By Sarah Sekula, published on ShermansTravel.com
Cue the talking wardrobe. Prepare the grey stuff (it’s delicious). Pump up the steel-drum, nautical-themed music. Guests will be showing up in droves for the grand opening of the Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland, which makes its debut on Thursday. This portion of Walt Disney World has nearly doubled in size, going from 11 to 21 acres, making it the largest expansion in the park’s 41-year history. So, it’s no surprise that there is plenty to see. We’ve done some of the leg work for you, though, so you’ll know exactly what to target.
1. Down a Brewski
Well, a LeFou’s Brew, that is. This frozen apple juice concoction has a hint of toasted marshmallow and is topped with all-natural passion fruit-mango foam. It’s served up at Gaston’s Tavern (and, yes, he really does use antlers in all of his decorating).
2. Dine Inside Beast’s Castle
Disney has really outdone itself with the Be Our Guest Restaurant, a gourmet, French-themed eatery. Its massive chandeliers, gorgeous terrazzo floors and snowflakes falling among the fictional French countryside all stay true to the Beauty and the Beast movie. Choose from quick-service meals for lunch or fancy table service for dinner.
3. Smile While Standing in Line
With interactive screens and a talking seagull, the queue is the real star of the new Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid attraction. As you wait to board the giant clamshells on this dark ride, help Ariel collect whozits and whatzits galore.
4. Flex Your Biceps with Gaston
As a specimen, yes, he’s intimidating, but don’t let that stop you. He’s everyone’s favorite guy. This self-centered but lovable character is always ready for a photo op or two.
5. Fly Atop an Elephant
Dumbo the Flying Elephant is a classic Disney ride. And now, it’s even better. It has doubled in size, and Disney “Imagineers” have added an indoor queue lounge. Parents grab a pager and take a breather while children wear themselves out at the indoor playground. Genius!
6. Drink an Actual Brewski
Boozers rejoice! For the first time in Magic Kingdom history, alcohol will be served. Be Our Guest Restaurant offers wines from Champagne, Alsace, Loire, Rhone, Burgundy, and Bordeaux. Plus, the leading French beer, Kronenbourg 1664, and Belgian beers, too. (Note: Drink up while you’re there. To-go cups are not offered.)
7. Score One-on-One Time with a Princess
A visit to crazy old Maurice’s Cottage has guests entering the enchanted world of Belle and company. Inside, a magic mirror transports guests into the story of Beauty and the Beast where they act out a scene from the movie with the costumed character herself.
8. Snag a Gargoyle
The gargoyles and other grotesques that guard Beast’s Castle are photo worthy, indeed. And if you want to take one home, you’re in luck. Bonjour! Village Gifts sells everything from gargoyle chalices to Minotaur candleholders.
9. Act Like a Francophone
Don’t be surprised to hear a chorus of bonjours and au revoirs as you traipse through New Fantasyland. Much of the attraction is located in the French countryside, after all. Respond with a full sentence in French and see if you can throw off the Cast Members.
10. Marvel at Royal Residences
Two new castles – Prince Eric’s Castle and Beast’s Castle – dot the skyline. Don’t worry, though, they don’t outshine Cinderella Castle. Thanks to forced-perspective architecture, the new regal abodes appear more grandiose than they actually are.
Coming Soon: Disney expects to open Princess Fairytale Hall in 2013, in the former home of Snow White’s Scary Adventures, and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in early 2014.