Oh my, how I’ve neglected my blog! I feel so bad, and one of my “resolutions” is to try to keep this blog as up to date as possible. I love to talk Disney, so this blog gives me an avenue to do so. Problem is, I’m a writer by trade, so the last thing I want to do in my “spare time” is write. LOL

But, my love for Disney trumps that, and because of that I’ll sacrifice a few extra keystrokes to give my opinions/feelings/tips/reviews on all things Disney and Walt Disney World.

Today’s entry is looking back on our last trip to the World, which was back in November for Veteran’s Day. We’re going again in 17 days to celebrate my youngest boy’s birthday, so hopefully I’ll have even more to add in a couple of weeks.

But today I’ll take a look at the New Fantasyland expansion and give what I think are the five coolest things the New Fantasyland offers to Magic Kingdom visitors. We were very lucky to preview the new area during our trip in November and came away impressed. Since then, that area has opened, and its popularity is at an all-time high. Hopefully if you’re visiting in the next few months, you’ll get a chance to visit that area.

Without any further ado, here’s my list of what I think stands out in the New Fantasyland:

1. Be Our Guest Restaurant — If you’ve had a chance to experience this one-of-a-kind dining establishment, you understand why I have it at the top. A quick-service place during the day, a table-service experience at night, Be Our Guest jumps to the top of the list of Magic Kingdom eateries. First of all, the actual restaurant itself is awesome. Even if you’re not eating there, try to take a peak inside, if they let you. Secondly, and more importantly, the food was fantastic. I like the kiosk ordering stations, as well as the GPS-enhanced rose that the servers use to find your table. The restaurant is broken into three dining areas — The West Wing, the Ballroom or Belle’s Library. Each offers a wonderful theme and beautiful decor. (I’ll do a complete review on BOG restaurant in a couple of days) Those who know me know I’m all about eating at Disney. I consider it to be a big part of the experience. And Be Our Guest is a wonderful addition to an already-stellar lineup.

2. Under the Sea — Voyage of the Little Mermaid — Or whatever it’s called these days. I know some people will say “It’s Finding Nemo with Ariel instead” and that’s fine. It does bear a strong resemblance to the ride in Epcot, but I think it’s wonderfully done. I like the queue, especially the interactive crabs that are picking through treasure. The ride itself hits all the high points of the movie and the big final scene is fun. Like all Disney rides, pay attention to the details and you’ll love it. Like the fireworks bursting in the final scene, or how each sea creature’s instrument is independent of a soundtrack (we got stuck next to the sax and enjoyed the little impromptu sax solo). Once the crowds die down, this attraction will eat through guests, which is also a welcomed thing in that area of the park.

3. Gaston, his tavern and LaFou’s Brew! — My only complaint about Gaston’s Tavern is that it’s a bit small, but it’s not meant to be a dining location, just a quick snack spot. The Tavern, though, is wonderfully decorated and would make any man green with envy. Antlers, furs and stuffed heads everywhere! Gaston’s chair is awesome, and a definite must-have picture. LaFou’s Brew is probably one of those things that you’ll either love or hate. It’s frozen apple juice with a bit of toasted marshmallow topped with a passion fruit/mango foam. I thought it was great. My kids loved it. My wife said it was too sweet. I’m guessing it’s a perfect companion to the salty pork shank (the pork equivalent of the turkey leg). I think the jewel of that little corner of New Fantasyland, though, is Gaston himself. He poses for pictures outside his Tavern near his fountain, which he donated to New Fantasyland in his honor. He’s HILARIOUS. Seriously, I could have sat there and watched him for hours. He’s great with kids, even better with parents. He’s so full of himself that you can’t help but watch. My only regret from our visit is that we didn’t get a picture with him. We only briefly talked to him outside the restrooms while he was heading back inside his tavern.

4. Enchanted Tales with Belle — Now, be forewarned, this attraction will require a wait no matter what time of year you go. It’s virtually the old story time with Belle inside Beast’s Castle. You enter into Maurice’s Cottage, into his workshop. That’s when Disney Imagineering takes over like nobody else could. The mirror on the wall transforms into a hallway into Beast’s Castle. Once there, cast members, with the help of Madame Wardrobe, hand out parts for the story with Belle. My oldest was chosen to play the part of Beast. My youngest was Phillipe (Maurice’s horse). Belle enters the library and the newly selected cast helps retell the story of Beauty and the Beast. Afterwards, guests are invited to take pictures with Belle, so the attraction acts as part story-time/part guest interaction. Personally, I loved the special effects, especially the mirror transforming before your very eyes into a door and hallway. Also, Lumiere is pretty spectacular. Like I said, expect to wait at least 30-45 minutes to experience this attraction because the library only holds about 25 people per story, so it’s a slow-moving line. But I think it’s worth experiencing at least once.

5. The Storybook Circus area — The red-headed stepchild of the New Fantasyland expansion, as I like to call it, the Storybook Circus area replaces the old Toontown area. Goofy’s Barnstormer is now The Great Goofini’s Barnstormer. Same ride, just new theming. The big addition is the second Dumbo ride, and the interactive Dumbo queue. We walked through the queue, and didn’t stop, but it appears to be a nice play area for kids while you’re waiting for your turn to ride Dumbo. I think the additional Dumbo has helped cull the lines for the attraction, which would infamously swell as soon as the parks hit 10 a.m. There’s also a new wet area, which we’ll probably never visit because I don’t see the point in getting wet in the park when there’s perfectly good pools back at the resort to do that. Anyway, the new Storybook Circus area has great theming (look at the pavement for different animal tracks and peanut shells) and makes that area feel like a new land.

So, there’s my list of the five coolest things about New Fantasyland. Maybe you have a different list, or your experiences have been different. Let me know in the comment area. I’m looking forward to the Dwarf Mine Train to come on board in a year or two, which should also help that area.

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