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Inside New Fantasyland as Walt Disney World soft opens a whole new world in largest ever Magic Kingdom expansion

in Disney, Entertainment, Events, Magic Kingdom, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

Weeks before publicly announced preview dates, this morning Walt Disney World quietly soft opened the New Fantasyland expansion area of the Magic Kingdom to all park attendees. Included in this special preview were the majority of the areas inspired by “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast,” including new dark ride Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, Ariel’s Grotto meet-and-greet, Gaston’s Tavern, and Enchanted Tales with Belle. While guests could cross an ominous bridge and approach the Be Our Guest restaurant, they were not permitted inside quite yet.

New Fantasyland soft opening

New Fantasyland soft opening

Construction walls that have persisted in the park for years have recently been greatly reduced, with access to the new Fantasyland Forest now blocked only by rows of planters and Cast Members who today allowed guests inside for the first time. Though there is much construction still to be done in the area, the large portion of this theme park expansion is now nearly complete, almost ready for its December 6 grand opening. Much like the recent previews of Enchanted Tales with Belle, today’s soft opening of New Fantasyland was a test to train Cast Members in their new roles and gauge guest reactions, giving the design team a chance to make tweaks in the coming weeks ahead.


Video: New Fantasyland dress rehearsal begins in the Magic Kingdom


Inside New Fantasyland, the lucky guests who were part of this first preview had the opportunity to be astounded by the level of detail featured throughout the new area, encompassing all who entered into an entirely new world surrounded by trees, waterways, elaborate mountain ranges, and plenty of Disney details.

Take a spoiler-heavy look around each of the previewed portions of New Fantasyland below.

New Fantasyland Forest

The area that houses the “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Little Mermaid” sections of New Fantasyland is called the Fantasyland Forest. It will ultimately be lined with fresh foliage, though much of that will come in later phases of the expansion. For now, winding paths, running waterways, and some lush landscaping, particularly around the Be Our Guest restaurant, make it a distinct difference from some of the drab concrete walkways that line the majority of the rest of the older Fantasyland areas.

Be Our Guest restaurant in New Fantasyland

Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid

Borrowing a ride from the Disney California Adventure theme park, Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid immerses guests into the world of “The Little Mermaid” for the first time as a dark ride at Walt Disney World. In the tradition of classics like Peter Pan’s Flight and Snow White’s Scary Adventures (now gone from the Magic Kingdom), this new attraction lets guests climb into clamshell vehicles and glide through scenes and songs taken straight from one of Disney’s most beloved classic animated feature films.

24 Comments

  1. Tess

    Awesome pictures Ricky! Can’t wait to see it in person in December!

  2. Mitchell

    AMAZING!!

  3. Lauren

    That scuttle looks like so much fun! I can’t wait till February!

  4. Christian

    I hope you get the chance to interview Jodi Benson this December.

  5. Thanks for the sneak peek and all the photos! It almost eases the blow of not being there to see it first hand for myself. Almost,…ok not really. So jealous! It looks amazing!

  6. Scooter

    Any luck finding the nautilus rock and is Mr Limpet there?

    1. Ricky Brigante

      I asked a cast member in the loading area about the Nautilus and all he told me was that I’d already past it. So it’s somewhere before that. 🙂

      And no Mr. Limpet fish in Florida’s version of the ride. I looked for it both times I went on today.

      1. Scooter

        Glad I made a point to see him in DL

  7. Brandy

    The Beauty and the Beast section looks amazing! The Little Mermaid section and ride– not so much. The wooden Ariel nailed to the front of a ship is just CREEPY! It looks awful, even disturbing for little kids.
    And the ride, while ok, is so much like the show at Hollywood Studio, I wonder if we really need both? I like the classic dark rides, and I’m happy to see a new one, but I think Peter Pan and Pooh and Mr Toad and Snow do the compression and shortcutting required for dark rides much better. As a Butterbeer fan, I can’t wait to try Le Fou’s Brew.

  8. Wild Ol' Dan

    Howdy Ricky,

    First of all, it was great to meet you and your lovely wife Vicki as you were coming out of the BE OUR GUEST preview. What a beautiful, detailed job Disney has done throughout New Fantasyland…you could tell that some real heart was put into it…and it changes not just the size but the overall wonder and magic of Fantasyland and the entire Magic Kingdom. Looking back from the entrance of the Ariel Meet and Greet it truly looks like the Beast’s Castle is miles and miles away! There is real magic, real detail, real wonder, real enchantment in this wonderful place. And LaFou is going to have to take a clue from the Wizarding World and set up some carts for LaFou’s Brew…it’s delicious and is going to be VERY popular! Thanks for all your wonderful photos and in depth coverage…Disney can expect HUGE crowds in the month’s ahead! And, by the way, the spectacular entrance to the The Little Mermaid ride is the absolute finest in all of Walt Disney World! When the Seven Dwarf’s Mine Adventure, which is incredibly huge, finally opens then
    New Fantasyland will truly be a wonderful, enchanted place to visit…in fact, even with the construction going on, visiting New Fantasyland brings a whole new level of beauty, warmth, and enchantment to the Magic Kingdom! I look forward to your future reports from this enchanted place. Adios for now. Talk to ya on down the trail.

    Wild Ol’ Dan

  9. Wild Ol' Dan

    Howdy Ricky,

    Your lovely wife, it turns out, is not Vicki…it’s Michelle. A thousand pardons…

    Adios for now. Talk to ya on down the trail.

    Wild Ol’ Dan

  10. arlene

    Hi,

    Love the sneak peak you provided. I am planning a trip the weekend before the big grand opening. do you think all of this will already be open to everyone before the official grand opening?

    Any inside information you have would be great.

    Thanks,

    Arlene

    1. Ricky Brigante

      All of it will be open as of November 19.

      1. arlene

        Great Thank You.

  11. Tony D

    Thanks for the preview. I’m looking forward to visiting WDW but, especially the new Fantasyland. I still remember my first ride (Dumbo) at WDW in 1971. I look forward to passing on this first ride tradition with my daughter and seeing her eyes light up to see all her princesses come to life! My wife, 5 y/o daughter, and I are counting down the days to 02-Dec! Will everything be open to the public then and they’re just doing the “Official” opening on 06-Dec?

    Regards,
    Slightly excited Dad

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  13. Glenn Blanchard

    It all seems like such an enormous space to have only one new ride, the Mermaid deal…and that’s technically a rehashed DL ride. Ok the mine train coaster coming next year so two rides. Two whole rides in the space of an area that holds six or so already? What gives here? Acres of restaurants and gift shops?

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