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Another Look At Fantasyland

Altered Walt Disney World Fantasyland expansion concept, October 2009Newly released concept art for Walt Disney World’s Fantasyland expansion

In an unexpected turn, Disney Imagineers have released this second version of their concept art for Walt Disney World’s upcoming Fantasyland expansion. There are no massive changes from the last version, which was released at the D23 Expo in September. The new painting appears to take place later in the day, as the shadows are longer and the general palette darker. There are a few other small changes, though. See if you can spot the differences with the original image, which is shown below.

Original Walt Disney World Fantasyland expansion concept, September 2009

The main difference between the two renderings is in the depiction and clarity of the Little Mermaid and Cinderella show buildings. The rockwork around the Mermaid area is darker and better defined in the newly released artwork, and they’ve added the queue and entry area to the castle out front. Landscaping throughout the painting is better defined, especially in the area surrounding Belle’s village. Note that a circular planter in the original image is missing in the revised version.

Cinderella’s chateau is also more detailed in the new rendering, and you can actually make out the details of the show building behind it. It appears that the building will be fairly large, and will extend through several themed areas. There’s also a windmill on the reverse side of the building that can be better seen in the new image.

So, nothing earth-shattering but it’s the first glimpe we have of the project’s progress.

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17 comments to Another Look At Fantasyland

  • philphoggs

    Cinderella has gained a nice turret and some lattice. Looks like rock the work there will disguise the large show building and as said back wall other lands. Intriguing is the dark path and lighting in the trees just to the right of it.
    I clearly see the palms around Mermaid which are fitting, but the clarity of the water makes it look smaller, and it looks like the falls are in the dry season.

  • philphoggs

    Er, or is that the queue off to the right, and lighting in the trees people. OK got it.

  • SeaCastle

    A very minor difference you can find is in the flags of Cinderella Castle- the newly released artwork has red or blue standard flags, however the first release has a different design.

  • android.dreamer

    I was just at Magic Kingdom on Saturday and there were no signs or anything about the new expansion. When I got off in Toontown from the train, I told one person to enjoy it because it wasn’t going to exist anymore and they gave me a strange look of disbelief. Is Disney trying to save itself from another “Hoot display”? There wasn’t anything visible in the park about the new expansion. The only noticeable thing was scaffolding above Snow White’s Scary Adventure that had a painted “cottage” feel to it.

  • Interesting… I wonder when they’ll start working on this. At D23, the only word seemed to be “soon”. But with this scale of changes, it’ll have to start soon. This artwork was just released recently, so it’s not like they’re trying to make us forget… I hope!

  • ally

    It’s too beautiful!
    I love Little Mermaid castle and also Mme Tramine castle and Cinderella tower… too amazing!

    The castle in blue that you can see at left seems to be “Beauty and the Beast” castle…

    There is also TinkerBell tree!!!

  • philphoggs

    Hey Ally, have you seen Foxx’s post on the expansion? link ~
    I think you will enjoy it.
    I have to laugh about the stonewall attitude though there at WDW, so typical. The expansion should be heralded from the (regrettable) billboards and banners all around Disney. But as once said by an anonymous Nabob, Disney just doesn’t seem to see the value of the parks selling themselves.

  • android.dreamer

    This isn’t a very good picture at all, but you can see the scaffolding above Snow White and what it may look like after they finish dressing it up.

  • Another Voice

    The scope and speed of the Fantasyland project now rests of two events – how popular the ‘Harry Potter’ expansion at Universal Orlando turns out and how well Disney’s ‘The Princess and the Marketing PowerPoint Presentation’ does at the theater.

    Disney is always concerned about anything that could drag people away from the property. They know all too well the discontent that’s brewing among frequent visitors and the fan-base. The fundamental economics of WDW has shifted from infrequent vacationers to a substantial repeat customer base and WDW has been rather inept at adapting. Disney is already spending a fortune on unwanted DVC memberships; threats for more resales are not welcomed right now.

    That’s what makes this go around with Universal different. In the past Disney has always been assured that its offerings were enough to make people to stay put. But with more people traveling offsite because of the poor state of Disney dining, with ‘Monster Laugh Floor’ and other new attractions playing to empty theaters, and the size of the ‘Potter’ franchise (which hits not only Disney’s little girl market, but also hits Disney weak spot – little boys), there might be a reason to be worried this time around. The combinations of a strong draw at Universal and vastly weakened hold on people at Disney might be enough to increase traffic flow on the northbound I-4.

    The other issue is, of course, the only reason Iger has to keep the theme parks open: to sell DVDs.

    Disney has been deeply disappointed by ‘Snow White’ and ‘Sleeping Beauty’ Blu-ray sales. Yes, they sold a lot but no where near what Disney wanted. One problem is that parents have already spent fortunes buying VHS, DVD, DVD ‘Special Edition’ and DVD ‘Magically Magical Magic’ Editions of the same movie. And kids really don’t care about high def when you get right down to it.

    But rather than question the problem of re-selling the same movie to the same people five different times, Disney has decided the “real” problem is the viability of the traditional princesses. To be blunt, Snow White is older than the great grand parents of today’s little girls. There’s a feeling that – to use the suits’ favorite word (and one they don’t really understand) – that the Dead Guy’s princesses are no longer “relevant” to today’s child. Hell, it’s easier to blame Walt than to do a good job.

    Hence the sudden emphasis on ‘Frog’ (aside from the demographic element that was the project’s foundation). It’s also why you’re suddenly hearing about ‘Rapunzel’ and ‘Snow Queen’. Disney needs a new flock of new, hip & happin’ gals to add to the “old” ones like Belle, Ariel and Jasmine. It will also mean a whole new fresh sequence of DVDs and ancillary merchandise to replace the hags like Cinderella.

    Another reason is that Disney is fighting the collapsing of their traditional little girls market. It’s skewing younger and younger and girls are “dropping out” of the Disney brand path at an earlier age. In the past Disney has been able to hook little girls on Snow White and then move them to the more “mature” films like ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘Mulan’ as they grew older. You’ll find a lot of suits weeping in front of theaters this weekend as Disney sees its core pre-pre-teen audience line up to see sparkly vampires and were-puppies in the hot new franchise. Disney’s great fear is that the tide is turning from childhood fairy tales to more modern fantasies…like ‘Harry Potter”*. Disney doesn’t really know how to play this game, so it’s doubling down with a new round of Princesses. It’s a tremendous gamble.

    Should ‘Frog’ turn out to be a big hit and make a dent in this trend; we’ll probably see a change in the Fantasyland plans – out with the old, in with the new. So don’t count to strongly on your chance to make a birthday card yet for Princess Aurora. Should ‘Frog’ disappoint, we’re likely to see a dramatic scaling back of the plans. Essentially, the Fantasyland project will become something more suitable for the 3 – 9 year old segment that Disney still thinks it can hold onto.

    One note – this isn’t necessarily how the parks see things. This is how the big swinging MBAs in Burbank see the world. But they are ones that have to give their approval for whatever happens at the parks, they are ones that have to be sold on any new projects. Their primary interest isn’t with making the theme parks an attractive place to visit – they are thinking about the entire corporate-wide marketing plan and incremental revenue streams.

    And it shows, doesn’t it.

    * – you can also add in Super Heros here as well. Traditional genres fade or adapt. The Brothers Grimm are now being replaced by the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien, Stan Lee and J.K Rowling.

  • android.dreamer

    @Another Voice

    I really don’t know why they chose HP. HP is popular now, but it is losing its fan appeal. While something like LOTR has been around for a long time and continues to have a huge fan base. Wouldn’t you rather visit Mordor and be tracked by Sauron’s eye? I visited Universal Orlando last Thursday and I have to say, I have been more impressed with their rides as Disney rides haven’t really had the best of maintenance. Every 1/4 rides broke down with me on it. As for Fantasyland, I told one couple that was planning their Disney wedding that they would be better off waiting four years.

    If you look at the priorities between Magic Kingdom and Disneyland they are immense. The best example I can think of is Space Mountain. Space Mountain has just re-opened (unofficially) at Magic Kingdom and they haven’t made any of the major ride improvements that they did in Anaheim. Apparently, they are more willing to close Disneyland attractions longer because of the audience mainly being of local population that comes more often. While Magic Kingdom gets an International and national audience that may feel cheated for a ride being closed because they might plan a visit every 3-5 years (2009 Disney Vacation guide did not feature Space Mountain as an attraction). So if they were going to make any major development for Fantasyland, chances are, they will only make it one ride at a time. And they are only giving a face lift with Snow White and that ride really needs to be updated.

  • […] of the future, Progress City examines an updated version of the concept art for Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland Expansion. Nothing new really, but a lot more detail. I am getting worried about the themeing on what is […]

  • […] of the future, Progress City examines an updated version of the concept art for Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland Expansion. Nothing new really, but a lot more detail. I am getting worried about the themeing on what is […]

  • […] of the future, Progress City examines an updated version of the concept art for Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland Expansion. Nothing new really, but a lot more detail. I am getting worried about the themeing on what is […]

  • DisneyParksFan

    They are giving Snow White a facelift!?!?!?!?!?!

  • Another Voice

    @ android.dreamer

    The dirty secret in the whole franchise tie-in planning is that theme park attractions have to stand on their own feet. A great movie will not make people go see a lousy show (e.g. ‘Stitch’, ‘Monster Laugh Floor’), nor does a great attraction need a hit movie to back it up – the ‘Haunted Mansion’ is as popular now even with that crime-against-humanity movie Disney made and certainly ‘Pirates’ was hit for decades before Johnny swished his way onto the screen.

    The same will be true of Universal’s ‘Harry Potter’. The franchise might be enough to bring in some people – but only once. After that, it will depend on how well the area itself works and the attractions it contains. I personally think the books and movies to hold up for the theme park area to develop a reputation on its own. If it exceeds people’s expectations and meet’s their desires, then Universal will have a hit. If the area doesn’t, then it really doesn’t matter how much the next couple of movies make.

  • Exactly true. They still have yet to understand this. It’s easy to publicize and get a lot of initial interest for a ride based on a hot property, but if the attraction is a dog it’ll never save it. Your examples are spot-on.

    I think Potter is a huge enough property that it’ll demand instant attention of a large number of people. But the more people that flock down to check it out, that’s just more people that will be upset if it underwhelms. And I would expect Potter fans (of which I count myself, although not at the fanatic level) would rather have no attraction than something shoddy and insulting. In the modern era of the internet and message boards, if the expansion is a disappointment then everyone will know immediately.

  • […] Michael at Progress City, USA takes a close-up look at the newly released Fantasyland plans. […]

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