You know the old joke about the Disney World bus driver telling a guest that Disney is building a 5th park? Well, I didn’t get this information from a bus driver and in fact, the source seems pretty reliable. When I was in the Magic Kingdom on Sunday morning, there was a cast member doing an informal presentation front of one of the Fantasyland construction walls (above) about the projected opening dates of the expansion. I talked to him a bit more after he finished and here’s what he had to say:
- The Little Mermaid attraction is finished inside and cast members have already ridden it. He described it as “slightly longer and a lot better” than the one in Disneyland.
- The Little Mermaid attraction, officially known as Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, will open this summer.
- The rest of the Fantasyland expansion will be completed by the end of 2012. Because Disney usually likes to test out attractions during the slower months, I would expect soft openings as far out as November so that they can iron out all the kinks before the Thanksgiving and Christmas crowds flood the parks.
- Cast members have not been given any projected opening date for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride, which he referred to as “a big hole in the ground at this time.”
Obviously, I’m not certain that this information is 100% accurate since we’ve seen various dates all over the place, but I’m inclined to think that this information is solid because no sane cast member would speak to a crowd in the Magic Kingdom about “Disney business” without prior authorization. Most of us suspected that the bulk of the expansion would be completed by the end of 2012, but I think the big news is that the Little Mermaid attraction should be open for summer. A nice surprise for those who are visiting then.