Last week, New Fantasyland, the Disney World expansion that doubled the size of the iconic land, officially opened. It is a charming addition and will surely help the Magic Kingdom maintain its status as the world's most popular theme park. However, the centerpiece attraction of the expanded land, The Seven Dwarves Mine Train, is still under construction and is not scheduled to open until sometime in 2014. While the new goodies that did debut are wonderful, anticipation is running high for the coaster/dark ride, much of it fueled by Imagineers and Disney officials at the opening event.
For example, Chris Beatty, creative director for New Fantasyland with Walt Disney Imagineering teased, "Wait until you see the dwarves," referring to the animatronic characters that will be an integral part of the new attraction. He also said that, despite the conventional wisdom, the mine train was on the drawing board for New Fantasyland from the start. When the expansion project was first announced, the coaster was missing, and more princess-focused attractions were part of the mix. After a change in management, the plans were modified. But, Beatty affirmed, it was not so much a radical shift as a return to an original idea.
Whatever its origin, the ride should add some needed adrenaline (even if it will be modest) to the relatively low-key land. Bruce Vaughn, chief creative executive at Imagineering, pegs The Seven Dwarves Mine Train as "just below Big Thunder Mountain" in thrills. At 36 mph, the popular Frontierland ride doesn't exactly melt faces like more aggressive coasters, but it is perky. It sounds as if the new ride will be somewhere between a junior coaster such as The Barnstormer in Storybook Circus and a family coaster such as Big Thunder. It will be the world's first coaster to feature freely swinging train cars (set to the tempo of "Heigh Ho," no doubt.)
Here is what did open at New Fantasyland last week:
- Enchanted Tales with Belle- My review of the interactive attraction.
- Under the Sea- Journey of the Little Mermaid- My review of the dark ride.
- Fantasyland Forest- An overview of the new land, including a photo tour of its features.
- Storybook Circus- An overview of Dumbo's new home.
Photo: © Arthur Levine, 2012. Licensed to About.com.