But it really opens Nov. 19ish. Walt Disney World’s massive expansion has already opened in phases – it has an extra Dumbo ride moved to a new location and water section, for example – but the majority of it debuts (minus Dwarf mine coaster) just before the 2012 holidays.
Orlando theme parks traditionally have soft openings, meaning there’s no guarantee a ride or restaurant will be open prior to its official debut. That soft opening gives ride operators and restaurant servers time to perfect the new system. It’s hard to criticize something if it’s not officially open yet. And in case something does go wrong with a ride, Disney has time to fix it. At the very least, guests have no cause to complain if it doesn’t open on time. When Universal had a soft opening for Harry Potter’s ride, it would sometimes open for a few hours each day, but you didn’t know when.
The newest restaurant in Disney’s expanded Fantasyland, “Be Our Guest,” is now accepting reservations starting on Nov. 19, providing you can get through to a phone line Disney reservationist. Demand has been heavy. And if you can get through, you’ll have better luck booking a time for a vacation in 2013 than trying to be one of the first to see it.
Note to visitors who are out of luck: Ask if you can go inside and look around anyway. Disney hosts have not historically blocked anyone from seeing what all the excitement is about, and you could lucky by just showing up – though that’s doubtful.
“Be Our Guest” replicates the golden ballroom from Beauty and the Beast, but with more dining than dancing. During the day it’s slated to function as a fast-food venue. At night, it offers a sit-down dinner.
To make a reservation up to 180 days in advance call 407-WDW-DINE (3463) or go to www.disneyworld.com/dine.
Disney also released more information about Ariel’s Grotto, which features a meet-and-greet with the little mermaid herself. Guests will find her in caves located near another new ride, “Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid.”
The ride already exists in California. It’s an easy journey that generally replicates famous scenes from the movie. While it contains no roller coaster thrills, it has some evil elements courtesy of the sea witch, Ursula, that could upset preschoolers.