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New Fantasy Faire development coming to Disneyland

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Published: August 19, 2011 at 4:59 PM

Greetings from the 2011 D23 Expo in Anaheim, California!

D23 Expo entrance

It looks like Disney will bring a major new princess meet and greet to Disneyland, too. Fantasy Faire will replace Carnation Gardens, as announced by Disney Parks Chairman Tom Staggs and and Disneyland Resort President George Kalogridis during the Disney Parks & Resorts presentation at the D23 Expo today.

Tangled Tower at Fantasy Faire

Fantasy Faire will include the Tangled Tower, where visitors can meet the various Disney princesses. There will be new dining and merchandise in this Fantasyland expansion, as well as a Maypole-like ribbon dance in the afternoons, where guests will join the princesses.

A new performance stage will be included, which will continue to host Carnation Gardens' popular swing dancing in the evenings, Staggs said. No opening date was given for the project, nor was there a closing date announced for Carnation Gardens.

Just before announcing Fantasy Faire, Kalogridis and Staggs also teased new "special experiences" for guests at Disneyland Park, including dinners with Imagineers inside the Haunted Mansion, drinking a Tahitian Punch at the old Tahitian Terrace in Adventureland and reliving a showing of "America the Beautiful" in CircleVision 360.

Neither followed up with any details about these teases, but let me take a guess - Disneyland's working on more limited admission, hard-ticket events for the resort, and will be drawing upon former attractions for the themes of some of these events.

Beyond Fantasy Faire, the other somewhat big news at the Expo was the reveal of a few new details about the upcoming Shanghai Disneyland. Staggs and Bob Weis from Walt Disney Imagineering played a video simulation of the new Enchanted Storybook Castle that will stand in the center of the park - the first Disney castle not themed to an individual princess.

The multi-level castle will include a walk-through attraction (like Disneyland), a table-service restaurant (like Disney World), a princess meet and greet, and a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique on the first floor.

The castle's basement also will be the final scene in an as-yet unnamed boat ride that will float through the rest of Fantasyland.

Boat ride at Shanghai Disneyland

Staggs and Weis said that Disney's Chinese partner is doing site prep work now, and that Disney won't actually begin its construction on the park until next spring. From Weis' comment that "we're well into the blue sky phase of development" on Shanghai Disneyland, it's clear that design work on the park continues, which is why we're not hearing more details about attractions in the park.

Beyond the princess meet and greet, of course.

The seemingly-ubiquitous major princess meet and greet is one of the major features of the New Fantasyland project at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, which was the centerpiece announcement during the first D23 Expo, in 2009. Disney also revealed some fresh details about that project today, specifically about the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Coaster, which has been added to the New Fantasyland project since the 2009 D23 Expo announcement. Here's a computer POV simulation of the new ride:

We've known that the mine train cars will swing as they circle the ride's track. But we got our first look at them in action in a video in the Disney Parks & Resorts pavilion on the D23 Expo show floor:

Here's a mock-up of the train car:

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train car mock-up

And here's a look a model of the Mine Train ride, on display in the pavilion:

Model of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction exterior

You can get a fuller look at the New Fantasyland model in this video from Disney:

In addition, we heard that Disney Imagineering has developed a Lumiere animatronic for the Belle meet and greet location, which WDI's Bruce Vaughn called "one of toughest animatronics we've ever worked on." Vaughn also revealed that there will be an interacrive element in the queue for the Florida version of The Little Mermaid ride, a scavenger hunt with Scuttle, where visitors are invited to help find whosits and whatsits.

Staggs also reviewed the ongoing construction at Disney California Adventure at the Aulani resort in Hawaii, though we didn't hear anything that we didn't hear at the "What's Next" presentation inside Cars Land last June. We did see a fresh construction photo of the Route 66 section of the Cars Land site:

Construction photo of Cars Land, from D23

And I snapped a couple photos of the ride vehicles for Radiator Springs Racers and Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, on display in the Disney Parks pavilion:

Radiator Springs Racers ride vehicle

Mater's Junkyard Jamboree ride vehicle

Disney also today has released the video fly-through of the new Buena Vista Street entrance to California Adventure:

Chef Andrew Sutton of the acclaimed Napa Rose restaurant in the Theme Park Insider Award-winning Disney's Grand Californian Hotel is developing the new table-service restaurant that will be going into the Carthay Circle Theater that anchors Buena Vista Street. And Staggs and Kalogridis teased a 2012 announcement of the expansion of Club 33-like membership club opportunities at the Disneyland Resort, which could mean a club inside the Carthay Circle, too.

Update: Saturday's news was that Disney will be adding a new Walt and Mickey statue to Buena Vista Street, one that depicts an young Walt and early Mickey to match the 1920s theme of the street. Here's a Disney publicity photo of the model for the statue:

Walt and Mickey statue model for DCA

Readers' Opinions

From TH Creative on August 20, 2011 at 5:45 AM
The Fantasyland model looks EXTRAORDINARY. In size it looks as big as Frontierland and Liberty square ...combined! When you add in the waterfalls, landscaping, Disney NextGen, sound and (at night) lighting effects, the Fantasyland addition will make Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom into the best theme park experience on the planet -- even surpassing its sister park in Anaheim.
From 69.47.208.74 on August 20, 2011 at 7:45 AM
So is this all the new news for the parks we are getting?...
From James Rao on August 20, 2011 at 7:57 AM
Great update, Robert! Thanks for bringing the Expo home to those of us not lucky enough to attend.
From Robert Niles on August 20, 2011 at 10:29 AM
Several readers have expressed disappointment that there was no word about the fate of Pleasure Island/Hyperion Wharf/Whatever They're Calling It at the Walt Disney World Resort.

No, that wasn't a reporting oversight. In both the presentation and the WDI pavilion at the show, there's not a mention of anything regarding that part of the WDW property.

Completely guessing here, but since that development is so dependent upon attracting commercial partners, I suspect Disney's having trouble in this economy lining up enough business partners to create the critical mass necessary to redevelop the area. So we get one-off such as Splitsville in the meantime.

I think the issue is further complicated by Disney's waffling on whether it wants an adults-only entertainment district or not. It's tough enough finding business partners these days. It's even tougher when you can't decide what type of business partners you want.

That's just my $.02 though. I haven't talked with any insiders about Pleasure Island in some time, so if you've got inside scoop, please share it.

From Robert Niles on August 20, 2011 at 10:46 AM
I'd like to get some Florida readers' opinions on the timeframe for the New Fantasyland. When I visited in July, it looked like work on the Beast's castle, The Little Mermaid and the circus-themed area were all coming along nicely.

But I didn't see that any work had begun on the Seven Dwarfs ride. From the model, it looks like there's a show building and quite a bit of site grading that needs to go in for that, not to mention the track (which shouldn't take that long).

Any thoughts on insight on the progress on the Seven Dwarfs ride? I couldn't get anything out of the Imagineers at D23. I'm guessing that construction is moving in phases and that the Seven Dwarfs are the last phase, but I'd like to know if anyone has seen anything go vertical on that part of the project yet.

From Robert Niles on August 20, 2011 at 10:43 AM
I also should note that the presentation very much was the Tom Staggs Show. They showed a video of Staggs working various Disney parks jobs, including as a Jungle Skipper. He pulled off a sight gag making fun of Aulani Imagineer Joe Rohde's immense earring, too.

Staggs has a deadpan delivery and wonderfully dry sense of humor that complements well Disney's typical earnest cheerfulness. I thought he was hilarious bantering with the talking Mickey character at the beginning of the show today. ("You're looking especially articulate today, Mickey.") By the way, that Mickey is just stunning. It's amazing to see Mickey's mouth move like that as he speaks.

From 98.21.205.113 on August 20, 2011 at 11:33 PM
While I really like the idea of the swinging mine cars..... It concerns me that it might be met with some of the similar problems that The Bat at Kings Island had back when they tried to make that concept work (too much stress of the track / carts from the swinging caused it too be a mess?). Any thoughts from other people more in the know about the details? I hope that Disney has figured this out and the investment pays off. I really do like the idea of a new family coaster in Fantasyland.... and it is high on the list of new upcoming rides I am most looking forward to riding in the next few years.
From Eric G on August 22, 2011 at 12:14 AM
The swinging car design on the Seven Dwarfs roller coaster is totally different than The Bat. There is no relation. If you really understood The Bat design then you'd know why this is a non-issue for this new coaster. There is a huge difference.

Also, The Bat concept was a success in its second generation and a handful of these coasters are still in operation today.

From Anon Mouse on August 22, 2011 at 8:41 AM
It's a total surprise that they will be removing Carnation Gardens. Double surprise that there will be "pole" dancing in Disneyland. ;)

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