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Fantasyland Expansion

Magic Kingdom to Feature New Lands and Rides

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Storybook Circus
justzanna/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

A major Fantasyland expansion now underway at Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Florida will more than double the size of the area. Appropriating the area that once held the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea submarine ride and the less-than-stellar Mickey's Toontown Fair, new lands and attractions will welcome characters from classic films such as Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid to the park. Old favorites, such as Dumbo and Goofy, will also take up residence in the expanded land.

Construction is nearly complete, and everything is now open with the exception of the flagship attraction, The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. The unique Snow White-themed coaster and dark ride will debut sometime in 2014.

Storybook Circus

The circus theme has replaced Toontown Fair (which, coincidentally, also featured circus tents). Instead of the slapdash ode to toons, which was originally conceived as a temporary land to celebrate Mickey Mouse's birthday, the re-imagined area celebrates the golden age of the circus and is set in an idealized 1940s/1950s time period. Carolwood Park, the town in which the circus has set up its tents, is identified in some of the signs, including the railroad station at which the Walt Disney World Railroad stops. The name is a tip of the engineer's cap to Walt Disney. A train enthusiast, Disney had a scale locomotive running through his backyard that was dubbed the Carolwood Pacific Railroad.

A Jumbo-Sized Dumbo

  • Both Dumbo rides are now open.
Dumbo the Flying Elephant may have been the most frustrating ride in all of Walt Disney World. No visit to the theme park mecca was complete without a ride on the charming big-eared elephant. For that very reason, there was typically a jumbo-sized line to endure just to take a 90-second spin on the ride.

Disney has tackled the rat-maze-hell problems with two significant improvements: A second Dumbo platform now doubles the capacity of the ride, and the queue snakes through a big-top circus tent complete with interactive games (and, thankfully, air-conditioning) to entertain guests. That should keep fidgety toddlers and their exasperated parents occupied, comfortable, and happy as they build anticipation for their flight aboard the airborne elephant.

Dumbo is the centerpiece attraction and the star of Storybook Circus. The simple spinning ride, which I consider to be one of the best rides for kids at Disney World has long looked like an elegant Renaissance-era machine. The new dueling Dumbos feature even more elaborate filigree and details. They are set above pools of water with fountains and lights to create a nighttime spectacle. Whimsical details, an Imagineering obsession, include faux peanut shells and animal prints embedded in the ground and befitting the circus setting.

Barnstormer Coaster

  • Now open.
The junior steel coaster received a minor makeover and has been recast with Goofy as as "The Great Goofini." The hapless dog/man is the "B" act to the center-ring star, Dumbo. He is a circus stunt man, and guests are invited to ride with him on his wacky stunt biplane. At a height of 30 feet and a top speed of 25 mph, the relatively gentle gateway ride is perfect for aspiring thrill seekers and those not able to make the height cutoff for some of Disney World's bigger coasters.

Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak Station

  • Now open.
The Casey Jr. Circus Train has been hauling guests for years through Storybook Land in Disneyland. Casey has finally made his way to Florida, but he presents a water play area instead of a train ride. Of course, the attraction includes water-spewing circus elephants.

Pete's Silly Sideshow

  • Now open.
The circus tent may look like there is a sideshow inside, but it is really a place for guests to meet Disney characters such as Goofy and Minnie Mouse.

The Fantasyland expansion overview continues with a look at Fantasyland Forest, its new attractions, and a photo tour of New Fantasyland.

Or you can jump directly to the attractions:

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