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Walt Disney’s: Fantasyland

The Disney parks all over the world each have a Fantasyland. It is a magical land that features attractions based on beloved Disney characters both old and modern. Walt himself loved it best of all the lands at his first Disneyland park. Here is its interesting, creative story.
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Fantasyland is one of the several “themed” lands at each Disney park around the world. Every Disney park has a Fantasyland. Each Fantasyland is similar to the others, while each also having their own unique attractions that can only be found at that particular park. The central focal point and attraction of each Fantasyland is the castle. Depending on the Disney park, this may be Cinderella’s Castle, Snow White’s Castle, an enchanted castle, a magic castle, or some other similar kind of castle.

Welcome to Fantasyland (Postcard)
Welcome to Fantasyland (Postcard)

While lands come, go, and change at most Disney parks, some of the lands are still part of what was in the original Disneyland park in California when it opened in the 1950s. Fantasy land is one of these original lands that all the parks still include. The original Fantasyland in California features Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Most of the Fantasyland areas have a large carousel, and the original is no exception, featuring King Arthur’s Carousel; this one has an anvil at the front of it, with a sword in the anvil, and Merlin appears several times a day to help a child on the carousel pull the sword out of the anvil. Other Disney parks just have a regular, but large, carousel.

Walt Disney himself always said that Fantasyland was his favorite of the lands in his park. He said of Fantasyland that:

“What youngster has not dreamed of flying with Peter Pan over moonlit London, or tumbling into Alice’s nonsensical Wonderland? In Fantasyland, these classic stories of everyone’s youth have become realities for youngsters – of all ages – to participate in.”

Mad Hatter's Tea Party (Postcard)
Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (Postcard)

The original Fantasyland in California received a huge facelift in 1983, which prompted some to call it the “New Fantasyland.” The facelift included changing the storefronts and ride facades from Renaissance themes to one of a Bavarian village (as many fairy tales with magic in them originated and take place in that area of the world).

There is a plaque in the front of the castle at the original Fantasyland that shows the spot where the Disneyland Time Capsule was buried on the park’s fortieth anniversary. The time capsule contains a selection of items that show the history of the Disney parks and is slated to be opened in 2035, forty years after it was placed.

As day turns into night. Cinderella Castle undergoes a magical transformation. (Postcard)
As day turns into night. Cinderella Castle undergoes a magical transformation. (Postcard)

Another facelift to the land, as well as an expansion to it, was conducted from 2010 to 2014. As part of this facelift, there were new attractions added, old ones removed, and some re-designed into different rides. A new dark ride about the Little Mermaid cartoon was part of this facelift. A new area in Fantasyland themed to the Beauty and the Beast cartoon was also added, which included a sit-down restaurant, the Beast’s castle, and Belle’s cottage. A rest area themed to the Tangled cartoon was also added, as was an interactive queue for Peter Pan’s Flight ride.

Mickey’s Toontown Fair was partially demolished during this facelift, so the Storybook Circus could be built. Other parts of the old Fair were kept intact, but re-designed to be themed to Storybook Circus. The Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride was moved from its old location and placed in the Storybook Circus, as that area was themed to the old Dumbo cartoon, with additions of elements of some other Disney universe characters. When the Dumbo ride was moved, it was expanded to allow for more riders, and an interactive queue was added to it.

Fairy-Tale Friends (Postcard)
Fairy-Tale Friends (Postcard)

At Walt Disney World in Florida, one will find much the same in terms of attractions as at Disneyland. The castle there is called Cinderella’s Castle. Also, some old rides have been removed or changed over the years. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was removed some time ago, and the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride was changed into a Little Mermaid ride. The old Snow White’s Scary Adventures ride was removed, and the Princess Fairytale Hall meet and greet area replaced it. Snow White wasn’t abandoned by Disneyland, though. Instead, a new roller coaster called Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was built. The roller coaster is the first of its kind, featuring passenger cars that are designed to look like mine carts and that swing back and forth as they respond to the twists and turns on the track.

The Tokyo Disneyland park has two original attractions of its own. These are Cinderella’s Fairy Tale Hall (a walk-through attraction telling the story of Cinderella) and Pooh’s Hunny Hunt (a slow ride-through ride that does not use a track). It is the only Disney park to still have the original version of the Dumbo ride that accommodates ten riders; all other parks have upgraded the ride to allow for sixteen riders.

A Magical Wonderland (Postcard)
A Magical Wonderland (Postcard)

There are re-designs planned for Tokyo Disneyland’s Fantasyland. One of these will be the addition of a Beauty and the Beast area. An Alice in Wonderland area was supposed to replace the It’s a Small World ride (which will be moved to Tomorrowland next to Space Mountain). That plan was canceled, and now the proposed Alice area will be an indoor movie theater (It’s a Small World is still moving, as planned). The new attractions are scheduled to open in 2020.

The Disneyland Park in France (which used to be called Euro Disneyland) has a fairy tale village in Fantasyland. This Fantasyland is designed to highlight the European origins of the source material for most of the Disney cartoons to date. It also has an attraction that is uniquely its own called Les Pirouettes du Vieux Moulin. This is a Ferris wheel with eight bucket-like cars for passengers. The cars on the Ferris wheel are seasonally decorated.

A ride aboard the lovable Casey Jr. offers a panoramic view of all Fantasyland. (Postcard)
A ride aboard the lovable Casey Jr. offers a panoramic view of all Fantasyland. (Postcard)

Shanghai Disneyland has a boat ride around the castle at its Fantasyland. The ride also goes around Fantasyland in general, giving guests a relaxing and tranquil view of this first and most magical of lands in the park. Fantasyland is a beloved part of all the Disney parks. It is easy to tell why Walt himself loved it so much.

About the author

Will Moneymaker

I enjoy collecting postcards as a way to inspire my own adventures. Over the years, I’ve found them incredibly valuable in sharing memories — places I've been and places my loved ones have sent cards from.

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