After more than five years of development and construction, the veil has been lifted at Walt Disney World. New Fantasyland is officially open at the Magic Kingdom, the theme park’s biggest-ever expansion adding a grand new restaurant, tavern, dark ride, and other enchanted experiences.
During a two-part official opening celebration this morning, Disney Parks & Resorts chairman Tom Staggs was joined by “Once Upon a Time” actress Ginnifer Goodwin and “American Idol” singer Jordin Sparks first for a small ribbon cutting outside Gaston’s Tavern in Belle’s Village for the media, then in a far grander grand opening on the Cinderella Castle forecourt stage with all park guests invited to watch.
In the opening ceremony, Sparks sang a medley of classic Disney songs that relate to the debut of New Fantasyland and nearby Storybook Circus, including familiar tunes from “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid,” and “Dumbo” - complete with a rare character appearance by the flying elephant himself.
Enjoy both ceremonies in their entirety in the videos below.
Video: New Fantasyland ribbon cutting with Ginnifer Goodwin and Jordin Sparks
Video: New Fantasyland grand opening ceremony in front of Cinderella Castle
New Fantasyland includes numerous new attractions themed to “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Little Mermaid.” Here are a few highlights of what has slowly been unveiled over the last few months leading up to today’s momentous day:
Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid ride
Ariel’s Grotto meet-and-greet
Be Our Guest restaurant
Enchanted Tales with Belle meet-and-greet experience
Bonjour Village Gifts
As part of the grand opening celebration, last night Disney showed off a one-time flight of a dragon soaring above New Fantasyland, flapping its wings, moving its head and tail, and spitting fire:
Looking ahead, additional elements of New Fantasyland will open in the coming years with the debut of Princess Fairytale Hall in 2013 and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster in 2014, a preview of which was also shown at last night’s media event:
Guests were packing the New Fantasyland streets after this morning’s grand opening, lining up to sample LeFou’s Brew at Gaston’s Tavern, waiting to meet Belle and familiar enchanted characters, ready to dive under the sea with Ariel, and eager to dine at the Be Our Guest restaurant. The project won’t completely wrap up until 2014, but all visitors to the Magic Kingdom beginning today can enjoy several new attractions set amidst elaborate scenery in a relaxing environment that’s been years in the making.
Photo Gallery: New Fantasyland grand opening celebration
(Photos by Ricky Brigante and Jeremiah Daws)