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Storybook Circus - Soft Opening

Yesterday (March 12, 2012) the new Storybook Circus began a soft opening at the Magic Kingdom and Deb Wills was there in the afternoon capturing the magic. In her blog, she mentioned that the area was very crowded with guests trying to get their first look at this new section of the park. Since I don't like crowds, I set out this morning (March 13) to be at the Magic Kingdom before opening and one of the first people to arrive at Storybook Circus. I wanted to be able to experience this new land crowd-free and capture a few pictures Deb was unable to take.

The entrance to Storybook Circus is still far from complete. Guests walk through a corridor of plywood to reach this new area.

Storybook Circus Entrance

Here is a picture of the new entrance to the Dumbo attraction. The structure is modeled to look like a Circus ticket booth. Fortunately, no tickets are required to ride this attraction.

Dumbo Ticket Booth

There are many subtle changes to the Dumbo ride. To begin with, the first of two Dumbo attractions turns clockwise rather than counterclockwise. (This is a change from the previous Dumbo.) I have to assume the second Dumbo attraction will turn counterclockwise to add visual interest.

Dumbo Attraction

Dumbo Attraction

Timothy, Dumbo's mouse friend, no longer sits atop the attraction. He has been replaced with four storks carrying baby Dumbos.

Storks and Baby Dumbo

Storks and Baby Dumbo

Below the storks are the heads of four Mrs. Jumbos.

Mrs. Jumbo

The center structure of the old Dumbo attraction had a more open design. Guests could see gears and twirling chipmunks and pinwheels. The next two picture are of the old Dumbo attraction.

Old Center Structure

Old Center Structure

The center structure of the new Dumbo is "contained" and does not feature these details.

New Center Structure

Beneath the center structure, a number of pictures tell the story of Dumbo. Here are just a few of them.

Dumbo Story Panel

Dumbo Story Panel

Dumbo Story Panel

Dumbo Story Panel

In my opinion, one of the best enhancements to the Dumbo attraction is the addition of a water feature (fountains). I've heard for years this wasn't possible in the old location because the weight of the water would be too much for the untilidors beneath to support. I don't know if this is true or not, but I'm sure happy the Imagineers included this feature in Storybook Circus.

Dumbo Water Feature

Dumbo Water Feature

Dumbo Water Feature

Here's a picture of me taking flight with everyone's favorite pachyderm.

Jack Riding Dumbo

The "Barnstormer Featuring the Great Goofini" is a reworking of "The Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm." The track is identical, just the surrounding area has been rethemed to feature Goofy (Goofini) as a crackpot pilot. Once again, the entrance is marked by a circus-type ticket booth.

Barnstormer Entrance

Barnstormer Ticket Booth

The old entrance queue is now used to exit the attraction and a completely new, and much longer, queue has been built for boarding. Along the new queue are several cute vignettes featuring the antics of Goofini.

Goofini Antics

Goofini Antics

Goofini Antics

Goofini Antics

Portions of the new queue offer some (not a lot) protection from the sun.

Shaded Queue

As you exit your aircraft, take a moment and check out some of Goofini's gear, including First (and Second) Aid kits.

Goofini's Gear

Here's a picture of the Great Goofini's plane crashing through a billboard.

Billboard Crash

The new Fantasyland/Storybook Circus train station is beautiful. The restrooms for this area are housed in the roundhouse used for the Casey Jr. Circus Train.

Fantasyland/Storybook Circus Train Station

Fantasyland/Storybook Circus Train Station

Fantasyland/Storybook Circus Train Station

Fantasyland/Storybook Circus Train Station

A nod to Walt's backyard train, the Carolwood Pacific, can be seen at the station on the clock face and above the main entrance.

Carolwood Park

I love the Casey Jr. weather vane.

Casey Jr. Weathervane

A close observer will notice a spur of tracks running through this area (and to the roundhouse - restrooms). You will also notice the tracks come to an abrupt end before reaching the main line.

Circus Train Tracks

Circus Train Tracks

In Deb Wills' blog she mentions that the details of Storybook Circus are outstanding and if the rest of the Fantasyland expansion follows suit, we're all in for a fantastic new area. I couldn't agree more. Even with only one Dumbo attraction working and the area still surrounded with construction walls, this is a great place. Thank you, Disney Imagineers.

The previous post in this blog was Disney’s Character Warehouse.

The next post in this blog is Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground - Part 1.

Comments (61)


I've been following the Fantasyland renovations very closely. Thanks for the pics and with each picture I'm even more excited about my Sept 2012 trip.


We get to see some of the new Fantasyland expansion and stay at the new Art of Animation resort. Can't wait for our trip in June!!!

Claire Gregory:

Nuts!! We were just there a week ago, too bad they couldn't have been opened yet! Oh well, it'll just have to wait until the next visit in November.
Hopefully by then lots more of the new things in that area will be open. I read Deb's report too.

Thanks again for the latest report.



Thanks so much for the sneak peak! Barnstormer is a favorite of our family...hope it's open in 10 days when we get there.. Can't wait!
Thanks again for sharing this!


Totally going on a work night tomorrow. Thursday's gonna be rough! :)

Greg Highfill:

Thanks Jack! That's a great peek at what's to come. Looks like they're already "plusing" the older attractions.

Hope I can get over in the next couple of weeks. Wanted to get some special photos with Spring equinox lighting.

One crazy question: Is the elevation mark of 102 feet at the train station accurate? I have a friend that believes that Orlando is actually below sea level. I've tried to argue that rivers run out of Orlando, and if Orlando was below sea level, it would be a lake by now.


Jack's Answer:

Yes. The elevation is correct at 102 feet. The Main Street Station is 108 feet and the trains are actually making a slight uphill climb between the two and the engineers need to compensate for this.


Love the new train station!! (so much more "to it" than the "popup" Birthdayland station) The Casey Jr weather vane is also very very cute!!

Heidi Bilotti:

What wonderful photos. You have really made it hard to wait until out July trip to see this in person. Thanks for your hard work.

MIke Venere:

Some great pics there......thanks for the update.
Just weird for me seeing pictures of the Dumbo ride though with the castle so far in the background.....guess that's something to just get used to.

Joshua Olive:

As always, Jack - thanks for the great photos and news! Your updates always hit the spot - can't wait to visit and see it for myself!


I noticed there is a height restriction at the entrance to the Barnstomer. Do you happen to recall what it is? I want to bring my 2 year old on it when we go in August.

Jack's Answer:

The height requirement for Barnstormer is 35 inches. This is strictly enforced.

Aubrey Cooper:

Since we are still in soft opening phase and Storybook Circus is a little off the beaten path for now due to construction walls, etc..., how would one know if the attractions are running? Are there Cast Members about? Is it roped off if closed? I have friends going to WDW this weekend and I want to give them a heads up!

ps--great pic of you on the ride!

Jack's Answer:

Storybook Circus will open to the public regardless if the Barnstormer and/or Dumbo are "down" for some reason. Since the redesigned train station is open, guests can walk through this area. However, I'm pretty sure Barnstormer and Dumbo will be operating. Both of these attractions are rather simple in design and it's not likely that they will run into trouble.


Eeee!! SO excited! Can't wait to see everything in Sept.!

Adam Grun:

Thanks for another great article Jack! Ever since my daughter first rode the barnstormer at 4 she has been wanting to ride it again. But it closed for refurb before I took her down there again. And I must say that from the looks of it, it is awesome. I laughed out loud seeing the crashed rocket. But I am a sucker for Goofy. I am very excited to see this. Thanks for giving me my disney fix and for giving my Disney visa a new charge now that I am looking at booking a trip. LOL!


The weathervane is awsome!

Kim Heath:

I am really looking forward to this new area. I even planned our next trip to the "World" for the week of Thanksgiving to make sure we are there when it will be completely open or almost completely open!! It is a long time to wait, but I think it will be worth it!! Thanks for the great newsletter.


Hi Jack!

Looking great so far! I was just curious, I thought The Great Goofini was going to be more like the "wild mouse" type like in Disneyland? Maybe I missed it somewhere. The Barnstoormer used to hurt my back they way the seats were designed.... any chance that changed?

Can't wait to see it in November!

Jack's Answer:

The Great Goofini was always planned to be a retheming of the original Barnstormer. I'm not sure where you may have heard otherwise.

The trains have not changed at all. If the old train hurt your back, so will the new/old trains.

Jenny Sperandeo:

Hi Jack! I am soooooooo jealous. The start of the new Fantasyland expansion looks amazing! I can't wait to go back to visit (hopefully BEFORE Christmas). Keep us updated on all the progress. It sure is exciting to read about...


When is the rest of it supposed to be open?
When will Be Our Guest restaurant open?
Thank you.
I always enjoy your blogs so much, and your pictures are beautiful.

Jack's Answer:

Disney is not giving any firm dates. They have said it's their intention to have most of the enhancements to Fantasyland open by the end of the year. I'm sure they're hoping this will be before the Christmas season, but there are no guarantees. Things will continue to open in stages during the months to come.


My family was at the park on Monday when they opened up the area we just missed the 1st flight of dumbo but we were the fist on the second flight. That area is so amazing and we cant wait to get back to see the rest once its finished.


Thank you so much for posting the pictures. We are heading there October 29th and I can not wait to see the new expansion. We were there in 2010 and they were beginning the construction. I am hoping that there will be even more of the expansion done and open when we come in October. My children and I are so looking forward to this.

Clare C.:

Thanks for running over to WDW to get all of the great photos. We'll be there next week and I had no idea that any of the new Fantasyland would be open during our visit. Can't wait to check everything out!

Dan in NH:

Thank you for letting me live vicariously thru you, via blogs, so often. And allowing me to get thru another work day, which is really a countdown day to my next trip. Means to an end. I am sure your work is a labor of love, and as always, everyone's comments show you, just how much people appreciate what you do.

33 days to our next trip...one more work day down...and another moment or two of dreaming we are already there...

We cannot wait to see the changes, and while we are sure we will miss things taken away, we consider it a fair trade for all the new development they bring to us.

Thanx again for transporting me across the miles for just a little bit...


hey jack
I can't wait to see the new storybook circus as well as the rest of the new updates. So far I like what I see and am excited to see the rest of the attractions and resturants when they are completed (even though that won't be til next year). Can't wait for your next blog and as always keep up the great work.


Thank you for the great pics of the new area. Although I couldn't drag my eyes away from the spectacular blue sky. It must have been a beautiful day on Tuesday. I hear March is near perfect in Florida.

cathy mullen:

Hi Jack,
Thanks for this great update. It sure does look cute and I can't wait to see it for myself.

Nathaniel Powe:

Hey Jack,

I am very excited about my families trip in June! Thank you for your update of Fantasyland. It adds to the anticipation of visiting real soon! You are my favorite writer! Thanks again!

Andrea S.:

Hi Jack,

Thanks for all the great pictures and update on the new Storybook Circus. We are going to be there end of August into early September and cannot wait to see this first hand. I am really excited to see all of the little details that the Imagineers did like the spur of railroad tracks at the station. Kind of a sign off from the old into the new....I love that :)


Hi Jack,
Wow! The new land definitely looks very beautiful! And I especially love what they did to the Dumbo Ride. Like what you said, the water fountain is a really good enhancement visually. My favorite Disney park in the world is Tokyo Disneyland and it's so sad how the Dumbo Ride there is so, so old and unappealing visually :(
I hope the Japanese will upgrade their ride to be as beautiful as this one in the near future!

Julie Peyton:

Thanks so much for the great pics and details! I was there in late summer 2010 and it looked as if work on the new "Belle" area was just underway. It is exciting to see such wonderful progress especially since I'll return in September 2012! :)

Another great blog and set of photos, Jack (and not a spelling error in sight;) )

I'm so glad the Fantasyland upgrade is happening. WDW Fantasyland looked so temporary and cheap compared to Disneyland's Fantasyland. It actually seemed a bit of a letdown once you entered it through the castle. It deserved better. I'm hoping to go back to the world in 2013 once everything is up and running and the crowds have settled down a bit.

Thanks again for all you do!


Sara Campbell:

I have a picture of myself and my friend's daughter on Dumbo and you are in the background waiting in line. We were on the first ride of the morning. We were so excited to get to ride it, we thought we would be missing it this trip. Thanks for the great info.


Love love the pictures!!!! Can't wait to go see this in person! I am super excited to see Belle's new castle and eat in Gaston's/Be our Guest! Thanks for the update.

Thanks for the pics! I know Disney is not giving any dates as to when the rest of the new additions will be open, but in your opinion, what looked like it would possibly be the next addition to be finished & opened? I just booked our trip for the end of Sept. and I am already so excited!! :)

Jack's Answer:

You're are correct, Disney is not releasing any firm dates. However, I believe the rest of Storybook Circus will be the next to open. This includes the second Dumbo attraction, a water/play area, a shopping tent and a character meet-&-greet tent.

I have heard rumors that the Little Mermaid attraction is ahead of schedule. If this is true, it might open sometime in the fall.


Great pictures; can't wait to see it in person! I'm afraid, though, that the train rail to nowhere is lost on me. What's the show element there?

lindsay marie:

thanks for the update and pictures! now im even more excited for my up coming trip in may, it will be my daughters first time visiting the park so i am happy to both see the new additions for the first time together

sharon vancamp:

I can't wait to see everything when I go in October. It looks too cute and fun!


How about Bell's castle? I want to have dinner there. I will be going in late April.

Jack's Comment:

I'm 99.99% sure Beast's Castle will not be ready come late April. Sorry to disappoint you. This probably won't open until much later in the year.

Barbara Gizzi:

It's nice to look forward to seeing something new in MK. It's been a long time since the last major re-do. Will be there at the end of April. Can't wait. Thanks for the photos.

Heather Young:

Thanks for sharing Jack I can't wait to see it all!


What's the projected menu for the Be Our Guest and Gaston restaurants?

Jack's Answer:

I have seen nothing on this subject. Sorry.


It looks beautiful and the attention to detail is outstanding. I love the train station and bathrooms... very classy. I just wish they didn't choose a storybook circus theme, because circuses have been unpopular for years and they're known to be cruel to animals. I think more emphasis on the time period of Dumbo would have been better rather than theming the area around the actual circus show. But that being said, I do think the imagineers did an amazing job with the theme they were given.


I bet we get nowhere near menus for Gaston and Be Our Guest until at least July.

Cons from what I can see:

Timothy, gone =(

Enclosure of the Dumbo "gears". They were awfully cute to watch swirl around and I remember staring like a deer in the headlights at them when I was a kid.


Everything else. Especially the great goofini. I always felt the original Barnstormer really didn't do much for Goofy's character. As if they just felt they needed a roller coaster there and kind of came up with the themeing on the fly. I was never a fan, but Great Goofini's version looks outstanding. I really love the little ticket booth-like structures too.

Jack's Comment:

I agree. I miss the gears. But I haven't given up on Timothy. He might show up in the new Dumbo interactive queue which has not opened yet.


Dear Jack,

I notice that there are two lines at the barnstormer/great goofini enterance and a clock next to a sign that says "time for flying!"

Knowing that the fastpass return lines have signs that have clocks near them, will this be a fastpass?

(No one else has noticed this on other sites i follow)

You are the best!

Anderson O.

Jack's Answer:

At the moment, there are NO FastPass machines installed. However, I would have to agree with your conclusion. There would be no reason to have a "Stand By Line" if FastPass wasn't planned for the future.


Coming in the end of October for MNSSHP, any chance that at least the Little Mermaid might be up and running???

Jack's Answer:

Your guess is as good as mine. Disney has said they hope to have Little Mermaid and Beast Castle Restaurant open by the end of the year, but they are giving NO firm dates. The best I can suggest is to keep your fingers crossed.


Thanks Deb & gang on some more great info on the New area opening soon in the Kingdom. Can't wait to try out the New rides when we hit the Kingdom in May 2012 soon oh so very soon !!!!!


On your pic of the weather vane...the first three puffs of smoke coming from the smokestack kind of look like a Hidden Mickey...Am I just trying to find a new one, or could this actually be one? Thanks!

Jack's Answer:

I had to go back and check the picture. Personally, I don't see it. We'll just have to wait and see what Steve Barrett, the Hidden Mickey guy has to say.


thanks for the info.


Great blog.............Can't wait for our 16 night stay at fort wilderness in May!


We did not realize this part of the park was open until a friend told us the night of its opening. My girls(ages 5 and 8) and I rode the Barnstormer 6 times that night and I know at least 10 times the next night. We rode in every different car, it was so much fun! They would have kept riding it but my head couldn't take it anymore! Had so much fun circling back around and getting right back onto the ride with no wait, I don't think everyone knew that part of the park was open and operating!


From the pictures, itt looks like the second half of dumbo is coming alonga Also, the waterplay area and character meet and greet shouldn't take that long to create. Do you think that anything else will be opened by August 22?

Also, I'm a DVC member and used to traveling to Disney on low peak times, when there are no lines. I've been in September, October and during the first weeks of December. This time, we have to go Wed August 15 until Wed August 22. Is there usually a lot of people during that time? I know that children down south go back to school during that week, so I assume that the crowd will dispurse a little.

Jack's Answer:

Disney is making no firm announcements, but in my opinion, I believe the second Dumbo, the water feature, an possibly the tents will be open in August. But this is just my opinion.

The crowds have started to dissipate in late August, but it can still be busy.


Hi Deb & Friends
i like reading your news letter every week.
there is always so much happening there & you give your readers so much insight & pictures.
do you know when all of fantasyland will be completed? i want to plan my trip. thanks

Jack's Answer:

Disney not giving any firm dates, however, they have said Beast Castle Restaurant and the Little Mermaid attraction will be open by the end of the year. The rest of Fantasyland will open sometime in 2013.


Looks really great!! Heading there in late May and can't wait to see it. Is there any reason for me to hope that the rest of the circus area might be open by then?


We were there when the new area opened and it is looking great! Two details I would like to share that aren't mentioned here:1. The concrete walkway has "peanut shells" scattered throughout the circus area. (not loose, sunken & solid)2. I witnessed the one construction worker going around, stapling the painted on "posters" that were adhered to the wall of the unfinished area. The circus posters had a more real feel after the addition of the staples.Can't wait till we are there again to see the finished areas!

Joe Rueger:

I love the crused peanut shells in the pathway thru Storybook Circus. Great touch!


So glad to see the Barnstormer is up and going!!! My daughter will be ecstatic, especially since Big Thunder Railroad will be closed while we are there next week. Thanks for keeping us up to date on the Fantasyland expansion. I love to periodically see the progress through your blog!

A. D. Johnson:

Jack - regarding your last two photos of the train tracks that stop abruptly and are partly filled in with bricks... What is the significance of this? Does it refer to some obscure Disney story that I have never heard of?

A.D. Johnson
-Littleton, CO

Jack's Answer:

If Disney has come up with a backstory for these train tracks, they have not shared it with anyone yet – at least that I know of. I even pulled out my copy of Dumbo a couple of days ago and watched it for a clue. I could find none. But here are the "actual facts."

Technically, the circus spur should be connected to the "main line," however, Disney would not want to install a switch as this would add unneeded elements to the track (safety issues).

Even if Disney wanted to add a switch, the track gage is different. I'm sure they felt the smaller gage track looked better in Storybook Circus -- more toy like.

Also, there is the matter of elevation. The main line is a good four feet lower than the circus spur.

I know this doesn't really answer your question, but it's the best I can do.


Dear Jack,

Thanks for the nice update. We were there on March 12th for my birthday and I had heard that construction walls back there were coming down and cast members were scheduled for that week. So, I told my family that we should walk back there to see what was going on. Imagine my surprise to see rides up and running!

Did you see the Dumbo ride at night? The water fountains with the lights are spectacular. We stood around and just looked at it without even getting in line. It looks best at night in my opinion.

We were there the night they closed down Mickey's Toon Town for good. So, it was cool to be there on the day they started to reopen it and ride the Barnstormer again. My 4 year old was delighted!



We just returned from our Disney visit on Thursday night and I have to agree with Eric's comments on how beautiful the Dumbo ride is at night. Even though we had not planned to ride Dumbo on this visit, once we saw the breathtaking lights over the water, we had to head over to check it out. So amazing!

Spencer Dias:

My family is going to Disney World in 1 week. So we can't wait to see the soft opening and the sorcer game.


How quickly does dumbo develop long lines?

Is it best to head there first at park opening?

Or should we visit Fantasyland first?

Jack's Answer:

At the moment, the vast majority of people are not aware that Dumbo is now located in this remote section of Fantasyland. This gives you a little more time before lines begin to form. I was at Storybook Circus yesterday (Sunday) at 9:30am and there was no wait for Dumbo or Barnstormer.

I always advise people to arrive at the parks at opening. If you were to follow my advice, I would recommend heading to Peter Pan first and getting a FastPass. Then ride Winnie the Pooh before heading over to Dumbo and Barnstormer.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 13, 2012 1:29 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Disney’s Character Warehouse.

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