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Fantasyland Expansion impact on Magic Kingdom will be huge

The Disney Parks blog recently announced that February 11, 2011 will be the last day to visit Mickey’s Toontown Fair. That’s nice information to have for those planning vacations. Unfortunately, you really have to plan more than 6 months out these days just to get the good dining reservations. So with that in mind, here’s what I’m hearing about latest changes to plans for the Fantasyland Expansion. Your mileage may vary. Plan accordingly.

ToonTown Fair will be closed to start work on Phase 2 and a new mini-phase (phase 1.5 aka Operation Dumbo Drop Part Deux (my term not Disney’s)) that will allow Disney to quickly get one attraction back open after the closure. Even with the quick turn around expected on phase 1.5, the Magic Kingdom will still be operating at a reduced capacity for most of 2011 and the beginning of 2012. That means fewer rides per guest for any given day. Unfortunately, Disney has announced no major plans, other than to delay refurbishment on other attractions, to deal with this reduction in guest experience for 2011.

I have heard that some attractions will have to go down for scheduled maintenance (Bears, Splash, and Big Thunder), but Disney will try and add some next-generation interactive queues during these time periods to improve guest experience when the attractions come back up. I hope Disney is able to come up with some sort of plan for 2011 to increase the options for guests beyond moving Mickey and the Princesses to Main Street. A couple shows perhaps? I bet they’re missing that theater in Tomorrowland right about now. Maybe they could move those circus tents from Toontown Fair and do something with them.

After Mickey’s Toontown Fair closes, the next attraction to go down will be Dumbo. Right now they’re deciding if it will close Summer of 2011 or if they can keep it through the end of 2011. That depends on when they need that plot of land for the rest of the Beauty and the Beast part of Phase 1 and how long it will take to move Dumbo’s mechanisms to its new home by the Speedway. The new Dumbo with two separate operating sides and one central next-gen queue could open as soon as June of 2012. But construction on that will require that half of the Speedway go down starting as soon as January 2011. So that’s even more reduced capacity for the Magic Kingdom in 2011 and 2012.

Multiple sources tell me that Snow White’s Scary Adventures is on the chopping block sometime in either mid 2011 or late 2012 with the eventual goal of moving the princesses, who got evicted when their castles were cut from Phase 2, into that space for meet and greets. I know it has been announced that Disney’s princesses will be housed on in Town Square temporarily, but that’s not their permanent home. You can sort of squeeze Mickey and the gang in there thematically, but Princesses are very out of place.

Again, I really suggest Disney look at the old Fantasyland Skyway Station as a possible princess meet and greet location; just place a scale model of Sleeping Beauty castle (the Eyvind Earle version) on top of the hill instead of the swiss chalet and hold photos down below. That’s a much better option than closing a ride with a tie to Walt Disney’s first animated feature. That said, Disney may not see a point to having two rides in the park themed to a ride through the dwarves’ mine once Barnstormer is rethemed. I think the difference is large enough to keep them both, there should always be a traditional dark ride at the Magic Kingdom. Still, if you want to save Snow White’s Scary Adventures, now might be the time to write. Don’t let them pull another Mr. Toad on you.

I’m really curious to hear what changes are being made to the plans for Phase II and III of the Fantasyland Expansion. The Be Our Guest restaurant should be great and signs are shaping up that Voyage of The Little Mermaid will be a solid C or D attraction. But the boys are woefully under-represented and just retheming Barnstormer to a Snow White Mine Ride won’t do it. What would you like to see them add?

Update: There is an alternate take on what’s happening to Barnstormer while they figure out Phase 3.. This plan keeps the Toontown fair circus tents right where they are for now and makes Dumbo 2.0, a new Casey Jr themed eatery, a ‘Great Goofini’ themed version of the Barnstormer, and some sort of show/meet and greet inside the circus tents into a mini-land. I’m told the tentative name for this concept is Storybook Circus Land.

I like this idea in that it is a temporary use of the tents while they figure out what to do with that plot of land (hint: it’s not a Tinker bell and Fairy themed mini-land), it let’s them put that money toward adding a new ride where the Sleeping Beauty Chateau was going to go (Phase 2), and it means there won’t be a second Snow White ride based on the mine scene so the park is more likely to save Snow White’s Scary Adventures from destruction… but finding a new meet and great for the princesses becomes more important. This doesn’t change the timeline I described above that much as it really only covers now through the end of Phase 1.5, it just changes what attractions will be called.