What’s New At Walt Disney World For 2012 ~ Their Biggest Expansion YET! (UPDATED)

Originally published June 5, 2012. Updated August 13, 2012.

It was just announced that Dec. 6, 2012 has been set as the Grand Opening of Fantasyland! Previews begin Nov. 19, 2012.

I would like to say I’ve left the best for last, but how can you really say that? The new Art of Animation Resort looks fabulous as you can see, the new suites at Port Orleans Riverside are fit for royalty, Epcot’s Flower Garden show was spectacular and the Disney Fantasy is a ship you won’t want to miss. With all of that news you would think I covered it all right? Wrong!

Disney has even more exciting things happening and to look forward to in the coming months. While I was in Orlando a couple of months ago, I had a first-hand look at the new attractions at Fantasyland. For those of you who haven’t read our previous coverage, Fantasyland is currently in the midst of a mega expansion. When I say mega, I mean DOUBLE the size. I know, I couldn’t believe it either!

We met with one of the Imagineers while we were there and he showed us around the new phase of the expansion and gave us a behind the scenes (quite literally!) look at what’s coming next. If you visit Walt Disney World right now you will notice that one of the most popular rides, Dumbo, the Flying Elephant, has been moved (flying clockwise) and now sits net door to Storybook Circus. The ride now features shiny new red and gold colors (inspired by ‘50s- and ‘60s-era tin toys), 8 newly-created signature illustrations from one of the animators of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” and a beautiful new water feature circling the base of the attraction. Later this year, a second Dumbo (flying counterclockwise) will be added to Fantasyland.

In Storybook Circus, keep your eyes peeled for the little details and plenty of hidden Mickeys! There are animal prints in the concrete so it looks although elephants and other circus animals have been trampling the ground. There are also concrete peanuts embedded in the ground. Amazing stuff!

The Great Goofini is a family-style roller coaster featuring Goofy who clearly can’t drive properly as he goes directly through the sign ;). It’s a twisting and turning roller coaster ‘flight’ that takes you high above the circus fun. Families with small children who don’t want to wait in the hot sun will appreciate the circus tent where you can standby and wait in a cool environment. Genius no?

Fantasyland Train Station is up and running, bringing a ton of nostalgia to the park as it was inspired by Walt Disney’s own train at Carolwood Pacific Railroad, the steam engine Walt had running through his backyard back in the ’30’s. The train encircles the Magic Kingdom on 20-minute journeys.

Excited yet? Wait until you hear what’s next!

We went behind the walls of what is to become the full expansion of Fantasyland. When you walk behind these walls you can really begin to get an idea of how massive this project is. I really wanted to take pictures, but alas, we were not allowed ;).

As you walk in, you will see a huge castle to your far left. This is actually the castle of the Beast that sits on a hill across from an old stone bridge from Ariel’s home, or the “Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid” adventure.

This ride will give guests the chance to travel under the sea with a classic Disney “dark ride” with wonderful technological innovations to offer guests a personal journey into the scenes of the film.

Continue walking through the expansion and you’ll bump into the new Be Our Guest Restaurant, where families will be able to dine in a gorgeous ballroom, gallery and infamous “West Wing” of the Beast’s castle. They say this restaurant will serve “great food fast” with service by day and full table service dining in the evening. Nearby in Belle’s Village, guests will find Gaston’s Tavern and Bonjour! Village Gifts, the famous store from the movie!

The new Princess Fairytale Hall will be where guests can visit Aurora, Cinderella and other Disney princesses, such as Tiana and Rapunzel in their new home. This is also the same site where Snow White’s Scary Adventures stands currently.

Speaking of Snow White, The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is another addition to the park that will take families through a musical ride through the mine. The coaster will feature a first-of-its-kind ride system with a train of ride vehicles that swing back and forth, responding to every twist and turn of the track. The journey will be accompanied by music from the classic Disney film and animated figures of Snow White and the Dwarfs.

Walt Disney said it best don’t you think ;-). The Imagineers are doing just that!

And there you have it! Which attraction are you most looking forward to?

*A big thank you to Disney for inviting us for the Summer to Remember Press Trip to check out the new attractions the park has to offer.*

Renderings courtesy of Disney for use on Child Mode.