Detailed Storybook Circus debut builds excitement for New Fantasyland as first phase opens at Walt Disney World

in Disney, Entertainment, Events, Featured, Magic Kingdom, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

Yesterday morning, Walt Disney World soft opened the first phase of the New Fantasyland expansion just in time to meet the heavy crowds arriving to the Magic Kingdom for the spring break season. Despite the extremely busy park, fans who showed up to experience the new Storybook Circus were delighted to find a high-quality, highly-immersive, relaxing, inviting, and completely enjoyable new land, a welcome replacement of the colorful chaos of Mickey’s Toontown Fair.

Though the entirety of Storybook Circus is not yet open, this first phase offers much promise for the future of not only the rest of the land but also the rest of the New Fantasyland expansion, opening in many more phases through 2014. The attention to detail and carefully-planned themes featured throughout what has been seen of Storybook Circus so far has excited even jaded Disney fans who were previously ambivalent toward the Toontown replacement. And even with only three former attractions now reopened – Dumbo, The Barnstormer, and the Fantasyland Train Station – the new area does nothing short of impress.

Just what is so special about Storybook Circus? Take a look at highlights of the partially-opened land as well as an unedited walkthrough in the two videos below.

Video: Storybook Circus highlights including Dumbo, The Barnstormer, and Fantasyland Train Station

Video: Full Storybook Circus walkthrough on opening day of phase one

Storybook Circus is still surrounded by construction walls, as is much of the New Fantasyland expansion. The path to the circus begins by the Mad Tea Party and continues down a winding road of red and green temporary walls while work continues. But even amidst the construction, the details shine through.

Entrance to Storybook Circus
In the distance beyond the Mad Tea Party tea cups, Storybook Circus begins to emerge from beyond the trees.
Storybook Circus
This Storybook Circus preview sign is the first to show off Humphrey the Bear as being part of the new land, along with Goofy, Casey Jr, and Pete. But only Goofy's Barnstormer is around right now.
Entrance to Storybook Circus
Green construction walls turn to red, matching much of the Storybook Circus decor.
Trash Can - Storybook Circus
New trash can designs mirror the big top motif.
Storybook Circus costumes
Storybook Circus Cast Members sport fun new costume designs.

Dumbo - Storybook Circus
Just inside Storybook Circus, guests first encounter the new Dumbo - or at least half of it. Only one of two carousels of this "double Dumbo" is open now. The circus tent indoor queue isn't ready for its debut quite yet either.

Dumbo - Storybook Circus
The new clockwise-spinning Dumbo is rich with detail and vibrant color.
Dumbo - Storybook Circus
The surrounding area sports decor that matches Dumbo's new look.
Trash Cans - Storybook Circus
More themed trash cans brighten up Storybook Circus.
Dumbo at dusk - Storybook Circus
As day turns to night, multi-colored LED lights illuminate Dumbo's new water fountains.
Dumbo at night - Storybook Circus
And after dark, the flying elephants glow in a rainbow of colors.

Video: Dumbo lights up at night with multi-colored fountains in Storybook Circus

Though Dumbo isn’t the only attraction open in this first phase of Storybook Circus, it is the most visually appealing. Don’t miss our closer look at the new Dumbo.

Ground footprints - Storybook Circus
All of Storybook Circus features textured paths for guests to cross.
Ground footprints - Storybook Circus
Hidden within these walkways, guests will encounter a variety of footprints from a variety of characters. A circus of animals has certainly come to town.
The Barnstormer - Storybook Circus
The Barnstormer returns from Mickey's Toontown Fair with a new look, now featuring Goofy as the Great Goofini. The video below offers highlights of the new version of the classic roller coaster.

Video: The Barnstormer featuring The Great Goofini in Storybook Circus

The Barnstormer - Storybook Circus
Goofy is always "out flying" as guests approach the Barnstormer's new entrance.
The Barnstormer - Storybook Circus
Weathered signs help emphasize the notion that the circus recently moved in.
The Barnstormer - Storybook Circus
Tiger Juggling is among Goofy's acts - one performance only!
The Barnstormer - Storybook Circus
Goofy takes to the water occasionally too.
The Barnstormer - Storybook Circus
He's not so successful when it comes to wrestling.
The Barnstormer - Storybook Circus
And then there's the act he's most famous for in this circus.
The Barnstormer - Storybook Circus
The Barnstormer barn is almost unrecognizable from its former Toontown state, though it along with the ride's track exist in exactly the same spots.
Barnstormer queue - Storybook Circus
Goofy once tried flying high by shooting himself out of a cannon.
The Barnstormer - Storybook Circus
But that act didn't end well.
The Barnstormer queue rocket - Storybook Circus
Similarly, a rocket ride didn't go quite according to plan.
Barnstormer queue - Storybook Circus
These fun elements are all part of the Barnstormer's new outdoor queue.
Wheel of Peril - Storybook Circus
Guests can pose with the Wheel of Peril. Watch out for flying knives!
The Barnstormer - Storybook Circus
Though the track remains the same, the Barnstormer roller coaster is far more visually appealing now, more open to the surrounding area.
The Barnstormer - Storybook Circus
A giant new billboard serves as the focal point as guests "crash" through on every ride.
The Barnstormer - Storybook Circus
The Barnstormer is a short ride intended for children, but clearly guests of all ages can enjoy it.
The Barnstormer - Storybook Circus
The lift hill brings passengers through a checkered beginning.
The Barnstormer - Storybook Circus
It looks like Goofy paved the way for this track by blasting through.
The Barnstormer at dusk - Storybook Circus
Smiles start every ride on the Barnstormer.
Fantasyland Train Station - Storybook Circus
Most of Storybook Circus is themed to look like it recently was hastily set up. The nearby Fantasyland Train Station sports an entirely different look and feel, with a more permanent and elegant new building.
Fantasyland Train Station - Storybook Circus
The Walt Disney World Railroad system is a great way to get around the Magic Kingdom and it will help to have this station now open once again.
Fantasyland Train Station - Storybook Circus
The Fantasyland Train Station's new look takes inspiration from Walt Disney's own railroad in his backyard.
Carolwood Park sign - Storybook Circus
The Carolwood Pacific Railroad was Walt Disney's own personal train before he built Disneyland.
Fantasyland Train Station - Storybook Circus
The train station is an inviting place to wait to board the railroad.
Restrooms - Storybook Circus
The brick-covered backside of the Fantasyland Train Station offers a new pair of lovely-looking restrooms.
Fantasyland Train Station - Storybook Circus
But all is not complete, with a long construction wall just across from the train station.
Peanuts in ground - Storybook Circus
More detail can be found in the walkways around the train station, such as these embedded peanut shells. There is a circus nearby, after all.
Fantasyland Train Station - Storybook Circus
The Walt Disney World Railroad still rides down the same tracks it has for years.
Walt Disney World Railroad - Storybook Circus
On busy days, the railroad is one of the best ways to get around the park, if you don't mind the wait.
Fantasyland Train Station - Storybook Circus
The far side of the Fantasyland Train Station offers another color scheme.
Fantasyland Train Station - Storybook Circus
Cargo and luggage sits outside the train station.
Fantasyland Train Station - Storybook Circus
It seems passengers that ride the Walt Disney World Railroad are well-traveled.
Storybook Circus
All is not yet complete, with Storybook Circus tents still under construction just behind the walls.
Tent - Storybook Circus
Flowers help decorate the area, drawing attention away from the ongoing construction nearby.
New Fantasyland sunset - Storybook Circus
As day turns to night, a sunset illuminates the New Fantasyland skyline.
Dumbo at night - Storybook Circus
Storybook Circus is even more gorgeous after dark when all is lit up.
The Barnstormer at night - Storybook Circus
Deep, rich colors and soft orange hues coat Storybook Circus after dark.
Dumbo at night - Storybook Circus
Unlike the old Dumbo near Cinderella Castle, the Storybook Circus version is entirely enjoyable whether riding or not.
Dumbo at night - Storybook Circus
The multi-colored lights on Dumbo are a focal point of the beautiful new area.

Storybook Circus is far from complete. Disney has yet to reveal the contents of its many large circus tents, including the indoor Dumbo interactive queue, Pete’s Silly Sideshow, and whatever Humphrey the Bear will be offering. There will surely be meet-and-greets, merchandise, and food available when it’s all complete.

But even this first phase of Storybook Circus was enough to excite those looking forward to New Fantasyland, offering a glimpse at the level of detailed work that Imagineers have been creating for the biggest Magic Kingdom expansion ever. Everything that was wrong about Mickey’s Toontown Fair is now right with Storybook Circus and guests of the theme park have a new relaxing and immersive environment to enjoy while Disney continues to create new magic in the years to come.

More photos of Storybook Circus, phase one, at the Magic Kingdom:


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    “Aquamaniac”…Nice classic-toon reference. šŸ™‚

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    Clay Matthews

    Wow…continues to really astonish – and this is pretty basic “upgrade” stuff compared to what is supposed to be coming later, I guess (Mermaid, Snow White, etc.) Cannot WAIT to see it (or most of it) when we visit in summer of 2013!!!

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    I love the reference to the classic EPCOT Center show ‘Skyleidiscope’ on the Barnstormer sign.

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    Gorgeous photos and excellent report! Keep it up Ricky, your great work is so appreciated by those of us who can’t be there to see it in person yet! It looks even better than I expected — the light and water around Dumbo are amazing. Can’t wait for more!

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    Will the inside of the checkered tower of the coaster get some theming.
    These towers where originaly made of cloth but I understand theire chouse. But this looks ugly inside!
    The rest looks stunning!!!!

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    Looks really nice….I only have one issue….are those real peanut shells treated with something to make them hard or are they fake peanut shells embedded in the walkways?? I have several friends who have children who are Disney fanatics who have life threatening peanut allergies who will not be so thrilled to see the peanut shells all over the place – fake or not

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      Ricky Brigante

      Disney would not risk guests with peanut allergies coming into contact with real peanut shells. They’re not real peanut shells. And they’re not all over the place, only in one or two small spots. It’s nothing to be concerned about.

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