I first blogged about the Fantasyland Expansion at Disney’s Magic Kingdom in May of 2010 when the Disney Parks Blog shared pictures from the moving of the Winnie the Pooh tree from the play area to the new queuing area in front of Winnie the Pooh’s Hunny Pot attraction. From those first moments when I saw the Fantasyland Expansion plans at the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, I was fascinated with the idea of an American icon changing in such a huge way. I was amazed when I first walked into Fantasyland with my children in 2008 and suddenly everything came back to me. I remembered the buildings that had stayed the same and noticed details that were different. It was like a piece of my childhood had come flooding back.
Over the last two and a half years my family has continued to, to be honest, stalk the changes to Fantasyland. We rode Dumbo a few more times than normal during every trip to the World to snag photos of the area behind the wall. In June of 2010, I compared the start of the work to artist’s rendering and tried to imagine how it would look when completed.
In January of 2011, during a Disney Cruise Line event, I learned more about the continued updates including changes to the original plan. When I first heard about the upcoming expansion, I heard discussion of a Pixie Hollow section to the area. This portion of the new Fantasyland would now be a ride themed on the movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. We also began to hear more about potential dates for the opening of the area. I could feel the excitement building.
In April of that year I took once again to the flying elephants to snag some more photos and this time began to see steel framework that made me wonder…could this be the start of Belle’s village?
A couple weeks later, a Disney Parks Blog post revealed that in fact I was right and the construction of Belle’s village was underway! Not sure when Dumbo would be removed from the area near the castle to find a new home in the new Storybook Circus area (formerly ToonTown), my family spent some time with our favorite elephant during a trip in October of 2011. We knew that the pachyderm’s days were numbered…
In April of this year I once again attended the Disney Social Media Mom’s Celebration and learned more about the Fantasyland expansion. I had an amazing opportunity to step behind the wall for the first time – without the assistance of Dumbo – and get a peak at the amazing progress being made. While I was not permitted to take photos during this hard hat tour, I was able to see Belle’s castle, which magically seemed to be very far away on a hillside. I could also see the steel framework for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction set to open in 2014. We walked to the now open Storybook Circus area and got to see the new train depot area, re-imagined Great Goofini’s Barnstormer, and yes, the new home for Dumbo.
Just last month I attended a press event here in the D.C. area and had the pleasure of learning more about the patented technology behind the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction as well as other features of the new Fantasyland such as the amazing new queuing system for Dumbo the Flying Elephant that allows guests to play while they wait for their turn to ride…
…as well as the much anticipated Be Our Guest restaurant.
While the images scrolled on the screen, I texted my husband that we had to find a way to be there for the December 6th opening.
This week I learned that I will be traveling to Walt Disney World for the Grand Opening of the New Fantasyland! The next time I photograph the expansion it will be from the ground instead of from a moving elephant or standing on a chair with my arm up in the air. I can’t wait to share all of the updates with you!