In May 2014, the New Fantasyland area at Disney World Resort in Florida was completed. The expansion started in 2011, and on our previous visits to Disney World we've seen new areas of the park opened, and watched the building of the new roller coaster ride, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. On our recent visit in November 2014 we were excited to visit and see the whole of the New Fantasyland open.
The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train opened in May 2014 and has been very popular. The new FastPass+ system at Disney World allows you to book your Fast Pass tickets 30 days in advance if you are staying off-site. Hotel Guests are able to book their tickets 60 days in advance, and as off-site visitors we found that by the time we were allowed to book, all the tickets for this ride had gone. With queues throughout the day of up to two hours, the only realistic way that we were able to ride was to arrive before park opening and when the gates opened speed walk to the ride to join the queue. We only managed this once, and our wait was about 20 minutes. Luckily, like all of the other newer rides, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train has a very well designed queuing area, with a few interactive games and activities for children to keep them entertained while you wait.
In fact, the new and improved rides in Fantasyland are all very well designed when it comes to waiting in line. The best queuing area is at Dumbo the Flying Elephant, where children can play in an indoor play area while you wait for your pager to buzz and announce your turn to ride. The Journey of the Little Mermaid and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh also have excellent waiting areas with interactive games to play. Luckily we usually manage to plan our day with minimal waits but I can see how this would really make a difference to the queuing experience when you have little ones.
A new Fantasyland attraction that we hadn't managed to visit on our previous trips was Enchanted Tales with Belle, as again it is so popular that it has a very long wait within minutes of the park opening. This time we were able to visit as we had booked our Fast Passes in advance. You are taken through the attraction in small groups, and volunteers are chosen to play different parts in a simple story that is performed to Belle. At the end there is the chance to meet with Belle and have your photograph taken. We don't usually do the character meet and greets as they take up too much of the day, so it was a nice opportunity for the children to see a favourite character close up.
A picture of them together would have been nicer of course, but Harry was too nervous to approach Belle until he saw that she was handing out bookmarks, and luckily that was enough incentive for him to pose for a photo!
With small children we spend most of our time at Disney World in Fantasyland as the rides are just perfect for them, and so close together that you don't need to ask too much of them when it comes to walking around. If you arrive early and plan your day, especially if you take full advantage of the new Fast Pass system, you can really minimise the time that you spend waiting. I'm not enough of an expert to discuss it here, but this is an excellent guide DisneyWorld FastPass+ Overview, Tips and Advice (and I'd also fully recommend paying for the planning tools on that website, it's currently only $12.95 for a year and it has been brilliant for us, no affiliation just a genuine recommendation!)
I hope that you enjoyed my little glimpse into the New Fantasyland!