Expect New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World to Open by December 8
By Dave Shute
The Disney Parks Blog announced Friday that the “openings of Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Be Our Guest Restaurant, Gaston’s Tavern, and Ariel’s Grotto” would be celebrated “this holiday season.”
(The same post noted that the next phase of Storybook Circus will open in July, and, as previously hinted, that the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will open in 2014.)
Now, “celebrated during the holiday season” is pretty imprecise…since not only is the “holiday season” a vague term, but also something can be celebrated well after it is opened…
But based on this language, which replaces the old language of “late fall,” I have some confidence that, barring major problems, New Fantasyland will open in either early November or after Thanksgiving week, and that the latest likely opening date is December 8.
There’s no legal definition to the term holiday season, but in common use it means the period from around Thanksgiving til New Year’s Day.
This window is a little narrower than “Late Fall,” which covers early November through later December, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fantasyland open in early November anyway, and don’t see it opening later than December 8th.
There’s a simple reason for this: Disney World crowds are massive over Thanksgiving week (beginning 11/17 in 2012) and even worse over the weeks that include Christmas and New Years (beginning 12/22 in 2012).
Disney World likes to have major new rides in full standard operation for several weeks before mass crowds hit, so it can iron out their kinks while crowds are still low, but it also likes to have them open during the massive crowd periods so that they can absorb some of the throngs.
Working back from this gets you to early November or after Thanksgiving weekend as opening windows, and December 8 as the last date that gives a couple of weeks of operations before the Christmas crowds start peaking.
IS EARLY NOVEMBER THE “HOLIDAY SEASON”?
While it doesn’t really matter much–Disney will open as soon as it reasonably can, and as noted above “celebrate the opening” is not the same thing as “open”–Disney World can reasonably define its holiday season as beginning in early November.
This is because the first showing of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will be in early November (I’m forecasting 11/9) and holiday decorations will be going up at the Magic Kingdom earlier in the month so that they are complete by then.
SHOULD YOU PLAN YOUR DISNEY WORLD TRIP AROUND THESE NEW FANTASYLAND OPENING DATES?
In a word, no.
I’ve seen the California equivalent of Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid, and it’s just not that big a deal. While I have very high expectations of Be Our Guest, I wouldn’t base my trip timing around a restaurant…and everything else is minor. So set your dates based on other factors, not these opening dates.
That said, I do rate the week beginning December 8 pretty high on its own merits…