WALT DISNEY WORLD, Fla. - For the first time Friday, Disney guests enjoyed journeying 'Under the Sea' with the Little Mermaid and Dining with Gaston in Belle's Village from 'Beauty & the Beast.'
The Magic Kingdom held an unannounced test opening of most of its new Fantasyland expansion.
The project, under construction for nearly four years at an estimated $425 million cost, has been eagerly anticipated by guests wanting to see more of Disney's classic stories.
The heart of the Fantasyland Enchanted Forest area are areas representing 1989's 'The Little Mermaid' and 1991's 'Beauty & the Beast.' At both locations, guests will be able to meet characters from the films.
[VIEW SLIDESHOW OF FANTASYLAND BELOW]
Inside Belle's Father's cottage, kids of all ages will enter a portal into the Beast's castle and can meet Belle and an animatronic Lumiere, the candlestick.
Eventually you will also be able to dine inside the Beast's castle, however the 'Be our Guest' restaurant was not open during this first preview.
But the other new dining area opened Friday for the first time. Gaston's Tavern is a fast-food dining experience complete with 'Le Fou's Brew' -- Disney's answer to Universal's popular Butterbeer in 'The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.'
Across a bridge - guests spied Prince Eric's castle - then were able to enter grottos leading to the only completed new ride of the expansion. 'Under the Sea - Journey of The Little Mermaid' starts retelling Ariel's story from the moment you enter the queue -- climaxing with a roughly 6-minute voyage in clam shells reminiscent of the 'Haunted Mansion''s Doom Buggies.
The expansion will continue next year with a Fairytale Princess Hall -- the new place to meet Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and more. In late 2013 or early 2014, the final piece is expected to debut: a Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster - -a more thrilling version of the now-closed 'Snow White's Scary Adventures ride.'
There are no guarantees New Fantasyland will be open to guests daily, until November, when various previews are scheduled to lead up to the December 6th grand opening.
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