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All in the Details: Building a Grotto Under the Sea in New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park

Jennifer Fickley-Baker

by , Editorial Content Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

We’re back this week with more photos of an attraction that’s coming soon to New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park – and something tells me that fans of Disney history are really going to like this one!

This time, Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) has given us an up-close look at the detailed queue that will lead guests into the Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid attraction.
Part of the Queue for Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid, Coming Soon to New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park

Let’s look at how WDI really used detail here to set the attraction’s tone and tell a story: The queue starts out by winding guests through the remains of an old shipwreck. The wood is faded from the sun, balustrades are missing, and the wreckage is dotted with starfish and algae.
Part of the Queue for Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid, Coming Soon to New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park

Further along, guests will find themselves enveloped by the towering rocks on which the ship perished, with the path leading into caves under Prince Eric’s seaside castle.
Part of the Queue for Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid, Coming Soon to New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park

Examining the surrounding rocks up close, it looks like the wooden ship wasn’t the only watercraft to meet its end in this area.

What do you think? Which attraction should we feature right here next week?

Keep an eye on the Disney Parks Blog and follow @WaltDisneyWorld on Twitter for the latest on the New Fantasyland expansion. While you’re on Twitter, join in the conversation by using the hashtag #NewFantasyland.

Check out more posts in the “All in the Details” series from Walt Disney Imagineering:


  • Have the Park Maps been updated yet? I want to order ours, but the last ones (6 months ago) still showed the old Fantasyland. When can we see the new, updated Park maps?

  • Hi Jennifer!! Nothing yet about the holidays estimate?
    also, who do I have to contact, regarding information about booking the art of animation resort? I can’t book nothing before October 19 (Ariel’s rooms) Thank you!!!
    don’t forget about the dates. Maybe I lost my chance booking oct 12 to be there oct 19 (my toddler’s birthday) before, waiting anxiously on the estimate opening days! thank youuu!

  • So looking forward to this when my family and I visit Disney next June! Hope we can get reservations at Be Our Guest but figure it will be booked for a while!

    • Reservations haven’t opened yet, but keep checking the blog. Something tells me we’ll have an update VERY soon.

  • I can’t see the hidden Mickey either! So excited about this area. My little guy has been dying to see it since we were down last May and passed it on the railroad! Will be visiting in January 2013. How much of it will be done again? 75%? 90%? And, I’m assuming that everything will be handicap accessible, my little guy is in a wheelchair. Disney does special needs children so well, I’m almost embarrassed to state something so obvious!

    • Tracy- Here’s our most updated opening schedule:

      –July 2012: Both sides of Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Dumbo’s big top tent queue, and Casey Jr. kids’ water-play area
      –Holidays 2012: Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Be Our Guest Restaurant, Gaston’s Tavern, and Ariel’s Grotto.
      –2013: Princess Fairytale Hall (meet-and-greet area)
      –2014: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction

      I haven’t asked about wheelchair accessibility, so I’ll look into it.

  • If it’s possible, it would be kind of nice to see what’s going on inside the two big Storybook Circus tents (Big Top Souvenirs and Pete’s Silly Sideshow).

    If that’s not possible, how about something inside Bonjour! Village Gifts?

  • Is any information available to the ambiance of the line? With the water features will we hear crashing waves outside? I know about Scuttles scavenger hunt. Will we hear movie inspired music, bubbling water and underwater sounds or nothing at all inside?

  • Does anyone else see the hidden Mickey in the surrounding rocks?

  • Thank you so much for these beautiful pics! I would LOVE to hear about the West Wing!!!! Any news on that?

  • I see the Nautilus, but I’m confused, did the rock grow over the ship or something, because to me it looks like the top made an impression into the rock, but the lower part is protruding from the rock. Or maybe I’m just blind, ’cause I can’t find the hidden Mickey either :/

  • Everything is looking great…. its so exciting to look every tues as to what detail we will be viewing. I saw photo from a airplane of fantasyland expansion from last week, and i have to say those imagineers work quick. I hope they can just wall off the mine coaster and those tents (so they still have access from the back) and let us in to Beauty and the Beast and ariels grotto (no on will care if we cant walk from ariel to Dumbo we just want to see the magnificent work that has been done) even if we cant use the insides of the castles. Well here is hoping for sept!!!!!!

  • When does Holiday season begin?

    • I hope to have more info on this soon!

  • Patrick from Comment 23 (and Jennifer too)—When/where did we see concept art for “Scuttle’s Scavenger Hunt” and what exactly is it??? Does it have something to do with the interactive queue? Thanks!

  • @ Eric… yes there is a hidden Mickey…. good eye. I am very into the hidden mickey thing, and I can’t wait to take pics of all of them when I go Dec 1-8…. I so badly am hoping that the new areas are open by then!

  • Im sure you would of said, but is there any new info on Scuttle’s Scavenger Hunt that we had seen some concept art awhile ago?

    • Patrick – I’ll add it to my list of questions. Thanks!

  • Next attraction to be shown: please show concept art for the Tangled meet and greet that’s going in where the old Skyway used to be. That is the hottest and most talked about rumor about the expansion, that there’s a secret Rapunzel tower that’s going up.

    Can you get the scoop on it?

    • The scoop I have isn’t very exciting – this area is going to be a bathroom. I reconfirmed this last week. I’ll check on if there is special theming happening.

  • Jennifer —

    I am CRYING as I look at these photos. I can hear “Part of Your World” in my head. The details are so impressive that I feel like it’s something out of the cartoon, and like we can walk into the cartoon by going there. I am so blown away by what the Imagineers have created. The Carsland at DCA is so amazing, but I think the New Fantasyland is going to top it. It’s just so STUNNING. Love all the details and plan on spending a lot of time just exploring and examining them. MARVELOUS!

    • Patricia – The area is amazing, isn’t it? I’m wowed each time our friends at WDI send over a new batch of images – each time I have a new favorite. They’ve been so great at sharing – some of these attractions won’t be complete until later this year, so it’s amazing we’re able to give you such great sneak peeks now!

  • I worry that someday, due to the consistently exemplar performance by Disney, that our expectations will be unrealistic. As usual, the Imagineers have surpassed our expectations and delivered an experience that looks to be top tier. Wonder when we, the Guests, will be so conditioned to such perfection that we’ll think “meh” to the next great creation.

    Thankfully, we haven’t reached that point yet. Continue wow-ing us Disney!

    • Hopefully that day never comes! I’ve been blown away by the imagination our Imagineers have shown in Cars Land and at the Cars wing of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort this year…can’t wait to experience New Fantasyland.

  • I am very interested in learning more information about the hand painted artwork on the outside of Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid that features “the history of man’s perilous journey on the sea” and what the Imagineers’ thinking was behind these paintings. It seems to me that the idea behind these paintings is less connected to The Little Mermaid and more tied to the location of this ride’s previous resident, 20,000 Leagues, similar to how they’ve included the Nautilus in the rockwork that you showed in today’s post. Is there any way you could find out some more info on this for us? Thanks so much.

  • WOW! The detail on the rockwork is really amazing. I would love so see/learn more about the queue for Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid beyond just the rockwork. I heard it’s supposed to be really interactive.

    Would also love to see some photos of Ariel’s Grotto. Thanks.

  • Hey that looks great! I can’t wait to see it for myself. i wouldn’t mind an update on the seven Dwarfs mine train. I havent really been able to distinguish exactly what was what from airel shots of the site.

  • There is a hidden Mickey in the last picture!

  • Just me or is there a hidden mickey in that last pic?

  • Even though we’ve already seen pictures of the Be Our Guest restaurant, it was only of 1 of the 3 “wings” correct? It would be awesome to see photos of the other 2 eating areas. Also, will the menus differ between the three eating areas? That would be really neat if there were different menus…would really keep the guests coming back for more! (not that that would be a problem) 🙂

    • Hmm, that is a good question about the menus. Pretty sure it’s the same throughout the restaurant. We hope to have an update on the restaurant and its food very soon!

  • Can’t wait to ring in the New Year at Magic Kingdom this 2013!! Hopefully Be Our Guest restaurant will be open. What can you tell us about the restaurants and the type of service they will offer.

    • The only detail I have right now is that Be Our Guest will be sit-down quick-service for lunch and table-service for dinner. No word on what type of food will be offered just yet.

  • Can we see Gaston’s Tavern? We’ve gotten glimpses of Maurice’s cottage and the village, as well as Be Our Guest. I want to see how he uses antlers in all of his decorating!

    • I love that you used that line here. 🙂 I’ll look into any possible updates from Gaston’s.

  • Looks wonderful. Far more interesting than the queue at California Adventure – though I know that was limited by the available space and the ride moved fast enough when we were there we weren’t really in line much. I always love it when the Imagineers give you such wonderful details in the queue that it becomes it’s own attraction – like the Roger Rabbit ride at Disneyland.

  • Beasts castle please! I would also love to see the waterfalls on litlle mermaid and mountains for be our guest (if they are working now)

  • SO excited!! I’m sure the Disneyland queue was really great, and that mural they have is fantastic, but I’m really jazzed about “our” queue–it looks really awesome! What skill these folks have!

  • So excited to see all this! Hoping that it is ready for guests at the end of November!!!

  • I’d like to see what’s going on inside of the tents that are across from Dumbo. I know one is going to be a shop, but the other, I’m not as sure. Also, a question for you: There is something going in that is sort of tucked behind those tents and I can’t remember what it is. Do you know? It’s the area that is surrounded by the two big tents, Casey Jr.’s play area and the FL train station. It’s also circular, but that’s all I can really tell.



  • When I went to Disneyland Paris as a kid, I always used to think that the rock formations were real. If I was still that age, this ride could have fooled me too. I hope this crafting skill never dies. Rocks are some of the best things about Disney Parks. 😀

    • It’s so detailed to looks REAL. 🙂

  • It is really wonderful!
    We look forward to know the exact date of opening of new Disney fantasyland because we will be in 06-17 December and my princess hopes to see these wonders. Will is already open? What are the holidays?

    • This is the most updated opening schedule we have:
      -July 2012: Both sides of Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Dumbo’s big top tent queue, and Casey Jr. kids’ water-play area
      -Holidays 2012: Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Be Our Guest Restaurant, Gaston’s Tavern, and Ariel’s Grotto.
      -2013: Princess Fairytale Hall
      -2014: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction

  • LOVE the nod to 20k!! one of my favorite rides. But i watched Little Mermaid on repeat as a kid… so i can’t wait to take part of this journey under the sea. and i can’t wait to have a whole new experianced for MY kids (when we have them)

    • I love that they included a nod to this attraction here. It will be fun trying to find it once it opens.

  • Wow! It looks fantastic! I can’t wait to find the 20,000 leagues under the sea submarine in the rock work in a few months and I would love to see some more pictures of Ariel’s Grotto next week!

  • This looks amazing! I can’t wait for it to open! 🙂

    Do you know if Prince Eric’s castle is also going to have a place where you can meet Ariel? I hope so, since her old grotto was closed to make room for the Expansion.

    I don’t suppose you have any more information about what “holidays 2012” means yet…

    • Allie – Nothing more specific to share yet. As soon as I have something you’ll know!

  • Haha, nautilus, Love it! 🙂
    Can’t wait to get out there and see everything when it is unveiled! WDI are just incredible!

    • It will be a blast, Ben!

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