ORLANDO, FL (Day 2 of 5) — I must have had a deprived childhood.
My parents never took me to Disneyland or Walt Disney World. Thus, I don’t have those iconic pictures of myself waving from the flying Dumbo ride that Disney Imagineers have been telling me are in most every American family scrapbook.
My kids have been to Disneyland and Walt Disney World innumerable times but I don’t think I have any photos of them on Dumbo either. Maybe it was too hot waiting in the sun? Actually I think it was because the first time, 3-year-old Matt was afraid of the Dumbo ride. And Peter Pan too.
Now families don’t have to worry about that. I love that in the New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World in Orlando —the largest expansion in the 41-year-history of the Magic Kingdom—not only has Dumbo the two Dumbos, but they are connected to an air-conditioned “big top” area where kids can play on climbing structures. There is even a separate area for the littlest park goers where parents can sit and watch them while waiting their turn. You get a circus ticket pager like in a restaurant that tells you when it’s your turn to ride. If you prefer, you can opt for FASTPASS that gives you a specific time to return without waiting.
“Awesome,” the two local Orlando kids, aged 11 and 14 told me, adding that they liked the climbing structures where they were playing with a four year-old “were big enough for us to have fun too!”
This is the first time Disney Parks have tried such a system and so far reaction has been really positive, said Disney Imagineer Chris Kelly, who has overseen the new Storybook Circus which includes not only Dumbo but the Casey Jr. Splash’ N’Soak Station water play area, the family coaster Barnstormer Featuring the Great Goofini, Pete’s Silly Sideshow where you meet some familiar circus hopefuls (Minnie Magnifique, Madame Daisy Fortuna—Daisy Duck as a fortune teller?—The Great Goofini (think Goofy as a stunt pilot) and The Astounding Donaldo (Donald Duck as a snake Charmer).
I love all the attention to detail—the chalk marks in the ceiling of Big Top Souvenirs where acrobats might have just finished practicing, peanuts in the cement at Dumbo. Imagineers did research at the Ringling Museum of circus history so they could be completely true to American circus history.
That attention to detail, of course is evident throughout the New Fantasyland. Notice the Carolwood Park sign at the Fantasy Train Station that encircles the Magic Kingdom. Carolwood was the name of the steam engine Walt Disney had running through his back yard. There’s even on hidden Mickey in Ariel’s grotto that you can only see one day of the year (Mickey’s birthday, November 18).
Visitors on line were excited. “A bonus that we are here when this opened,” said Joshua Printz, here with his wife and eight year-old daughter from New York.
One family had already done the Barnstormer roller coaster five times. Two other young visitors couldn’t wait to visit Belle’s cottage. “We’re excited,” said five year old Bailey Coyne who had been Belle for Halloween.
Check out the book on the table in Belle’s cottage. See the wall markings of Belle’s growth etched in French on the wall, that one end of a page is dog eared because it was eaten by an animal…the light fixtures in Maurice’s workshop made from buckets and gears. …See the interactive whimsical crabs as you wait to board the Journey of the Little Mermaid.
“I’m really proud of the details,” said Chris Beatty, the Creative Director of New Fantasyland who led the creative team. No worries if you miss some of the details the first time, he said. “Theirs is something new to see the next time you come.”