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.
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.
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.