Disney fans are always anticipating the latest, the greatest next, NEW must-do. This summer, families took advantage of hyperspace and visited Galaxy’s Edge on both coasts. Long, long ago, (summer 2013) we saw a similar rush to the then-new Walt Disney World wonderment; New Fantasyland. To help you step inside these storybooks, these “tales as old as time”, I share my Top 5 Hidden MUST-DOS at New Fantasyland.
This sizable Magic Kingdom expansion (growing from 10 acres to 21 acres) has captivated both imaginations and dreams. Much focus has been placed on its headliner attractions, and with good reason. Beast’s Castle (with Be Our Guest Restaurant as its star), Maurice’s Cottage (home to the adorable and interactive Enchanted Tales with Belle), two Dumbo the Flying Elephants and the familiar to Disneyland fans Under the Sea~ Journey of the Little Mermaid are all stellar experiences. But to fully appreciate the Enchanted Forest and Storybook Circus, to truly become part of the story, you must stop, and look, and smell and savor your surroundings. You MUST.
Hidden Must-Dos in New Fantasyland
1. Belle’s Village
Grab your favorite book, (or buy a new one at Main Street U.S.A.’s Emporium), buy a Lefou’s Brew (Cars Land-goers will recognize this as Red’s Apple Freeze from the Cozy Cone Motel) from Gaston’s Tavern, and sit in the middle of this “quiet little village”… Take some time to drink in your surroundings:
|Listen to the bubbling fountain that pays homage to the man.|
|Eye the local tavern.|
|Savor the aroma wafting from Maurice’s Amazing Popping Machine.|
|Check out those dreamy guns for yourself… (And try not to go weak at the knees.)|
Bonjour! I dare you to not hear the strains of Belle in the backdrop of this provincial square.
2. Royal Majesty Makers
Upon entering the Magic Kingdom, be sure to pick up a Park Guide and plan your day around the “atmosphere performers.” Disney California Adventure-goers know what these players add to a stroll down Buena Vista Street. This experiment in “Streetmoshere” does the same for the Castle Court in New Fantasyland. One of the Magic Kingdom troupe, the Royal Majesty Makers (Lady LLewellyn, Sir Sterling, squire Tobias and lady-in-waiting Bridget), are the official ambassadors of Cinderella’s court. They lead princes and princesses of all sizes in pure merriment. From learning royal etiquette,
|A proper regal wave.|
to a rousing game of “Sir Sterling Says”, your Fantasyland experience will not be completely magical without them!
3. Under the Sea~ Journey of the Little Mermaid QUEUE
Even if you are familiar with this attraction from its California predecessor, please don’t skip this mesmerizing queue and its interactive elements. As you wind past palm trees, waterfalls, sand and caverns inside Prince Eric’s Castle (and luckily for you, it’s always low tide), you are indeed traveling under the sea. The attention to detail in New Fantasyland marks a new era at Disney Parks. You will be surrounded by shipwrecked treasures. The Little Mermaid story is etched in the ceiling, but the interactivity begins with Scuttle’s Scavenger Hunt.
Be sure to help the digital blue crabs (created using Pepper’s ghost effects), sort through the whozits and whatzits in a game of “trash or treasure”. By pointing to the images, you can decide what Ariel saves in her thingamabob treasure chest. Be advised, the queue is part of your adventure, but you will miss it if you take the FastPass line. For first-time visitors, I would suggest arriving early and enjoying the full journey.
**Unique to this attraction: a very special Hidden Mickey. It is visible only on November 18th of every year (at noon). It’s Mickey Mouse’s birthday, of course! MUST-DO!!
**Ask a Cast Member to guide you to the Mickey Mouse head carving in the overhead rock formations, and then search the floor for the Hidden Mickey shadow!!
4. Dumbo’s Interactive Queue and Big Top Tent
Again, Disney pulls you into one of their classic films. Not only will you want to grab a flight on one of two Dumbo the Flying Elephant spinners, but be sure to set aside at least 15 minutes for your child to “star” in this Big Top show. In this air-conditioned tent in the Storybook Circus section of New Fantasyland, immersive storytelling is absolute. With Dumbo and Timothy Q soaring overhead and the burning building from Dumbo‘s dramatic ending in the backdrop,
your child can play with toddler equipment in the center ring, or climb on nets, bounce and slide their way through the aerial circus “stage”.
|See your child become a “Human Cannonball”!|
While your little performer is entertaining all, you can SIT on the benches, and keep your eye on the pager that will alert you it’s time for the actual ride. Be warned: you may have difficulty getting your child out of this tent!! (I know I had that trouble with my 20 year old!) As said, you may want to forgo the FastPass and queue it.
5. Explore Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station
This is the perfect spot for total mid-afternoon refreshment. Grab a hot dog and churro, let your family cool off while splashing around in the circus-themed water play area and people watch.
If you don’t want to get wet, instead bathe in the air conditioning at Pete’s Silly Sideshow, and meet The Great Goofini or The Astounding Donaldo. This area is a bit off the beaten path, so take this virtual tour so that you don’t miss this little slice of carnival magic:
6. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Back in 2012, a different attraction based on the same beloved movie closed down in the Magic Kingdom: Snow White’s Scary Adventures. Ever resourceful, Disney Imagineers found a way to preserve some of the Animatronic figures from that ride after it closed.
Before embarking on your mine train adventure, try your hand at jewel sorting, then wash them with water spigots that play tunes you’ll recognize. When you come across a collection of wooden barrels overflowing with glowing stones, turn each barrel and watch as the ceiling above you is transformed.
The downside to these hidden MUST-DOS? You may have to add an extra day of touring to your plan! From peanuts embedded in the path leading to Storybook Circus to the castle moat around Beast’s Castle in the Enchanted Forest, New Fantasyland is a story you will want to surround yourself in. Be sure to make all of it “part of your world.”