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Chat Live with Walt Disney Imagineer Chris Beatty

Thomas Smith

by , Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

It’s pretty much a given; mention New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park and fun conversations follow. That’s why we’re partnering with Walt Disney Imagineering today to offer a first-of-its-kind opportunity to learn more about the expansion here on the Disney Parks Blog.

Regular blog readers already know Walt Disney Imagineer Chris Beatty from previous Fantasyland stories but today he’s talking with you and answering your questions in real time. Our first-ever live chat begins at 1:30 p.m. EST but feel free to submit your question in the “comments” before we begin.


  • Unfortunately, this felt less like an actual Q&A Chat, and more like “Find the Question that Corresponds With the Pre-Written Response”. Hopefully, in the future, these chats will be at a time when more information of substance can be released. And I have to agree with a previous poster, the shroud of secrecy Disney operates under does seem to be more debilitating than anything in today’s technological times…

  • I was wondering for the holidays, what is there to do with a 2 year old? I heard that Mickeys house’s are closed, so what is really opened to do?

  • Timothy – the new concept art for the Mine Coaster was available 3 months ago at the D23 Expo, it was also known that Snow White will be in the ride as well.

  • In my previous post meant to say “hopefully a Snow White animatronic and not a painted wooden cutout.”

  • There were a few new things so lets give credit where it is due. New concept art for Mine Coaster. New piece of info – confirmed that Snow White will be in the ride – hopefully not a real animatronic and not a wooden painted cutout.
    My questions that did not get answered were:
    Will the witch or evil queen be in the ride?
    Will Peter Pan be getting an interactive que?
    What is the timeline for all attraction openings?
    Will WDW see any new attractions between the 2 big projects (Fantasyland 2012 – Avatar 2015)?
    Thanks Chris and Disney Blog for taking the time!

  • This chat was a nice thought, and thank you for putting it together, but the subjects covered here were seemingly aimed at Kindergartners. Most of us here are at least on the Junior High level when it comes to knowledge of this project, or else we wouldn’t be on this Blog to begin with.

    Might I suggest in the future you aim just a tad higher and give us the benefit of the doubt that your audience already has a working knowledge of the subject at hand? Also, if you are unable or uncomfortable with talking about certain topics publicly, like the New Fantasyland project, then it probably isn’t a good idea to host a live chat about a topic you can’t really chat about.

  • I too was disappointed in this chat. I love the concept, but the execution was lacking. I wasn’t expecting any big announcements, but it would have been nice to get a few new details. Even the question about garbage cans was evaded. This doesn’t do anything to build anticipation for the expansion.

  • I agree with both Tim and Lauren.

    I love the idea of the live chat and understand that it was the first one. I also get that some of the questions that some of us diehard fans might have are WAY too detailed to be given away on here, but I know that there were some much more intricate questions offered up that could have been answered without revealing any of the upcoming “secrets.” It was said best by a poster on a Fan Site that we didn’t expect too much out of the chat but we ended up getting even less than that. We were presented with a great opportunity to speak to one of the lead Imagineers on the job so of course we expected something new…anything new…just the smallest tidbit of information.I can’t imagine that Chris Beatty actually answers every question he is asked about his projects using the word “magic”. 😉

    I get that this Blog is still fairly new, so I still give hopes that over time it will evolve into a tool that is really useful to us. I think it’s purpose lies somewhere between the fan forums and facebook, but definitely with slightly less strict moderation and little more first rate information than the this Blog currently has.

    Thanks! I’m looking forward to watching this Blog evolve!

  • Sorry to say this, but I agree with Lauren. I know the person who got 3 questions in, and I have no issue with his questions getting through. The problem was that it seemed that Chris had a very strict gag order on him, so anything that would be remotely revealing wasn’t even asked.

    Nothing new was revealed in this other than high resolution versions of existing Concept Art. I don’t expect every little detail of every aspect of the land, but perhaps some confirmation of things that are already out amongst Disney fan communities would be nice.

    The Disney Parks Blog was created because the fan communities were controlling the story and this gave Disney the opportunity to get out in front of it. For the most part, trusted insiders on established fan sites are a better source for actual information than Disney themselves.

    The concept of this blog is great, but it doesn’t work if the participants are afraid to confirm the smallest of details in favor of softball questions more fit for their online dating profile.

    WDW Fan Boys Podcast

  • I have to thank Chris Beatty for taking time out of his schedule to talk to us Disney fans and answer some questions as well as taking some more questions home with him to answer at a later date. We all greatly appreciate it.

    However, I was a bit disappointed in how the live chat itself was run. None of my questions were answered which I had submitted ahead of time before the chat in the original blog post. I of course realize that not everyone’s questions will be able to be answered, but a lot of people, including myself, took the time to submit thoughtful questions ahead of time on the Blog only to have them go unanswered. I could be wrong as I do not know how exactly the chat was organized, but it seemed like only 3 people who submitted their questions early on the Blog got them answered as Thomas Smith typed them in himself saying they were “from the Blog.”

    Most of the questions seemed to be coming from people who were typing them in as the chat was happening (including at least one person who got 3 questions/comments answered). I really like the idea of these live chats continuing, but if people’s questions that are submitted ahead of time are not going to be addressed, then just tell us that we know we have to attend the live chat in order to have a chance to get our questions answered and that questions cannot be taken ahead of time. Thank you for listening to my comments about the live chat and I hope my concerns will be addressed before the next live chat.

    • Thank you for the great Fantasyland/Mermaid questions, Lauren. This was our first live chat and we really wanted to give readers a chance to interact and talk with a really cool Imagineer working on a project that I personally love to hear about. Your feedback and other blog comments will certainly help us as we plan our next live chat. Have a great night.

  • My questions didn’t make it into the live chat, so I’m adding a couple here in hopes they’ll be addressed by Chris, who is very generous with his time. Thanks Chris!

    Could we see a rough timeline for when attractions in New Fantasyland will open?

    What kinds of interactive elements will be in the attraction queues?

    Could you provide some examples of some of New Fantasyland’s immersive elements?

  • Thomas…
    Thanks for hosting the live chat it WAS AWESOME!!! You ROCK too!!

    • Thanks, Scot. Chris is the superstar! Check here on the blog for first word of our next live chat.

    Thanks for taking time from your busy day to meet with us DISNEY FANS!! You ROCK!!

  • Do you look at other Imagineers’ projects from the past as inspiration, or do you take it from scratch?

    What would you like to have (if you were a guest, rather than an Imagineer) at the parks?

  • I know that the footprint of the actual Little Mermaid ride is the same as that in California Adventure. Can you discuss how you are able to put your own unique spin on this new one to make it unique?

  • Do the Imagineers have anything in development that is geared more toward adults for Magic Kingdom? Everything lately seems to be targeting toddlers.

    Remember Walt’s philosophy that his parks are for all, adults and children alike.

  • What project that you have or are currently working on is your favorite.

    What are you most exited for us the guest to find in the new Fantasyland?

  • why cann i not get into the live chat

    • Hi, please refresh the page and then click the arrow at the bottom of the Live Chat post.

  • It’s not often that you have a new construction area that is completely surrounded with guest areas that will be open. How are you going to manage opening the rest of Fantasyland Forest with such a huge plot for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train still being under construction? Do you think this will take away from the “opening day” feeling of the rest of the area?

  • My question is very similar to the others, lol. What’s the opening timeline? I will be coming to Disney in late October 2012 and I’m wondering what will be open.

  • What are some of the small surprises we can look for in the New Fantasyland?

  • What type of food and drinks are being looked at to be served at the new Gaston Pub and Be Our Guest restaurants?

    Should we expect a ‘butterbeer’ alternative, for the pub?

  • Any plans to expand the Star Wars presence in DHS? WOuld love to see more attractions based on the Star Wars universe.

  • I hear Storybook Circus is going to be really cool. The fence is AWESOME! Can you tell us when it’s opening?

    • We’re looking forward to this too. Great question.

  • This is my post from yesterday, but I wanted to make sure it was scene on this blog page as well.

    Hi Chris, I first have to say that I am very grateful of what you and the other Imagineers do to create magic worldwide for the Disney Parks and Resorts, everyone keep up the good work! I have a few questions for you if you could answer them if possible.

    1. What role did you play in the expansion and what was the best experience that you have had so far working on the project?

    2. I’ve heard that the Be Our Guest Restaurant, Dwarfs Mine Train, The Little Mermaid and Storybook Circus is only phase 1, is there going to be a phase 2 with a more broad expansion and could you give a us a little insight of what it might be?

    3. Finally, my life long dream is to become an Imagineer some day. I want to be able to say to myself one day that I am contributing to making Disney magic happen on all four corners of the globe. I want to be a concept/show writer. I will be receiving my associate’s degree in education and will be persuing my bachelore’s degree in creative writing. Am I taking the right path onto becoming this kind of Imagineer? Hope to working with you in the near future!

  • Thank you so much for taking our questions today! It is really appreciated! I was just curious, what other characters/princesses will be represented in the new area? Will the old Mickey and Minnie houses be moved to another area anytime in the future? My kids really loved the houses, maybe in Hollywood Studios perhaps?

  • Will you be using any new technology in the new Fantasyland expansion?

  • Thanks for taking the time to do this, it is much appreciated! The few questions I have are:

    1. We know that the Dumbo section is opening first around February. Is there a timetable Disney is working with to have the other sections complete? If so, when should we expect the other areas to be ready for guests, including the mine train ride ( I’ve read 2013 for mine train, but was wondering how accurate that is )?

    2. In the art work it shows a new roof for the tea cups. Any chance of this happening?

    3. What are the tents in Storybook Circus becoming?

    4. Not sure if this would even be considered part of New Fantasyland but I see that the area where the old Fantasyland Skyway was is being repurposed and opened up to allow more flow through traffic. What is this area going to be themed to if anything?

    Thanks for taking the time to answer any of my questions, if you do.

  • The new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train looks great. I’m excited to see how the new ride system works. My inner Imagineer has always thought it would be fun to create an Aladdin magic carpet/cave of wonders ride using a similar style. Have any plans been made to utilize this type of ride with other titles?


    Any plans to bring the new ride system to Disneyland in California?

  • Will they be doing this expansion at Disneyland too?

  • Can you provide further details on what the Storybook Circus section of the expansion will include in addition to the Double Dumbos and Great Goofini? I.e., the model and artwork shows two tents, a train station and what appears to be a water play area. Can you provide further details on the themeing and content of these sections?

    Also, can you provide additional information on what the Seven Dwarfs’ mine ride will include in terms of show scenes, length of the ride, speed, etc.?

    Thank you.

  • Ok, so my favorite disney movie has always been Beauty and beast. What information can you tell us about that area?

    My other question is a bit more specific, but if I remember right there’s going to Gaston’s Tavern, what if any entertainment going to be in that are?

  • I am interested in the timeline for completing various stages of the Fantasyland Expansion. I would especially like to know when the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast sections will be open. We’d like to plan our next trip around these attractions.


  • What new technology in the New Fanstasyland are you most excited about?

  • Please, oh please–do you think Under the Sea will be open “fall-ish” of 2012? I’ve finally talked my brother into taking his little girls and that’s when we are going to go! (Sorry, silly question, I know.)

    Also, can you tell us more about the Beauty and the Beast area? Is it very large? What will it look like? How did the project evolve from simpler meet & greet areas to more rides and experiences? I am very excited to see it all!

  • Hello. I posted my questions in the original Blog post that announced this Live Chat, but I wanted to make sure they were seen here too. Here are my questions for Chris:

    1. I was really interested to see the video that was posted on the Disney Parks Blog showing how the mural for the Under the Sea–Journey of the Little Mermaid attraction was being created. I noticed that the mural is not the same as the mural that is in the load area of the Little Mermaid attration in Disney California Advendure park in DLR. My question is: Are there going to be any other major differences with regards to the ride itself that is currently being built in WDW versus the ride that is already open in DLR (and I don’t just mean the exterior of the ride or the line queue, but rather the ride itself)?

    2. Are there going to be any soft openings or annual passholder previews for the Under the Sea–Journey of the Little Mermaid ride?

    3. Will Under the Sea–Journey of the Little Mermaid be a FastPass attraction?

    4. Will there be some kind of opening day ceremony when each of the different phases of the Fantasyland Expansion official open to the public, similar to the opening day cermony with Jodi Benson at Disney California Adventure Park when their version of the Little Mermaid ride opened there?

    5. Was the Little Mermaid ride created in collaboration between the DLR and WDW Imagineers, or was the ride mainly created by DLR Imagineers and is just being tweeked and minorly changed by the WDW Imaginneers for it’s implementation as part of the Fantasyland Expansion? If yes to the latter, how are WDW Imagineers putting their own stamp on the attraction, besides just the new mural?

  • Are Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom stations being integrated into the new spaces?

  • Will the New Fantasyland expansion feature “Living Characters” and in what form will they take?

  • Have you always wanted to be an Imagineer and if so, what was it that fueled that passion?

    • Fun question, Sharon. Thanks.

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