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Not-So-Final Fantasy

01/29/2013

I have received a few requests for a review of the “New Fantasyland” at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, so here are some photos and thoughts. First, the redevelopment is not finished, so the announcement seems a bit premature to me. Second, I don’t particularly like it.

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I should add that I didn’t like the old Fantasyland either, having a definite preference for the Disneyland original. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t several rides and attractions that are better in Florida, simply that the atmosphere and experience of Fantasyland is better in California, if less spacious. The problem with Magic Kingdom’s version is, as was once quoted about Oakland, “There’s no there there.” This flaw has only become more prominent with the revamp.

Here’s an example. When you enter through the gates of Cinderella Castle (much larger that California’s Sleeping Beauty version), you are faced with a central carousel and two branches, much as in Disneyland. But go to either side of the circle, and the land opens up into a vast, unfocused expanse.

This, to the left (no real changes here), a generic carnivalesque pathway to Mickey’s Philharmagic, Peter Pan, and it’s a small world:

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Peter Pan:
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it’s a small world:
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And this is now the view to the right of the carousel, where Dumbo used to be.

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No, Dumbo hasn’t vanished. The ride has been moved down to what was formerly known as Toontown, now re-imagined as a Storybook Circus. Makes me wonder what’s in store for Disneyland’s bigger Toontown area in the future.

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If you look at a map of the land from above, it looks like those angled castle walls are in place to guide traffic flow. But on the ground, they break up the experience in a random and unappealing way. It feels like you’re walking through portals to nowhere, and you can’t get a good long-view of the things you actually want to see. Once you enter, to the left is a Belle character area and some other nooks and crannies.

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Notice Beast’s Castle in the distance, past Belle’s cottage. This houses the Be Our Guest restaurant. We enjoyed lunch here, though the entrees vary a lot. I recommend the Tuna Niçoise, an excellent value at $13, with a generous and minimally seared portion of fish. We also heard good things about the pork stew/roast. The quiche was blah, and although the steak sandwich has a piece of real steak on it, a fellow diner didn’t give it any raves. Dessert cream puffs were just OK, though the gluten-free lemon had a better pastry shell than the traditional chocolate and would certainly be a good option if you don’t eat wheat.

The restaurant itself is pretty amazing from an Imagineering standpooint. I don’t think I would pay to eat there for dinner, but it’s worth a look at lunch.

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Down the path to the right of the restaurant is a village area with Gaston’s Tavern and a gift shop, and then an odd transition from forested “France” to the Little Mermaid ride entry. Under the Sea is very similar to its older sibling at Disney’s California Adventure, but the queue is more impressive here, really well done, and the ride itself seems a bit longer and more interesting. Score one for Florida.

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Unfortunately, this corner of Fantasyland is currently a dead end because of ongoing construction.

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Which brings me to one of the more puzzling aspects of New Fantasyland. What happened to Snow White? Just past those odd castle walls shown above is construction of a new coaster ride called the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. It looks like it will be fun, and it might provide a similar, if less impressive visual anchor a la California’s Matterhorn. But it’s not finished yet.

In typical Disney fashion, the walls around the work zone have cute images on them.

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While I understand that the land needed to open without this one ride being done, I don’t understand why the original Snow White’s Scary Adventures had to be removed. It’s just gone, replaced by shops, so at this time, there’s no active Snow White ride in Disney World’s Fantasyland at all. I will have to look into what the detailed plans are for the new ride, whether the old one will be incorporated at the beginning and end. You would hope so, but there’s no mention of Snow White in the title …

On the one hand, I appreciate that most of the new Fantasyland theming is based on Beauty and the Beast, which is one of my favorite movies, but even when the mine train is complete, I am not sure that the land will ever feel like is has a heart.

[WDW Day 1: The Trip Begins at Animal Kingdom]

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From → Disney, Travel

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