Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom
Just looking on a map, it’s easy to see that Fantasyland is the biggest of the Magic Kingdom’s six lands. That’s thanks to a 26 acre expansion that nearly doubled its size back in 2012 - 2014. This is the spot where your favorite classic Disney stories come to life. It’s always a hit with the littles, but there are plenty of things for adults to enjoy too.
Fantasyland has three entrance routes (via Liberty Square, via the Hub, or via Tomorrowland) and three different areas with distinct theming. If you come in through Cinderella Castle or via Liberty Square, the first area you’ll see is the Castle Courtyard. You can think of this as “Classic Fantasyland,” because back in the 90s and 2000s when your humble author was visiting, this is all there was! Thematically, the Castle Courtyard area is like a Bavarian village nestled within the outer castle walls. This is where you’ll find most of the old, classic Fantasyland dark rides.
If you walk through the castle and head right or if you come up from Tomorrowland and veer to the right, you’ll come to the Storybook Circus area, based on characters from Dumbo as well as Mickey Mouse and friends. In general, this area of Fantasyland is geared towards small children, based purely on the types of attractions you’ll find here.
The final area of Fantasyland is the Enchanted Forest, which you’ll reach if you keep walking north of Cinderella Castle or if you come in via Tomorrowland. In this area, the Imagineers truly made some of your favorite Disney princess stories come to life - Snow White, Belle and Ariel to be exact. It also features one of the premiere dining locations in the park.
Ready to take a spin through this fun-filled, enchanting land? Let’s go! By the way, this post is part of a series on all of the “lands” of Disney and Universal. You can check them all out here!
Fantasyland houses a whopping 15 attractions (though only 12 are currently open), so we’ll tackle the list by area.
Assuming you’ve come through Cinderella Castle, the first attraction you’ll see is the Prince Charming Regal Carousel. There’s really nothing special about this carousel. If you have time and the line’s not long, go ahead and ride. Otherwise, don’t feel bad about skipping it.
Directly to your right is the entrance to the Princess Fairytale Hall. Though it’s not currently open due to COVID-19 health concerns, when the world returns to normal again, this is where you can meet popular Disney princesses like Cinderella, Elena of Avalor, Rapunzel and Tiana.
Walking past the carousel, on the left you’ll see the entrance for Mickey’s PhilharMagic. This is a 3D theater-style show complete with some fun physical effects that stars Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. It’s something of a musical review of beloved songs from classic Disney Renaissance films like Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. The effects are a little outdated, but there’s almost never a wait of more than 20 minutes to get in. We like to hit this one in the afternoon when we’re hot and would enjoy putting our feet up for a bit.
Moving on down the street, you’ll come to Peter Pan’s Flight. We’re going to get controversial here and say that this is not something you have to do every visit. This ride has some raving fans, and lines get very long very quickly. We do think everyone should do it once, but we don’t think it’s worth a very long wait. Still, it is a quintessential Disney dark ride. You board a pirate ship that is suspended in the air and glide over scenes from the film - from London to Neverland.
Almost directly across the street is It’s a Small World. Yes - the attraction with the song that everyone complains about. This ride is divisive. You either love it and have to ride it every trip or you hate it. Frankly, we think that the Walt Disney World version is so inferior to the original Disneyland attraction that, if you’ve never ridden before, you should skip this version and wait for your maiden voyage out in Disneyland.
At its core, this attraction is a slow moving boat ride through scenes of children dancing (as highly stylized animatronic dolls) in various countries around the world. The Disneyland version includes a stylized Disney character animatronic in almost every country and also has a beautifully whimsical building and outdoor boat loading dock that put it head and shoulders above the Magic Kingdom’s copycat.
To continue our tour, let’s do an about face and walk back along the path towards - and past - Cinderella Castle. You’ll come to a fork in the road here with two paths diverging at what looks like some castle walls with several entrance archways. If you continue going straight, you’ll come to the entrance to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, which is one of two mountains looming back here in the Enchanted Forest.
Think of this ride as a training coaster for the other Disney thrill rides. It has a lower height requirement (38”) than every other thrill ride in the Magic Kingdom. It has some twists and turns and some hills, but they’re all gentle enough for every age to feel comfortable. Adding a fun twist to the ride experience is the fact that your ride vehicle tilts and sways slightly back and forth, the way an actual mining car would. This ride is extremely popular with younger kids. Your mileage may vary as an adult, but everyone should experience this at least once.
Across the walkway on the side nearest the castle is The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, the only other classic Disney dark ride that remains in Fantasyland. You ride in a Hunny Pot through the story of “Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day,” brought to life by animatronics. It’s a cute attraction that’s not worth waiting very long for.
Keep walking along and you’ll see in the middle of the walkway the Mad Tea Party. This is your opportunity to sit in a giant teacup with another guest or two and control how fast your teacup spins itself, all while it’s rotating around the giant teapot in the center. If you tend to get motion sickness, don’t even bother trying this one out. If not, this is a cute, whimsical little diversion, but nothing worth waiting very long for.
If you continue down the path here and go around the corner, on the right, in normal times, you’d find a special meet and greet for Merida. Since it’s not open right now due to COVID-19, we’ll take the path to the left, past the entrance to Storybook Circus, and around the corner until Prince Eric’s castle comes in sight. Here’s another meet and greet currently closed: Ariel’s Grotto.
Just past Ariel’s Grotto is Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid. This is an omnimover attraction (meaning it’s constantly loading and unloading riders), which makes its wait times short. Even still, the queue area is fun. You wind your way through Prince Eric’s castle, and there’s plenty of Easter Eggs from The Little Mermaid to spot. On the ride itself, you board a clamshell and plunge under the sea. Scuttle narrates for you the basic plot of The Little Mermaid while you float past animatronic scenes retelling key moments from the film. If you have any afFINity at all for Ariel, you’ll want to ride this.
Walking to the left past Prince Eric’s castle, the seaside scenery gives way to the Enchanted Forest of Beauty and the Beast fame. First you’ll come to a little French provincial village, where you’d normally have a meet and greet opportunity with Gaston (thanks again, COVID.) The forbidding mountain topped by the Beast’s Castle is now in sight, but in its shadow is a quaint little cottage that you’d recognize as belonging to Maurice.
This houses the attraction Enchanted Tales with Belle, where guests help two extremely impressive animatronics of Lumiere and Madame Wardrobe to retell her love story with the Beast as a surprise for Belle. This attraction is currently closed due to COVID-19, but when it’s open, this is a must-do for any princess fans in the party.
To continue our tour, we’ll backtrack through the Enchanted Forest or just continue in the loop around Seven Dwarfs Mine Train until we arrive back at the entrance to Storybook Circus. Immediately on your right, you’ll find a Fantasyland classic, Dumbo the Flying Elephant. This is a basic hub and spoke style ride that little kids just adore. Sitting in an elephant, you’ll rotate slowly around a central hub, while you control the elephant’s movement up and down with a joystick.
This was your humble author’s favorite attraction as a little girl, and most kids these days still agree with her. There’s always a wait for Dumbo. Fortunately, the 2012 update to this attraction included an indoor queue themed to the Bigtop from the film. Guests receive ticket-themed pagers which mom and dad can keep ahold of while the kids run around and play in the waiting area.
Just past Dumbo is a waterplay area called Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station that’s currently closed. Just to its right is another junior coaster called The Barnstormer. Unless you have kids, this is a skippable attraction. Just past it is the Fantasyland Station for the Walt Disney World Railroad, and over to the left is Pete’s Silly Sideshow. This is a character meet and greet location that’s currently closed, but where you can typically meet Donald Duck, Goofy, Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck, but as their circus counterparts: The Amazing Donaldo, the most charming of snake charmers; The Great Goofini, circus stuntman extraordinaire; Minnie Magnifique, a Parisian poodle trainer; and Madame Daisy Fortuna, a mysterious gypsy fortune teller.
As you can tell from this little tour, you could spend a LOT of time back in Fantasyland just on attractions. But there’s much more to Fantasyland than rides and shows. Let’s take a look at what else this land has to offer.
Don't Miss It! - Dining
After all that walking and all those rides, you’ll likely be hungry. Two of the most popular dining experiences in the park are found here in Fantasyland, and one of them is in the iconic Cinderella Castle. That’s where we’ll begin our dining tour.
Cinderella Castle is home Cinderella’s Royal Table, a signature dining experience that is very difficult to get a reservation for. Seriously - you’re going to want to be online at midnight the day your dining reservation window opens in order to snag this one. Although this is not currently a character meal, it’s still a beautifully themed restaurant. You’ll feel like true royalty dining in a medieval castle on a three-course prix fixe menu.
If you’re not ready to spend the time or money on a table service meal like Cinderella’s Royal Table, you can head out of the castle and across the courtyard to Pinocchio Village Haus, a quick-service location that serves a variety of flatbread pizzas and (oddly enough) chicken nuggets and french fries. We aren’t sure how that qualifies as one of the “Italian favorites” the restaurant purports to offer, but still this is a solid option.
Just outside the castle courtyard walls and to the right is The Friar’s Nook. It’s temporarily closed, but its menu includes some unique meal options like loaded buffalo chicken tots and creamy bacon macaroni and cheese.
If sweets are more what you’re after, a few doors down you’ll find Storybook Treats, a quick stop for various ice cream treats. Continuing down this pathway, you’d find the Cheshire Cafe. When it’s open, it serves a variety of slushies and the signature Cheshire Cat Tail: a pastry filled with cream and chocolate chips, covered in pink and purple frosting.
Looping back up around Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train, you’ll find Prince Eric’s Village Market across the pathway from his castle. When this snack location is open, you’re able to buy a turkey leg, pretzels and the famous Mermaid Donut, which is far more Instagrammable than it is edible.
Continuing around the loop, you’ll come to the village square and Gaston’s Tavern. Even if you aren’t hungry, you should at least pop in to see with your own eyes that Gaston does use antlers in all of his decorating. You can even pose for a photo in the giant chair from his titular song. But honestly to come here and not get the warm cinnamon roll would be a huge mistake. We recommend splitting this treat, because it’s roughly the size of a barge (ok kidding, kidding.) It’s an ooey, gooey, sugary delight and the perfect mid-morning or mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
Just a short jaunt further down the path you’ll find the second signature dining experience in Fantasyland: Be Our Guest Restaurant. This is another very difficult to acquire dining reservation, but it’s worth getting up at the crack of dawn to reserve. This is now a three course prix-fixe meal as well, and yes, “the Grey Stuff” is part of the dessert course. The immersive theming here is unparalleled by any other dining experience in the park. Once you pass the hostess table inside, you walk straight into the ballroom from “Beauty and the Beast.” It looks just like the animated film.
To the right is the meet and greet area for the Beast (before COVID, a post-meal photo opp was part of the dinner package) and the entrance to the third dining room, themed after Belle’s library. The left side of the restaurant is the West Wing, which is our favorite dining room. We strongly recommend that you request to be seated here when you reach the hostess stand outside the restaurant. It’s worth waiting a little bit longer for a table. This room is darker, but it includes the table with the mirror and enchanted rose as well as the Prince’s claw-slashed portrait. Every 20 minutes, you’ll hear thunder, lightning will flash, and the portrait will change temporarily to the Beast and back.
Storybook Circus combines its only food option with shopping inside Big Top Souvenirs, where you’ll find circus-themed Fab Five merchandise. This location is currently closed, as is the Casey Jr. RailRoad Mercantile. Not to worry - there are plenty of other shops in Fantasyland for you to enjoy!
Don't Miss It! - Shopping & Experiences
The Gaston’s Tavern area has a shop called Bonjour Village Gifts that houses all the Beauty and the Beast themed souvenirs you could ever desire. Everything from apparel to art to housewares to toys and plushes. Down near the castle, next to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, is Hundred Acre Goods, full of merchandise for all things Pooh and Friends.
Located on the back right side of Cinderella Castle (as you face the carousel), is Sir Mickey’s. This boutique is inspired by Mickey and the Beanstalk and the Brave Little Tailor. You’ll find various kids’ costumes, plus apparel for kids and adults. You’ll find Minnie Mouse ears and Mickey Hats here too.
Also inside Cinderella Castle is the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. This one is a cross between a shop and an experience. It definitely costs extra, but you’re not just buying a princess or knight outfit. You’re buying a whole makeover. If you see little girls traipsing around the park in princess dresses with stage makeup on, a tiara and glitter in their hair, and so much hairspray that even hurricane force winds couldn’t mess up their ‘do… you’ll know they’ve been to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. The only reason I’m typing this with any amount of sarcasm is that I dearly wish this had been available when I was seven years old and visiting the Magic Kingdom.
The last shop in Fantasyland is next to Mickey’s Philharmagic. It’s called Fantasy Faire, and here you’ll find apparel, accessories, mickey ears, pins, toys, plushes, all the generic stuff. But we’re not going to end our tour of Fantasyland there. Nope. We’re going to tell you to do something rather bizarre.
No tour of Fantasyland would be complete without a visit to the Tangled Toilets. We’re not joking, although that is only their unofficial name. Over on the west side of Fantasyland, towards the entrance to Liberty Square, you’ll see Rapunzel’s tower off in the distance. And on that side of the path, you’ll see a little replica of the town square from the movie Tangled, complete with purple and golden lanterns strung overhead, that decorates the entrance to…. bathrooms.
If you like the movie at all (and if you don’t… what’s wrong with you?!), then you’ll want to pay a visit here and just look at the level of detail that went into toilets. I mean if that isn’t a testament to the commitment of Disney Imagineers, we don’t know what else is. You’ll hear the village dancing scene music from Tangled. You’ll see Flynn Rider’s wanted poster on the wall. You’ll wonder why on earth there isn’t yet an actual attraction for this amazing movie. Okay maybe that’s just us.
Last pro tip - if you like unique photo opportunities, then come back to this area after dark. You’ll find a PhotoPass photographer and most likely a 45+ minute line of people waiting to take a “floating lanterns” picture. You get to stand underneath the glowing string of lanterns and hold your own floating lantern as if you’re about to let it fly - just like the scene in the movie. It’s a pretty magical souvenir, if we do say so ourselves.
And there you have it! We hope this guide helped you decide what you want to do, see and eat in Fantasyland, because this is quite a large portion of the park. With two of the best-themed dining experiences in the park, some memorable rides and one of the best photo ops at Walt Disney World, we think this is a “land” not to be missed.