For months now, Disney fans have speculated on what changes Disney will make to the Fantasyland expansion since it was deemed too princess-oriented last fall. One of the biggest rumors we’ve heard from the very beginning has been that Goofy’s Barnstormer would be re-designed along a Seven Dwarves mine theme. It turns out, that rumor is partly true: There will be a new rollercoaster ride in the expansion, but it won’t replace Goofy’s Barnstormer. Instead, it will replace the Cinderella and Aurora meet and greets that were scrapped with the revision. The coaster will be a step up from Goofy’s Barnstormer and feature cars that rock back and forth , as well as music and characters from the movie.
I never liked the idea of the Cinderella and Aurora interactive meet and greets that were originally planned as part of the expansion. I didn’t have a problem with the fact that they were “too girly” as much as I thought they would require too much time and focus from really small children, the target audience of these meet and greets. The princesses will now get a new meet and greet in what is currently Snow White’s Scary Adventure. While I generally love classic Disney attractions and will happily give them a pass when they start to look dated as they inevitably will when compared with newer technology, this attraction has always seemed pretty rough around the edges even after being updated several years ago. I find the background details really distracting and poorly done, so I won’t be sad to see it go. I think the Seven Dwarves ride will give this classic fairytale a more fitting treatment.
As most of us already knew, the plan for Pixie Hallow was scrapped, but Disney took it a step further and completely booted the fairies from the park. They’ll be residing in Epcot now, most likely in the United Kingdom in keeping with Tinkerbelle’s connection to British author James Barrie. I love the UK pavilion and I’m looking forward to seeing what Disney imagineers will come up with.
Next, Mickey’s Toontown Fair will shutter next month and work will begin on a new mini-land called the Storybook Circus, presided over by the Great Goofini. In addition to building a double Dumbo with an interactive queue and refurbing Goofy’s Barnstormer, there will be several play areas, at least one of which will be water themed. From the drawings and description, it looks like a rehash of Toontown, in that it’s all about the under-5 set, which is fine by me. I still think the concept of a circus theme misses the point with children today, but as a parent of young children, I’ve been grateful many times for these types of play areas, so I’m going to reserve judgment on this one. It’s good to let little ones stretch their legs and run around after sitting in a stroller or waiting in long lines and I know that parents have lamented the possible loss of the play areas in Toontown, so this should be reassuring. Hopefully, the restrooms won’t be as bad as Pete’s Garage.
Finally, for those of you waiting for official word on when Star Tours will re-open, wait no more. You can ride through Coruscant and to other new destinations to your heart’s content starting on May 20th. Personally, I’m hoping for a passholder preview the week before during the big D23 conference taking place May 12-15.
The big question, of course, is when is all this going to open? Disney is saying that the expansion will open in phases starting in late 2012. I’m a bit disappointed in this, since for months now rumor control has had it that at least some part of the expansion will be open in October, when the Magic Kingdom celebrates its 40th anniversary. I’m still holding out hope, but less so now that Disney has pushed the dates so far into 2012. Whatever the case, I’m absolutely thrilled at the changes that will happen in the next few years.