George just sent me a link from WDW Celebrations that’s piqued my curiosity. As some of you may know, Adam Roth from WDW Celebrations did an amazing job of organizing Epcot 25 and now he’s working with Disney to plan Epcot’s 30th anniversary in late September. If you look at the link provided above, you’ll see a tentative schedule planned for their activities that weekend. Take a look at the second day, Saturday, September 29. Two activities are very interesting: 1) Storytime with Belle, which will take place in the new Fantasyland and 2) a special group ride through the Journey of the Little Mermaid.
This means a couple of things. It’s possible that Disney is allowing them special access and that the Fantasyland expansion won’t be open to the public; this is consistent with what we’ve heard from inside sources. We already know that the ride is basically complete inside, so it’s conceivable that bringing a small group in for a private tour would be possible because the access issues would be minimized. But here’s where that scenario becomes less likely: Say Storytime with Belle takes place in the new Fantasyland. In fact, there’s no other reason to do it unless you want to show off a new area. We know that Disney doesn’t want guests traispsing through the FLE until the majority of the expansion is complete and that’s one reason we’ve been hearing for later opening dates than were previously estimated. It’s these two things combined that make me question what’s going on.
The great thing is that when we get confirmation on whether or not this is a special visit for a small group, we’ll know if it will or won’t be open at the end of September. That’s more than we’ve known thus far, because the speculation on when Little Mermaid will open as been all over the place. I’m still inclined to think that my sources are correct in saying that the expanded Fantasyland won’t be open at this time, so all this could mean, again, is that Disney has granted this group access to certain attractions before they open. It would be great press. But if this isn’t the case, this is a huge hint that Fantasyland could open sooner than we think.
I’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile, I’ll be signing up for this event faster than you can say hugedisneygeek!
UPDATE: We have 100% confirmation from our sources at Disney that this isn’t a special event for this group, but we’re also not saying that this means the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast attractions will be open to the public at this time. Remember that there’s a lot of misinformation out there (and admittedly, we’ve been wrong before!) and that timelines for openings can change all the time, so we’re not standing behind anything yet. I’ll update as soon as I know something solid.