Like Flora, Fauna and Merryweather (the Three Good Fairies from Sleeping Beauty!) Disney cast members have all been hard at work and full of anticipation creating and perfecting New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando! This December marked the grand opening of New Fantasyland with many more attractions and areas opening as time goes by. New Fantasyland consists of two areas of the park – Enchanted Forest and Storybook Circus.
With so much to see and do it’s very easy to get overwhelmed (as an adult, never mind as a child!) but my advice to you as a parent is two-fold. 1) Plan ahead of time by researching online to see everything available and to have a basic idea of the must-see attractions or areas of any park and 2) Just go with it. If the excitement and tears overtake you (as they did for me at the Let the Memories Begin! spectacular) it’s ok too. Here are my favorite parts of New Fantasyland…
Probably the most notable piece of architecture at Walt Disney World, Cinderella’s castle is a must-visit at New Fantasyland – preferably at night when it’s covered in lights making it look all the more magical! Here’s one to stump your friends with. How many stones are there in Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom? NONE. The whole shell of the building is fiberglass! (source)
The Sword in The Stone, in front of the Prince Charming Regal Carousel, is a definite photo-op and worthy attempt for any prince or princess visiting Disney World!
I love this photo! Not only is everyone looking at the camera but it was my youngest’s first time on any carousel, so of course it had to be the Prince Charming Regal Carousel! This photo, taken during the media-only party at New Fantasyland the night before the huge grand opening to the public, doesn’t show that we were the only ones on this magical ride at the time. A truly once-in-a-lifetime experience for sure, though I think if the ride was full of children, you’d only see the sparkle in your little one’s eyes alone!
Under The Sea – Journey of The Little Mermaid attraction and Ariel’s Grotto character meet and greet are two must-visit spots at New Fantasyland! My five year old is a huge Ariel fan (so much so that her almost-two year old sister can say Ariel’s name plain-as-day having heard her discussed in our household quite often!) So, naturally, we had to pay a visit to Ariel and check out the attraction! Like all Disney characters you meet, Ariel WAS Ariel. I adore how the actors truly embrace the gift they’ve been given in their jobs, to make magical memories for children (and adults) every single day.
While the new Be Our Guest restaurant is a huge deal at New Fantasyland, Gaston’s Tavern was a must-stop spot on our visit. The kids thought it was pretty fun to see a place with so much action from Beauty and the Beast, and of course mom and dad wanted to stop in to see what was on tap! A must-try for the whole family, LeFou’s Brew which is a blend of frozen apple juice and a hint of toasted marshmallow – yum!
Other fun attractions that we checked out at New Fantasyland include Dumbo, The Flying Elephant which is twice as big and twice as fun with two Dumbo rides. One goes clockwise, the other counterclockwise! The updated attraction features shiny new red and gold colors inspired by 50’s and 60’s era toys (ah-ha, say many of you!), beautiful new illustrations from Disney animators and a water feature circling the base on both. While waiting to ride, kids can play in the air conditioned Big Top area. No need to worry that stopping for some circus fun will make your wait longer – each guest gets a circus ticket pager that notifies them when their elephant is waiting to fly! If you have young children, this is the perfect area to visit (but be warned, they’ll love it and you may be there quite awhile going on the ride over and over.) Hmmm, maybe that’s why they made one clockwise and one counterclockwise – to help mom and dad’s stomachs on the ride over…and over…and over!
The Barnstormer Featuring the Great Gofini is another fun ride the kids will love, located beside Dumbo, the Flying Elephant. The roller coaster is fun-sized for the whole family. While the airplanes seat two to each seat, guests must be at least 7 years old to ride alone. It reminded me a bit of Goofy’s Sky School at Disneyland though that ride has a taller height requirement. In comparison, The Barnstormer doesn’t have as many drops as other roller coasters and is pretty tame – my son (8) doesn’t like roller coasters because of the drops and loved this ride.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to check out Enchanted Tales With Belle as the line-ups during our visit were huge (even for us media folk!) so we have to save that for a future visit for sure. For those curious, this attraction takes you on a winding pathway to Maurice’s workshop where an enchanted mirror is the doorway to a new Beast’s library where they will find Belle and Lumiere! Guests step right into the story of Beauty and the Beast at this attraction – no wonder it’s so popular!
When planning out trip, I wondered if the New Fantasyland opening would be the right fit for my 8 year old son. Sure, his 5 year old and 20 month old sisters were sure to enjoy the magical castles and opportunity to see a real live princess, but what about him? As it turns out, 8 year old boys have a bit of admiration for princesses themselves (though he won’t admit it, he sure was smitten!) and who can resist checking out where The Beast lives, or Gaston’s Tavern? Of course outside of the Enchanted Forest section, Storybook Circus is perfect for both boys and girls as well. So, families should give New Fantasyland as much time and attention as they do all other areas of the parks at Walt Disney World, regardless of having boys or girls.