I normally try to avoid seeing photos of new areas that open before I can experience them, but photos of Storybook Circus were literally everywhere once the first Dumbo opened, so I had a vague idea of how the place looked. I also knew that it was the jewel of the fan community’s eye, but I didn’t let the hype build my expectations.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the portion of Storybook Circus that I saw. While the location of Dumbo is no longer as iconic, I think the improvements in kinetic energy and overall theming of its location (and the location from which it was removed) are the big gains. The fountains and the beautiful chase lighting are great, and really enhance the experience of Dumbo at night.
Walt Disney Imagineering paid a lot of attention to the details in this area, and while modest, the new area looked great (with the exception of Barnstormer, but even that has some neat details). The train station is especially nice, and its homages to Walt Disney were especially smart moves that earned Disney a lot of “cred” with fans. We explored this area for a bit, noticing a lot of the thematic details that enhanced the area.
Still, I wasn’t going crazy for the new area like some in the online community (peanut shells in the ground are a nice touch, but you’re not going to see a novella on them here…thankfully), but to be fair, it was the area about which I was least excited going into the expansion. In fact, until hearing the excitement of others when it reopened, it wasn’t even on my radar. To a great extent, I think the excitement was Walt Disney World fans overcompensating for the excitement of Disneyland Resort fans who were about to open Disney California Adventure 2.0.
I can’t really call the fan rivalry between Disneyland and Walt Disney World fans as sibling rivalry, but that’s what it seems like. Perhaps “fan of sibling” rivalry? That’s not really a thing, though. (Although back in the glory days of the Olson twins, I do seem to recall some staunch supporters of one or the other in the school yard; odd to me, since they looked exactly the same.)
Anyway, the point stands that what was open of Storybook Circus looked good, and it raised my expectations for the rest of the New Fantasyland Expansion. I think it’s fair to say that New Fantasyland is not going to be on par with Cars Land from the perspective of substance. However, I still think it will be a great addition for the Magic Kingdom.
We already know what the substance of the Little Mermaid dark ride (Disney giving these attractions two long, yet different, names on each coast has effectively caused me to give up learning them) is like, and while cute and fun, I think it’s best described as a moderate improvement upon traditional Fantasyland dark rides. In other words, Radiator Springs Racers, it is not. Even though the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train won’t open until 2014 and utilizes a new ride system, most rumors point to it being a good Fantasyland attraction but, again, not on par with Radiator Springs Racers.
In all fairness, Radiator Springs Racers set the bar unbelievably high, and Disney California Adventure needed a flagship E-Ticket attraction much more than the #1 theme park in the world needed one. So being disappointed with any new attraction that doesn’t match Radiator Springs Racers is a bit silly. You all know I love my analogies, and in the sibling rivalry case, it would be like Alec Baldwin being upset if Daniel Baldwin got a part in The Avengers sequel. Yeah, it’ll be a huge film, but at the end of the day, it’s not too bad being Alec Baldwin.
However, even if these attractions are both C or D-Ticket attractions, the themed environment the expansion will add to the Magic Kingdom looks to be incredible. This is probably the big takeaway from my last several paragraphs of babbling. The building for the Little Mermaid dark ride looks amazing, as do early photos of the queue. The rockwork looks great, and the details throughout this area of the park look like they’ll easily surpass even Storybook Circus. When this happens, I fully expect most Walt Disney World bloggers to have heart attacks. I’m not rooting for this…even if eliminating some of the competition would probably increase my traffic!
I am rooting for an incredible level of detail in New Fantasyland and an “ambiance” area of the park that compares with World Showcase or even Cars Land. The Magic Kingdom is an excellent theme park with a lot of history, but more places to slow down and enjoy the ambiance would be a huge victory from my perspective. Given the chatter I hear about placemaking, theming, and Disney Details elsewhere online, I think a lot of others agree.
Of course, plenty of Disney “fans” will totally gloss over this excellent theming and ambiance once New Fantasyland opens and instead slam it for not having more attractions, not having better attractions, or not including Horizons. These same folks will complain no matter what is built, and constant complaining, no matter what the circumstances, renders your voice meaningless. Given what I’ve heard, I’m fairly convinced that some Disney “fans” won’t be happy until Epcot is restored to 1989 status, Beastly Kingdom is built, Pleasure Island reopens, the Studios receives 27 new attractions (and its old name back), and Tokyo DisneySea opens as the 5th gate, which is connected to the TTC (and the rest of the parks) by monorail expansion. Even then, they’d probably still be outraged and never return if the price of soda increases $.10.
I have no issue with expressing outrage when outrage is due, but being outraged all the time just makes you a curmudgeon. Likewise, I think it’s important to praise when praise is due if you criticize when criticism is due. I know I’m beating a dead horse with this, but I really hate horses…
The night was almost over, but we decided to sneak in a couple more rides on Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, and the TTA before closing down the park. In case you’re wondering where all the time went, we rode Dumbo approximately 7 times while I was rambling on about New Fantasyland–I think we rode it more that night than all of our other previous trips combined.
After that, we slowly made our way through the hub and over by Tomorrowland, grabbing some photos along the way before heading to Main Street.
As you may know, Main Street’s buildings have been undergoing refurbishments for the last couple of years. Rumors suggest that some wood was rotting in the facades, and most buildings had to have substantial restoration work done. I don’t know whether this is true, but the scope and length of the refurbishments certainly lend credence to the rumor.
Center Street was finally done with its refurbishments, and it looked absolutely amazing. This is something about which I’ve heard much online, but the work that has been done to these buildings is nothing short of amazing, and the ones that have been finished look better than they have in years.
The bricks “pop,” the paint looks “sharp,” and the everything looks clean and crisp. As you can tell, I don’t know much of the jargon used to describe building restoration, but suffice to say, Main Street is looking excellent.
Center Street is always surprisingly empty, especially deeper down the street where there are tables set up below the “Art Festival” sign at the back of the street. This was always such a tranquil place to sit and eat, especially before Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom.
I was excited about how great Center Street looked, so naturally, I took dozens of photos. For some reason, despite how beautiful the buildings back there looked, my fixation was on the potted plants and trying to capture some wide angle, shallow depth of field photos (I was still in awe over my amazing Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens!). In retrospect, I’m sort of slamming my head against the wall for not taking more photos of the buildings, but there’s always next time for that. As for why I was so interested in these potted plants? Well, I blame the photos of Center Street I had recently seen in old souvenir books, such as this photo. Look at all of those beautiful flowers over there! Now, if only Disney would bring back those!
know normal refurbishments and things that can’t be marketed as “new” guest experiences aren’t highly touted by Disney, but I wish the Disney Parks Blog or even D23 if the Parks Blog is “too mainstream” would have done a post on the Main Street, USA refurbishments. For me, things like this are much more exciting than the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure being reskinned to Phineas and Ferb.
These buildings might not be an “attraction” per se, but they’re part of the history of Walt Disney World and extremely significant thematically, so it would be nice to give some attention to the team that worked so hard to make them look great again. Plus, guests should notice and appreciate these awesome details, and not just go gaga over some peanuts in Storybook Circus because the peanuts are “new” and the Main Street buildings are not.
Anyway, though, once I photographed all of my flowers (I really don’t even like flowers all that much!) and a few other things on Main Street, we headed home after a long, long day.
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