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 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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