If there’s a common theme in Walt Disney World this year, I think it would be change.
Typically, from one year to the next I see a few changes but this year I expect to see many!
I’ll start with the biggest…the Disney Fantasyland Expansion. Expected to officially open Dec. 6th, the preview of this new area of the Magic Kingdom is expected to begin November 19th. The first phase called “Storybook Circus” includes a refurbished Dumbo ride that adds a rainbow of colors and ultimately a second Dumbo ride next to it to double ride capacity. Another attraction arrived in this area just in time for the summer heat! Casey Jr.’s Splash and Soak Station where children can splash and play to help ward off that hot Florida sun.
The next phase has a heavy Beauty and the Beast theme. A castle, known as Beasts Castle, an Enchanted Forest and an interactive attraction called Enchanted Tales with Belle, along with Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid is also expected to open Dec. 6. But it doesn’t stop there. Since the Fantasyland Expansion is set to open in three phases there will still be new attractions to see if you aren’t going back for a couple of years. The much-anticipated Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is expected to be complete by 2014.
And in typical Disney fashion of having something for everyone, if you’re not into the changes coming to Fantasyland, you may be more interested in the changes coming to Test Track.
The Epcot attraction closed April 16th and is expected to reopen later this fall completely re-imagined. That means, the storyline of the attraction is going to be different and is going to focus more on the design aspect of the vehicle, with you as the designer! The ride itself will remain the same.
I’m hoping to stumble upon a soft opening of this attraction during my November trip. The current re-open dates is Nov. 30th.
Another change on the horizon is the new Fastpass known currently as xPass or Fast Pass Plus. It has been during various weeks this summer in Walt Disney World.. Disney has been testing the new system with park guests and is expected to test it again this month. Coincidentally, just before the xPass was tested, Disney began enforcing the return times for the current Fast Pass system. Previously you could arrive anytime after the beginning time of your Fast Pass (even at the end of the day) and still be allowed to use the Fast Pass, but now you must return by the end time of the Fast Pass or you won’t get in that line. There’s been much speculation but not a lot of information on how the new Xpass system will work. During previous testing, guests arriving at Magical Express were approached and asked to choose Fast Pass times for specific attractions. It’s unknown if the new Xpass will replace the existing Fast Pass system.
Another change that occurred this month was the ending of the Magic Memories and You show in the Magic Kingdom. After an 18 month stint, Disney decided to end the show that included projecting pictures of families on Cinderella’s Castle during the show. Beginning in November, a new show called Celebrate the Magic will Debut. It is expected to have spectacular projection effects along with new music to bring a completely new storytelling experience.
Animal Kingdom is not without a little change of its own. The Kilamanjaro Safari – a ride through a 100-acre Savannah that serves as an animal wildlife preserve – will change to add more animals….specifically zebras. The original attraction had the safari vehicle assisting with the search and capture of elephant poachers. During the ride an area showed tents were the poachers were staying. At the end of the ride when the poachers were caught and the elephant saved, the safari vehicle drove past a vehicle that had an anamatronic baby elephant inside. Those areas have been cleared to make room for more the zebras and therefore giving guests more opportunity to get up close with the animals.
So if you haven’t been to Walt Disney World lately, or even if you have, many changes are taking place…exciting changes you won’t want to miss!
Sharon Spohn is a Disney Vacation Expert with Liberty Travel in Exton.
She can be reached at 610-524-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org