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Predicting the Walt Disney World Fantasyland Expansion Opening Dates

Since Friday’s announcement that most of the Fantasyland expansion would open during the “Holiday season,” the conspiracy theorist in me has been trying to determine exactly what that means.  Sure, holiday season in Walt Disney World means the entire months of November and December, but when you’ve been analyzing every piece of information about the expansion since it was announced back in August 2009, how are you supposed to stop now?  Answer: You don’t. 

Best Case Scenario:  The expansion opens in early November!  Behold, there is joy throughout the land.

Don’t make me whip out these jazz hands!

Why this will happen:

  • It’s the beginning of the holiday season.
  • It’s one of the slowest times of the year, which gives Disney time to work out any issues that might crop up without millions of angry people wondering why Gaston’s Tavern didn’t use antlers in all of its decorating. 
  • You think Disney wants to disappoint the entire state of New Jersey during Jersey Week? Exactly.

Why this won’t happen: 

You know what the problem with this scenario is? It’s too perfect. It’s not just that it makes both guests and Disney brass equally happy, which only happens once in a blue moon.  It’s that life doesn’t work out that way. It’s a scenario that requires every carefully laid out plan to magically (pardon me, but I spend a lot of time in Disney World) come together.  And you know what happens to carefully laid out plans? Cue the hurricane.

Probability:   4 out of 5 Tom Staggs looking at you like he can see inside your soul.

Copyright Walt Disney Company.
What? You thought he let me into
his office to take this photo?

Next Best Scenario:  The expansion opens the week after Thanksgiving. 

Why this will happen:

  • Lowest crowd level of the holiday season.
  • Slightly later opening date gives them time to absorb unexpected delays.
  • Allows Disney to showcase new expansion as part of Disney Christmas parade filming which starts on November 30th this year (apologies to those who thought it was taped live on Christmas morning).

Why this won’t happen:

  • Disney is going to want to open prior to Thanksgiving to please large crowds that will fill the parks that week. 
  • Opening the expansion and filming the parade all in the same week. Sheesh!
  • Disney loves to decorate for the holidays. Will they have the time to decorate? Will they want to? Has anyone read this much of the sentence or are you just skimming?
  • Remember how you got all excited about Dumbo opening on February 17th? It was awesome, wasn’t it?  And do you remember how that opening date kept getting moved?  Yes.

Probability:  3 out of 5 nerds holding Citrus Swirls.

Disclaimer:  The person in the red shirt is not, reportedly, a nerd.

Worst Case Scenario:  The expansion opens right before Christmas.

Why this will happen:  Delays will make opening until this time impossible but Disney will want to open for large holiday crowds.

Why this won’t happen: Come on!  Who would open an expansion this large during the busiest time of the year? Exactly. It won’t happen.

Probability:  2 out of 5 sassy dolls resting on a boat in It’s a Small World.

But wait, there’s more.

The Absolute Worst Case Scenario: Holiday opening dates are a deliberate ruse designed to appease a small group of rabid fans who won’t stop complaining on Disney message boards. The actual opening date will be in January.

Why this will happen:   Because of a little thing called Murphy’s Law. If something can go wrong, it will.   Dumbo’s opening date was delayed three times and even then, only one spinner opened.  When you consider that the entire expansion is several times larger than the small portion of Storybook Circus that’s opened so far, you get an idea of the scope of this project. It’s massive.  And because Disney probably wants to open all of it (excluding the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train) at once due to crowd control concerns, it makes sense that any projected opening at this point is just a rough estimate.

Why this won’t happen:  Because it’s Disney. And a company that can make even grown men tear up a little bit the first time they see Cinderella Castle can do just about anything.

Probability:  1 out of 5 depressed Mickeys.

Now, here’s the good news. If you’ve seen Storybook Circus, you know it’s incredible. The thought and care that’s gone into the expansion so far can only mean far greater things when the entire project is complete. So whatever happens, when you do see it, you’re going to be overwhelmed–in a very good way. The wait is going to be worth it. But I know what you really want is an actual date, right? Well sadly, I don’t think anyone knows.  If I had to hazard a guess, I would say that if it isn’t open before Thanksgiving, it won’t open until after the holidays. But, as you may recall, I’ve been wrong before.  All I really know is I can’t wait.


  1. I really hope it opens before or during the week of November 11th. Because I arrive with my 8 yr old daughter on November 10th. And she has never been. đŸ˜‰ We really want to eat in Be Our Guest. Even a soft opening will be good. (fingers crossed!)

  2. I have my fingers crossed that parts will be doing a soft opening when I am there in mid-November!
    Pretty please!

  3. Like everyone, I am hoping Disney will stay true to their word and be open for the Holiday Season. With our Dec 1 arrival I am skeptical but hopeful…
    I enjoyed this blog post!

  4. We will be there Nov 29-Dec 8, so I would think we would be able to go. Any word yet what kind of food they will be serving? And will it be on the dining plan?

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