I have heard, through grapevines, little birds, and mills that make rumor, that some people might hold the opinion that the New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom is intended only for younger kids. I am guessing that people feel this way because Fantasyland leans heavy on the fairy tales and features rides that don’t have a minimum height requirement. Please allow me to state, for the record, that Fantasyland is for kids of all ages. Thank you, I just had to get that off my chest.
The New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom has made it even more so, and by that I mean that you can now enjoy a bottle of wine with your dinner at the immaculate and awe-inspiring Be Our Guest Restaurant. You know who you are, kids of all ages.
But I’m not talking about booze. No, I’m talking about story, content, and the overall experience that the New Fantasyland provides. As a land it is completely immersive and totally magical. As a memory, it is yours for the making.
Something to consider when visiting Fantasyland with older kids is that despite all the bravado they may put forth after a few spins on Space Mountain, they are still prone to the fears and spells of Fantasyland’s fairy tale inspiration. In fact, some of the the stories in Fantasyland are far scarier than we tend to give them credit for, and as such parents spend the entire queue preparing smaller children for those unexpected turns that Disney loves, in hopes of keeping tears to a minimum. Older kids? I recommend the opposite approach — plant some fear in them and watch it spread. As any seasoned coaster enthusiast will tell you, a good scare is good fun.
Whether it is a poisoned apple, an old sea witch, or a rampaging Beast terrorized by a fading rose and an antler-obsessed hunter, fear is alive and well in New Fantasyland, and, as a rule, older kids love that stuff. Also, two Dumbos.
Personally, my boys are nine and six, and they are equally thrilled by both the Beast and the Yeti, which means they are just as excited by Expedition Everest (a super fun attraction in Disney’s Animal Kingdom) as they are by the idea of walking into Gaston’s, which they can do in the New Fantasyland, and showcasing their skills in expectorating. They are especially good.
My boys are big readers. They are deeply enthralled within the worlds of fantasy, from knights to dragons, and walking through New Fantasyland is to walk through the pages of those very things. The shift of their imagination, from a story read to a land lived, is a wonderful thing to behold.
And that may be the secret to enjoying New Fantasyland with older kids, encouraging them to apply their own imagination and experiences to build upon the magic of the world around them — there is always room for one more once upon a time, and letting them lead the adventure is a sure way to see them embrace it.
For Fantasyland, in addition to the magic and majesty of storybooks and classic Disney movies, is alive with memories — those moments built upon from the very first visit through every subsequent one to follow, and that makes it the heart of the Magic Kingdom. It binds us all with bits of nostalgia and fresh excitement, and while they may not recognize it as such, bigger kids can feel the tug of these things just like the rest of us.
The New Fantasyland is for kids of all ages, and I mean that.
Read more from Whit Honea at his site Honea Express and the popular group blog DadCentric. You can follow Whit on the Twitter or Pinterest (his opinions are his own and do not reflect those of Babble, Disney, or most rational people).