Reporting David Highfield
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A major addition to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom park recently opened, but what’s exactly in the new Fantasyland?
Lots of families from our area love going to Disney World in Florida, but this expansion is supposed to be a very different kind of theme park experience.
KDKA-TV’s David Highfield went to Orlando to check it out. Highfield is a self-proclaimed Disney World fan and found this is the biggest expansion in the history of the Magic Kingdom.
Fantasyland has now doubled in size and has major attractions featuring some of the newer Disney characters.
The first thing you may notice are two new castles – Prince Eric’s castle from the “Little Mermaid” and Beast’s castle from “Beauty and the Beast.”
“This is immersion into a story, which I think Imagineers are known for world-wide,” Mark Kohl with Disney said.
Rather than just stand in line to meet a character, they want you to feel as though you’ve been transported into the story.
Take for instance “Enchanted Tales with Belle.”
Some guests are handed props and get to act out a story with Belle.
Melanie Crawford from Mount Oliver loved it.
“The kids got to be a part of it. It was awesome,” Crawford said.
Another difference here is technology. At “Be Our Guest Restaurant,” you order on a touch screen kiosk and are given a rose that’s actually a tracking device.
- Photo Gallery: Fantasyland Expansion Opens At Magic Kingdom
“The rose is really [going to] track where you sit and tell the kitchen where to bring the food,” Kohl said.
They have recreated the ballroom that you see in the movie down to the smallest detail. If you take a look through the windows, it looks like there’s snow falling. If you look up on the ceiling, they have cherubs and spectacular chandeliers.
In the evening, the restaurant turns fancy and serves wine and beer, which is a Magic Kingdom first.
Over at Gaston’s Pub, it’s a non-alcoholic drink that’s the rage.
It’s apple juice, with a hint of toasted marshmallow and foam on the top.
Nearby is the “Journey of the Little Mermaid.”
You climb into a moving clamshell for a retelling of the movie. There are nearly 200 animated figures.
“We love the new Ariel ride. ‘Little Mermaid’ is one of my favorite Disney movies, so I’ve been really excited about that,” Susan Catena said.
Watch a behind the scenes look at the ride, courtesy of a viewer:
Susan and Patrick Catena from Carnegie brought their son, Jack, to check out all the new stuff.
“I think the new Fantasyland is great. That was one of the reasons we came down here because we wanted to see what it was like since we haven’t been here in a number of years,” Patrick Catena said.
And what about Jack?
His favorite ride is the re-vamped “Barnstormer” roller coaster.
Speaking of coasters, you can also get a sneak peek at the “Seven Dwarfs Mine Train,” which will open next year.
The *only negative comments Highfield heard about the new Fantastyland had to do with some of the lines.
However, Erin and Brad Carmichael of Peters Township, praised Disney for the setup of the new Dumbo ride.
First, they now have two rides instead of one and rather than standing in line, they have an indoor, air conditioned playground waiting area. Riders get a pager when you enter. When the pager goes off, it’s your turn to ride.
But the Carmichael girls may have liked the waiting area more.
“Our kids just went in there to play on the jungle gym even after they had ridden the ride,” Erin Carmichael said.
After years of planning, Disney hopes the reality of the new Fantasyland is a hit.
“There’s thousands of details and if you pick up one of those details as a guest and you’re moved by it, I think that’s when we continue to make the magic as a company,” Kohl said.