Fantasyland, one of the most recognized and by far most popular of the themed lands in the Magic Kingdom as well as the various Disneyland Parks. Easily the biggest of the lands and filled to the bursting with attractions, the only ones that would find Fantasyland lacking are those whom are thrill seekers as, sadly, the old attraction of The Scary Adventures of Snow White has long since been refurbished. Not that I mind that any for while the ride was in itself a retelling of Snow White’s adventures, the forest scene as well as those that featured the Wicked Queen, pre and post hag transformation, were nothing short of terrifying at any age.
As it has been some time since the recent expansion into “New” Fantasyland, I will divide this land into the three subsections that it has been quasi-officially been given. I say quasi because contrary to popular assumption, only one of these subsections has any actual signage of note and a clear divide between it and the rest of Fantasyland.
Starting off in the Castle Courtyard, which is located directly behind Cinderella Castle, there’s the most famous attraction in all of Disney history, or infamous depending on whom you ask. It’s a Small World is a water boat ride wherein the riders traverse across the globe and see a myriad of dolls from all corners of the earth singing to the titular song. It is a ride that is well and truly for extremely young audiences but does hold a bit of amusement for adults as well as, for a time at any rate, it also had some distinct Disney characters residing in their respected countries/locations. Much as people joke about the song and how much of an earworm it can become, I haven’t really found it to be so. It’s no golden record wonder by any means but it’s certainly not one to cover one’s ears against.
Peter Pan’s Flight is another ride retelling of the classic film but one that has undergone a few revisions over the years, most notable in the form of it attaining an interactive queue that I, rather unfortunately, cannot comment on as this ride, more frequently than any other ride in the entirety of the Magic Kingdom has a substantially long wait. On average, the wait time for Peter Pan’s Flight is anywhere between an hour to two depending on which day of the week and what time of day it is. The ride itself though is quite fun as we go up on miniaturized renditions of Hook’s ship and soar over London and various portions of Neverland.
Mickey’s Philharmagic is a 3D CGI show that features Donald Duck trying to catch the sorcerer’s hat throughout popular, and classic, Disney musical moments from a small variety of films, most notably those of the Disney Renaissance era. Hands down this is my favorite attraction in the whole park and I generally make it a point to go on it more than once. Contrary to most 3D films shown in cinemas, there is no real “sweet spot” as it were to get the whole effect going. Frankly, there is too much happening across the screen, which in itself is I’d say a size-and-a-half wider than most theater screens, to focus on one spot in particular.
Prince Charming Regal Carousel, formerly known as Cinderella’s Golden Carousel, has a rather interesting history behind it’s name change. It was changed in the years leading up to the new expansion of the park and was done so to actually tell a bit more of Cinderella’s story, which can in turn be located verbatim at this LINK here.
The Carousel is honestly no different than any other of its kind save for some unique features. First and foremost, it is located directly center behind Cinderella Castle and believe me, Disney Executives, including Walt Disney’s own brother Roy, checked for this. Secondly, there is in fact one horse out of the many on the ride that is known by Cast Member’s as Cinderella’s Horse as it sports a golden bow upon its tail, a trait not shared by any other equine on the ride.
Off the corner of Fantasyland, and oftentimes unofficially recognized as its own land as far as merchandising is concerned, is Storybook Circus wherein the oft recognized aerial carousel rendition of Dumbo himself can be found. Much like the Carpets of Adventureland, Dumbo the Flying Elephant allows riders to go up and down as they please whilst doing a slow circle around.
Aside from this, there’s the Barnstormer, a junior roller coaster that was a former resident of the now forgone Toontown Fair. It’s not a bad ride for kids seeking thrills fitting to their size and adults who otherwise are uncomfortable with what the other coasters of the Magic Kingdom have to offer. There’s also a little area known as Casey Jr. Splash ‘n’ Soak Station, where the train from Dumbo can be found with elephants and giraffes ready and waiting to splash any who draw near with water.
Moving on from the Circus, we get to the truly expanded section of Fantasyland known simply as the Enchanted Forest. Here’s where any and all fans of the Disney Princesses will find two miniaturized replicas of the other Disney Princess castles, specifically the castles from Beauty & the Beast and The Little Mermaid. On that note (hah!) we’ve got the ride Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid which is sister to Peter Pan’s Flight though with far more advanced animatronics involved. No joke, Ursula is so realistic in appearance that younger, more impressionable, children may get a wee bit freaked out.
The Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride is easily the most unique roller coaster I’ve ever been on as it incorporates its design of being a mine cart ride quite literally in that each car of the coaster actually rocks, though not by a terrifying margin, from side to side. The ride itself is second only to Peter Pan’s Flight for wait time and I again can’t help but blame the interactive, and quite addictive, games scattered throughout the queue.
For those whose heart lies in a familiar wood about a hundred acres or so in size, there’s the ride The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh which, like Under the Sea and Peter Pan’s Flight is a retelling of the stories of Winnie the Pooh, though does so by featuring many iconic moments of the multitude of stories rather than just one in particular. It is also the only ride to have a literal playground attached to the waiting queue where really young kids can go wild while the rest of their party holds their place in line. The real trick though is getting them out from said playground.
Last, but certainly not least, is the iconic Mad Tea Party ride which is admittedly the most basic of basic rides that being a spinning teacup ride done to the songs and themes of Alice in Wonderland. It may not be a wholly unique ride nor one that is distinct amongst others of its make or design but gosh-darn it, it’s a staple of any theme park worthy of the title and is, if nothing else, a piece of amusement park history. … And it’s based on my favorite of the Golden Age of Disney Animated Films, so there.
Virtually every ride in Fantasyland has its own themed store attached or is within range of one as well. In the case of the Storybook Circus, there is a little circus tent of a store that carries a wide range of products though none strictly unique to Fantasyland alone. If you’re looking for more character-themed products though, Fantasyland is your place with such stores as Hundred Acre Goods and Seven Dwarfs’ Mine.
As to the dining scene, there are eight places in all to find food and drink with most of them, such as the Cheshire Café or Friar’s Nook, being quick-served places for light meals and the like. The real trophy winners though are found in the two castles. Cinderella’s Royal Table is a character dining experience that is worth its weight in gold for food, experience, and the sights.
The food is not for casual diners however with some being a bit too… high and proper for most. It is also one of the few places to dine that requires a minimum of 180 days advanced reservation and that’s for a general date and not during the high tides of business for the park. Still worth it though because the dining area itself is truly fit for royalty, and I would bet my bottom dollar that a few such individuals have dined there themselves, but the desert… Oh man, just look at it.
Last, but certainly not least, is the Be Our Guest Restaurant located at the rendition of Beast’s Castle and let me tell you if Cinderella’s Royal Table is fit for nobility than this restaurant is for actual royals. While there is certainly no rule against it, I almost like there’s a suit and tie requirement to dine at this place with how exquisite it looks.
Contrary to its sister restaurant though, this one does not offer character visitation and while reservations in advanced are welcome, they’re with a near half-year minimum. Like its fellow though, the food is high end on the finer side of dining though I have heard, from Cast Members and patrons alike, that the gray stuff is not only available to all but also quite delicious.
Finally, we get to the characters that can be met and seen at Fantasyland… Alright, here we go in no particular order we got: Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Rabbit, and Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, Ariel and on occasion Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid, Alice, the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts, and Tweedles Dee & Dum from Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Wendy Darling, Captain Hook, Mr. Smee, Tinkerbell and her fellow fairy friends from Peter Pan–
–Cinderella, Prince Charming, Anastasia, Drizella, assortment of mice, and Lady Tremaine from Cinderella, Merlin from The Sword & the Stone, Snow White, any one of the Seven Dwarfs, the Prince, and the Wicked Queen (Queenly or Witchy) from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Belle, Gaston, and the Beast (Human or Beastly) from Beauty and the Beast, Pinocchio, Geppetto, Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio, Mary Poppins and Bert from Mary Poppins, Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, Prince John, the Sheriff of Nottingham from Robin Hood, Aurora, the three Good Fairies, Prince Philip, and Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, Merida from Brave, Elsa & Anna from Frozen, Rapunzel & Eugene from Tangled, Jasmine from Aladdin.
Whew… I… I think that’s all of them but, to be fair, these are all subject to change. To be fair, the only ones that can be seen with absolute certainty are the Disney Princesses as they have a few set areas for them, namely the Princess Fairytale Hall, which cycles through them so there’s no set guarantee as to who is and isn’t there, Ariel’s Grotto for Ariel, and Fairytale Garden for Merida. Others, like Alice, Pooh, and Peter Pan, generally make appearances near their respected rides but there’s never a set time for them though there is a specific space if one knows where to look.