If you are looking for stilletto recommendations, you are in the wrong place. I need to be able to run after my kids without falling on my face. Want to know your smartphone's metapix? Sorry. I only write about whether it can survive 5 minutes in the hands of my kids.
When the Be Our Guest Restaurant opening in New Fantasyland, it brought a whole new level of theming for a Disney Restaurant. Whether it is the food or the decor, it is storytelling at its highest level of creativity.
The story begins as you pass through the ruins of an old gateway to a stone bridge and through massive wrought-iorn gates flanked by six beastly-figures. You then enter the Be Our Guest Restaurant feeling like you stepped into the film itself.
If you are having lunch, you enter into the Armor Hallway (listen closely to the six suit of armor lining the walls!) and into Beast’s Parlor where you place your order on guest activated terminals. If you are there for the sit-down dinner, you enter the Ballroom with 20 foot ceilings painted with fluffy clouds and angels, chandeliers, and 18 foot arched windows where you will see it “snowing” outside.
In addition to the Ballroom, there are two other dining areas: the West Wing or the Rose Gallery. The West Wing dining room is mysterious with the glass bell jar containing the enchanted rose slowly dropping its petals. Over the fireplace, the portrait of the Prince is slashed by the Beast’s claws, but as lightening flashes, the image transforms. The Rose Gallery has a large music box with Belle and Beast twirling on top with the tapestries and decor continuing to spin the tale of Beauty and the Beast.
Music from a 50-piece orchestra recording, plays throughout the restaurant, with special arrangements so the different rooms are in perfect synchrony. It is a perfect accompaniment to the food, which was carefully selected to continue the story. Entrees pay homage to a castle feast in the 1400s with whole roasted hen, thyme-scented pork chops, and gourmet cupcakes, to name a few of the offerings. The dinner-offered wine and beer complements the French-inspired cuisine. There is plenty of entincing options for the kids, like the mickey mouse shaped turkey meatloaf for lunch and carrot ketchup. Servers are dressed in period costume and their speech is littered with phrases from that era.
The restaurant seat 546 guests for lunch and 340 for dinner. It seems like a lot, but with this amazing cuisine and theme, you better place reservations far in advance! You can call 407-WDW-DINE or book online at www.disneyworld.com/dine.
Step Right Up! See the amazing Barnstormer, the magical Flying Elephants, a larger-than-life Mouse, a spray-tacular train, all in the fantastical New Fantasyland Storybook Circus!!!
My three year old was enthralled. Whether it was Goofy’s Barnstormer Rollercoaster, the Dumbo Flying Elephants, the splash pad or the Big Top Tent, he was in a kid-cloud.
This is a kid roller coaster, but not a toddler roller coaster. I was really hesitant in my over-protective mom way, to want him to go on it, but he did….three times in a row. The concept is a nod to the field fairs where airplanes would perform stunts in the sky. So you sit in an old-fashioned plane, and the tracks make you feel like you are flying and performing stunts in the sky (no upside down stuff though!) This does move fast. Even if your child meets the height requirements, just watch it in action before making a decision. Otherwise, all I can say is that he was barely three and loved the thing.
Casey Jr. Splash N’ Soak Station:
During the hot days of summer, this will be the place to be. Kids can splash, cool off and have a lot of fun with these circus wagons sprouting water from elephants, camels and monkeys. It could get really crowded in the busy season, but even the mist from the water probably will keep the whole area cool and may be a good place to have a snack.
This is not a ride, but a place where you can meet and greet characters in a shade covered area. I also presume there is a secret entrance to the underground ‘city beneath the Big Top, so characters can rotate seemlessly – and the lines can keep moving. I love that it keeps the lines organized and you are not outside baking in the sun. We were told we had to leave our stroller outside though. Not sure if that is accurate generally, but something to consider if keeping the kids seated is a goal. If so, you may want to just capture the characters in other spots around the park, but you will probably be in the sun. Depending on when you go (summer vs. winter) or the age of your children, just weigh your options.
Dumbo Flying Elephant:
If you have ever been to the Magic Kingdom, you know that every kid (including myself as a kid) wanted to ride this attraction. Now there are two!! I presume to combat the long lines that plagued this attraction over the years. A fun fact is that one rotates clockwise and the other counter-clockwise. The Dumbos are also decorated in red and gold colors – a nod to the 1950s and 1960s tin toys. There is also a Big Top (air-conditioned) play area where the kids can let off some steam while you kick back with your beeper to wait for your turn. (By the way, you cannot use this area if you use the Fastpass option.)
I admit though, I have some reservations about the Big Top area that I thought I should mention. There is a little section for two and three year olds, but it is rather….limiting. Any three year old is going to want to run around the rope bridges, stairs and slides that are designed for the 4+ set. However, try to tell that to a three year old. We didn’t notice the signs saying what were the age requirements (not suggestions, requirements) until after the fact. Yet, no staff seemed to be monitoring the area. My son was playing on a rope-like bridge and got his hands stepped on by two eight-year olds and kicked in the face by a 7 year old. So my Disney suggestion is to avoid it, if you can, until you have a four year old, or when Disney Cast could be monitoring the area so parents aren’t dealing with it themselves. When it was our turn to go on the Dumbo ride (his inaugural ride!), he loved it, but it was the shortest attraction I have ever been on – even at Disney. Not short in “Its a Small World” way, but I think it only lasted one minute. I can only presume it is to another way to deal with the long lines, but still a bummer. Otherwise, when you are up in the air, the view is fantastic of the Storybook Circus area. You really get the feeling you are at an old-fashioned traveling circus.
It is also important to note that you can embark or disembark from the Railroad here. In the past, it was only in the front of the park, on Main Street USA, or in Frontierland. Now you can grab the train to head to the front of the park from here or take the traindirectly here, which is a great option for tired little legs! The decor is more elegant, which is part of America’s past, and the name is nod to the steam engine Walt Disney had in his own backyard.
This area, in my opinion, is more suited for parents or grandparents with kids 10 and under. Similar to the old Mickey and Minnie Toontown. While the New Fantasyland Enchanted Forest is for young and old, this is geared particularly to the kids. I love that fact. If you don’t have kids, it’s worth a walk-thru for the ambiance or to head to Big Pete’s Tent for the character meet and greets.
Check out my other Disney Related posts and if you have any questions, leave a comment below or contact me via my contact form above, and I will do my best to answer!
For anyone following this blog or my social media tweets and updates, you know that I was super excited to be invited to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom to see the grand opening of the New Fantasyland Enchanted Forest and Storybook Circus.
We have been going to Disney World for decades and I remember the ‘old Fantasyland. I remember being able to take a Gondola from Tomorrowland to the edge of Fantasyland/Liberty Square. I remember 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and a Snow White’s Adventures (where it was rather frightening in the mind of my six year old self.)
Over the years, I saw the rides close. I also remember when Mickey and Minnie’s Toontown opened. I never went in there because when it opened, I was well into my 20s and didn’t have kids. I just passed by on my way to the big attractions. Then everything seemed to close, save a few things in Fantasyland, in the late 00s. Large fences went up, hammers could be heard, as the magic began to unfold behind closed doors and 140 disciplines began to bring New Fantasyland to life.
According to the Chairman of the Disney Parks, the minute that the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, changes were already being envisioned for Fantasyland. Yet, it wasn’t until the late 00s, that it was time to make it happen. New movies, a new generation of children, and new technology, all played a hand in making the steps towards the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom history.
Fantasyland has doubled from 10 acres to 21 acres, and is still growing with new attractions slated to open. In 2013, the Princess Fairytale Hall will make its premiere where you can meet and greet princesses, and in 2014, a rollicking, musical, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will makes its Hi-Ho! Now, however, when you walk behind Cinderella’s castle, you enter the Enchanted Forest (makes sense, right?), There you will find attractions featuring Ariel (Under the Sea-Journey of The Little Mermaid), and Belle and Beast (Enchanted Tales of Belle). These movies and characters come to life as you walk into the castle or go under the sea. Each of these attractions uses technology that is impressive in its own right, but creates an experience like no other with the focus on the Disney tradition of telling a story.
In the Under the Sea-Journey of The Little Mermaid, you are slowly immersed into this underworld adventure. You arrive at the shoreline of Prince Eric’s Castle and descend through the grottos and caverns, passing by water, barnacles and starfish helping you navigate your way to your clamshell. As you board the clamshell, it will remind you of the Doom Buggies in the Haunted Mansion in both the function and style. In this attraction, the shell rotates backwards, and the sounds of a splash and computer animation bubbles engages your mind so you can easily imagine you are diving under the sea. The magic of Disney, in the art work, ‘set’ design, use of water, waterfalls, fountains, music and more, whisks you to a watery wonder. In Ariel’s Groto, you can meet Ariel, and have another opportunity to emmerse yourself into a fairytale.
The Enchanted Tales with Belle focuses on an intimate experience. The adventure starts on the winding stone pathway to Maurice’s Cottage with Beast’s Castle looming in the distance. It is where an enchanted mirror in Maurice’s Workshop is the doorway to a captivating new kind of storytelling experience. It transports you to Beast’s Castle where you meet Belle and Lumiere in Beast’s Library to hear the ‘tale as old as time’. You’ll become part of the storytelling experience by playing the part of the characters from “Beauty and the Beast”.
If you’d like to dine with Disney magic, then have a ‘great food fast’ experience during the day, or a full table service at night, at the Be Our Guest Restaurant with its elegant Ballroom, Rose Gallery and mysterious West Wing. (To learn more about this Restaurant, read my post here.)
As my family walked through the New Fantasyland Enchanted Forest, and in the back shadows of Cinderella’s castle, I saw Disney characters I have not seen for a long time, and many new ones too, that made our Disney experience truly memorable. It kept the story alive outside of the attractions. While you felt connected to Belle and her tale in the Enchanted Tales of Belle, the story reigns and the fantasy continues, as you walk through the Enchanted Forest on the way to your next adventure. Truly an enchanted space in the Magic Kingdom.
These New Fantasyland Enchanted Forest attraction opportunities, takes us back to a time when our interaction with the characters connected us with the magic of Disney. Plus, nothing embodies this new technology meets storytelling, than an experience I had during the New Fantasyland Opening Celebration. Where as I stared up at the sky, and watched a dragon flying in the sky. I wondered how they did it. How I could be hearing a fire-breathing dragon, and watching it flying under the moon? Then, as I am sure Disney wanted me to, I stopped analyzing and just immersed myself in the blend of technology, imagination, and fantasy.
While I have my own children now (three years old and six months old) this will be our first stop in Magic Kingdom for many years to come. Yet, whether you are single, newly married, a grandparent experiencing the magic with your grandchildren, or just a retired couple, New Fantasyland is a new way to feel like a kid again, in a grown up way. Using the incredible imagination, engineering and technology that Disney has always been known for, but now where we can experience in modern interpretations. It has invigorated the entire Magic Kingdom park where you will feel an new energy, and an embracing of the original Disney Magic with cast interactions taking center stage. Understanding that modern day society thrives on technology and lives in a state of disillusionment, Disney gives us updated technology and opportunities to put our disillusionment hold so we can believe, or want to believe, once again.
Fun Facts: There are 115 Windows in Beast’s Castle, and over 12,000 “books” in the library at the Enchanted Tales of Belle. In the Journey of the Little Mermaid, there are over 183 characters and over 20,000 live and artificial plants decorating the attraction inside and out.
Here are additional Disney World-related posts to consider:
Image Credit: My own. All Rights Reserved.
Disclosure: I received complimentary airfare, accommodations, and entrance into the Magic Kingdom as a member of the media covering the grand opening of New Fantasyland.