By Andrew Carrieri

Fantasyland, a section of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom theme park in Florida, is legendary. The home of many classic Disney attractions, such as the Mad Tea Party (a.k.a. “the teacups”) and Cinderella Castle, it is incredibly popular. In spite of this entrenched popularity, Fantasyland is currently undergoing a multi-year expansion that will bring about numerous changes.

As a huge Disney World fan, the expansion has intrigued me.  Although many of the changes do not directly appeal to me—Fantasyland is the area of the park that generally caters to young children—I find the fact that changes are occurring to be exciting in general.  For example, while I don’t really care about the new version of Dumbo the Flying Elephant, which has resulted in the doubling of the ride’s previous capacity, I enjoy both the hoopla and the discussion it generates amongst Disney fans.

However, three aspects of the expansion do directly interest me.  A new ride, Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid, which is scheduled to open on Dec. 6, is one addition I’m looking forward to.  On this attraction, guests will ride in a clamshell through a themed underwater environment filled with detail and music.  Disney typically does an excellent job with thematic rides—Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion are classics, for example—and I’m curious to see how this one will compare.

Also opening on Dec. 6, the Be Our Guest Restaurant is the second intriguing part of the expansion for me.  The restaurant’s lunch and dinner menus were recently released, and they contain many fancy offerings.  The dinner menu, for example, will contain hen and ratatouille.  For my simple tastes, this menu sounds way too sophisticated and is not a draw.  I am curious to hear reports from foodies on their experiences because theme parks do not typically serve food as sophisticated as this. I wonder if the food will be of good quality. For what it’s worth, I do like the sound of the sandwiches that will be served at lunch: roast turkey and grilled steak to name two.

The final announced addition that excites me is the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. This attraction, a new roller coaster, will probably not open for another couple of years.  I’m particularly interested to find out how thrilling this coaster will be.  Regarding thrill, most anybody who has visited Disney World will tell you that comparatively speaking, their coasters are mild; even Disney’s most extreme coasters, the boomerang (goes backwards) Expedition Everest and the looping Rock n’ Roller Coaster are nothing when compared to the ones at Six Flags and other thrill parks.  The location of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in child-friendly Fantasyland doubles my curiosity about the ride’s intensity.

The Fantasyland expansion is exciting news for theme park fans, and it should be a hit if done well.  As for it actually being a success, only time will tell.

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