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Enchanted Tales with Belle
In Fantasyland Forest
This interactive Meet and Greet experience, where the children help Belle as she retells the story of the night she and Beast first met, opened in late 2012 as part of the Magic Kingodom's New Fantasyland Expansion. (Video and lots of pics at the bottom of this page.) Imagineers' use of the word Enchanted is spot on. The use of lighting, special effects, and set-design bring Belle's world to life; including the magic of Belle's mirror.
Guests wind their way up to Maurice's cottage through a beautifully landscaped path (a.k.a. queue), where the Beast's Castle is clearly visible, setting atop a mountain behind the cottage. Guests enter the cottage's main 'living room' with a large fireplace, height markings from Belle's childhood on the wall, a portrait of Belle and her mother, and a desk with some of Maurice's invention plans. Guests wait here in the cottage until they are taken to the pre-show room--Maurice's Workshop. The attraction will offer Fastpass, and guests with Fastpasses will not come through the cottage but will instead enter through a side door at the back of the cottage. At that point the stand-by and Fastpass lines merge in a hallway leading to Maurice's Workshop.
Maurice's Workshop, as a cast member will point out to each group, is full of tools and inventions. However there is one very significant item in the workshop: an Enchanted Mirror given to him by the beast that allows Maurice to visit Belle at the castle whenever he wishes. But 'today' we, the guests, are going to see the day Belle and Beast first met; so the cast member tells the guests to ask the mirror to 'take us to the day Belle and Beast first met'.
Then comes a most magical and enchanting moment: the mirror plays a short movie while streaching and transforming into a door to the castle. A workbench is swung aside and guests walk from the workshop into the 'castle' where they are greeted by the Enchanted Wardrobe.
Here in the room in the castle, the children are gathered to the front of the group (of about 50 guests). A cast member announces that the group will help Lumiere surprise Belle by helping to tell the story about when she and the Beast met. The Enchanted Wardrobe announces parts and the cast member chooses different children--or adults--to play the parts in the surprise play they will help put on for Belle. Each child is given a prop from the wardrobe as they are assigned parts. As an example, the cast member tells the children 'we need someone to be Chip. Who can hop like Chip?' and the children, as if on queue, start hopping and then the 'best' hopper is handed a cut-out of Chip to hold during the play. Parts range from Mrs. Potts and the Beast to silverware.
After parts have been assigned guests are escorted through a door to the Castle Library. (There are two castle libraries. Groups alternate between them to accommodate more guests.) Here the children sit on the floor up front and the adults are seated on benches. Lumiere greets the guests from his position atop the fireplace mantel and instructs the guests to say surprise when Belle enters the room. (An interesting note: Lumiere's arms move very fluidly, maintaining a bending quality, with no apparent hinging.) Belle enters dressed in her yellow gown, and is surprised and delighted to share her story with her friends. Cast members help the children tell the story of when Belle and Beast first met based on the previously assigned parts, including a march around the room with Belle in the lead as Lumiere sings 'Be Our Guest'. After the play the children each meet Belle who gives them a special bookmark to use in their favorite book, and then each child has their picture taken by a PhotoPass photographer (parents are given a special PhotoPass card as they exit). After photos, Belle says goodbye, leaves the library, and guests then exit back out into Fantasyland Forest.
An enchanted storytime with Belle has been part of the plans for New Fantasyland since it was announced in 2009. Prior to Enchanted Tales with Belle, there was Storytime with Belle held in the Fantasyland Garden area of Magic Kingdom. Fantasyland Forest, including Enchanted Tales with Belle, is scheduled for a grand opening December 6, 2012.
Video of Enchanted Tales with Belle
Pictures: (Click to enlarge) Top Left: New Castle Wall--entrance to technical rehearsal is through the door in the construction wall in the middle of the picture. Top Right: View from just inside the construction wall--landscaping, cottage, castle. 2nd Row Left: Bridge leading up to Maurice's cottage. 2nd Row Right: Maurice's Cottage. 3rd Row: View of Beast's Castle from in front of the Cottage.
Pics: 1st Row Left: Fastpass Entrance. 1st Row Right: Waterwheel of Maurice's cottage, with no water...yet. 2nd Row Left: 1st glance inside Maurice's Cottage. 2nd Row Right: Maurice's Cottage including height marks on the wall to the right. 3rd Row Left: Fireplace in the living room of Maurice's Cottage. 3rd Row Right: Portrait of Belle and her Mother hanging on the cottage wall. 4th Row Left: Table and desk with plans for some of Maurice's inventions found inside the cottage. 4th Row Right: Portrait of Belle and her Mother.
Pics: 1st Row Left: The Enchanted Mirror in Maurice's Workshop. 1st Row Right: Inside the castle with the Enchanted Wardrobe. 2nd Row Left: The Enchanted Wardrobe contains the props for the play. 2nd Row Right: The Enchanted Wardrobe. 3rd Row: Inside the Castle Library awaiting the arrival of Belle. Bottom Row Left: Belle and Lumiere in the Castle Library. Bottom Row Right: Cinderella's Castle as seen from Fantasyland Forest.