Walt Disney World Hosts Grand Opening of Fantasyland Expansion at Magic Kingdom Today

Today is the day many Disney fans have been waiting for – the Fantasyland expansion at Magic Kingdom officially opens to the public.

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We at CitySurfing Orlando got to preview the area back in October, so if you can’t go today, or just want to re-read our coverage, here are the links:

This expansion is the largest in the history of the Magic Kingdom. It doubles the size of the existing Fantasyland area, and it adds two more castles to the park (Beast’s Castle and Prince Eric’s Castle).

Still to open are the Princess Fairytale Hall, where the Disney princesses will meet guests (2013), and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, a new family rollercoaster which will feature a first-of-its-kind ride system with a train of vehicles that swing back and forth, responding to every twist and turn of the track, accompanied by music from the classic film (2014).

A Photo Sneak Preview of Be Our Guest at Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland Expansion

We’ve given you more of an in-depth tour of Gaston’s Tavern and Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid, so here is a small photo gallery preview of the new Be Our Guest restaurant at the Magic Kingdom.

Be Our Guest – Coat of Arms

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A Photo Sneak Preview of Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid at Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland Expansion

We’ve given you more of an in-depth tour of the new Gaston’s Tavern, so here is a small photo gallery preview of the new attraction, Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid, at the Magic Kingdom.

Under the Sea – Ariel and Friends

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Sneak Preview of New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

One of the most anticipated events in Orlando theme parks is the upcoming opening of the new Fantasyland area of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

Beast’s Castle

On Monday, October 22, we were among the first to experience a sneak preview of the area. We entered around 8pm, so it was already dark out. We went straight back to Gaston’s Tavern, as I really wanted to try their specialty Le Fou’s Brew.

Pitched as a mixture of “frozen apple juice with a hint of toasted marshmallow topped with a passion fruit-mango foam,” we ordered ours sans collector cup. Don’t get me wrong, they’re a great souvenir, but I don’t need another plastic Disney cup. It also cost less without.

I loved mine. It had a strong marshmallow taste. But then my friends said theirs tasted more apple than marshmallow, so I guess it depends what part of the mixture you get poured. I’m not sure I enjoyed the foam part, though. It was a bit tart compared to the sweetness of the apple/marshmallow base. I would’ve liked to had the foam be marshmallow flavored, I think. But it was still really tasty.

As we were enjoying our LeFou’s, the nightly Wishes fireworks show started. Seated outside of Gaston’s, we were behind the castle, so we couldn’t see the projection and light show, but we were positioned perfectly to see the fireworks. In fact, it felt like we were right under the fireworks that are set off in the back area of the Magic Kingdom. We also had a clear view of the fireworks set off around the castle, itself. If you’ve already seen Wishes, this is a great spot to see it from a different perspective.

Under the Sea with Ariel

After Wishes, we went over to ride Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid. Guest board a slow moving clamshell vehicle (similar to the clamshells at the entrance to The Living Seas at Epcot) and tour through various dioramas that recreate the story of The Little Mermaid. This ride is suitable for all ages, though some short parts may be a little dark and scary for young ones.

We finished up our preview tour with a walk-through of the new Be Our Guest restaurant. Gargoyles line the lamp posts along the bridge walkway to the entrance. Inside, a hallway of armor leads to another room where food is ordered and paid for. There are several dining rooms, but we only saw the main one off the payments room. What was really cool is looking through the huge windows at the end of room, you could see faux snow falling “outside” the restaurant.

Looking at the Be Our Guest menu, I was also pleasantly surprised to see the prices on most of the sandwiches and entrees fell below $10, making this a good place to have a moderately priced meal at Magic Kingdom.

The official “grand opening” for these restaurants and attractions is December 6, 2012. Princess Fairytale Hall (character meet area) will open in 2013, and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride (a really cool looking rollercoaster) will open in 2014.

Be Our Guest Dining Hall

[All photos Michelle Snow]

Walt Disney World to Serve Alcohol For First Time at Magic Kingdom

One of the quirks about Walt Disney World is that you could get alcohol just about anywhere on property…except for the Magic Kingdom park.

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To my knowledge, since the park opened in 1971, there has never been any alcohol served to guests.

Even when Disney announced the signature drink, LeFou’s Brew, at the upcoming new Gaston’s Tavern, at the renovated Fantasyland area, they were quick to make sure guests knew it would be a non-alcoholic drink.

Today, on the official Disney blog, they announced that for the first time ever, alcohol would be served at the Magic Kingdom.

The soon-to-be open Be Our Guest restaurant, also in Fantasyland, will be the only location this will happen.

According to the blog:

“As part of the overall theming, we wanted to offer wine that enhances the guest experience and complements the French-inspired cuisine,” says Stuart McGuire, Beverage Director, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “The wines focus primarily on France’s famous wine-growing regions, including Champagne, Alsace, Loire, Rhone, Burgundy and Bordeaux.

“We’ll also offer the leading French beer, Kronenbourg 1664,” says McGuire. “And, staying in the general region, we’ll also offer Belgian beers.”

Mmmm…trapist ales from Belgium are the best! They will not serve any American beer.

The beer and wine will only be offered with dinner, and will not be available otherwise. Alcohol will not be available to go.

Be Our Guest opens November 19, with a grand opening December 6, 2012. To make a reservation, call (407) WDW-DINE or book online at disneyworld.com/dine.

[Image courtesy of Walt Disney World]

Disney to Debut ‘LeFou’s Brew’ at Gaston’s Tavern at Magic Kindom’s Fantasyland

This week, Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer (ok, who wants her job??), announced that they had created a signature drink to be served in Gaston’s Tavern when it opens in November.

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It’s called LeFou’s Brew, after Gaston’s sidekick in Beauty and the Beast, but as we know, Magic Kingdom doesn’t serve alcohol, so this “brew” is suitable for all ages.

According to the official Disney Parks blog, it’s made with “no-sugar added frozen apple juice with a hint of toasted marshmallow, topped with all-natural passion fruit-mango foam.”

Sounds yummy!

It also seems that it will be served in souvenir steins and goblets, with Gaston and Belle on them, respectively.

As mentioned previously, most of the revamped Fantasyland area will soft open, starting November 19, 2012, followed by a grand opening on December 6, 2012.

[Image courtesy Walt Disney World]

Walt Disney World Reveals Opening Dates for Part of Fantasyland

Yesterday on the official Disney blog, Walt Disney World revealed opening dates for more sections of the Fantasyland expansion at Magic Kingdom.

The first grand opening will take place on December 6, 2012. Attractions and restaurants opening during this phase will be:

  • Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid
  • Be Our Guest Restaurant
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • Ariel’s Grotto
  • Gaston’s Tavern
  • Bonjour! Village Gifts

These areas will have a soft opening (usually done to work out the kinks with actual guests) starting November 19. Castmembers, annual passholders and Disney Vacation Club members may get even earlier access.

This phase covers most of the Fantasyland expansion. Princess Fairytale Hall (character meet area) will open in 2013, and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride (a really cool looking rollercoaster) will open in 2014.

[image courtesy of Walt Disney World]

Disney’s Be My Guest Releases Menu Details

One of the most exciting features of the expansion happening at the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland area is the addition of the Be My Guest restaurant.

This new eatery is themed after Beauty & the Beast and will feature a French-themed menu.

Lunch will be of the quick service type, offering sandwiches and salads. One big difference with this restaurant is that the food will be delivered to your table on china, instead of being served over a counter in disposable packaging.

Dinner will be more formal and is also table service. Appetizers include a charcuterie plate, mussels steamed in white wine, soup and a salad with champagne vinaigrette. Entrees will include pan-seared salmon in leek fondue, grilled strip steak with french fries, sautéed shrimp and scallops with veggies in puff pastry with creamy lobster sauce, and an oven-baked ratatouille.

There will also be a separate children’s menu.

Disney says they plan to have the restaurant open in time for the holidays this year.

[Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World]

Walt Disney World Releases Fantasyland Attractions Opening Dates

Some parts of the Fantasyland expansion at the Magic Kingdom have already had soft openings for the guests. However there are still a lot of additions and renovations that are still being worked on.

Last week, Disney parks released a projected timeline for a few more of the Fantasyland area rides and attractions.

The next area to open will be the remainder of Storybook Circus. This will include the second half of the Dumbo the Flying Elephant attraction and the Casey Jr. Splash ‘n’ Soak Station. This should be open by July 2012.

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Walt Disney World Unveils More Plans for Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom

If you’ve been to the Magic Kingdom recently, you might have noticed some changes happening behind the castle, in Fantasyland.

In a press conference this week, Walt Disney World unveiled more concrete plans for the renovations, along with some artist renderings of what the completed project will look like.

Take a gander at this:

Pretty awesome, right? The new additions are scheduled to open in phases, beginning in late 2012.

Among the main changes, the grotto where Ariel formerly met with guests is being turned into a new attraction, Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid. Guests will travel with Ariel and her friends through their exciting adventures above and below the waves, against the backdrop of songs from the movie. It doesn’t say how they’ll be doing that, but I’m hoping for an appearance from Sebastian (love him!).

From what I understand, also among the first to open will be the addition of the castle of Beast, across an old stone bridge from Ariel’s new home. This will serve as the setting for Be Our Guest Restaurant. With seating for 550, this dining experience will feature an elegant ballroom, gallery and mysterious “West Wing” of the castle. It will offer a quick service style of dining by day and a full table service dinner in the evening. No word on the menu offerings, yet.

Nearby in Belle’s Village, guests will find the rousing Gaston’s Tavern and Bonjour! Village Gifts.

Outside of the village will be Belle’s cottage and Enchanted Tales with Belle. Guests start in Maurice’s workshop where a magical mirror is the gateway to Beast’s library. There, they meet Belle and Lumiere, and share in an interactive re-telling of the “tale as old as time.”
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Mid-Week Break: Orlando Around the Web for December 16, 2010

While I’m working hard to bring you news and reviews of things happening around Orlando and its surroundings, there are some other great blogs out there who are doing the same.

So here are some recent posts that you might enjoy reading.

aXis Magazine covered the grand opening of World of Beer’s UCF location and they have the photos to prove it. A beer store near UCF?? If they can’t make a go of it, nobody can.

Central Florida Top 5 did a round-up themselves this week. Check out all the local newsy videos they’ve highlighted like Lee DeWyze at Blue Martini and the Goo Goo Dolls at House of Blues.

Tiffany at The Good Travel Life wrote about her visit to the Orlando Science Center. Kirby at Space Coast Blogger also did a post on the OSC. It’s really a fun place to visit.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that former WESH news anchor Wendy Chioji has joined forces with fellow WESH alumni Marc Middleton and Bill Shafer on a PBS show called “Growing Bolder.” The show is heading into its second season and is produced in Maitland.

Finally, John at The Disney Blog says the Fantasyland Expansion impact on Magic Kingdom will be huge. Be prepared for longer lines at MK rides in 2011, while all the renovations happen.

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