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Looking for first reader reports on the New Fantasyland at Disney World's Magic Kingdom

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Published: October 12, 2012 at 11:30 AM
Walt Disney World has been pulling back the construction walls to reveal more and more of the next phase of the Fantasyland expansion at the Magic Kingdom. And now I'm hearing from several sources that some of the locations within the new Fantasyland are soft-opening to guests.

Gaston's Tavern
Photo courtesy Disney

Disney's announced an official Dec. 6 opening date of the new land, with an official soft open (isn't that an oxymoron?) on Nov. 19. Annual passholders can sign up starting at noon Eastern on Monday, Oct. 15, to get in even earlier - for special AP-only previews on Sat. Nov. 3 and 10, and Sun., Nov. 11.

Welcome to world of theme parks, where the word "open" is as hard to pin down as the Cheshire Cat.

Anyway, we'd love to hear your reviews and see your photos should you be among the lucky ones to get in to any of these new locations early. Follow these links:

I'm going to go ahead and list these locations as open so that people who've been there can submit ratings and reviews. But if you haven't yet visited, please, do not submit a review. On attraction and restaurant pages, we want to hear from people who've experienced them first-hand. Everyone else is welcomed to talk about these new locations here, or on the discussion board.

In other news, Dec. 6 is also the official reopening day for the revamped Test Track at Epcot, though I'm hearing soft opens before that date are likely, too.

Update (Oct. 15): Here's a new video from Disney showing off Be Our Guest:

Readers' Opinions

From Dominick D on October 12, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Actually, Be Our Guest hasn't opened yet (Opens October 22 for CMs, but tours only. Food won't be served until November 19). I've seen pictures online, and TLM's queue looks great! Not to mention that turkey leg at Gaston's. Mmmm...
From Tracy Bates on October 12, 2012 at 1:32 PM
I have reservations at Be our Guest the weekend of thanksgiving so I'll add something then.
From Russell Meyer on October 12, 2012 at 1:58 PM
We'll be in Orlando starting October 21, 2012 for 10 days. I'll have all of my equipment with me, and will report whatever we can access during our time in the parks, particularly Magic Kingdom.
From James Rao on October 12, 2012 at 9:54 PM
It will be 2014 before I return to WDW (gotta hit DCA first!), but all the footage I have seen from today's soft opening looks terrific. This Magic Kingdom expansion appears to be a real winner! I think WDI got it all right this time, which bodes well for the future of the world's most popular vacation destination.
From 24.3.33.171 on October 13, 2012 at 10:36 AM
Yes,the new areas that I've seen on various sites look fantastic. And if photos & videos look good, the real thing is always much better. We'll be there in April, and even though the new area isn't much on rides, the excellent ambiance of the area will be such that I'm sure we'll spend a lot of time in New Fantasyland. And the night lighting of this section also appears astounding. It'll be a good area to watch the backside of the Wishes fireworks, away from the maddening crowds. This should liven up an area of the Magic Kingdom that was previously probably the weakest land. I agre with James, this is a harbringer of the new immersive treatment of lands, such as Harry Potter & Carsland. That's a win for theme park fans.
From Rob Pastor on October 13, 2012 at 6:23 PM
Forgot to log in for the previous comment.
From Dominick D on October 14, 2012 at 10:18 AM
Be our Guest now has tours but no food.
From Brandon Townsend on October 14, 2012 at 5:02 PM
I was at Magic Kingdom several times this week but only saw the castle gate entry structure as 'open' as the construction walls had been pushed back. Maybe I missed some of the reveal?
I'll be back this weekend to see if there's anything new.
From 132.170.47.254 on October 14, 2012 at 8:43 PM
I went two days this weekend and was not disappointed! The first thing in the area you come to is Enchanted Tales with Belle, while I didn't do it during the "Dress Rehearsal," I was able to do it about a month ago and I was very pleased. The Lumiere and Wardrobe animatronics are phenomenal and the Magic Mirror is a brilliant effect. For those that aren't familiar with it, the attraction experience is very similar to Olivander's at Wizarding World, but unlike Olivander's, I'd consider it more of a full blown attraction (both in terms of quality of effects/story and length.) It tells the story of Beauty and the Beast with a good amount of guest interaction and audience participation. Gaston's Tavern is very well themed, with some pieces taken directly from the movie. I wasn't able to try the Pork Shank, that's my first priority when I go back next week for a preview event, but Le Fou's Brew was pretty good. I'm not the biggest fan of apple drinks but I enjoyed it as a one time thing. Be Our Guest was open for tours on the second day and it is absolutely breathtaking inside! Everything from the chairs to the chandeliers are very ornate, I don't remember the specific items on the menu but you can expect to pay about $25-40 per person before alcohol. Mermaid was definitely the star though, I won't go into the attractions details since it has a twin but the queue was absolutely mind blowing! The interactive area was simple but cool with great projection effects, but that's not the draw. The overall craftsmanship of everything; the rock work, foliage, water effects, queue ropes, etc. is top notch. Granted that I haven't had a chance to make it out to Cars land or Disney Sea but it is some of the best attention to detail I've ever seen in a theme park. While New Fantasyland might not have some huge life changing attraction or be based off of something with a world wide cult following like things that have been rumored to be brewing down the street, the entire area is incredibly immersive and very pleasant to be in. I think it will be a welcome addition to the Magic Kingdom and help bring many people's favorite stories to life.
From Scott Verble on October 14, 2012 at 8:50 PM
I went two days this weekend and was not disappointed! The first thing in the area you come to is Enchanted Tales with Belle, while I didn't do it during the "Dress Rehearsal," I was able to do it about a month ago and I was very pleased. The Lumiere and Wardrobe animatronics are phenomenal and the Magic Mirror is a brilliant effect. For those that aren't familiar with it, the attraction experience is very similar to Olivander's at Wizarding World, but unlike Olivander's, I'd consider it more of a full blown attraction (both in terms of quality of effects/story and length.) It tells the story of Beauty and the Beast with a good amount of guest interaction and audience participation. Gaston's Tavern is very well themed, with some pieces taken directly from the movie. I wasn't able to try the Pork Shank, that's my first priority when I go back next week for a preview event, but Le Fou's Brew was pretty good. I'm not the biggest fan of apple drinks but I enjoyed it as a one time thing. Be Our Guest was open for tours on the second day and it is absolutely breathtaking inside! Everything from the chairs to the chandeliers are very ornate, I don't remember the specific items on the menu but you can expect to pay about $25-40 per person before alcohol. Mermaid was definitely the star though, I won't go into the attractions details since it has a twin but the queue was absolutely mind blowing! The interactive area was simple but cool with great projection effects, but that's not the draw. The overall craftsmanship of everything; the rock work, foliage, water effects, queue ropes, etc. is top notch. Granted that I haven't had a chance to make it out to Cars land or Disney Sea but it is some of the best attention to detail I've ever seen in a theme park. While New Fantasyland might not have some huge life changing attraction or be based off of something with a world wide cult following like things that have been rumored to be brewing down the street, the entire area is incredibly immersive and very pleasant to be in. I think it will be a welcome addition to the Magic Kingdom and help bring many people's favorite stories to life.
From Duncan Henny on October 14, 2012 at 10:50 PM
here is a great video of the new fantasyland soft opening
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTKAeaXf5Do&feature=g-all-u
From TROY DAVIDSON on October 15, 2012 at 7:01 AM
I got to experience everything this past Saturday. I was really blown away by the details put into this expansion.
We were allowed to tour Be our Guest and I could not get over the amount of sculptures around the entrance and in the entry foyer. The ballroom was so well done.
The waterfalls and water features were gorgeous. Gaston’s was really well done, but, I didn’t care for the frozen apple drink. The Little Mermaid was a great dark ride and I am sure that kids will love it.
Disney out did themselves with this expansion and I think everything will be beautiful visually once Snow White opens up late next year.
This expansion is so well done and breath taking, it tends to make some other parts of the Magic Kingdom look rather dated. Overall a wonderful job and welcomed additon.
From 216.53.168.58 on October 15, 2012 at 10:39 AM
My Wife and I were lucky enough to get the grand preview of the new Fantasyland on our honeymoon. There were some things I loved and some things not so much. The new technology and design of the attractions are exactly what I would expect from Walt Disney Imagineers. Incredible animatronics, great attention to detail, and a satisfying experience. On the downside, it is much smaller than I had expected. Maybe it is just me, but I envisioned a larger area. All in all, once the Mine train is completed I am sure the area will be incredible. Not to mention, I anticipate the Mine train to be an amazing new experience unlike all any coaster Walt Disney World currently has.

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