Disney is redrawing the sweeping Fantasyland expansion plans it laid out last year, even as bulldozers clear land for the project inside the Magic Kingdom.
With the revisions, begun under new Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs, designers are attempting to rebalance the plans, which initially tilted heavily towards young girls by emphasizing attractions and experiences built around Disney’s stable of animated-movie princesses.
“We took a hard look at it amongst a number of us and said, ‘Can we make the appeal broader? Can we make it even better?’ “ Staggs said during an interview this week with the Orlando Sentinel.
The Fantasyland expansion is a critically important project for Disney. The Magic Kingdom, the busiest theme park in the world, now draws more than 17 million visitors a year and needs added capacity to ease pressure on crowds inside the park. The project, billed as the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom history, also comes as Disney World faces heightened competition from Universal Orlando, where the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter has drawn rave reviews — and enormous crowds — since opening in June.
Staggs declined to discuss specific changes to the Fantasyland plans, saying Disney would unveil them “in due course.”
The original plans called for a lavish indoor ride based on the movie The Little Mermaid, a trio of interactive princess character-greeting areas, an elaborately themed Beauty and the Beast restaurant, an expanded Dumbo attraction for young children, and a vaguely defined fairies-themed area.