New Fantasyland “Soft Opens”

Deb Wills

The walls came down this morning (October 12, 2012) for the New Fantasyland expansion that’s been underway in the Magic Kingdom. The new Little Mermaid attraction was running, and new restaurant Gaston’s Tavern was serving.

Deb Wills was in the Magic Kingdom and explored the new area, sharing lots of photos and random observations along the way.

There’s a new Magic Kingdom archway when you reach the theme park!

Love the snow-covered trees atop Beast’s Castle in Fantasyland expansion.


Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid


Ariel is in a great location to right of Under the Sea!


There was a 40-minute wait for Ariel’s!


Clamshell vehicles for Under the Sea


They kiss “Under the Sea.”


Great photo op!


Gaston meet and greet in front of his Tavern.


There’s a PhotoPass photographer stationed in front of Gaston’s fountain.


Inside Gaston’s Tavern, which is serving brew, pork shanks, pastries, snacks and beverages


By the way, we have the new menu for Gaston’s Tavern HERE.

Gaston’s tavern exterior


Also in the area, Maurice’s Amazing Popping Machine snack cart


You can find the snack cart for this menu HERE.

The entrance to Be Our Guest Restaurant


We’ve updated the dinner menu for this restaurant HERE.

Also open was Bonjour Village Gifts.


They’re selling the light-up castle goblets for $15.95


More photos and other details to come!

Debra Martin Koma wrote about food, travel and lifestyle issues for a number of local and national publications before she fell in love with Walt Disney World on her first visit — when she was 34! She's returned to her Laughing Place more times than she can count in the ensuing years, and enthusiastically shares her passion with readers of AllEars.Net and AllEars®. Deb also co-authored (along with Deb Wills) PassPorter's Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line, a travel guide designed for all travelers to Walt Disney World who may require special attention, from special diets to mobility issues.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

41 Replies to “New Fantasyland “Soft Opens””

  1. I was there on the 16th & 18th. Both days the Fantasyland Expansion was open. On the 16th I mistakenly got in line for Be Our Guest and ended up being able to dine quick service. I also saw the Little Mermaid. On the 18th I was able to do Storytime with Belle. I did notice on the 18th, that after our visit to Belle’s it had closed to “wrist band only” I assume for Annual Passholder Previews. However, as a non-passholder I was able to see this whole section during my visit without much of a wait.

  2. We did a passholder preview yesterday 11/12 and we were surprised to learn that they were going to open the resturant for the quick service lunch and you could make dinner reservations for later that night.
    We took advantage of the lunch offering and I had the steak sandwich which I highly recommend. I have now found my new favorite meal at Magic Kingdom, sorry Pecos Bills.

  3. We will be in WDW from 12/9/12-12/14/12. We are so excited to be back in the magic! So many new things to see and do! Am I under the correct assumption that everything will be open to the public at that point, since the “Grand Opening” is on the 6th?

    Deb: Yes, all of Fantasyland Expansion will be open EXCEPT: The 7 Dwarfs Mine Train and the Princess Hall (both scheduled for later)

  4. We will be there 11/16-11/21 and wondering if there are any soft openings or special events during this time?

    ALL EARS: We are not aware of any “special events” during that time. However, it will all be officially “soft” opened on November 19th.

  5. Hi,

    We are visiting WDW from Dec. 5-Dec. 13. I always plan out our week months in advance and just noticed that our “Magic Kingdom Day” is on the 6th…Grand Opening Day. I’m trying to find out if the new Fantasyland will be open during the Christmas Party Event since we will be attending the Dec. 9th Party. I’m sensing a “crowd nightmare” on the 6th and we have a group of 7 so I’d much rather tour the new Fantasyland on the 9th with a smaller crowd (hopefully).

    Thanks for any help!!!

  6. Hi, we are going in February but need to change my dates. I have reservations for Be our Guest but if we change our dates the restaurant is not available. I am mainly going there to “see it” as the menu didn’t do much for me. Do you know if the quick service during lunch is in the same location so we can still see the different rooms? Then I won’t mind changing my reservation but I don’t want to do that if we can’t go to be our guest. Thank you, Patti

    ALL EARS: Be Our Guest is open for lunch and in fact all 3 dining rooms are open. During dinner, only the West Wing and the Ballroom are open.

  7. My family and I are coming to Disney World December 3-7 and we are planning on going to MVMCP the night of the 6th I just now saw that this is the day the new Fantasyland is opening and now I am second guessing myself on attending the MVMCP that night. What do you think? Will the party be really busy that night? I want my 24 month old to actually be able to see the parade and fireworks that night.

  8. What can I expect for the grand opening of the new Fantasyland. on Dec. 6th? I would like to be there. I know the park opens at 8:00 am and closes at 10:00.

    ALLEARS: Specific details have not yet been released on the official opening of Fantasyland. I would expect the park to be crowded and hopefully some fanfare too!

  9. Went to MNSSHP on Sunday 10-21-12, the New Fantasyland was still open! I believe it was cast only during the day but then during the party was open to everyone!

  10. Thanks to your blog Deb, we were lucky enough to catch the soft opening on Sunday the 14th. The new area is beautiful and Lefou’s brew is delicious 🙂

  11. Everything looks great but I will say the menu for Be Our Guest looks very uninspiring, I’m sure it’s delicious but it’s not very inspiring just very plain and also who was in charge of pricing the souvenir mug?! It’s way,way over priced at $15.95. I was happy to see that it’s a one ticket on the food plan.

  12. Unable to get dinner reservations to Be Our Guest for our trip 11/29 – 12/3. All booked. We will try the quick service if available.

  13. Went today, Sunday, it was all open this morning, little mermaid did not open until about 10. We had friends that went in the afternoon and little mermaid was closed. This morning be our guest was also open to take a peek inside…no food though.

  14. What a wonderful report!! Thanks for helping keep the magic alive for our family during the year.

    Since won’t be able to go to Disney World for a while, do you know if we are able to order the light up castle goblets from Disney World to be sent to our house? Just thinking of new ways to enjoy the magic for the holidays.

    ALL EARS: At this point I don’t believe you can purchase the Castle Light up goblets on line. There is a 4 per person limit in the store. Once it is officially open, I would imagine the goblets will be online.

  15. Dear me, well that looks absolutely gorgeous. And best of all it looks like it belongs in Fantasyland! I’ve been a touch wary about the whole expansion but I’m so happy to see all my worries just absolutely slaughtered.

    Is that the same ride as DCA for Little Mermaid?

    ALLEARS: The inside is exactly like Disney California Adventure, however the queue area is unique to WDW and is absolutely wonderful!!!!

  16. We are arriving on Thanksgiving and bought annual passes to pick up when we get there. Do you know if there is any way we call tomorrow to schedule the passholder preview sessions?

    AllEars: I believe you have to have your annual pass registered online. But by all means, go ahead and try.

  17. Everything was still open today, Sunday the 14th, they also had Be Our Guest open to walk inside the lobby and take a peek!

  18. My daughter and I were there Friday morning when they opened it up and we were just in awe! It is absolutely beautiful! So thrilled we got to experience that…we’re going back in December and thought we’d have to wait til then so what a fantastic surprise!

  19. Hi, I just wanted to post info. in response to Jennifer’s question.

    The following dates are scheduled for previews for specific individuals:

    Nov. 3rd – Annual Passholders
    Nov. 4th & 5th – DVC Members
    Nov. 10th & 11th – Annual Passholders

    There is no guarantee they will be “soft openings” before Nov. 19th for other guests, but you would have a higher chance if you visit the MK on the other days (not listed above)during your stay.

  20. We were there yesterday and today! The kids loved the souvenir mugs and goblets from the tavern. Be our guest restaurant was open for viewing today! Beautiful! I was giddy all day.

  21. I am a CT cast member @ Walt Disney World before entering Magic Kingdom, you can ask what attractions will be open before you arrive…the best part about a “soft-opening” is that it is a surprise, you never know what rides and attracttions will be open on the day of your visit to the park…I tested out DUMBO in its “soft-opening” phase on one of my “play” days and it was amazing…take time to enjoy all the area’s of MK, each day can be a new and exciting experience filled with many wonderful memories that will last a lifetime….I can’t wait to see all of the new Fantasyland myself…I am only able to work @ the parks during school vacation’s so I havent been since August…Have fun everyone!

  22. Thanks for sharing! So exciting to see the photos.

    I saw where you said their is no way of knowing when the area will be open when it is “soft opening” phase but is there anyway to know while you are in the parks if it is open that day?

    We are visiting early/mid November and will miss the preview and the Grand Opening dates so we are hoping to encounter a soft opening. Are their things I should do while there to try to find out if they are open? For example are their signs at the front gate or just in Fantasyland telling you it is open? Would the concierge at my WDW resort be able to find out, and would they tell me? Will it be posted on your site? It would be so disappointing to find out it had been open after spending the day at another park! I would change my park plans for the day if I knew it was open, my girls would love to see it and so would I!

    Thanks again for the great job you do on this site!

    ALL EARS: You can ask at your resort, but they may not know. The park will set it’s own schedule. You can ask once in the Magic Kingdom. If we know the new section is open, we will try to post that information.

  23. Hi – again- can you please tell me if this will all be open 10/31 thru 11/7? Thank you.

    REPLY: Hi Jennifer, there’s no way of knowing for sure whether this will be open. When attractions are in the “soft open” phase that means that they are being tested – they open sporadically, not on any set schedule. The official grand opening for the new Fantasyland is still December 6.

  24. Thanks for the photos. We were there today and enjoyed the new Fantasyland. We rode the Mermaid ride twice and the storybook with Belle show once. We did have lunch at Gaston’s Tavern. The pork shank and Lefou’s brew were very good. We can’t wait to dine in the castle in December.

  25. We were lucky enough to be some of the first people into the new Fantasyland today. We were told that we were there to see Belle, but we found ourselves being greeted by A LOT of plain clothed folks with Disney name tags and clipboards. They were all waving and smiling as if something “big” was happening.

    As we walked in we were all in awe of our surroundings, snapping as many pictures as possible, thinking that we were only getting a sneak peek. My husband made a comment about “isn’t that Ariel, not Belle?” We suddenly realized that we were walking into the new Voyage of the Little Mermaid! One of the cast members directing traffic told us that we were about to be some of the first people to ride (outside of the Imagineers and a select Cast members).

    There are really neat interactive games to help pass the wait time (we only waited about 5-8 mins) that involve crabs and waving your arms. The ride is a slow moving ride, like Nemo, that lasts just a little over 5 mins. Little ones will live it! After the ride, you can visit Ariel in her grotto just “next door”. Both attractions are set up for Fastpass returns.

    We walked to the souvenir store and snapped a few pics of Gaston, his fountain and his Pub before heading to meet Belle. We had heard it would be “interactive”, but it was so much more. You start of in a small room in Belle’s cottage where you wait about 7-8 minutes. You then step into a small workshop, where you see a mirror on the wall. After a small speech, the mirror expands and becomes a door which you walk through and into another room where you meet the wardrobe. She explains that everyone is going to surprise Belle with a play, then proceeds to pick people (yes, some adults, too) for the parts. If your want your child to get close to Belle, they must participate. There is no “meet & greet” or autographs. The person chosen to play the part of the Beast even gets to dance with Belle at the end. Everyone then goes into the library, the play is performed for Belle and each participant gets a bookmark from Belle as a thank-you. Very cute and definitely worth the time!

    The whole experience was amazing and we were so lucky to have been a part of it. I am not sure if they will have the area open again I the upcoming days, but I can tell you that is was only open from 10am until 6pm. It was funny though how most of the people (that were in the MK also) that we spoke to afterwards had no idea It was even open!

  26. Will the new rides be open during the Halloween parties?

    REPLY: Sorry, there’s no way of knowing for sure whether the new Fantasyland will be open. When attractions are in the “soft open” phase that means that they are being tested – they open sporadically, not on any set schedule. The official grand opening for the new Fantasyland is still December 6.

  27. We’re going to be at the Halloween party on the 16th and are looking forward to seeing this. Probably walk out with our credit cards a bit tired too…*le sigh…

  28. Is the new fantasyland open to all guests or just a select few. I will be arriving on Nov 1 and there until Nov 11 and I was initially upset that we were missing it by just days. With your blog I am excited thinking we might get to see this. AS was our original reason for waiting until the end of the year.

    AllEars: There’s no way of knowing for sure whether the new Fantasyland will be open. When attractions are in the “soft open” phase that means that they are being tested – they open sporadically, not on any set schedule. The official grand opening for the new Fantasyland is still December 6.

  29. We arrive next Friday Oct 19! Will we be able to see all of this! It looks amazing, what an awsome job and the little details are teriffic!

    REPLY: Sorry, there’s no way of knowing for sure whether the new Fantasyland will be open during your stay. When attractions are in the “soft open” phase that means that they are being tested – they open sporadically, not on any set schedule. The official grand opening for the new Fantasyland is still December 6.

  30. Is this a special-event opening or can anyone at MK view this area prior to it’s opening?

    REPLY: This was a “soft opening”, which basically means that attractions are being tested – they open sporadically, not on any set schedule. The official grand opening for the new Fantasyland is still December 6.

  31. Where can I purchase the light up castle mugs in the gift shop? Online?

    ALL EARS: Bon Jour gifts has the castle mugs. No idea if they are online or not.

  32. We are coming to Disney on Monday. Does this mean those attractions will be open next week? That would be a great surprise!

    REPLY: Sorry, there’s no way of knowing for sure whether the new Fantasyland will be open during your stay. When attractions are in the “soft open” phase that means that they are being tested – they open sporadically, not on any set schedule. The official grand opening for the new Fantasyland is still December 6.

  33. Does anyone know how long the section will be open as a soft opening? We will be down the week of Halloween and I would just love it if we could get into this section for a peek. My daughter’s two favorite characters are Belle & Ariel. I was so disappointed to hear it is due to open the week AFTER we leave!

    REPLY: Sorry Nicole, we have no idea how long the “soft opening” will be going on — there’s no set schedule. Wish we could tell you more.

  34. Wait were you able to eat in the restaurants already?

    Is there any extra value of doing to annual passholder preview?

    AllEars: If you can do the passholder preview then do it! Be Our Guest was partially open as a walk through – no food, yet.