Some of the most popular rides in Disney history are to be found in Fantasyland. It truly lives up to its name. It consists of rides based on favorite characters of Disney's animated films, including Snow White, The Little Mermaid, Dumbo, The Lion King and Peter Pan.
Attached to Fantasyland by a small bridge is the newest "land" in the Magic Kingdom, Mickey's Toontown Fair. A Gracelandesque look at the home of the world's most famous mouse, Toontown is a favorite with kids and is interesting for adults as well. Opened originally in 1988 as a part of Mickey's 60th Birthday Party, Disney gave the Mouse's house a complete overhaul in 1996 and set him in permanent residence at the Magic Kingdom.
You can see Mickey's home, transportation and play areas. Kids can meet with the Mouse himself, and get their picture taken with him and his friends. If you're nice, they might even sign an autograph.
Attractions: The Mad Hatter's Tea Party: Better know as the Tea Cups, Mad Hatter is a larger, enclosed version of the Sit and Spin. Sitting in huge cups, guest turn a center wheel that makes the entire cups spin and also moves you in a circle around the floor. The faster you turn the wheel, the faster the Cups spin.
Dumbo the Flying Elephant: Dumbo's cars fly visitors high into the Fantasyland sky at a safe speed, and Cinderella Carousel takes kids of all ages around on magical horses, fish and other animals.
Snow White and Peter Pan: Disney created three versions on the same theme with Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Snow White's Adventures and Peter Pan's flight. In each ride, a vehicle transports guests through the various characters' adventures. Much to the chagrin of Toad fans, Disney decided to close Mr. Toad's Wild Ride in September, 1998 to make way for a new ride featuring Winnie The Pooh. Peter Pan and Snow White are still Magic Kingdom favorites, as evidenced by the long lines that last throughout the day.
Winnie the Pooh: Replacing Mr. Toad is The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, a ride featuring Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore and all of your other favorite characters from A.A. Milne's classic stories. Passengers motor through the Hundred Acre Wood in six-seater "Hunny Pot" cars and follow Pooh's wacky adventures. Mixing elements from the classic Disney short films "Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree," "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day" and "Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too," visitors can watch Pooh and Piglet brave the winds of a very blustery day; bounce around with Tigger; follow Pooh into his dream about the Heffalumps and Woozles; and ride through a flood with all the characters. For more info on Pooh, check out our Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh page. FASTPASS Alert: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh now utilizes Disney's FASTPASS ride reservations system. For more info, check out our FASTPASS page.
It's a Small World: And what can you say about "It's a Small World" that hasn't been said already? Animated figures representing hundreds of different cultures sing the title tune in their own languages.
The newest attractions in Fantasyland are Ariel's Grotto and The Legend of Lion King, designed to expand on Disney films "The Little Mermaid" and "The Lion King." Kids can see Ariel's little home, complete with bronze statue of her father King Neptune. It replaces the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride, along with the Fantasyland Character Parade.
The Legend of Lion King: a stage show which combines live action puppets with clips, music and dialogue from the film, in an abbreviated version of the story of Simba vs. his nasty uncle Scar.
Mickey's Toontown Fair allows you to tour the domiciles of Mickey and Minnie, dirty dishes and all, as well as Donald's Boat. The Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm is a mini-coaster for the kids and you can get your favorite character's autograph at the Toontown Hall of Fame.
Visitors can also hop onto the Disney Railroad in Toontown.
Amenities: Toontown presents limited food options. Strawberry shortcake and fresh orange juice, as well as other fruits can be bought at the Farmer's Market.
Fantasyland has the usual themed restaurants and drink stands. Cinderella's Royal Table offers sit down lunches and dinners, while a quick bite (hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza) can be eaten on the run at Lumiere's Kitchen and the Pinocchio Village Haus. The Enchanted Grove and Little Big Top are great for icy drinks on a hot day and Mrs. Potts' Cupboard offers all kinds of ice cream desserts.
Shop-a-holics can find all sorts of Disney merchandise in Tinker Bell's Treasures and Sir Mickey's in Fantasyland or the County Bounty shop in Toontown.
Fantasyland also has a two-hour photo developing stations for those pictures you just can't wait to see. It will cost you, though.
Analysis: Fantasyland and Mickey's Toontown complement each other very well. They both truly capture the spirit of what Walt Disney tried to create with his animated films and shorts.
Most of the rides are sedate enough to take small kids. Some parents will be surprised how much tolerance even small kids have for the Carousel, Dumbo and even the Tea Cups.
And it seems no one can get enough for Mickey. Toontown has been inundated by loyal fans of all ages since its inception. The "rides" are strictly for the younger set, but adults will be interested in the houses.
The Legend of the Lion King is unique in the Magic Kingdom, in that it relies more on the old school of puppetry arts than the high tech Disney animatrons that are usually featured in Disney shows. It's a great way to introduce kids to the wonder of the puppetry, and it's genuinely entertaining fare.
With nods to a few diehard fans, the closing of Mr. Toad didn't shut down the park. Nostalgia factor aside, the ride wasn't all that exciting. It was probably time for a change. Winnie the Pooh makes a nice addition to the land, with a car whose motion base is beyond anything ever seen at a theme park.
"It's a Small World" is a must, and the lines go faster than most any other ride. Plan for Peter Pan and Snow White either early or late in the day. Mid-afternoon waits can be an hour or longer, and most ride cars only hold two people at a time.
Photos courtesy of the Walt Disney Co. and Orlando Sentinel files.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times