Disney opened up the first section of New Fantasyland today. Storybook Circus “officially” opens March 31st. Until then, Storybook Circus will be operating in “soft open” mode, which means the attractions may shut down for tinkering/maintenance/etc. at any time. Of course, this can always happen, but it’s much more likely to occur before a section or attraction officially opens. Think of it as, “Excuse Mode.” As we’ll see, Dumbo the Flying Elephant “went down” several times over the course of just a couple of hours and Barnstormer was down intermittently as well.
First of all, I’m going to say something that I really didn’t expect to say. Storybook Circus is fantastic. On paper, there really isn’t much to the Circus. It’s Toontown’s Barnstormer rethemed as “The Barnstormer.” Or “Barnstormer Featuring the Great Goofini” depending on what you want to call it. You’ve got the Toontown Railroad Station rethemed as the Fantasyland Railroad Station. And then the addition of a second Dumbo attached to the original to make the “Dual Dumbo.” That’s it.
But from what we’ll see shortly, Disney really has created a whole new “world” with these attractions. As cliche as it may sound, we’re really looking at something that looks and feels brand new. I don’t think anyone will come away anything less than thoroughly impressed.
The main entrance to Storybook Circus is back here behind Mad Tea Party in Fantasyland.
Believe it or not, the other entrance is all the way over here in Tomorrowland to the left of Space Mountain.
Continue walking past Space Mountain and you’ll come across this direct, fenced path. It’s one of the least crowded areas in Magic Kingdom because it’s not at all obvious. With 75,000+ people in Magic Kingdom, we’ve got a whopping two hanging out back here. And they’re probably bloggers.
This path used to connect Mickey’s Toontown Fair and Tomorrowland before Disney decided to bulldoze Mickey’s vacation house. The pavement in this area has not been replaced during the last year that Toontown Fair has been closed. As TouringPlans.com suggests when something like this happens, “Some guests may not want to subject their children or even themselves to ‘bad show’ at Walt Disney World. If you want to experience the [pavement] as it was designed, you may wish to visit the Magic Kingdom at a later date.”
Just kidding. I think I’m over it. Just kidding.
If you’re lucky, you’ll see the Walt Disney World Railroad roll by on your walk.
From Space Mountain, you’ll end up here with the Great Goofini to your left and the Fantasyland Railroad Station up ahead. The entrance to both is around the corner. Dumbo is further down to the left and there are restrooms on the right.
Back over to the “main entrance” in Fantasyland. This sign welcomes guests and points them in the right direction, assuming you’ve made it back here behind Mad Tea Party.
It’s sort of like walking down the red carpet. Only with red walls instead.
Construction is ratcheted up all around us.
My opinion has totally changed on New Fantasyland. I’m excited. It looks awesome.
A strategically placed popcorn cart on your way into Storybook Circus. There’s no other food here, so don’t come hungry or it’s going to be at least five minutes to the nearest ice cream and/or chicken nugget spot. And that’s decidedly 4.27 minutes too long.
I’ll take #4.
These trash cans got a lot of play on Twitter this morning. I didn’t realize they are such a big deal, but apparently there is a website dedicated to nothing other than posting pictures of the various cans around Disney property.
Most amazing show, huh? Have they not seen Enchanted Tiki Room? Or Country Bears Jamboree? Or Carousel of Progress?
Opening up Storybook Circus. Dumbo is just up on the right.
A temporary queue is set up in front of Dumbo while the queueless queue tent is finished. Once both Dumbos are ready for prime time, guests won’t have to wait in a standard outdoor queue. Instead, they’ll be held in what I would imagine will be an air-conditioned tent full of interactive activities and fun.
The ropes from the other end. Check out the details in the pavement. Dumbo was spinning for the last time as I arrived. The queue was emptied and the ride slowed to a halt. About an hour later it would be operating again. Barnstormer did better, operating consistently for most of the day, but occasionally broke down as well. I’m sure they’ll get things right over the next two weeks.
Another shot. Dumbo spins over an awesome water feature now. Check it out at night via InsideTheMagic here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/insidethemagic/6977683995/. Excited yet?
The ticket boothes in front of Dumbo and The Barnstormer are nice touches.
The Barnstormer is still called “The Barnstormer” despite most press saying the name would be changed to “The Great Goofini.” It does still feature the Great Goofini though.
Barnstormer’s entrance with the ticket booth in the middle. Amazing signage. Look for FASTPASS here at some point. The track and ride vehicles are the same, but the theming and queue are improved immensely. Sorry I don’t have any onboard photos. Had I waited the 60+ minutes for this and 60+ minutes for Dumbo (with a serious chance that it would break down), you wouldn’t see these pictures until April. Of 2013. Better onboard pictures as well as more queue pictures linked above and here. And here’s a great front row video:
A great first roller coaster for kids. The minimum height is 35″.
My favorite prop from the queue – a rocket with exhaust coming out the back. At night, the end will be glowing red.
A tight fit through here outside the entrance to Barnstormer and on our way to the Railroad Station.
The Fantasyland Railroad Station. The sign on the left indicates when the last train arrives and how often the trains run. In this case, the last train was scheduled to arrive at 9pm. Trains arrived every four to nine minutes depending on how many are operating.
The side of the train station.
The train pulling in. A great way to spend some time relaxing when it’s warm out and crowds are this heavy. We’ll take a closer look at crowds in the next post.
Spoiler: 135 minute wait at Space Mountain, 70 minute wait at Buzz, 100 minute wait at Peter Pan, 60 minute wait at Jungle Cruise, etc.
Carolwood Park is a throwback to Walt Disney’s live steam backyard railroad, the Carolwood Pacific Railroad. Yes, Walt had a real life steam train in his backyard. More at Wikipedia.
With a clock up top.
The side of the train station near where guests disembark.
I wonder what treasures are inside?
Someone “borrowed” a birdcage from the Grand Floridian Resort no doubt.
The Storybook costumes are a step in the right direction, especially compared to the new costumes that cast members working the rest of Fantasyland received recently.
Wow, I can’t believe I neglected to take a picture of the restrooms. See this: http://wdwnt.smugmug.com/Walt-Disney-World/Adams-Twitpics/i-8ZK64ZV/0/O/AnzOxYpCMAAou1pjpg-large.jpg
I think it’s the neatest single building in Storybook Circus. I was really impressed. Inside they look like bathrooms. Didn’t take a picture inside in order to not risk (another) arrest.
Even the pavement is amazingly themed. Those are paw prints.
And peanut shells if you can believe that.
I didn’t do an amazing job capturing all of the rich details that make Storybook Circus so neat. It vastly exceeded my expectations and in turn raised my expectations for the rest of New Fantasyland. I believe anyone that visits will be impressed.
We should see a variable schedule of soft openings over the next two weeks. New Fantasyland is staffed at Park opening all this week, but may open later if maintenance or other concerns need to be taken care of. Once the Circus opens, it should continue to stay open even if one, two, or all three attractions shut down for some amount of time. With the Railroad Station in the back, it’s unlikely that the area would be closed even if both Barnstormer and Dumbo are down for the count. I would not necessarily expect Storybook Circus to open immediately at 9am over the rest of the week. If you’re heading up to Peter Pan’s Flight or another Fantasyland attraction anyway, it’s certainly worth checking to see if Storybook Circus is open. If it isn’t, there will be ropes out at the top of Mad Tea Party, so it won’t take a lot of time to scope things out.
For now, I would head to Dumbo and then Barnstormer if you have interest in experiencing them. If Storybook Circus isn’t operating, swing back around after riding Peter Pan’s Flight, Winnie the Pooh, and Snow White’s Scary Adventures. If it still isn’t open, you may want to pop over to Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin before trying again or visit the other Fantasyland attractions (Mad Tea Party, it’s a small world). Splash Mountain, Astro Orbiter, Tomorrowland Indy Speedway, or popular characters may also be priorities.
The bad news is obviously that we don’t have any way to tell when Storybook Circus will be opening over the next 18 days. As we move into next week, it should be more and more likely that Storybook Circus will open along with the rest of Magic Kingdom. Beginning March 31st, my feeling is that Dumbo and Barnstormer will be priorities for families with kids that want to experience them. With only one Dumbo operating and the excitement that New Fantasyland brings, we can expect both Barnstormer and Dumbo to remain incredibly popular and see hefty wait times of 40+ minutes with no ability to FASTPASS. With a ride duration of about 90 seconds at Dumbo and 60 seconds at Goofini, both attractions can be experienced in a short amount of time if lines are short. Lines build not because of attraction time, but because of loading/unloading and a limited number of vehicles.