Disney World unveils New Fantasyland, new Test Track

Magic Kingdom's largest expansion goes public for 1st time

Published On: Dec 05 2012 05:25:34 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 06 2012 05:49:12 PM EST
ORLANDO, Fla. -

The New Fantasyland, which marks the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom history, debuts Thursday after years of preparation and two years of construction.

Fantasyland has been part of the Magic Kingdom since its opening in 1971. But the new expansion takes visitors outside the gates of the castle and into a new realm.

[PICS: Fantasyland debut]

"Enchanted Tales with Belle" allows guests to walk through a magic mirror to meet the characters from "Beauty and the Beast." Underneath Beast's castle, the "Be Our Guest" restaurant serves up lunch and dinner inside the iconic ballroom.

The restaurant is a "quick-service" restaurant during the day, where guests walk up to a touchscreen, order their food and get it delivered to their tables in the ballroom. At night, the menu changes to more upscale French-inspired cuisine, with a waitstaff brought in to provide a more personal dining experience.

After exploring Belle's village, guests can take a short walk to tropical paradise, home to "The Little Mermaid."

The attractions are designed to keep guests entertained as they're waiting in line, like the furnishings scattered throughout Belle's cottage and some animated crabs that crawl around the rocks as visitors enter "The Little Mermaid."

On Thursday, Disney also debuted the new Test Track, in which riders get to design the car you ride on instead of getting on one in the assembly line.

"You pass into a digital space.  We give you the illusion you're being de-rezzed, so to speak.  You're becoming digital and going into this computer environment," said Disney Imagineer Mike Overman, who was in charge of gutting the original 1999 Epcot attraction and creating an all-new experience.

Riders first start in the Chevrolet design center, where computers are used to design the car.

"Make any amazing looking car you can possibly imagine, and truck you can possibly imagine, even micro cars," he said.

The design is then saved on a card, which is later loaded onto the ride. As you complete the various test, a scoreboard shows how your design stacks up to fellow riders.

Test Track still includes the high speed loop outside the building, but riders can now continue to play with the virtual car.