Fantasyland Attractions for Little Tykes
Fantasyland has more attractions for young children than any other land inside the Magic Kingdom. Fantasyland is the heart of the Magic Kingdom—a truly enchanting place beneath the steepled towers of Cinderella Castle. Fantasyland is divided into three distinct sections. Directly behind Cinderella Castle and set on a snowcapped mountain is Beast’s Castle, part of a Beauty and the Beast–themed area. Most of this section holds dining and shopping. Outside Beast’s Castle is Belle’s Village. Nestled inside lush and beautifully decorated grounds, with gardens, meadows, and waterfalls, is Maurice’s Cottage, home of Enchanted Tales with Belle.
The far-right corner of Fantasyland—including Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Pete’s Silly Sideshow, The Barnstormer kiddie coaster, and the Fantasyland train station—is called Storybook Circus as an homage to Disney’s Dumbo film. These are low-capacity amusement park rides appropriate for younger children.
The middle of Fantasyland holds the headliners, including Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. The original part of Fantasyland contains classic attractions, such as Prince Charming Regal Carousel, Peter Pan’s Flight, It’s A Small World, Mad Tea Party, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. It also hosts Mickey’s PhilharMagic and the incredibly popular Princess Fairytale Hall meet and greet, with waits of 4 hours or more to meet Anna and Elsa of Frozen. (Lines for the other princesses are shorter.) The Princess Merida meet and greet is held at Fairytale Garden.
Today I want to highlight three of my favorite attractions at Fantasyland for guests with very young children:
Enchanted Tales with Belle
This multi-scene Beauty and the Beast experience takes guests into Maurice’s workshop, through a magic mirror, and into Beast’s library, where the audience shares a story with Belle. You enter the attraction by walking through Maurice’s cottage, where you see mementos tracing Belle’s childhood, including her favorite books, and lines drawn on one wall showing how fast Belle grew every year. From there you’ll enter Maurice’s workshop at the back of the cottage. An assortment of Maurice’s odd wood gadgets covers every inch of the floor, walls, and ceiling. Take a moment to peruse the gadgets, and then focus your attention on the mirror on the wall to the left of the entry door. Soon enough, the room gets dark and the mirror begins to sparkle. With magic and some really good carpentry skills, the mirror turns into a full-size doorway, through which guests enter into a wardrobe room. Once you reach the wardrobe room, the attraction’s premise is explained: You’re supposed to reenact the story of Beauty and the Beast for Belle on her birthday, and guests are chosen to act out key parts in the play. After the parts are cast, everyone walks into the castle’s library and takes a seat. Cast members explain how the play will take place and introduce
Belle, who gives a short speech about how thrilled she is for everyone to be there. The play is acted out within a few minutes, and the actors get a photo op with Belle and receive a small bookmark (to “mark” the occasion) as a memento. Enchanted Tales with Belle is surely the prettiest and most elaborate meet and greet in Disney World. For the relative few who get to act in the play, it’s also a chance to interact with Belle in a way that isn’t possible in other character encounters.
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Making sure your kids get their fill of this tame, happy children’s ride is what mother love is all about. The 90-second ride is hardly worth the long lines, unless, of course, you’re under 7 years old. As part of the Fantasyland expansion, Dumbo moved to the upper-right corner of the land. The attraction’s capacity doubled with the addition of a second ride—a clone of the first. These two changes, along with the addition of the newer Fantasyland attractions, have drastically reduced waits to ride. If you do find yourself with a wait, Dumbo also includes a covered queue, featuring interactive elements where kids can play to pass the time. Best of all, you receive a buzzer, like at a restaurant, which will light up when it is time for your ride.
Peter Pan’s Flight
Peter Pan’s Flight is superbly designed and absolutely delightful, with a happy theme uniting some favorite Disney characters, beautiful effects, and charming music. This dark (indoor) ride takes you on a relaxing trip in a “flying pirate ship” over old London and thence to Never Never Land, where Peter saves Wendy from walking the plank and Captain Hook rehearses for Dancing with the Stars on the snout of the ubiquitous crocodile. There’s nothing here that will jump out at you or frighten young children. An interactive queuing area alleviates the pain of waiting in line, as guests go through the Darlings’ house before boarding their ride. Because Peter Pan’s Flight is very popular, count on long lines all day. Tip: Unless you make this your first ride the moment the park opens, use FastPass+ for Peter Pan’s Flight.
And here are two bonus attractions in Fantasyland that will let your little tykes have a good time:
It’s A Small World: Small boats carry visitors on a tour around the world, with singing and dancing dolls showcasing the dress and culture of each nation. Of course, there’s no escaping the brain-numbing tune. Just when you think you’ve repressed it, the song will resurface without warning to torture you some more. You didn’t think I was going to let you get away without riding this attraction, did you?
Casey Jr. Splash ’N’ Soak Station: Casey Jr., the circus train from Dumbo, hosts an absolutely drenching experience outside the Fantasyland Train Station in the Storybook Circus area. Expect a cadre of captive circus beasts to spray water on you in this elaborate water-play area. It puts all other theme park splash areas to soaking shame and is a marvel to watch. Bring a change of clothes and a big towel.
The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids by Bob Sehlinger and Liliane Opsomer with Len Testa provides complete descriptions of all Walt Disney World attractions.