• Storybook Circus opens at the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland

    By: Laurel Stewart/TouringPlans.com


    The first section of Walt Disney World’s extensive Fantasyland expansion opened earlier this month with the relocated and expanded Dumbo attraction as well as the newly open Fantasyland Railroad Station and the Barnstormer Featuring the Great Goofini. This is the beginning of the biggest expansion at Walt Disney World resort since the opening of Animal Kingdom park and an effort that is expected to continue well into 2013 and possibly beyond.

    The low down:

    Dumbo is back after a brief disappearance from Fantasyland. In the future, it will accommodate twice as many riders in what is being dubbed “Duelling Dumbos” (there will be two carousels of elephants instead of one), but for now only one Dumbo is operating. New lighting, gold accents and a water feature have been added to make the venerable pachyderm-themed attraction a more beautiful version of its former self.

    If you think the Great Goofini looks familiar, you’re right. It is one of the few attractions that survived the removal of Mickey’s Toontown Fair, where it was formerly known as The Barnstormer. It is still a great trial rollercoaster for kids who don’t yet hit the height requirements for the Big Three Mountains (Space, Splash, and Big Thunder). The other piece of architecture that made it through the Fall of Toontown was the former Judge’s Tent, which is now a circus tent and will host either retail space or possibly dining.

    The railroad station is particularly well done with train related audio in the background. When I checked out this area of Storybook Circus, I heard “The City of New Orleans” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” Be sure to check out the luggage props and signage around the station. They are a great place to get a photo.

    How does it compare to Harry Potter at Universal?

    Universal threw down the gauntlet when it opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure. The Harry Potter area delighted all manner of Muggles with its theming and attention to detail. Storybook Circus is only a small part of the Fantasyland expansion, but so far it’s beautiful. It is held back by the lack of extensive story-telling that Universal was able to draw on for Wizarding World, but there is still more to come in Fantasyland so we will just have to wait and see. You can tell that back things are in store, but there’s so much construction left in Fantasyland.

    How about the crowds?

    There are many guests who would not normally be hanging out in Fantasyland making their way back to this corner of the park to check things out. And this is not improved by the fact that so many construction walls are still up in Fantasyland. Walkways are not as wide as they will be when the project is completed. For the shortest waits in line arrive at park opening or stay very late at night. TouringPlans.com is currently collecting wait times for all operational attractions and using the data for our wait time prediction models. The path from the Fantasyland train station to Tomorrowland is open again and is a nice respite from the bottlenecks of Storybook circus.

    Is there anything to eat there?

    There are a couple of snack carts, but hungry visitors will need to head into other parts of the park for more substantial dining.

    The final word:

    Fantasyland is still a sea of construction walls, and this won’t be improving any time soon. Dumbo and the Great Goofini are still the same attractions they were in a previous life and if your child has missed them, he or she will be happy they’re back. Huge things are still to come for Fantasyland. Be on the look out for Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, the new Beauty and the Beast themed dining, the Seven Dwarfs mine train and more. And if you’re a fan of Snow White’s Scary Adventures, remember you have until the end of May to enjoy this attraction before it’s closed for good, to be replaced by the mine train and a new meet and greet area in its old location.

    TouringPlans.com is the official home on the Web of the best-selling Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. The site offers subscribers premium tools, including a Crowd Calendar, custom touring plans, and a mobile app, to help guests make the most of their trips to Walt Disney World and other destinations. All photos are courtesy of Tom Bricker of the DisneyTouristBlog.com.