“Here is a land of imagination, hopes and dreams. In this timeless land of enchantment the age of chivalry, magic and make-believe are reborn and fairy tales come true. Fantasyland is dedicated to the young and the young at heart, to those who believe that when you wish upon a star your dreams do come true.” – Walt Disney
Said by Walt Disney to be his favorite land in the park, Fantasyland is home to the Disney princesses and incorporates all the Disney fantasy films from Peter Pan to Alice in Wonderland to Dumbo to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
First we will walk down Main Street until we come to the entrance of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Follow me inside please.
Behind Sleeping Beauty Castle you will find yourself in Fantasyland. One of the first things you will see is King Arthur Carrousel.
And speaking of King Arthur, some children who come face to face with his sword have occasionally gotten lucky and pulled it from the stone and became the king of Camelot for a day.
But if the responsibility of running a kingdom doesn’t sound appealing, there are plenty of other attractions worthy of your attention.
You can take a ride on the circus train Casey Jr.
You can also take a ride with Dumbo the Flying Elephant.
Or take a spin at the Mad Tea Party.
Make a wish in the wishing well at Snow White Grotto.
Shrink down to the size of a fairy and meet Tinker Bell and her friends at Pixie Hollow.
Plus there are plenty of dark rides (aka rides that take place indoors) where you get to feel the thrill of being in your favorite Disney films, including Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Peter Pan’s Flight, Alice in Wonderland and Pinocchio’s Daring Journey.
And don’t forget to take the most exciting roller coaster ride of all when you take a bobsled down the Matterhorn. Just make sure you watch out for that abominable snowman.
The most famous ride in Fantasyland and probably the most famous theme park attraction of all time is It’s a Small World, a boat-based ride featuring over 300 audio-animatronic dolls representing cultures from around the world. Walt Disney originally called the ride the “Children of the World” in its concept phase. Imagineers created it in Burbank and first showcased it at the 1964 New York World’s Fair alongside Disney’s Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Magic Skyway, Carousel of Progress and Circle-Vision 360° attractions before finally opening in 1966.
Disney animator Marc Davis designed the scenes and characters, Disney artist Mary Blair created the color and art style, Rolly Crump designed the dolls and figures and Blaine Gibson sculpted them.
When Walt hired the Sherman Brothers to write a global peace anthem for the children of the world to sing, Walt loved the upbeat song “It’s a Small World” so much that he decided to rename the ride after the song.
The Storybook Land Canal Boats is a ride Walt had wanted to incorporate since the park’s early phase of development in Burbank. Walt wanted a miniature “Lilliputianland” inspired by an existing park in the Netherlands known as Madurodam, but the technology for miniature animated figurines was not there yet so a canal ride with the working name Canal Boats of the World was created with the intention of letting park visitors go on a voyage past miniature recreations of world landmarks. However, budget and time constraints prevented the project from reaching completion.
Operation on what would become Storybook Land finally began in 1956 with one-inch to one-foot models scattered along a canal based on scenes from Disney films, including Three Little Pigs, The Old Mill, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and later incorporating The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Frozen.
In 1956, there was an attraction in Fantasyland known as the Fantasyland Theater which showed audiences Disney cartoons and short films before getting replaced by Pinocchio’s Daring Journey in 1981. The current location of the new Fantasyland Theatre was originally called the Videopolis.
Opening in 1985, the Videopolis was used for theater shows in the day and a dance club at night, broadcasting performances from such musical artists as New Kids on the Block, Tiffany, New Edition and Janet Jackson, even featuring in the Disney Channel dance program Videopolis which ran from 1987 to 1989 as a sort of kids’ version of American Bandstand.
The Videopolis became the new Fantasyland Theater in 1995 (the “Theater” in the name changed to the classic English spelling “Theatre” in 2013) and throughout the venue’s history its shows have ranged from Mickey’s Nutcracker to Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage to its current show Mickey and the Magical Map.
The Fantasy Faire was originally known as the Carnation Gardens Plaza, a site for dancing and musical events, until it was changed in 2013 to a theater and meet-and-greet area with a maypole resembling Rapunzel’s tower centered in the courtyard, plus Clopin’s Music Box which plays the Festival of Fools anthem “Topsy Turvy” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
The two main locations of Fantasy Faire are the Royal Hall and the Royal Theatre. The Royal Hall is where you can go to take pictures with Disney princesses and the Royal Theatre is where you can watch live actors perform scenes from movies like Beauty and the Beast and Tangled on stage.
Once you have seen everything there is to see in Fantasyland, be sure to check out the shopping at Fairy Tale Treasures, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, the Castle Holiday Shop, Royal Reception, Le Petit Chalet and The Mad Hatter, plus be sure to get something to eat at Edelweiss Snacks, Red Rose Taverne, Troubadour Tavern and the snack cart at Fantasy Faire owned by Belle’s father Maurice’s Treats.
And before you leave, be on the lookout for the Pearly Band who lightens up Fantasyland with music that is sure to make your jolly holiday extra jolly.