New Fantasyland Review: Storybook Circus

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The Fantasyland Expansion project at Walt Disney World was completed this year.  New Fantasyland, as it is sometimes referred to, is being touted as the most significant addition to the Disney World Resort in years and the biggest expansion in the history of the Magic Kingdom.  These claims are true if you look at the entire project as one cohesive expansion.  But New Fantasyland was rolled out in several stages over the course of more than two years.  I covered all of New Fantasyland at a high level in my 2014 trip report.  But I also wanted to review the individual components of the project and see how they add up.  So I’ll be doing that here in the New Fantasyland Review.

Mickey's Birthdayland

The Storybook Circus was the first element of New Fantasyland to open to the public in 2012.  It is essentially a retheme of what used to be called Mickey’s Toon Town Fair.  The old land started as a temporary area  intended to celebrate Mickey Mouse’s 60th birthday.  It opened as Mickey’s Birthdayland in June of 1988.  The land was intended to close after a year or so.  But as frequently happens with “temporary” changes at Disney World, Mickey’s Birthdayland stuck around for a while.

Minnie's House

Because it could not perpetually be Mickey’s 60th birthday, the land was renamed Mickey’s Starland in 1990 and renamed again to Mickey’s Toyland in 1995.  In 1996, the land was closed and reopened as Mickey’s Toontown Fair for the 25th anniversary of the Magic Kingdom.  The story behind the land was that Mickey and friends vacationed at a country fair.  Guests could visit their vacation homes.  There were a lot of little details behind the new land.  Everything tied together.  There may not have been a lot to do at the Toontown Fair, but there was a lot of story behind it.

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In 2011, the Toontown Fair closed and the area was once again rethemed.  In 2012, it opened as the Storybook Circus.  Let’s take a look at what changed.

First of all, Mickey and Minnie’s houses were removed.  Mickey’s house was basically an elaborate queue for a meet and greet with the Big Cheese.  With his vacation house demolished, Mickey moved to the front of the park.  Now he hosts a magic show-themed meet and greet at the  Town Square Theater on Main Street.

Minnie’s house was a modest walk-through attraction with lots of interactive features kids could play with.  Minnie’s kitchen was especially fascinating.  Kids could open the freezer which was actually cold.  It contained a gallon of cheese chip ice cream.  If they turned a knob on the oven, a cake baked in record time.  Push a button on the microwave and popcorn popped.

Next: Flying Elephants

Posted on July 29, 2014, in Fantasyland Expansion, Magic Kingdom, theme parks, travel, Walt Disney World and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. daffystardust

    I guess this is a fair assessment. I am a bigger fan of the circus theme than it appears you are. Disney parks are all about offering a romantic take on environments that may be less fun in reality, and I think a circus fits that model really nicely. While the Barnstormer did get a downgrade, to my eyes the water feature, train station, and overall area got a solid aesthetic upgrade.

    I look forward to the rest of these articles!

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    • Yeah, I am hostile to the circus theme. I view it as roughly the equivalent of Chester and Hester’s Dinorama. The fact that it is romanticized or cartoonified elevates it slightly. But given a choice, I’d take the Toontown theme over the new circus theme any day of the week. Frankly, Toontown had a lot more Disney details to it than Storybook Circusland does. So themewise, the new land is a downgrade in my book. That is more than made up for by the improvements. At the end of the day, I think the net impact is a very modest upgrade.

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  2. Got to finish this up over coffee this morning. OMG they are so incredibly cute Lebeau. Enjoy this time, it will tide you over the teenage years!

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    • Thanks, RB. I tell myself that all the time. Kara has entered the non-stop talking stage which has its challenges as you well know.

      I took some time off from Disney articles after the trip report. Frankly, I was Disneyed out. But now that I have had a couple of months to recharge my batteries, I wanted to take a deep dive on the entire Fantasyland project. Look at its components. Then see what it all adds up to. On the whole, I find the project disappointing. And yet I can’t deny there are some very noticeable improvements. How do I reconcile my disappointment with the fact that the project did improve the park? That’s basically what I am building to here.

      Long term, I want to do more Disney-related articles. I’ll probably keep it to one a week to keep myself from burning out and so as not to tax the patience of my non-Disney readers.

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