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Disney Imagineers Chris Beatty and Jon Georges on Disney World’s Fantasyland Expansion

disney fantasyland expansion by disney imagineering at Magic kingdom

Earlier this month, Disney announced a major new expansion of the iconic Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom park in Walt Disney World. From word of an all new dark ride to dual (if not dueling) Flying Dumbos where one spins clockwise and the other counter-clockwise, Disney’s re-imagined Fantasyland is generating a great deal of buzz throughout the industry.

Blooloop industry insider Chad Emerson (left) recently visited with Chris Beatty (the Project’s Creative Director) and Jon Georges (the Project’s Show Producer) from Disney’s Imagineering group—the creative lead on most Disney attractions—for an exclusive interview regarding details behind the new Fantasyland project.

Chad Emerson:  Share with us how you developed the many different characters and storylines for the addition to Fantasyland.

Chris Beatty and Jon Georges:  During the past three years, teams of Imagineers from a variety of disciplines have explored many different options for expanding Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom.  As with all new Imagineering projects, the Fantasyland Expansion began in “Blue Sky” which is the up-front conceptual phase of all projects and the place where new ideas are explored for the first time.  The team looked at the mix of attractions and experiences in the existing Fantasyland and explored many new stories and characters that would help enrich and broaden the overall Guest experience in the park. 

Emerson:  What is one of the most innovative features of the Fantasyland addition in terms of attractions?

Beatty & Georges:  The entire Fantasyland Expansion is an historic milestone for the Magic Kingdom.  It represents the largest single expansion in the park’s 40-year history and will almost double the size of the existing Fantasyland.  The team is exploring a range of new technologies and environments that will fully immerse Guests in their favorite Disney fairytale stories and bring classic Disney animated worlds to life. The scope and scale of the expansion are unprecedented and we hope that the depth and quality of these new experiences will entertain our next generation of Guests for years to come.

Emerson:  What about in terms of dining?  It sounds like you are adding new restaurants to the addition – what are some of the innovations included in them?

Beatty & Georges: At the Be Our Guest Restaurant, Guests will dine inside the Beast’s Castle in one of three unique dining rooms inspired by the Disney animated classic, Beauty and the Beast. The centerpiece will be the striking Ballroom where Belle and Beast danced together for the first time. 

Emerson:  When designing a new attraction, Disney often includes a “first.”  In terms of the Fantasyland addition, what are some things that Disney has done for the first time with this project?

Beatty & Georges
:  There are three key “firsts” included in the Fantasyland Expansion project:

  • Under the Sea-Journey of The Little Mermaid is the first family musical adventure into the world of the Disney animated classic, The Little Mermaid.  The attraction features state-of-the-art special effects, Audio-Animatronics characters and a magical and memorable musical score.
  • Three new Princess Experiences expand the traditional character meet-and-greet locations and invite Guests of all ages to interact with Disney Princesses.  In these immersive new attractions, Guests can take a magical journey from Belle’s cottage to the Beast’s castle to meet Belle, visit Cinderella’s Chateau and help her prepare for the royal ball and celebrate Aurora’s 16th birthday inside the forest cottage of the Three Fairies. Each of these Princess Experiences will offer magical moments and create special memories that Guests will be able to share with their families and remember forever!
  • The all new Dumbo the Flying Elephant brings the Big Top to Fantasyland!  For the first time, Imagineers have expanded the story and created an entire circus filled with fun for Guests who visit this beloved classic attraction.  Before boarding their favorite Flying Elephant, Guests are invited inside the Big Top to enjoy the sights and sounds of Dumbo’s magical circus.  The fun is doubled when even more elephants take flight in this exciting new addition to the Fantasyland skyline.

Emerson:  Tell us how you became involved in the Fantasyland addition?

Beatty & Georges:  We were both involved in Magic Kingdom expansion projects during the earliest phases of Blue Sky development almost three years ago.  We both went on to develop other Imagineering projects and returned in early 2009 to lead the design for the Fantasyland Expansion. It is truly an honor and a dream come true to be part of this spectacular expansion of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World!

Renderings all copyright  Disney:

 TopDumbo in Fantasyland : One of the Magic Kingdom’s most beloved attractions, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, is completely re-imagined when the circus comes to town. Guests are invited to step into the big top and join the circus before their magical flight over Fantasyland. The attraction will be part of the expanded Fantasyland that was announced at the D23 Expo in Sept. 2009 by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo. (Disney Rendering)

Below: Above Fantasyland : A bird’s-eye view of the vastly-expanded Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World which will offer Guests a new land of enchantment in a magical fairy tale forest just beyond the castle walls. The expanded Fantasyland was announced in Sept. 2009 at the D23 Expo by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo. (Disney rendering)

Bottom: Little Mermaid, Big Fantasyland : Fans of Disney’s animated classic “The Little Mermaid” will journey under the sea to meet Ariel and her friends on an exciting new musical adventure. This new attraction will take guests through beautifully rendered scenes featuring classic songs from the popular animated feature. The attraction will be part of the expanded Fantasyland that was announced at the D23 Expo in Sept. 2009 by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo. (Disney Rendering)

See also: 
Amusement Parks: Marty Sklar Announces Retirement from Disney

Theme Parks: Looking into the Future at Disney
Amusement Parks and Government: Blooloop Interview with John McReynolds, Universal Orlando

From Concept to Installation:The Wild Ride of Special Venue Media Production

Waterparks: Noah’s Ark and the Big Flood (of 2008)

To see all Chad Emerson’s interviews and articles for Blooloop, click here

Disney Imagineers fantasyland expansion theme park rendering

Disney Imagineers fantasyland expansion theme park rendering

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