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Theme Park City > Orlando Guide > Walt Disney World > The Magic Kingdom > Fantasyland

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Walt Disney World > The Magic Kingdom > Fantasyland

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Fantasyland

NOTE: Fantasyland is currently undergoing an expansion and reconstruction and, during this time, may see closings of some attractions, shops, and/or restaurants and other disruptions due to construction/remodeling.

Whether you continue through from Liberty Square, or come straight in around the castle, eventually you reach Walt Disney World's "most magical land": Fantasyland. Here, more than any other land in the Magic Kingdom, the rides are child size and the mood festive to bring out the inner child in us all.

Fantasyland is anchored by the centerpiece of the Magic Kingdom, the iconic Cinderella Castle. Reaching up 189 feet toward the Florida sun, the castle is an attraction in its own right, housing five beautiful tile mosaics, each 15 feet high and 10 feet wide, that tell the story of Cinderella as depicted in the 1950 Disney animated feature and reinterpreted here by Imagineer Dorothea Redmond in 300,000 pieces of colored Italian glass and enamel. (Unfortunately, you can't see all of them these days due to a wall that has been erected to facilitate shows in the castle forecourt).

Also inside the castle is the Cinderella's Royal Table restaurant and a newly created fourth-floor castle suite built as part of "The Year of a Million Dreams Celebration" (running through 2008). At various times during the celebration a Walt Disney World guest and up to five members of his or her party may be randomly selected to experience an overnight stay in the suite.

Unfortunately, aside from the Castle and the alpine like section near Liberty Square, the architecture here is somewhat bland, meant as medieval but leaning more toward warehousing. And it always seems more crowded and hotter here -- probably because, with the limited ride capacities and expanses of pavement, it is more crowded and hotter. Still, see it through a child eyes and it can be magical. Maybe I'll take just one more turn on the carousel...

Attractions

Mickey's PhilharMagic
Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck have known each other for so long that you'd think that, by now, Mickey would just know that, if he asks Donald not to touch his magical sorcerer's hat, that the first thing Donald is going to do is not only touch it, but put it on and cause a complete disaster. That's exactly what happens in this 3-D musical extravaganza. Donald must chase that pesky hat down and get it back to Mickey, and in the process he winds up crashing through a sort of Disney's greatest hits of musical numbers from The Lion King, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and other Disney animated features. The music is great, the pace is fast and funny, and it's Donald's best performance in years. It's a deft blend of the characters and music of Disney feature animation and the style of the classic short cartoons. Fortunately the theatre is large enough to handle big crowds because this is a great show the whole family should see.



Dumbo, The Flying Elephant
It's really just a simple carnival ride -- from a central spindle extend arms which hold an elephant shaped passenger tub. The spindle turns and the arms carry the tubs around in a circle, their height controlled by the passenger. Simple, and certainly much too basic a ride for a state of the art theme park, right? Wrong. Maybe it's just the way it fuels the fantasy of flight, but Dumbo is probably the most popular ride here with the toddler set -- and it even has its adult adherents as well. If you bring a young child, they will want to ride it (possibly more than once), so get to it before the lines form in the morning (when people who meet the height requirements are lining up for rides with Mountain. in their names.) Dumbo is a low capacity ride that loads very slowly, so expect to wait if you want to ride.

Cinderella's Golden Carousel
It's just not an amusement park without a merry-go-round, and this is a fine one: PTC #46, circa 1917. Some purists have complained about Disney's methods of restoration (painting all horses white and altering original carvings) and the replacement of some horses with fiberglass duplicates, but it's still a beautiful machine, especially at night with all its lights on. Another must ride for the toddler set.

Mad Tea Party
This spinning, carnival type ride makes those with weak stomachs run in horror -- but it's great fun for the rest of us. Themed to Disney's Alice in Wonderland, guests to this tea party sit inside giant, spinning teacups, which are mounted on a platform that also spins. The speed of your cup is controlled by its passengers on a do-it-yourself basis -- the faster you turn the center wheel, the faster you go.

it's a small world
Nothing polarizes Walt Disney World visitors like this simple boat ride -- most folks either love it or hate it. Essentially, you float through numerous scenes of dolls in fanciful costumes meant to represent the children of the world, all of which are singing that simple and repetitive Richard and Robert Sherman song that threatens to get stuck in your head for years after you leave. Some of the set pieces are clever if clichéd representations of other countries, and it's all very pretty -- you may be charmed. Those with a cynical bent will find themselves looking up at the utilitarian ceiling tiles and praying that the boat doesn't stop. As it's the highest capacity ride in Fantasyland the lines usually move quickly.

Peter Pan's Flight
"You Can Fly, You Can Fly, You Can Fly," by Sammy Fain, is the theme song for this dark ride based on the Disney animated feature, Peter Pan. We follow Peter as he does battle with Captain Hook in a series of animated scenes, but the best part of the ride is the beautiful vista of London at night from a bird's eye view as we fly over. It's a popular ride, especially with the younger set, so lines form early and can get longer than the length of the ride really justifies. Try to ride it early or possibly during a parade when lines are shorter, or else take advantage of the FastPass option.

Snow White's Scary Adventures
This child oriented dark ride, even after a rehab designed to tone it down a bit, still concentrates more on the witch than Snow White as it -- briefly -- retells her story. It can still scare timid children, though. There are a few very nice effects here, such as the simple yet effective transformation of the Evil Queen into an old hag. But more scenes contain limited animation or are even completely static, with well modeled but unmoving statues of the various Dwarfs. It functions best as a sort of illustrated story book for children who are already familiar with the tale from books or Disney's first animated feature. Take your toddler on and explain the action as it happens, otherwise this one is skipable if the line is too long.

The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh
Toad Hall has been sold to a bear. In the building formerly occupied by Mr. Toad's Wild Ride there's now a Hundred Acre Wood -- the home of Winnie the Pooh. This ride features Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Owl, and his other friends as you travel in a motion-based "honeypot" past tableaux of scenes from the Disney version of Pooh's tales.

Pooh's Playful Spot
is a soft-surface outdoor play area where tots can burn off a little restless energy before heading for another line.

Ariel's Grotto
combines a soft (and wet!) play area with a character greeting venue for the Little Mermaid herself, who can't be a regular walk-around character for obvious reasons. Since Ariel is a "face" character, that is, one not encumbered with a large cartoonish head who is able to speak in her own voice, the line to meet her can sometimes back up as she interacts with her little visitors. Ariel is also a favorite with adolescent boys, who show little interest in most costumed characters, but often do show an interest in the lovely, and somewhat scantily topped, mermaid (as well as other recent heroines like Jasmine, Esmerelda, and Megra.)

Fairytale Garden
The lovely Belle (from Beauty and the Beast) drops by this small spot (very limited seating) to tell a story and greet her young fans. Check the entertainment schedule for show times.

At the front of the castle, the Castle Forecourt Stage, facing Main Street U.S.A., is used for large scale character and musical productions, especially in the busy season. See the daily entertainment schedule for shows and show times.

Dining

They say the three most important things in the restaurant business are location, location, and location. Well, Cinderella's Royal Table has the best location in the Magic Kingdom -- upstairs in Cinderella's Castle. It used to be known as King Stephan's Banquet Hall, although it was never explained why Sleeping Beauty's Father had a franchise operation in somebody else's palace. Sleeping Beauty sometimes shows up for the character breakfasts held here, however, along with other Princesses from Disney's fairy tale royalty including, of course, Cinderella herself (who hosts breakfast and lunchtimes -- her Fairy Godmother hosts Dinners), too. The food, unfortunately, isn't always as royally prepared as the setting. Still, it remains one of the most popular places to eat in the Magic Kingdom and it must be booked far, far in advance (by 180 days prior, the soonest you can make a reservation) if you hope to get a table. In other words, if you want to eat there and it's less than 180 days before your trip, call NOW! Stop reading this and call 1-800-WDW-DINE this minute. I'm serious. Dedicated Magic Kingdom fans usually have every single table booked within minutes of the reservations center opening in the morning. If you can't get a reservation this way, stop by the restaurant the morning of your visit and hope for a cancellation. The full price must be paid in advance and includes a photo package.

Pinocchio Village Haus, overlooking It's a Small World, caters to the fast food market with burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and other counter service fare. The many dining rooms, with their Pinocchio theme and carved wood, are a little more homey than some other Walt Disney World fast food places. It can be packed at lunch hours, however, as the child oriented Fantasyland reaches its own peak crowds in the afternoon.

The Village Fry Shoppe really caters to the small set with hot dogs, McDonald's french fries, and other snacks.

Snacks and cold drinks may also be had at Scuttle's Landing (frozen Coca-Cola) and The Enchanted Grove (Minute Maid beverages).

Ice cream selections and floats from Mrs. Potts' Cupboard make a particularly good choice on a broiling summer afternoon.

Shopping

Shops in Fantasyland cater mostly to kids with toys and character clothing the rule. Pooh's Thotful Shop features Pooh and his friends, The Seven Dwarf's Mine has Snow White and other character merchandise, Sir Mickey's carries stuff themed to the big cheese (including those monogrammed mouse ears) and boys clothing, Tinker Bell's Treasures stocks a wide range of toys and princess wear, and The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique offers "Magical Makeovers" to transform your child into the Disney prince or princess of their dreams.

Where To?

Fantasyland is between Liberty Square and Mickey's ToonTown Fair, and also connects to Main Street USA.


Copyright (c) 2002-2011 by Robert H. Brown
All Rights Reserved.
Theme Park City's Orlando Theme Park Guide is an independent information source
not affiliated with the Walt Disney World Resort or any other theme park operator.