Fantasyland is one of the original lands of Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort. Of all the lands in the theme park, Fantasyland is perhaps the area that most encourages guests to see Disney through a child’s eyes, as a place sprinkled with pixie dust and flights of imagination.
“Fantasyland is dedicated to the young at heart and to those who believe that when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.” ~ Walt Disney
Fantasyland – located just behind Cinderella Castle, surrounded the candy-colored nostalgia of Main Street, U.S.A., the patriotic past of Liberty Square, and the neon newness of Tomorrowland – carves out a space for itself as the fanciful center of Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney World Resort.
Fantasyland is the place where young children can enjoy their first experiences with Walt Disney World, from the iconic Dumbo ride to the sing-along pleasures of “it’s a small world.”
Fantasyland is themed as a medieval faire, a fanciful carnival set in the midst of charming village. Rather than a working village, however, Fantasyland focuses on attractions intended to entertain and amuse.
After entering Fantasyland from Cinderella Castle, guests will see Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, renamed from Cinderella’s Golden Carrousel in 2010 to tell the story of the famous couple’s romance. This handmade carousel was built in 1917 and is the oldest attraction in Fantasyland. Its features 90 colorful steeds, including Cinderella’s horse, 19 hand-painted scenes from the “Cinderella” movie (1950), and plays Disney music.
See Memories of the Magic Kingdom – Cinderella Castle for more information on the castle.
Behind the carrousel is Dumbo, the Flying Elephant. Dumbo is also a carousel ride that takes guests spinning up in the air as they fly in one of 16 vehicles shaped like the famous circus star. Guests operate a joystick to control their height during the ride. One of the most famous and popular Fantasyland attractions in Disney Parks, Dumbo is one of the anchors of Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland expansion plans (see below).
Peter Pan’s Flight offers yet another flying experience. This dark ride, in which the track is suspended over the guests to create a stronger illusion of flight, takes guests on a tour from London to Neverland. Guests can see vignettes inspired by the 1953 film, including The Lost Boys Camp, the Mermaid Lagoon, and the highlight – Peter Pan doing battle with Captain Hook.
Two other Fantasyland dark ride experiences offer different atmospheres. Snow White’s Scary Adventures, designed like a classic carnival ride, takes guests through the frightening (for small children) journey of Snow White, with a focus on the Queen and her pursuit of Snow when disguised as the Wicked Witch.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which replaced Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride in 1999, is a more lighthearted version of carnival funhouse ride. The attraction takes guests on a storybook look at scenes from the Hundred Acre Wood, moving along a gently rolling track past Pooh, Tigger and other characters; through “Heffalumps and Woozles;” and into a blustery day. Winnie the Pooh added a children’s play area as part of a redesigned and interactive queue in 2010.
Kathy Werling of The DIS Unplugged Disney Blog has more photos of Pooh’s interactive queue.
Near Winnie the Pooh is the spinning teacup ride, Mad Tea Party. Themed to 1951’s “Alice in Wonderland,” the Tea Cups (as they are sometimes called) evoke the craziness of the March Hare and Mad Hatter and test guests’ susceptibility to motion sickness. The ride vehicles both spin around the ride’s floor and allow guests to spin their individual cups.
On the opposite site of Fantasyland, near Peter Pan’s Flight is “it’s a small world.” Like Dumbo, the boat ride represents Disney to many people. Its stick-in-your-head song by the Sherman Brothers is performed by 300 Audio-Animatronic dolls dressed in various costumes to present the ride’s global, multi-cultural message. “it’s a small world” is modeled after the Disneyland and the 1964-65 World’s Fair attraction and was present when Magic Kingdom opened.
Another musical experience is Mickey’s PhilharMagic (2003), Fantasyland’s 4-D film experience that combines a 3-D show with special in-house theater effects. Mickey’s PhilharMagic stars Mickey, Goofy, Donald and other Disney characters and showcases music from Disney animated movies. This show is the latest of several shows in the theater: Mickey Mouse Revue (1971-80, part of Magic Kingdom’s opening), Magic Journeys (1987-1993), and The Legend of the Lion King (1994-2002).
New Fantasyland expansion for Magic Kingdom
Since Magic Kingdom opened Oct. 1, 1971, the park has undergone many changes. In Fantasyland, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and the Skyway to Fantasyland/Tomorrowland (a gondola life ride between the two lands) both closed in 1999.
The biggest change to Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland is underway, as Walt Disney World doubles its size. As part of the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland expansion, Mickey’s Toontown Fair has closed in order to accommodate Storybook Circus. This new area will include two Dumbo attractions and a Big Top with interactive queues. The area will also be home to The Great Goofini, a kiddie coaster rethemed from Goofy’s Barnstomer.
The New Fantasyland expansion will also feature:
- The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, a dark ride;
- “Beauty and the Beast” area, including Beast’s castle, Belle’s cottage, the Be Our Guest restaurant and Gaston’s Tavern;
- Princess Fairytale Hall, a princess character meet-and-greet area which will replace Snow White’s Scary Adventures; and
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, a kiddie coaster with swaying ride vehicles for a fun introductory thrill ride.
The Fantasyland expansion will open in stages in 2012 and 2013. For photos of the planned expansion, see this Orlando Sentinel article.
Dining and Shopping at Fantasyland
The Pinocchio Village Haus, near “it’s a small world,” offers counter service in a lively atmosphere that includes characters and scenes from the 1940 movie, with dining areas devoted to different characters: Stromboli, Figaro and Monstro.
Snack stops include Enchanted Grove for drinks, Storybook Treats Ice Cream (formerly Mrs. Potts’ Cupboard) and Friar’s Nook (Village Fry Shoppe) for hot dogs, fries and ice cream. Maurice’s Cart, which hints at the Fantasyland expansion plans for the “Beauty and the Beast” area, offers drinks, ice cream and popcorn.
Fantasyland’s table-service restaurant is Cinderella’s Royal Table (CRT), located inside Cinderella Castle. CRT is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner as a Disney Character Dining with the princesses. Guests who make one of the much-in-demand Advance Dining Reservations get a glimpse at the castle’s gorgeous interior.
Cinderella Castle is also the home to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique,a makeover experience that transforms guests – especially young guests – into princesses and “cool dudes.” Castle Couture (formerly Tinker Bell’s Fairy Treasures), across the courtyard, offers gifts fit for a princess – and a magical display that features Sleeping Beauty’s dress changing colors
Other shopping opportunities include Hundred Acre Goods(formerly Pooh’s Thotful Shop), for Winnie the Pooh merchandise. Sir Mickey’s,themed to Disney’s “Brave Little Tailor” and “Mickey and the Beanstalk” offers an assortment of classic Disney merchandise, including fun items for would-be heroes. Fantasy Faire, near PhilharMagic, sells that attraction’s merchandise and more general items.
Details at Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland
Guests who enjoy looking for the Disney details at Magic Kingdom might enjoy these Fantasyland touches:
- Take a “Sword in the Stone” photo opportunity in front of Prince Charming Regal Carrousel.
- Visit the play-and-greet area in the Fairytale Garden (check for characters; currently starring Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from “Tangled”);
- Spot Willie the Giant, from “Mickey and the Beanstalk,” as he tries to take the roof off Sir Mickey’s.
- Identify Cinderella’s horse on the carrousel – it’s the one with the gold ribbon.
- Enjoy a great view of Fantasyland while dining on the second floor outdoor seating at The Pinocchio Village Haus.
About Memories of the Magic Kingdom
This article is one of my “Memories of the Magic Kingdom” series that looks at Walt Disney World Resort as part of my year-long observation of the Magic Kingdom’s upcoming 40th anniversary. The series focuses on the Disney attractions, people and moments – past, present, and future – that have shaped the park many guests believe “helps make dreams come true.” For many who visit, Walt Disney World and the Magic King both live up to the tagline, “the most Magical place on Earth.”
Throughout this series I invite all my readers to share their memories of the Magic Kingdom, and of Walt Disney World Resort, with each other in the comments section.
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