A big part of our recent family trip to Disney World was a stop in the newly re-designed and re-opened Fantasyland section of the Magic Kingdom. What we found in Fantasyland was fantastic, but it was also (not surprisingly) crowded. Fortunately we had expected this crowd ahead of time and were (mostly) prepared. Here are some things we did to try to minimize wait times and maximize fun in Fantasyland!
If you want to catch up on the rest of our Disney trip, here are a few other relevant posts.
Fantasyland is a part of the park that is geared largely toward the younger Disney crowd, which was perfect for my three year old. It is divided into two areas, the Enchanted Forest and Storybook Circus. As taken from the Disney website, here are some of the attractions in each part of Fantasyland.
- Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid
Enter Prince Eric’s castle, board a giant clamshell and rock out on this new musical attraction.
- Be Our Guest Restaurant
Feast in one of 3 incredible dining rooms in the middle of Beast’s Castle.
- Enchanted Tales with Belle
Become part of a lively retelling of the “tale as old as time,” hosted by Belle and Lumière.
- Ariel’s Grotto
Take photos and get autographs with everyone’s favorite undersea princess.
- Gaston’s Tavern:
The manliest of manly places, this eatery serves up tasty tavern fare.
- The Barnstormer
Take to the sky with The Great Goofini on a spiraling stunt plane adventure high above the Storybook Circus grounds.
- Dumbo The Flying Elephant
Soar high above Storybook Circus with Dumbo on a ride that puts a new twist on an old favorite—and offers twice the fun!
- Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station
Enjoy cooling refreshment at this circus-themed water play area adjacent to the Fantasyland Train Station.
Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid, Dumbo, and Barnstormer have a Fast Pass option, so that is highly recommended to avoid waits with little kids. We skipped Barnstormer on this trip, but did use FASTPASS for Under the Sea and were spared the 55 minute line as a result. We did wait in line at Dumbo without a FASTPASS, but that wait was actually not bad at all since they have built a circus play area for the kids to play in while you wait (more on that in a minute)!
If you aren’t familiar with FASTPASS, you basically scan your theme park ticket in a machine that then prints out a small ticket with a time window within which you can come back to the ride and avoid most of the wait. For example, if you request a FASTPASS to Under the Sea at 9:20AM, it may give you a ticket that says come back between 10:00AM – 11:00AM. Then you bring your FASTPASS back during that time and wait in a much shorter line that is often no more than five minutes long. In this scenario, you then cannot request another FASTPASS to any ride until 10:00AM, so strategy is still important in obtaining and using these passes. Head to the Disney website for more details on FASTPASS.
There was an interesting scenario where the Dumbo and Barnstormer FASTPASS options were not connected to the larger Disney FASTPASS system, so you could theoretically hold multiple FASTPASS tickets at the same time to those attractions plus one additional attraction. I’m not sure if that is still the case or not, but we didn’t test the theory while we were there.
Dumbo the Flying Elephant:
The line for the iconic Dumbo ride was usually crazy (and hot) even before the Fantasyland overhaul, but it has gotten much better. I absolutely love the direction Disney took this ride since they now have an air-conditioned indoor circus themed play area that your kids play in while you wait for your turn to ride one of the two identical Dumbo rides. They give you a pager much like at many restaurants that buzzes when it is your turn. There is a partially covered outdoor wait before you get into the play area, but at least this really breaks up the line substantially. I hope they incorporate this concept on more and more rides geared for the younger crowd in the future as it got huge thumbs up from my crew!
Enchanted Tales With Belle:
This ride has no play area or FASTPASS – it is just a good old fashioned waiting-in-line-outdoors situation.
Because there is no real short-cut for this attraction, we headed there almost immediately after entering the park (after grabbing a FASTPASS along the way for another attraction). I think pretty much everyone had the same idea as us, as the line was already 45-50 minutes long when we arrived, but was actually much shorter about an hour later. I still recommend being at the park when it opens and heading straight for this. We arrived a few minutes after the park opened, so our line was longer than it could have been. If you have kids in the roughly 2-7 age range this attraction is not to be missed. It is very interactive and involves a bunch of cool “Disney magic” that I won’t spoil here.
The kids (and some adults) get selected/volunteer to be in the storytime portion of the attraction, so don’t be shy if you want a role! My husband was (reluctantly) a knight and my daughter was (enthusiastically) a spoon and fork.
I think the storytime portion ran for maybe 10-15 minutes, and Belle does pose for photos with the folks in the story once it is over.
Be Our Guest Restaurant and Gaston’s Tavern:
The Be Our Guest Restaurant is located inside the impressive looking Beast’s Castle (next to Storytime with Belle), and while we really wanted to eat lunch there, we weren’t interested in waiting in yet another very long line after Belle. There are three different dining rooms including the West Wing, Belle’s Library or the 2-story ballroom that (based on pictures) make you feel like you are really in Beast’s castle. At lunch they offer casual dining where you order on a screen at your table and the food then is served, but at dinner they offer reservations and table service, so that could be a good way to ensure you get a table without a long wait! If you want to go at lunch I would get there and line-up around 10:30 or so before they open, or opt for a later lunch after the biggest crowd. If you want reservations for dinner, make them 180 days out as it is a tough reservation to score right now.
If you keep walking past Beast’s Castle you will come to Gaston’s Tavern that serves snacks such as hummus, mixed veggies, croissants, cinnamon rolls, and their signature (non-alcoholic) LeFou’s Brew that is made with frozen apple juice with a hint of Toasted Marshmallow and topped with all-natural passion fruit-mango foam.
The whole area was very busy, but since we had a FASTPASS to Under the Sea, a manageable wait for Belle, and enjoyed the play area at Dumbo while we waited, we were able to have a very solid Fantasyland experience within just a couple of hours. Since the park is even busier now in the summer then when we visited a few months ago, it is essential to have a plan going into Fantasyland in order to maximize your time and minimize your waits. Next time we go I hope to eat at the Be Our Guest restaurant, and perhaps even enjoy the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster that is slated for a 2014 opening!
Have you been to the newly re-opened Fantasyland? What did you enjoy and what tips do you have to share?