Friday, January 9, 2015

#25 - New Fantasyland

Category: Park Ambience
Category Rank: 5

Park: Magic Kingdom
Park Rank: 11

It has been a while since we hit the park ambience category (here's a reminder of what that entails).  We had last hit on the ambience of Frontierland within the Magic Kingdom, known for providing its sense of the great outdoors in conjunction with cowboy culture.

Our next selection will be an interesting one.  We select the New Fantasyland area from Magic Kingdom, higher up on our list than Frontierland.  We aren't selecting the old Fantasyland area, either.  If the point of the list is nostalgia, it seems an odd selection to go with the land of the Magic Kingdom that is the newest.  What gives?

As close as I can get to Be Our Guest is stock images
First, let's talk a bit about the land.  The "expansion", as it is often referred to, was first proposed at Disney's D23 expo in September of 2009.  Construction then took place from 2010 all the way to 2014, when the final piece (the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train) was finally released.  The new area adds 11 acres of new space to the park.  It also came at a cost of about $500 million.''

This land primarily features elements for Beauty and the Beast and for the Little Mermaid.  There is a Little Mermaid slow ride and a grotto for picture-taking for the latter.  For the former, there is the Beast's castle in the background, the Be Our Guest Restaurant (which we hear is amazing, but we still have not been able to see after several trips), and some shopping areas such as Gaston's Tavern.

Speaking of which, Gaston is quickly becoming the main attraction.  His overbearing personality makes him a favorite for guest visits.  Here are two of his greatest hits:

There are many more from Youtube worth watching.  The expansion also features the aforementioned Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and a redoing of the Toon Town Area, as well as moving around a few other items (like Dumbo, and a new Princess greeting area).

So, why does the new Fantasyland appear on a list of the most nostalgic items?  There are several reasons.  First, this area is the biggest new area to take place since our start at the parks (Christmas of 2009).  That in of itself makes it special for us, seeing as we saw the before/during/after of that development.

Plus, the new land is really beautiful to look at.  Many people have been disappointed with the Fantasyland Expansion given that it was a response to the new Harry Potter area within Universal.  But, the land does many things well.  It is wide open and expansive, but also natural in the use of rocks and vegetation.  It also utilizes the new interactive queues on the Little Mermaid and Seven Dwarf Mine Train.  In many ways, this is the future of Disney World ambience creation.

Additionally, Fantasyland is the area that the Magic Kingdom (and Disney, for that matter) is most synonymous with.  We have several other big hitters coming up (the Castle, the Monorail, the Golf Ball), and this land is up there with them for other people.  The fact that Disney was able to take the land and improve it without tarnishing the nostalgic tradition.

We continue in our Magic Kingdom mini-run with another nostalgic ride, one that debuted at the 1964 World Fair in the General Electric exhibit.  It fits in the "slow ride" category because it does move (around and around, and actually getting somewhere), but it could be categorized as more show than ride.

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