The now-official expansion of Disney’s Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom is painfully unfinished. That’s not criticism so much as observation. Disney hides its construction – its works-in-progress – behind eight-foot wooden walls. And Fantasyland still has enough wooden walls to build an army of Pinocchios.
Most painful: The under-construction and massive roller coaster themed to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs sits in the middle of the new Fantasyland, so everywhere you go, a wood wall blocks its view on either your left or right. It sits like an uncomfortable dinosaur in the middle of the mall.
In addition, only one ride actually debuted for the grand opening, Journey of the Little Mermaid. Story Time with Belle now has its own house, but Belle used to spin her tales near the entrance to Cinderella’s Castle, so that’s just relocated to better digs. The same is true for a meet-and-greet with Ariel, the little mermaid
Two new restaurants also opened, though Gaston’s offers limited food and dining space. For those who value an interesting restaurant as much as an interesting ride, the Beast’s castle recreates the ballroom from Beauty and the Beast, giving diners a second major debut to enjoy. (It’s nit-picky to suggest the ballroom is for dancing, and the Beast’s grand dining room should have been recreated for eating, but the dining room did not figure prominently in the movie.)
A key question for visitors considering a return right now: Is it worth it? Yes and no. The debut adds enough to the Magic Kingdom for most Disney fans. However, families that can afford a trip only once every few years might want to wait until they can add the seven dwarf’s mine ride to their schedule.
Review: Journey of the Little Mermaid
A visually rich ride, Journey of the Little Mermaid has a theme similar to the now-closed Snow White Ride, where it recreates the movie rather than forging a plot of its own. While some reviews have called it a “dark ride,” the presence of Ursula, the sea witch, is fairly minimal and less scary to younger children than the witch (evil queen) in Snow White’s now-departed ride.
Disney also upgraded the ride wait line, a trend it has been taking with all new rides and even some older ones. Kids can interact with tiny crabs in one room, while Scuttle – the not-so-bright seagull – entertains in another.