Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom got nearly 100 percent larger with the opening of most of the New Fantasyland expansion on December 6, 2012.
This new area means more options for young kids and the young at heart. The Magic Kingdom has always been the most popular park at Walt Disney World, with Fantasyland as the epicenter for visitors with children. The new areas retain the flavor of the original and add family-friendly features.
Kids love to meet the Disney characters, and Enchanted Tales withBelle takes the experience to the next level. Not only can yourchildren meet Belle, but they'll chat with Madame Wardrobe and Lumiereas well. Better yet, they get to put on a performance for Belle, withmany getting the opportunity to be part of the show. Parents willmarvel at the lifelike Animatronic characters, while kids will befirmly convinced they're met friends from the movie "Beauty and theBeast" in person.
Ariel has a home in New Fantasyland, too, but her meet-and-greet is more traditional. Kids meet her in her grotto and get to spend some time chatting while they get autographs and photos.
Next door to her grotto is a new dark ride, Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid, with clamshell vehicles that will remind you of brighter versions of the Haunted Mansion Doom Buggies. It's packed with everything young children love, like color, characters, and all the best music from the movie. Scuttle the seagull tells an abbreviated version of Ariel's story, from the queue line all the way to the end of the ride. While scary sea witch Ursula makes an appearance, it's an upbeat ride that delights even toddlers.
If you visit during the busy season, grab a FastPass to minimize your wait. Even if you end up waiting in the standby line, the kids will enjoy all the little details, including the interactive game screens.
The most highly touted restaurant in New Fantasyland is Be Our Guest, a painstakingly detailed eatery in the Beast's castle. It has counter service during the day, but at night you need reservations when it transforms into a fine dining establishment. It's the only spot for adults to get alcohol in the Magic Kingdom, and its French-inspired menu is equivalent to other signature restaurants at Walt Disney World, like Artist Point, Citricos, or Jiko.
Young kids get fidgety at long sit-down meals, so if you're looking for a quicker dinner, can't get reservations, or Be Our Guest is too crowded at lunch, pop over to the nearby Gaston's Tavern. This counter service restaurant has plenty of antler-related dcor and serves delicious cinnamon rolls, pork shanks, and a signature non-alcoholic drink with a frothy head, Le Fou's Brew (expect the kids to clamor for the souvenir cup).
Dumbo isn't a new ride, but he's in a new location, and New Fantasyland has double the Dumbo to shorten the wait. You might also notice that the two sets of Dumbos spin in opposite directions.
Of course, this is still a slow loading ride, but it has one of the most tolerable waits at Walt Disney World. There's an air-conditioned seating area under the Big Top for parents, while kids have access to a spacious indoor play area. It keeps them busy until a pager alerts them that it's ride time.
Dumbo is in Storybook Circus, which also has the Casey Jr. water play area, the Barnstormer junior roller coaster, and a train station for the Walt Disney World Railroad. You might even catch a clown show by the Giggle Gang if you're there at the right time.
New Fantasyland is a popular spot, so try to get to the Magic Kingdomearly and head directly to this new area. You and your family willenjoy this fresh twist on the old favorite movies.