With the new Fantasyland expansion at Walt Disney World set to open in 2012, anticipation is running high. Tall construction walls edge one side of Fantasyland adorned with beautiful concept art and descriptions of the wonders that will appear next year. The looming cranes, thrumming motors, and occasional voices of workmen drifting from behind the wall, however, hint at a far more practical process going on just beyond view.
With the help of a bench or decorative wall and the help of a tall friend (shout out to my tall friend Mike), some of that excitement is visible. There are three particular locations where glimpses of what’s going on behind that wall can be had – near Pinochio’s Village Haus, where the Beast’s castle, Be Our Guest restaurant, and Maurice’s cottage are well underway; past Dumbo, where more of the Beauty and the Beast area can be glimpsed; and across from The Adventure of Winnie the Pooh, where both the Little Mermaid show building and entrance to the dwarves’ mine train are visible.
The Beauty and the Beast area is, of course, the most visible and the most recognizably complete. Well aware that the Beast’s castle, perched atop the building that will become the Be Our Guest restaurant, would be clearly visible over the construction walls, Disney made sure that the forced perspective building was complete and painted almost as soon as it was installed. In a way, the structure serves as what Walt would have called a “weenie” – a visual teaser to pique interest and draw people’s attention to the new expansion.
Below that highly visible structure, however, other less visible things are taking shape. The stonework of the mountains around the castle is visible as is the clearly recognizable shape of Maurice’s cottage, which will serve as the location for a Belle meet and greet/show where guests will be transported from Maurice’s cottage to the Beast’s castle in a 40 minute show.
Below the castle, several pointed gothic arch openings are also visible, possibly marking the entrance to the restaurant. They seem to resemble the pictures of the restaurant entrance shown at Destination D.
Further along, opposite The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, the basic structure of a building is visible. Based on its location and shape, it seems likely it is a part of the cottage pictured as part of the entrance to the Dwarves’ Mine Train.
And, although individual features are not yet visible, the rockwork for Little Mermaid is taking shape around the ride building.
There is still a massive amount of work to be done, of course, but the overall skeleton of the Fantasyland expansion is quite definitely taking shape. The areas for the rides and their basic structures are well underway, and construction will no doubt accelerate once those basic elements are in place. We’ll be keeping a watch on the progress over the construction walls whenever possible. Magic may be coming in 2012, but right now the excitement is in seeing that magic get underway!