Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Disney World's New Fantasyland: A Tot Mecca

What if you focused your entire Walt Disney World vacation around your toddler? Walt Disney World can be overwhelming -- not only for babies and toddlers – but also for the adults who cannot take their little ones on many of the rides. But, here’s the kicker, you ready for this? Disney World isn’t all about the rides. In fact, the Magic Kingdom's New Fantasyland is tot mecca and it only has a couple of rides.

Having been to the park about a dozen times, first one being when I was around five, I figured I was qualified enough to review their newest (and largest) expansion in their 41-years, the New Fantasyland. Memories of the old Fantasyland flash back as I remember me, cautiously wrapping my arms around Minnie Mouse. I remember walking past the gates of the Haunted Mansion and begging my parents not to take me inside and instead take me directly to the carousel. I remember being thoroughly amazed and almost overwhelmed on the boat of It’s A Small World. So obviously, when I heard about the expansion of Fantasyland, I couldn’t wait to check it out.

At the same time though, I was apprehensive. Could Disney really be able to balance the nostalgia and magic and innovation? On a recent sponsored retreat to Walt Disney World, I came to find out … they did all of this, and more! Disney has discovered a way for parents to keep their toddler busy while waiting for the big kids to ride their rides - all while keeping the magic of Disney as enchanting as ever.

As of right now, New Fantasyland has two sections – The Enchanted Forest and Storybook Circus.

In the Enchanted Forest, Meet some of your favorite Disney characters inspired by The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. You can stroll through lush landscapes, discover roaring waterfalls, and gaze at royal castles along the way. It is in the Enchanted Forest where you can ride Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid. Dine at Be our Guest Restaurant. Become part of a lively retelling of the "tale as old as time" at Enchanted Tales with Belle. Take photos with everyone’s favorite mermaid in Ariel’s Grotto. And chug some LeFou’s Brew in Gaston’s Tavern.
Or step right up to the classic American circus in Storybook Circus – which evokes the spirit of the classic Disney film Dumbo. Take to the sky with The Great Goofini by riding The Barnstormer. Soar high above the big top on one of two Flying Dumbo rides – which offers a new twist to the old ride. Cool off in the circus-themed water play area at Casey Jr. Splash n Soak Station. Meet some of Disney’s most popular characters in one of the big top tents at Pete’s Silly Slideshow. Or catch a ride on the Walt Disney World Railroad at Fantasyland Station.

Plans are underway for a "Seven Dwarfs Mini Train Roller Coaster" to open in 2014, as Fantasyland continues to expand in stages. But there are still the old Fantasyland attractions, including, "It’s a Small World," "Peter Pan’s Flight," and "Mad Tea Party" among others.

From whimsical encounters with princesses to delectable dining experiences, multicolored circus tents to lively characters, there’s something to amuse every age and interest in Walt Disney World’s New Fantasyland – especially your toddler!

Wanna know a secret:
There are 115 Windows in Beast’s Castle, over 12,000 "books" in the library at the Enchanted Tales of Belle, and over 20,000 live and artificial plants decorating the Journey of the Little Mermaid ride inside and out. Shhhhh.

Photo Credit: Disney World Blog and D23

Disclosure: I had the pleasure of visiting Disney World on a sponsored retreat for Traveling Mom. All opinions are definitely my own - regardless of how much I am obsessed with Disney.

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