There have been many intense rumors lately that the Magic Kingdom’s desperately needed Fantasyland facelift was coming, once more, perilously close to a greenlight. We’ve heard that before, and the Fantasyland rumors now go back several years. But today, things got a little more interesting:
Today, the D-Report’s Soft-Opening site posted the above image; allegedly it’s a leaked copy of plans for the new Fantasyland. There are a few possibilities here: First, it could be some excellent work by an internet fan who collected the best of the online rumors and put them together to trick rubes like me. Or, it could be the real plan; the problem is, we all know that until the shovel hits the soil, plans are just that. Even if this came straight from Glendale, without a budgetary greenlight we still might never see it built. Also don’t forget that even if it’s a real proposal and gets approved, plans often tend to get downsized.
But what if this is real? How does it jibe with existing rumors? Alain Littaye and the webmaster of WDWMagic have already both said that this plan matches what they’ve heard from other sources; what if this is what we’re getting in Orlando?
Well, if so, it’s far more vast than I expected. Mickey’s Toontown Fair will mercifully face the bulldozer, removing this half-hearted “land” twenty years after it was originally intended to be removed. It seems that much of the existing Fantasyland area will be enclosed and set apart with a castle wall; this was a conceit seen in much of Disneyland’s original concept art, and will in effect set the Carousel in a medieval courtyard. The area outside the castle walls seems to be fairly heavily landscaped with lots of water features, and seems more bucolic in nature.
The largest addition, as has been so often rumored, is a new dark ride based on The Little Mermaid. Taking up much of the footprint once occupied by the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea show building, the Mermaid attraction will be modeled after a similar ride now under construction in Anaheim. In the blueprint, one can make out an extensive queue area and an Ariel meet-n-greet area.
Next to the Mermaid attraction, taking up the space currently occupied by Ariel’s Grotto, is a new area themed to Beauty and the Beast. Earlier rumors had a dark ride based on this film replacing Snow White’s Adventures, but that older attraction remains in this plan. The new Beauty area features a “Be Our Guest Restaurant,” “Gaston’s Tavern,” and something labeled “Belle Attraction.” The blueprint doesn’t seem to show an area large enough for a ride attraction, so one assumes that this is another meet-n-greet. Earlier rumors said that Mickey’s Toontown Fair would be removed and converted to a series of Disney Princess photo stops; in this plans, those photo stops seem to be sprinkled throughout the land.
What’s really mysterious is the “Be Our Guest Restaurant.” While this could, of course, be another simple food court or restaurant, one can see that the Pinocchio Village Haus still exists in this new Fantasyland to suit that purpose. Could this new restaurant be a revived version of the unrealized dining concept for Disneyland Paris’s Fantasyland, which would feature an animatronic dinner show based on Beauty and the Beast? In that attraction, guests would dine while the Beast’s castle slowly came to life around them; it would be as if they had combined the Enchanted Tiki Room with an actual restaurant. It would certainly be a nice addition to the park.
Where the 20,000 Leagues lagoon once sat, and where the Pooh playground sits now, the blueprint shows another “attraction” themed to Cinderella. This, and the Aurora “attraction” next to it, are most likely photo opportunities similar to Belle’s area mentioned above. A small remnant of the Pooh area looks to remain across from the Pooh attraction; this, too, will be a photo spot.
What was once the main street of Toontown will become Pixie Hollow as was rumored, where Disney’s latest marketing opportunities will hold court. Across from Pixie Hollow sits the Barnstormer; while it’s labeled as such on the blueprint, its current theming as Goofy’s barn would make absolutely no sense in the new layout. Could this kid-friendly rollercoaster be re-themed to the Snow White and the Seven Dwarves mine train coaster that has long been rumored?
One of the most intriguing (and to me, most pleasing) rumors that had emerged of late was that the Aladdin spinner attraction would be removed from Adventureland, where it is a terrible eyesore, to Fantasyland where it better belongs. In this design, it appears that the ride will be moved but given a facelift; in this blueprint, there are now dueling Dumbo flying elephant spinners sitting next to each other where the Toontown show buildings now are. This would be a big move for the little elephant, moving him clear across the east side of Fantasyland and doubling his capacity. Next to the spinners is something labeled “NextGen Interactive Queue” – whatever that means – and the Toontown train station will also gain Dumbo-related theming and be renamed as the Fantasyland Station.
It’s a pretty bold plan – far bolder than we’ve come to expect from the Florida resorts, yet it still seems to aim lower than Disneyland’s 1983 Fantasyland renovation. Of course I’d like to see more new attractions – I’ll always say that – but can’t we have at least one more C- or D-ticket? We’re still several attractions short of Anaheim’s tally. I could also grouse that I’d rather have the Bald Mountain Flume from the late 1990s instead of those meet-n-greets, but all that open space could certainly be used for future expansion. Still, if done correctly and on a decent budget, this could be a nice transformation for the Magic Kingdom’s outdated Fantasyland, and at least start to bring it up to the level of its peers. The cosmetic change alone could be extremely impressive. If it’s real, the devil of the plan will be in the details. If it really winds up bringing only a lot of new shops and meet-n-greets, it could disappoint. Then again, if it truly leads of the removal of the Flying Carpets from Adventureland, I’ll bow down and kiss Phil Holmes’s shoes.
We’ll hear more about this, I’m sure, and I’m going to do some sleuthing. But does anyone know anything about this?