When all is said and done, 2012 will be seen as a huge year for Walt Disney Imagineering. In June and July, Disney California Adventure and Hong Kong Disneyland debuted massive expansions that were met with universal praise in Cars Land/Buena Vista Street and Grizzly Gulch, respectively. The most popular theme park in the world will join in on the “New Land in 2012” party, as Disney announced a very important date this week. December 6th will mark the official Grand Opening for New Fantasyland, the largest expansion to the Magic Kingdom in the park’s history. Previews for New Fantasyland will begin on November 19th, and Disney World Annual Passholders should be sure to register beforehand for the preview events. Continue reading for details on what will be open in New Fantasyland during these previews, on the Grand Opening, and beyond.

New Fantasyland has already begun its debut this year with the premiere of Storybook Circus and the new Fantasyland Train Station. This next phase marks the premiere of the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast attractions, restaurants, and shops which include the following:

  • Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid – This Disney dark ride retells The Little Mermaid through classic songs, iconic scenes, and stunning animatronics. This content of this ride is the same as California Adventure’s The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, of which I am personally a big fan. It’s a bright, friendly ride that should put a smile on the face on everyone in your family. Guests board Clamshell omnimovers (much like The Haunted Mansion) and are treated to songs such as “Part of Your World,” “Under The Sea,” and “Kiss The Girl.” The hourly capacity for this attraction is great at DCA, so lines never get too long. Hopefully the case will be the same for the Magic Kingdom incarnation.
  • Ariel’s Grotto – A meet and greet opportunity with Ariel.
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle – Guests are treated to a “new kind of storytelling experience,” where they are magically transported to “the Beast’s library to meet Belle and Lumiere, and share in a lively, interactive re-telling of the ‘tale as old as time.’” This promises to be not your ordinary character interaction.
  • Gaston’s Tavern – A counter service location themed to Gaston. Rumored by Jim Hill on Episode 15 of Disney Dish Podcast with Jim Hill, Gaston’s Tavern may be home to “Unhappy Hour,” where Disney Villains will come at the end of the day to share a drink and interact with guests. Hopefully we’ll see this really cool idea come to fruition this winter.
  • Be Our Guest Restaurant – Located inside of Beast’s Castle, the Be Our Guest Restaurant will offer counter service meals during the day and an elaborate character dining experience at night. Dining rooms include the ballroom, gallery, and West Wing of the Castle.

Disney has announced that previews for these attractions in New Fantasyland will begin for Disney World Passholders on November 19th; however, no specific details on how to register have been released. If you’re a passholder, you should expect to receive an email from Disney regarding registration, or you can check Disney World’s Passholder website, which promises more details once they’re available.

While the Grand Opening certainly marks the completion of the majority of New Fantasyland, two major attractions are still scheduled to debut in 2013 and 2014. Located where Snow White’s Scary Adventures was, Princess Fairytale Hall will provide guests more opportunities for meet and greet experiences with Disney Princesses in 2013. Finally, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster will treat Disney World guests to a “first of its kind ride system with a train of vehicles that wing back and forth” starting in 2014.

(Press Release)