During a recent press event, held in tandem with the re-opening of Star Tours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Eric Jacobson, senior vice president of creative development for Walt Disney Imagineering, took the opportunity to show off some the latest progress within the Fantasyland expansion, and to discuss further details regarding how the new area is coming together. Here is an update to how the major elements of the refurbishment are progressing:
Belle’s Village: The area celebrating Beauty and the Beast, which includes Beast’s Castle and Gaston’s Tavern, is the area nearest completion. While crews work to complete stonework, the statue of Gaston which will anchor the area in front of the tavern, is being created off-site.
Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid: Jacobson confirmed that the ride would be very similar to the similar attraction that’s about to open at Disney’s California Adventure. However, the facades of each attraction will differ; Magic Kingdom’s ride will include Prince Eric’s castle. Thus, when the Fantasyland expansion is complete, Magic Kingdom will be home to three castles, and three mountains.
Dumbo: The familiar ride, which will add an additional carousel, will feature an air-conditioned waiting area, where riders will await their turns “much like a restaurant with reservations,” explains Jacobson. Previously, the area also included three tents that would serve as retail operations. Plans have been updated to include only two shops now.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: Less progress has been made on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, the new roller coaster attraction that features story elements of Snow White, and an innovative “rocking” car. Jacobson promises that it will be worth the wait, however. “It’s going to activate the entire land,” he stated.
Jacobson shared that the entire area would provide more shade than the original Fantasyland, owing to the fact that the expansion is taking place over natural land, rather than service tunnels, so larger trees will have an area to root. Further, the temporary train stop that took guests to Mickey’s Toontown Fair will be replaced Storybook Circus-themed area, and will seem “like it’s always been there,” says Jacobson.
The expansion, the largest in the park’s history, is still on track for a 2013 opening, with areas beginning to open to the public as early as next year. Between 70-100 imagineers have been devoted to the project.