The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling: ‘The New Fantasyland’ at Disneyland Park

Erin Glover

by , Director, Publicity, Walt Disney Animation Studios

“Here is the world of imagination, hopes and dreams. In this timeless land of enchantment, the age of chivalry, magic, and make-believe are reborn – and fairy tales come true.” – Walt Disney

Fantasyland has always been the crown jewel here at Disneyland park. Not only was it Walt Disney’s favorite land, but it is the place where characters from beloved Disney stories come to life, inviting us to become part of their adventures. During the initial design of Fantasyland, Walt envisioned a fairy tale village beyond the walls of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Unfortunately, as completion of Disneyland neared, it became necessary to scale back on the design of Fantasyland due to unforeseen budget overages – in fact, Walt’s budget for Disneyland had nearly tripled. So the design of Fantasyland developed into a medieval fair, with banners and flags decorating the entrances to opening-day attractions such as Snow White’s Adventures, Peter Pan’s Flight and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

Then, thirty years ago today, “The New Fantasyland” opened at Disneyland on May 25, 1983. This expansion brought Walt’s original dream to life – the fairy tale village that was originally intended for opening day in 1955. The architecture and facade of each attraction became an extension of the stories that lie within.

 Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland Park  Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland Park

On the east side of King Arthur Carrousel, the area reflects a look you may find in England, as you enter Peter Pan’s Flight through a medieval English clock tower or visit a country manor called Toad Hall, home to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Further down the path, you arrive at The Mad Hatter, a charming English country cottage. The area then transitions to giant, brightly colored leaves, the castle of the Queen of Hearts (in which the Alice in Wonderland attraction lies), and of course, the spinning teacups of the Mad Tea Party – creating the feel of the whimsy and wonder of the “Alice in Wonderland” story.

On the west side of Fantasyland, you have the feeling of being immersed in a Bavarian or Alpine village, bringing you into the worlds of Snow White and Pinocchio. The castle of the Evil Queen looms ominously as you enter Snow White’s Scary Adventures. Have no fear, though, because a cheerier atmosphere is right next door at Pinocchio’s Daring Journey. The attraction’s facade features half-timbered architecture and carved wood balconies, resembling the house in which Pinocchio, the wooden puppet made of pine, became a real boy.

“The New Fantasyland” elevated the storytelling at each attraction and in the entire area, from the architecture to the horticulture, and other details that combine to create an immersive, fairy tale environment. Which of these stories is your favorite to step into?


  • My question though is how does Dumbo, Storybookland, Casey Jr fit into the story? Whenever I take friends to Disneyland I always tell the story of how Peter Pan, Mr. Toad, and Alice invoke English inspired architecture and the west side embodies Germanic, Alpine architecture which juxtaposes with the Matterhorn in the background.
    Then what about Dumbo, Storybookland, Casey Jr? What I have always thought is that it connects with Gepetto’s Toy Shop and how they were gifts to the children of Fantasyland. Since Dumbo has a music box look to it and obvisouly Storybookland, Casey Jr and even Small World embody the toy quality, I always thought that makes sense. But is it true?

    Thanks Erin!

  • I remember the pre-1983. I know we have movies of it on home movie somewhere. I love the look now, it is inviting and warm

  • This was almost the last Big project to open for WED Imagineers before they became WDI Imagineers. They had opened Epcot and Tokyo Disneyland just before this. The New Fantasyland had exceeded and surpassed all other Fantasylands done after its original conception in 1955. I’m surprised with all it’s beauty and charm it has taken so long for the other Fantasylands to try and catch up. Euro Disneyland followed this with much of what had been created here architecturally and show wise, both under Tony Baxter. He should be very proud in making Walt smile.

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