I am super excited to be able to share with you a first hand account of the opening weekend of BOTH New Fantasyland and Test Track. When I found out that friends and forum members Jimmy (floydnjanicefan) and Scott (SPMorris) were going down last weekend, and staying at the new Art of Animation Resort, I asked them if they would grace us with their experiences during the weekend.
So, take it away Scott…
We had had our WDW trip planned for months when they had announced that the New Fantasyland would be opening on our very first day. I had very mixed feelings on this, because as excited as I was to experience the New Fantasyland, I dreaded the crowds that it would bring on what I expected to be a very slow period. We took a 6AM flight, so we got to our hotel, the brand new Art of Animation Resort, around 10AM. After seeing the previews of the Cars-themed buildings, I was so excited for the Little Mermaid rooms we were staying in. Having said that, it was a bit of a let-down. The theming of the Little Mermaid buildings seemed much more on-par with an All-Star resort, and our bedspread already had a stain on it.
We managed to get to the Magic Kingdom on our first day around 11, and after riding Space Mountain, we made a beeline for the newly expanded Fantasyland. We managed to ride Under the Sea, Journey of the Little Mermaid with only about a 20 minute wait. The queue for the line was beautiful and fairly interesting, with little holographic crabs crawling out in various frames and nooks carrying different objects. It was a novel idea, but nothing spectacular or special. The ride itself was okay. It’s comparable with the other story rides (Peter Pan’s Flight) but was a little too abridged for my taste.
After this we went on the newly reopened Goofy’s Barnstormer, again with a fairly short wait. I didn’t know much about the Barnstormer before this, but was letdown with how short the ride was. I hadn’t expected it to be Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but it was maybe 30 seconds long.
We decided to roam through the stores looking for Grand Opening merchandise, and I was surprised by how little they had and how rude the cast members were. The only thing available were tee-shirts, and I had to ask 3 different cast members before finding it. The first two, standing outside the main circus shop, repeatedly told me that this wasn’t opening day, everything had been open for weeks. They finally told me there were tee-shirts inside the store, but gave me the wrong location. I found another cast member who brought me to a different area and showed me the tee-shirts.
We also saw Rapunzel’s Tower, which was a surprise! I had no idea they were building this into Fantasyland. You can’t quite reach it yet, so I’m not sure if there’s a point beyond decorative, but still- really cool!
[Editor’s Note: Rapunzel’s Tower was erected where the old Fantasyland Skyway station was located. From other pictures that have surfaced, it looks purely decorative. One drawback is that you can clearly see it inside Liberty Square, so it sort of detracts from the feel of the Square and the Haunted Mansion.]
After our shopping experience, we left Fantasyland and had dinner with our entire party (10 people all together!) at Liberty Tree Tavern. We kept an eye on wait times for Fantasyland, but everything had exploded to a 1 hour plus wait time.
The next day we went to Epcot, and went straight to Test Track. This was the official re-opening, and even with running there at opening, we had about a 25 minute wait. The entire queue was given a much more futuristic look. it was interesting and different. When you get taken in, you’re given a white key card that stores your information. Each person/pair goes up to a computer station where you design your own car, focusing on power, efficiency, responsiveness and capability. You could choose the shape, color, tires, boosters, etc. This was a lot of fun, and we were all really excited to see how our cars performed. When you’re about to get on the ride, you tap your card again so it loads your vehicle. The ride itself was the same as before, except the temperature section was replaced with an efficiency section, testing out how “green” your car is. The appearance of the ride is very heavily Tron-inspired. After the ride, you have the option of tapping your card at various kiosks to see how your car performed. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for anyone and no one was around to help.
On Sunday we went to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and used it as an opportunity to re-visit New Fantasyland. We went on the Dumbo rides for the first time, and I really loved the new queue area. Parents now get a buzzer and their children can play in a circus-themed play area until it’s time to get on the ride. Despite the addition of a second ride, our wait was still about 30 minutes.
Next we went to meet Madame Daisy Fortuna and Minnie Magnifique! The wait time was posted at 20 minutes, but it definitely was more like 40. Maybe it’s because I don’t have children, but if you’re child doesn’t want to take a picture with a character, I don’t think the cast members should spend 10 minutes trying to coerce your youngin’. Prepare your child beforehand, you get maybe 2 minutes and then move on.
For our final day, we went back to Magic Kingdom and went straight for New Fantasyland. Our first stop was Enchanted Tales with Belle. The wait time was about 25 minutes, but once you get into Belle’s cottage, it’s beautiful and interesting. There’s a painting in it of what is either Belle as a toddler and her mother, or a slightly aged Belle and her toddler daughter. I really can’t tell.
You get taken into Maurice’s workshop where you see the many chandeliers he’s made for Belle. After that, you go through a “magic mirror” that transports you into the Beast’s castle. Madame De La Grande Bouche then assigns roles to everyone, and you proceed into the library where Lumiere is waiting to surprise Belle with the story of how she and the Beast met. Not exactly a romantic story (I kidnapped your father! Now you’re my prisoner!), but it works, I suppose. Our Belle was hilarious, though clearly she attended the Miley Cyrus school of acting.
We walked around Fantasyland a bit longer then got in line for Be Our Guest for lunch. We got in line a little after 10, and were far from being the first in line. Once the restaurant opened at 10:30, the line moved very quickly and you proceed to a kiosk to order your food. After this, you proceed to your table and they magically know where to bring your food. The dining rooms were not as beautiful as I expected them to be. The food, however, was pretty delicious. My brother and his family went for dinner and said the entire experience was magical.
Overall, the New Fantasyland was a beautiful let-down. They put a lot of thought into the design and aesthetics, but the rides themselves were mediocre. We spent a lot of time there because it was brand new, but it wouldn’t be a major destination in any future visits.
Thanks for the synopsis, Scott! I have a feeling that parts of it will let me down when I get to experience New Fantasyland myself in a few weeks. However, that does not make me beyond excited. I saw during the opening ceremonies of New Fantasyland that there is a walk around Dumbo character. This pic has been floating around on Tumblr:
I swear, if there is a Dumbo Meet & Greet, I will literally freak.
Remember, I am on the lookout for Disney Theme Park Holiday Pics for next week. If at anytime over the years, you took a holiday inspired picture at any of the Disney theme Parks, I would like to share them on here. You can email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you or other family members are in the pic, I would appreciate a note on who so I can tag the picture accordingly.
Have a great weekend.