Report: Imagineer Chris Beatty Discusses New Fantasyland Expansion via Online Chat

Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster Concept ArtEarlier today, the official Disney Parks Blog held an informal live chat with Chris Beatty, Creative Director, Walt Disney Imagineering, to discuss with online guests the ongoing development of the New Fantasyland Expansion at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, the largest single expansion in the park’s history.

Unfortunately the end result wasn’t as promising as one might have hoped, with questions often answered in ways that conflict with previous announcements or seemingly dodged altogether.

In addressing the first question as to whether the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Coaster would be along the lines of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or if it will be child-friendly. Although politically correct, Beatty’s response was that ‘being that it’s Magic Kingdom, we want all of our guests to enjoy our attractions, so this will definitely be a family coaster that everyone can enjoy together.’ While this is of course the case, Big Thunder is also in the Magic Kingdom, so essentially the question was just not answered. The real answer, as defined by Imagineering in the past, is that this new coaster would lay between The Great Goofini (Barnstormer) and Big Thunder, having two lifts, where as the former attractions have 1 and 3 lifts respectively.

Another case in point just happened to be the following question in which Beatty was asked regarding a timeline as to when the New Fantasyland Expansion and its attractions would open to the guests. While Beatty answered it would open in phases beginning in in fall of 2012, previous announcements have pointed to at least some of the Storybook Circus area to open in early/spring 2012.

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Coaster seemed to be the reoccurring theme with Beatty attributing the vehicles to be the most technically advanced aspect of the New Fantasyland Expansion. Arguably enough, however, one guest did ask a leading question about Lumiere, who was mentioned at the Disney Parks and Resorts panel at D23 Expo as being a ‘life size’ audio animatronic (living character initiative), but Beatty deflected, noting a separate Disney Parks blog entry exploring Lumiere is on the way.

In addition to a large amount of trees and foliage and sitting areas to enhance the atmosphere of the Fantasyland Forest, Beatty also noted the strong presence and usage of water: ‘We’ve added lots of water! Water also tells an integral part of the story, from the Beast Castle, underneath the bridge you’ll cross, past the front of The Little Mermaid and all the way to Dumbo.’

Below is a gallery of some of the concept art that was shared during the chat:

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