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Then and Now: 50 Years of Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland

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On October 1 of this year, Walt Disney World marked its 50th Anniversary and kicked off an 18-month celebration; and while all four parks are in on the festivities, the 50-year milestone only belongs to a few locations at the most magical place on earth.

Behind Cinderella Castle in Fantasyland

Back in 1971, Walt Disney World opened with two resorts and one park: the Magic Kingdom. Inspired by the original Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, the Magic Kingdom made its debut with its own version of Main Street, U.S.A., Fantasyland, Adventureland, Frontierland, and Tomorrowland, along with its own unique land – Liberty Square.

In previous posts, I’ve covered Then and Now: 50 Years of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the Polynesian Village Resort, Adventureland, Liberty Square, Frontierland, and for today, I’m continuing my virtual stroll through the park with a stop at the park’s most famous land of all – Fantasyland!

So What is Fantasyland?

Fantasyland is located directly behind Cinderella Castle and is where guests enjoy attractions and settings inspired by Disney fairytale films.

Today, the land consists of three sub-sections: the Castle Courtyard (located behind the castle), the Enchanted Forest (past the castle border walls), and Storybook Circus (found between Journey of The Little Mermaid and Tomorrowland).

“The Tangled Toilets” Fantasyland

While the Magic Kingdom is home to a number of opening-day attractions and some of the park’s most iconic rides, the land itself has undergone quite a few changes since 1971.

Facts About Fantasyland Then:

Fact #1: While most say that Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland opened with 10 attractions, it technically only opened with nine:

  1. The Mickey Mouse Revue
  2. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage
  3. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
  4. The Skyway
  5. Snow White’s Scary Adventures
  6. Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  7. It’s a Small World
  8. Mad Tea Party
  9. Prince Charming Regal Carousel

While Peter Pan’s Flight is considered an opening day attraction, it actually didn’t open until October 3, 1971. Therefore, only 4 OG Fantasyland attractions are still operating today!

Fact #2: Unlike Disneyland’s original 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas attraction in Tomorrowland, the Magic Kingdom’s version was located in Fantasyland and featured a sub design inspired by the 1954 film.

The attraction eventually closed in 1994 leaving its lagoon abandoned with the exception of an adjacent Little Mermaid meet and greet and a King Triton fountain. It was later filled in and utilized for the land’s New Fantasyland/Enchanted Forest which opened in 2012.

Courtesy of Retro WDW

Fact #3: The Magic Kingdom’s Skyway consisted of four-person buckets that transported guests on one-way trips between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. Guests would board the Skyway to Fantasyland from a Tomorrowland station and the Skyway to Tomorrowland from Fantasyland’s Swiss chalet station which, today, is home to the Tangled bathrooms.

Courtesy of Retro WDW

Fact #4: From October 1, 1971, through 1997, Cinderella’s Royal Table operated under a surprisingly different name – King Stefan’s Banquet Hall. So why was Cinderella’s castle was home to Sleeping Beauty’s father’s restaurant? We’re just as confused as you are.

Cinderella’s Royal Table Dining Room

Fact #5: Mickey Mouse Revue was an audio-animatronic opening day show where a slew of Disney characters performed songs from the Disney songbook. Sadly, it was one of the first Fantasyland opening attractions to be replaced as it closed in 1980.


Facts About Fantasyland Now:

Fact #1: For those who haven’t been to the Magic Kingdom in a few decades, today’s Fantasyland is home to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (which replaced Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride), Princess Fairytale Hall (which replaced Snow White’s Scary Adventures), and Mickey’s Philharmagic (which replaced Mickey Mouse Revue and its subsequent occupants), and so much more!

Fact #2: Even though Snow White’s Scary Adventures is no longer in operation, guests can still immerse themselves in the world of Snow White on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. It even includes several props from the OG dark ride!

Fact #3: In the late ’80s, Fantasyland expanded to include Mickey’s Birthdayland along with a new, additional train station. The station remained and is still there today, even though the bonus land has gone through various iterations before being rethemed as Storybook Circus. It’s also the present-day home to two versions of Fantasyland’s Dumbo the Flying Elephant.

Fact #4: Today, Fantasyland is home to three castles! In addition to Cinderella’s, the Enchanted Forest of Fantasyland is where guests find the Beast’s Castle from Beauty and the Beast and the Be Our Guest restaurant, as well as Prince Eric’s castle that’s home to the Under the Sea – Journey of The Little Mermaid attraction.

Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid

Fact #5: Mickey’s Philharmagic, which occupies the space formerly home to the Mickey Mouse Revue, looks to add a new scene inspired by Pixar’s Coco on November 12, 2021.

Fact #6: Speaking of the Mickey Mouse Revue, the show’s Three Caballeros audio-animatronics (and fifty years of Magic Kingdom history!) live on at EPCOT’s Mexico Pavilion inside the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros!

Did you ever experience the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland back in its early days? Is this land one of your favorites?


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Savannah Sanders

Savannah has been visiting Disney World since she was a year old and has gone back almost every year since. In the real world, she teaches high school history and government and enjoys writing about all things Disney. Savannah can be reached on Twitter @DisneyParkSavvy.

One thought on “Then and Now: 50 Years of Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland

  • I’ve been told it was the usual custom for European kings to name their grand dining halls for the king they had their closest alliance with. Any thoughts?

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