The biggest expansion in the history of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is on schedule, but before the new Fantasyland opens, some existing rides will close or be relocated.
Work is underway on what’s being called Storybook Circus, the former location of Mickey’s Toontown Fair. Disney intends to relocate Dumbo the Flying Elephant to the new circus grounds that will include an interactive queue under a big-top tent to entertain children waiting in line. Disney will add a new Pixie Hollow character-greeting area, home to Tinker Bell and other fairies.
“Most of the attractions are still open, but you’ll notice that Dumbo is closed,” said Lou Mongello, author and a Walt Disney World radio host, “but you don’t have to worry, because he’s actually moving to Storybook Circus.”
There will a second matching Dumbo ride spinning next to the original one once they are in place. Those rides are expected to open sometime in March, along with the junior roller coaster called The Great Goofini, which is the old Barnstormer at Goofy’s Wiseacre Farm. A train station stop, water play area and some meet and greet areas are also expected to open this spring. Other parts of the new Fantasyland will open in phases, beginning at the end of this year.
The biggest addition will be the Little Mermaid attraction, based on Disney’s 1989 movie of the same name. Plans call for an enclosed ride that will carry guests through the underwater realm of Ariel — the redheaded mermaid. It will use an Omnimover ride system similar to that of the Haunted Mansion, and will move through scenes featuring characters and songs from the movie. The ride, which has a working title of Under the Sea: Journey of The Little Mermaid, will be the same as one being built as part of the $1 billion overhaul of Disney’s California Adventure theme park in Anaheim, Calif., though the attractions will have different exteriors.
“What you can see now is the creation of Fantasyland Forest. You can see Beast’s Castle, which is going to be the Be Our Guest restaurant. The Journey of the Little Mermaid is a dark ride attraction with an interactive scavenger hunt in the queue as well. There will be a lot of water features,” said Mongello. “And then, coming in 2013 or 2014, will be the big attraction which is the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train coaster.”
The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train replaces the current Snow White attraction, which is expected to close later this year. Old attractions which will be integrated into the new Fantasyland include It’s a Small World and Peter Pan’s Flight.
Disney’s parks are a major profit center for the entertainment giant, contributing about a third of the company’s revenue. The expansion comes at a time when Universal Orlando is enjoying great succes with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which opened in June of 2010.