Dying to see the new Fantasyland at Disney's Magic Kingdom park before its official opening Dec. 6? Well, keep your eyes open, parkgoers: Disney is letting people in for a sneak preview of the expansion.
At the Magic Kingdom this past weekend, visitors were let in to the new grounds around dusk after lining up along the wall separating the existing Fantasyland from the still-in-progress Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster. No special ticket was needed; all guests were admitted once the line started moving, and the area remained open afterward.
Guests enter the Beauty and the Beast-themed addition through a set of castle walls, just behind the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride and the Fantasyland carousel. It's beautiful inside the walls, the setting mostly composed of stone and brick facades and made to look like the dense French woods surrounding the Beast's castle — a small version of which sits atop everything.
Gaston's Tavern was open on Saturday and serving its LeFou's Brew — a delicious but almost sickeningly sweet blend of frozen apple juice, toasted coconut and fruity foam — as was a themed shop and the Enchanted Tales with Belle attraction (for which there was already a 20-minute wait). The area's main attraction, the Be Our Guest restaurant, appeared to be closed; the dining room was empty.
In the back of the expanded area is the Little Mermaid ride, a slow-moving ride in which guests sit in continuously moving shells and journey through the movie under and above the sea with Ariel and friends. The ride, which was open Saturday, is simple but has great effects and classic scenes — the Kiss the Girl boat scene is here, as well as evil Ursula and Sebastian's Under the Sea extravaganza.
There was no confirmation that the new area is complete or officially open — instead there are signs and invitations from crew members inviting guests to enjoy a sneak preview. So there are no guarantees you'll get in until the grand opening in December, but if you're at Magic Kingdom between now and then, chances are good you can get a glimpse of Disney's newest addition.