Back on the Land Exit Survey train! Like a child who’s missing their two front teeth, a park just isn’t complete without all of its lands. Don’t think about that metaphor too much, it breaks down very quickly. All theme parks are made up of sub-sections, generally called lands. Since you’re reading a theme parks blog then I’m guessing you probably know that. Many of these lands are spectacular, some are far from it. In this series, we’re going to take individual lands one post at a time and answer some questions about them.
While this isn’t quite the deep dive into lands that we’ve done before, I’ll provide the basic information about the area and we’ll add in our overall opinions. We’ll also use these posts to talk about theme both throughout the land and within the park. Throughout the series, all of the posts will use the same questions. Let us know in the comments if there are questions that we should add!
So far this series has covered Mysterious Island in Tokyo DisneySea, Toy Story Land in Hollywood Studios, Grizzly River Run in California Adventure, Animal Kingdom’s Asia and Disneyland’s Toontown. We’ll hop across the country to another castle park today and cover Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland. Opening with the park in 1971 and then adding a major expansion in the last decade, there’s plenty to talk about here. Let’s get to the questions!
What is your short(ish) review of Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland?
Andrew: Host to a good amount of rides, Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom suffers because of its narrow corridor into Liberty Square and a lackluster expansion. Relative to the west coast namesake, Fantasyland is disappointing.
Michaela: Fantasyland is probably where I spend the least amount of time in Magic Kingdom. Andrew is right that there are a ton of rides in the land, but none of them are high in my Magic Kingdom ride rankings. Fantasyland is so large that it feels a bit disjointed, with large themeing differences between the dark ride area behind the castle and the Storybook Circus addition.
What’s in the land?
This gigantic land unsurprisingly has a lot of everything. Here’s what is inside:
- It’s a Small World – The classic Disney attraction doesn’t have the beautiful facade that others do but also doesn’t have the Disney characters on the actual ride.
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic – This 3D movie takes guests into iconic Disney movies thanks to Donald Duck’s mishaps. As far as 3D movies go, this is one of the best.
- Peter Pan’s Flight – Outside of the long waits, Peter Pan’s Flight is an excellent dark ride. The updates made to the queue and attraction make this one of the best versions in the world.
- Prince Charming Regal Carrousel – Sitting below the castle, this carousel was actually built in 1917.
- Princess Fairytale Hall – Home to several princess meet & greets.
- Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid – A Little Mermaid dark ride that has a beautiful queue but the actual ride leaves a lot of room for improvement.
- Enchanted Tales with Belle – An intimate meet & greet with Belle as she reads guests the Beauty and the Beast story.
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – The crown jewel of the Fantasyland expansion, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a roller coaster with a dark ride inside. It’s a family attraction and a little bit on the short side.
- Mad Tea Party – The classic spinning teacups attraction.
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – A Winnie the Pooh dark ride that took the place of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
- The Barnstormer – A kiddie coaster that lasts approximately 30 seconds. If you go late at night when there’s no line you could ride over and over, making for a multiple minute attraction!
- Casey Jr, Splash ‘N’ Soak Station – This is a splash playground and it looks pretty cool.
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant – The classic spinner attraction is redone so that there’s two tracks and a waiting area if the ride has a long line. It’s a definite upgrade over the prior version.
- Be Our Guest Restaurant – Dine inside of Beast’s Castle with several rooms to explore. Traditionally, a counter-service restaurant for breakfast and lunch with table-service at dinner, the restaurant has only been table-service since COVID.
- Cheshire Café – This snack stand is home to the world famous Cheshire Cat Tails and those are delicious.
- Cinderella’s Royal Table – Inside of the castle, this character meal scores big in atmosphere but is lacking in food and value.
- The Friar’s Nook – A counter-service spot that serves several Mac & Cheese variations.
- Gaston’s Tavern – A small but great atmosphere for this counter-service spot that serves cinnamon rolls and a few other treats.
- Pinocchio Village Haus – This counter-service spot specializes in pizza and overlooks it’s a small world.
- Prince Eric’s Village Market – This small snack stand doesn’t seem to be open all that often but does serve standard Disney snacks when they are.
- Storybook Treats – Home to lots of good ice cream treats!
- Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique – Where children can go to get their princess/prince makeover!
- Big Top Souvenirs – The largest store in Fantasyland, Big Top sits across from Dumbo and also has some sweet treats.
- Bonjour! Village Gifts – Near Gaston’s Tavern, this shop mainly focuses on Beauty and the Beast merchandise.
- Fantasy Faire – Next to PhilharMagic, Fantasy Faire is a standard gift shop.
- Hundred Acre Goods – A small store that offers Winnie the Pooh merchandise, I would argue that some of the cutest Walt Disney World merchandise lives in that store.
- Sir Mickey’s – Next to the castle, Sir Mickey’s has costumes as well as the usual gift shop apparel.
What is Fantasyland’s backstory and theme?
Prior to expanding in 2010, Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland was similar to Disneyland’s. The concept was based around rides that would take place in a, you guessed it, fantasy world. The architecture was very European which transitioned well into the colonial architecture of Liberty Square. When the New Fantasyland expansion was completed the land was divided into three sections – Castle Courtyard, Enchanted Forest and Storybook Circus. Even with the expansion, the theme mostly stayed the same. The forest and circus additions fit in with IP that featured some semblance of those places. It’s a little bit of a hodgepodge of attractions but there’s not much arguing the fit. The Tangled bathrooms are oddly placed, I guess!
What is your favorite part of the land? What’s the most memorable aspect of it?
Andrew: There’s a decent amount about Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland that I like but little that I absolutely love. I think my favorite part would be the solitude and quiet you can find near Storybook Circus late at night. It’s pretty back there and when the crowds clear out this is the quietest section of the park. I think the most memorable part of the land is likely Peter Pan’s Flight or just the view of the castle and carousel. Both are magnificent in their own right.
Michaela: I think if your favorite part of the land is how desolate the back part of it can get, the land is definitely lacking. Personally my favorite part of the land is the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Be Our Guest Restaurant area. While I’m not a large fan of the ride itself, the design of the Mine Train area is beautiful, and I love watching the trains zoom by. The Beast’s Castle is wonderfully created, with the forced perspective making the building seem large and daunting. I also have a soft spot for the queue of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, there are adorable signs and interactive elements. I’d argue the queue is much better than the ride itself.
Are there parts of MK’s Fantasyland that you don’t like?
Andrew: Yeah, there are a few things that get on my nerves here. The biggest flaw with the land is a lack of quality dark rides. Disneyland has so many that are all excellent in their own way. Magic Kingdom has one that I love (Peter Pan’s Flight) and then a wonderful slow boat ride. Outside of that, the dark rides are either non-existent or not memorable. The other big problem here is the crowds. Walking through the Castle Courtyard and towards Liberty Square usually feels terrible and sometimes bottlenecks. It’s not a comfortable or pretty place to hang out.
Michaela: I agree with Andrew completely. Compared to Disneyland’s, the dark rides that exist in Magic Kingdom’s version fall flat. Winnie the Pooh is leagues better at Disneyland, and I would argue the same with it’s a small world. Plus, when you compare Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid with Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride or Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, the quality of the attractions simply doesn’t compare.
How does the land coincide and transition with the rest of the park? Does Fantasyland make the park better or worse?
Andrew: Maybe this should have been my answer two questions ago but the land transitions in Fantasyland are wonderful. Going from Fantasyland to Liberty Square is expertly done. Even the clunky move from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland isn’t too bad as the neon lights of Mad Tea Party blend in well with Cosmic Ray’s behind it. Fantasyland, despite all of this iteration’s faults, still makes the park better. It’s just that with all of the space it takes up it could do so much more.
Michaela: With the park icon being an extremely large castle, it would be hard for Fantasyland not to fit right into the park. Fantasyland brings an incredible amount of family attractions into the mix at Magic Kingdom, and while most of the offerings there aren’t really my speed, I think Fantasyland is vital to creating the kind of park Magic Kingdom is supposed to be. There is something for every member of the family at Magic Kingdom, and the rides and attractions in Fantasyland tick off a lot of boxes for younger park goers. Intellectual properties are oozing into all of Disney’s theme parks nowadays, but I would argue that Fantasyland is the most densely populated IP land that isn’t dedicated to just one. Again, IP everywhere isn’t always my cup of tea, but that’s a big reason why guests love Disney so much. If you want to get lost in a Disney animated film, Fantasyland is generally the place to go.
Where would you rank the land in relation to the others in the park?
Andrew: Somewhat surprisingly, I’d rank Fantasyland last among the park’s six lands. It certainly has more to do than anywhere else in the park but there’s no stand out and it’s a little bit of a mess. Frontierland is a clear winner, as is Liberty Square. Main Street is quite lovely and executed really well at Magic Kingdom. While I could make arguments that Adventureland and Tomorrowland are worse than Fantasyland, I’d just narrowly pick both of them ahead of Fantasyland.
Michaela: I would also rank Fantasyland last in terms of my interest in going into the land and the rides that exist there. But, in terms of design and visuals, I prefer Fantasyland to Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland. The European architecture is beautiful, and I much prefer the visuals of the Castle Courtyard and Enchanted Forest areas to any of Tomorrowland’s views. I can definitely see the argument of putting Fantasyland above Tomorrowland, and if Space Mountain didn’t exist I would easily switch the two.
What do you think of Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland? Do you like our Land Exit Surveys? Would you add anything? Let us know, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below. Interested in a trip to Disneyland? Check out our Planning Guide to help you along the way! If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!
Categories: Land Exit Survey