Bill I. (NDH#35) (93 Posts)

Bill has been a Disney lover and fanatic since childhood. He moved to Florida to be near Disney and has been a staff writer for Mickey News for five years. Recently, he added writing for WDW Facts, contributing to the Disney Food Blog, and blogging for The Disney Driven Life to his list of activities. All of this was a natural step for Bill, who spends three to four days of every week in Disney Parks either researching or simply taking in the "magic."

On Monday, March 12, Walt Disney World opened the first phase of its highly anticipated Fantasyland expansion with the “Storybook Circus” area in the old Mickey’s Toontown space with Dumbo the flying Elephant ride and the replacement for Goofy’s Barnstormer – a new coaster aptly named The Barnstormer” starring the “Great Goofini.

All these new attractions sport a circus motif and theme. The back story of the new area is that a circus arrived in the newly rehabbed train station along with all the new rides and attractions. If you look on the ground, you will see different animal footprints leading to these new rides. (There are even peanuts embedded in the walkway!) Goofy is now the stuntman for the circus and his new Great Goofini” roller coaster (the track layout is not changed) is totally re-themed in a circus atmosphere reminiscent of the old Carnivals and Circuses of the 1920s. There are many billboards around the new attraction showcasing Goofy’s new “talents.” Many of the props come from the Goofy shorts of the 1950s. Guests will still recognize the old Mickey’s Toontown area, and the Great Goofini attraction has a different entrance and exit queues.

The new Dumbo ride is another classic guest favorite which will be twice as nice as soon as the second Dumbo ride is added to the area. The old Dumbo attraction is being refurbished and will be placed right next to the present one later this summer. In the rear, you will see a large red and yellow striped circus tent that will be the new indoor interactive queue area for both the Dumbo rides. Again, this should be up and running by mid-summer.  Sharp-eyed guests will note the intricate details on the attraction. The colors are vivid and you will see storks on the top of the ride, and a ring of elephants, a nod to Jumbo, who was Dumbo’s Mother in the movie. You will also notice that the shade of gray in Dumbo is a bit lighter than the original.

This whole new land is in a place called “Carolwood Park” (the new name of the land-Elevation 102 ft) which all Disney fans should recognize as Walt’s “Carolwood Pacific” railroad he had constructed in his back yard. Even the costumes of the Cast Members here in “Storybook Circus” now sport a circus theme, all colorful and bright. The new train stations, suggestive of an old barn and even the rest rooms have this rustic, old time feel. The whole area is alive with color and excitement! Disney set out to make you feel you are in a circus and they have succeeded in spades. The lines for both attractions were long and steady, and several cast members and managers told me that the Guest response in the short two days of the soft opening was positive and enthusiastic.

The new land will be opening in staged phases as more and more of the construction is completed. Disney has no set timetable for the next phase openings, but there is a target for the mid to end of 2013. With this much excitement with this first phase opening, I cannot wait for the rest of the expansion to be completed. With the addition of the Seven Dwarfs Mine train, the “Be our Guest Restaurant” and the new “Little Mermaid” ride, Disney will be thrilling guests for years to come.

Stay tuned to The DisneyDriven Life, as I will be covering other phases of the Fantasyland Expansion as it happens with pics and a quick review. I have uploaded pics for your enjoyment!


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