I haven’t been to “the World” since early October, so I’ve missed all the little sneak previews Disney’s been holding to tease us all with tastes of the new attractions and other features of the expansion to the theme park’s beloved Fantasyland. It was so difficult to read everything about the new Enchanted Tales with Belle, the Beast’s Castle and the Be Our Guest Restaurant, as well as the new Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, knowing it would be months until I finally had the chance to experience them all for myself.
Finally, as of today, I can tell you both that the New Fantasyland is open and, even better, I am even happier to report that I’ve seen it and LOVE it!
The opening festivities actually started Wednesday night with a press event that allowed members of the media and their guests to explore the area on their own. But the formal ribbon-cutting and “Grand Opening Celebration” occurred today, December 6, with the expected Disney fanfare.
First thing this morning, members of the media attended a small ribbon-cutting ceremony in Belle’s Village, with chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Tom Staggs and two special guests — actress Ginnifer Goodwin, who plays Snow White on the popular ABC-TV show “Once Upon a Time,” and singer (and former American Idol winner) Jordin Sparks. The festivities were overseen by Mickey Mouse, donned in appropriately regal Fantasyland-themed attire.
With a burst of dove-shaped confetti, the ribbon leading to the new section of Fantasyland was cut and the attention turned to the Castle Forecourt Stage.
The more elaborate and more public grand opening celebration on the Castle Forecourt Stage, featured Jordin Sparks singing a Disney tunes medley and performing with a new Magic Kingdom act, the Giggle Gang — circus clowns!
After this performance, Staggs took the stage once more for the dedication of the New Fantasyland.
“Walt Disney once promised that Disneyland, and by extension all of our parks, would never be complete as long as there is imagination left in the world,” Staggs said. “New Fantasyland is a spectacular addition to the Magic Kingdom that delivers on Walt’s promise. We’re thrilled to take guests beyond the walls of Cinderella Castle to discover new worlds featuring iconic Disney characters and stories in ways that are more imaginative, more interactive and more immersive than ever before.”
Following the ceremony, the media had the opportunity to attend a short panel discussion on “The Story Behind New Fantasyland,” held in the Diamond Horseshoe in Frontierland. Panel members included Imagineer Chris Beatty, who has overseen the development of the New Fantasyland project; Maribeth Bisienere (vice president of Food and Beverage and Merchandise Operations Integration for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts); and Phil Holmes, vice president of the Magic Kingdom.
The discussion centered on the challenges the team faced in bringing the New Fantasyland to fruition, including the controversial decision to serve alcoholic beverages at the new Be Our Guest restaurant in the Beast’s Castle. Below, Beatty talks about the inspiration behind the New Fantasyland project.
And with that, the New Fantasyland is finally open! I’ll be sharing more photos and my thoughts about the new features of this brand new section of the park in this week’s AllEars newsletter. Until then…
DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of Walt Disney World at the New Fantasyland Press Event.