and you can see how it holds up through all the “tests.” Makes me think you’d actually not want to use the FastPass with this one. Well, saves me having to chose between this and Soarin.’ The whole thing seems pretty cool. Can’t wait to see how my one-wheeled monster truck holds up.

Disney Studio’s Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow

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Okay, I’ve already expressed my displeasure on this one, so I won’t bore you with that diatribe here. I will say that rumor around the blog-mill has it that the special effects are moderately cool, but the storyline is pretty cheesy. An improvement on the Narnia walk through, but I know Disney can do better.

Downtown Disney’s Splitsville

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Okay, I honestly just don’t get this. I’m glad they’re adding more night life back to Downtown Disney. I’m disappointed they’re not doing it by reinstating The Adventurer’s Club (kungaloosh!).

But a bowling alley? As nightlife?

Not sure I totally understand it. Sure, a bowling alley is family fun, but I’m not sure I get the need for a 21+ floor. Do you do shots out of the finger holes?

Well, it’s not like this is the first Splitsville in the US so I guess there must be something popular about it…just don’t see what.

Well, I’ll have to check it out with the rest in January.

Why so far away!?

Have you seen the new attractions? Leave your comments below!