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Storybook Circus concept art

The new Storybook Circus area that will form part of an expanded Fantasyland at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom has "soft opened" to the public for the first time.

Guests at the park on Monday, March 13, 2012 were able to experience the selection of rides on offer in part of Storybook Circus. This included one of two updated Dumbo The Flying Elephant rides, the Barnstormer - Hosted by the Great Goofini rollercoaster and Fantasyland Railroad Station. These are due to officially reopen later this month, with the remainder of Storybook Circus expected to open by early 2013.

The headline attraction in Storybook Circus is Dumbo The Flying Elephant, a version of which has operated at the Magic Kingdom since the parked opened in 1971. At present, guests visiting the area can ride a new version of the ride that is largely identical to the existing one, which will be relocated to a site next to it. Disney is doubling-up the attraction in order to reduce its infamously long queues, and will also add an interactive queue hosted inside a circus tent to keep waiting riders entertained.

The Dumbo ride was caught on camera in action during the evening by Inside the Magic:

Alongside the Dumbo attractions, Storybook Circus also features an updated version of the existing Barnstormer roller coaster, renamed as Barnstormer - Hosted by the Great Goofini. The ride has received a new theme based on stunt planes, and can be seen in action in a video captured by The Disney Blog below:

Meanwhile, the Disneyland Railroad can once again stop in Fantasyland after the land's station reopened alongside Storybook Circus. The video below, filmed by Jeff Lange DVD, shows the view as a train pulls into the station:

The next milestone in the Fantasyland expansion will be the closure of the Snow White's Scary Adventure dark ride on May 31, 2012. A new meet-and-greet experience will eventually replace it, with a new Snow White-themed attraction, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster, due to open in late 2013 elsewhere in Fantasyland.

You can keep up to date with the latest confirmed and rumored opening dates for new attractions through Theme Park Tourist's "New Attraction Watch" section, and by signing up for our weekly newsletter.

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