Ever since plans were announced to add a Little Mermaid themed attraction at Disneyland, rumors have existed that Disney World would add the same attraction to the unused space in the Magic Kingdom where the old 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea used to be. It makes sense, given the popularity of the small corner of Fantasyland devoted to the Ariel meet and greet and the small water attraction there, as well as of the Disney princesses in general. Yesterday, that rumor went into overdrive when a proposed plan of the area was "leaked," begging the question, is it real?
I'm not showing the plan here since there are some possible legal issues involved, but the plan shows the addition of a number of "new" princess attractions, the elimination of Toon Town, save for Goofy's Barnstormer, a fairy meet and greet, and at least one sit-down restaurant. There are also plans for new walkways and landscaping in keeping with the princess theme.
While I think some of the "plans" are interesting, I doubt this is real. Most glaringly, the plan has more than a few spelling errors, but more substantively, it seems to lack the kind of coherent, rational planning one expects from Disney parks. Having two Dumbo rides makes very little sense. While the line for Dumbo is notoriously long, does it benefit Disney to shorten those lines? I'm not so sure it does, since guests have shown they will willingly wait. Further, placing two rides of this sort together is not visually appealing. The other problem I see is that the design doesn't flow very well from one attraction to the other, risking the type of bottlenecks that are a problem in Disney Hollywood Studios. Finally, as both a mother of young children and a huge fan of the Magic Kingdom, I think the park will lose something of its character if it loses Mickey and Minnie's houses. I know that Toon Town needs a makeover (certainly, the restroom does) and I know it's one of the newer "lands" and thus is somewhat unappealing to traditionalists, but completely eliminating it would be a huge disappointment to kids and adults like me, who happen to love it.
The most interesting aspect of the plan is the virtual transformation of one entire section of Fantasyland with the addition of several princess meet-and-greets and at least one dark ride, probably Ariel, although possibly also Belle. Again, I don't know how much it benefits Disney to saturate the market with princess attractions, particularly all in one park, thereby eliminating, at least for some, the desire to visit other parks. What then, becomes of the Beauty and the Beast show at Disney Hollywood Studios and other shows and attractions throughout Disney World? Some complain that the Magic Kingdom is too "kid-oriented" already. Wouldn't this make it even more so, and in particular, make it that boys would be less inclined to want to visit?
Ultimately, I think the "plan" is a clever fake and a fun diversion on a hot Friday afternoon. Disney just doesn't "leak" documents and we've seen that they're pretty good at keeping secrets; that's part of the fun for Disney fans. It's all but been confirmed that the Little Mermaid attraction is a go for the Magic Kingdom. As for the rest of this plan, it made a few Disney fans think, argue and discuss, and there's nothing wrong with that. I guess time will tell.
Update: It appears I was very wrong and this is actually true. See The Disney Blog. Wow. It's going to be amazing.