Is it really necessary to compare the two newest expansions at Disney’s theme parks? I didn’t think so at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I heard a resounding “yes!” It is only natural to make comparisons and judgements, especially amongst the Disney geekdom and blogosphere.
First came Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The Cars Land expansion at Disney’s California Adventure nor the New Fantasyland expansion at Magic Kingdom, would have become what they are without Wizarding World leading the way. I shared my thoughts on Wizarding World vs. New Fantasyland here. Now it is time for round two.
Cars Land – Big things come in small packages
The biggest difference between Cars Land and New Fantasyland, besides characters and stories, is size. My inclination was to believe that Cars Land is larger than New Fantasyland. My reason for initially believing this is content. To me, there is much more to do in Cars Land. However, Cars Land’s size is 12 acres as compared to New Fantasyland, which encompasses 26 acres. However, this measurement includes “Storybook Circus” which can be considered a sub-division of New Fantasyland. The marvelous characteristic of the entire Disneyland Resort (including the two theme parks, three hotels, & Downtown Disney) is that it does more with less.
Although Cars Land is technically smaller than New Fantasyland it has the same amount of rides… for now. More importantly, it has a major E-ticket attraction that New Fantasyland can’t beat. Radiator Springs Racers combines the best features in any theme park ride’s arsenal. Beautiful scenery, amazing audio animatronics, variety (starts slow, ends fast and takes place both in and outdoors), and a fun storyline. In reality, New Fantasyland only has one new ride: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. I adore this ride. The Little Mermaid played on my VCR nearly every day of my 9th year of life. Anytime I would go swimming, I was Ariel. However, it is a slow-moving dark ride, which is perfect for me, but for kids 12 and older it can be slightly underwhelming.
The other two rides that are part of New Fantasyland reside in Storybook Circus, and these rides already existed. Dumbo the Flying Elephant has doubled in size, moved locations, and has been given an “interactive” play area. The Great Goofini Barnstormer is the exact same ride it was before, just with different theming. In 2014, the final addition to New Fantasyland will open: the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. This coaster seems like it will be beautifully detailed and offers a unique swinging ride vehicle. Maybe once it opens, it will rival Radiator Springs Racers… but I doubt it.
Battle of the taste buds
With each new expansion comes an opportunity for theme park foodies to rejoice. Both Cars Land and New Fantasyland offer memorable food and beverage selections. During our visit to Cars Land we had to visit Flo’s V-8 Cafe. The menu offers something for everyone and resembles diner soul food. I ordered the veggie-tater bake and was extremely pleasantly surprised. The other place to fuel up in Cars Land is the Cozy Cone Motel, offering unique quick bites like specialty flavored popcorn and the “signature” drink, Red’s Apple Freeze.
The frozen apple juice creation is Disney’s answer to Wizarding World’s cash cow known as Butterbeer. Disney’s concoction has a recurring role and appears in New Fantasyland as LeFou’s Brew. In New Fantasyland, diners can grab a quick bite or drink at Gaston’s Tavern (no alcohol is served). However, alcohol is served at the Be Our Guest Restaurant during dinner, which appears to be the most elaborate restaurant to ever open in a North American theme park (I’m told some pretty amazing sights are found in Tokyo’s and Hong Kong’s theme parks).
Although, New Fantasyland offers a game changer with Be Our Guest, it promises to be practically inaccessible for the next year. Certainly, it is not comparing apples to apples when comparing New Fantasyland’s restaurants to Cars Land’s dining options. One is overwhelmingly impressive and the other is fun, creative, quick, and tasty. However, once I have had an opportunity to dine at Disney’s California Adventure’s newest restaurant: Carthay Circle and dined at Be Our Guest, I think a new comparison post will be in order.
Who comes out on top?
In my opinion, Cars Land does. I have only visited both during preview periods, I feel very fortunate for having done so. When I set foot inside Cars Land my jaw dropped, and it stayed dropped for a while. The details, the scenery are unbelievable, especially the rock work of Radiator Springs Racers. Most important, when standing at the entrance of Cars Land you are standing at a step by step replica of Radiator Springs from the Cars movies. It is uncanny.
New Fantasyland certainly brings to life the stories of The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. Maurice’s cottage looks exactly like it does in the movie. However, the feeling of actually walking into a destination created in a movie is not accomplished to perfection in New Fantasyland the way it is accomplished in Cars Land. Couple that with three new rides, one of which is a premier E-ticket ride and you’ve got yourself a hot rod of a Disney theme park expansion that comes out the winner in this race. But, in the end both projects came out splendidly and as a theme park fan I am very pleased overall.
- Comparing New Fantasyland: Round One – Wizarding World of Harry Potter (thisfloridalife.com)
- First Impression of New Fantasyland (thisfloridalife.com)
- New Fantasyland A Mysterious Wonder at Night – Part 3 (damouse.com)