I’m just going to rip the band-aid off. Storybook Circus at Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort needs to go. It’s terrible and provides no unique experience to Walt Disney World other than a flying elephant ride that’s been duplicated two times in the same park. I said it, fight me. Well, maybe don’t fight me, but definitely leave a comment if you disagree.
Honestly, I’d suspect most longtime Guests of Magic Kingdom would side with me on this issue. It did replace Mickey’s Toontown Fair in 2012. A lot of people are still notably sour about the addition, but it isn’t something that we say out loud for some reason. Sure, there’s a cute splash pad and the Barnstormer, but outside of that, it’s a real drag over there. If you’re more than three years old, are you really riding the Barnstormer anyhow?
Sure, there’s theming, but compared to what the expectation is, it’s mediocre. Not to mention, shopping in the area offers very little. There isn’t even a brick-and-mortar dining option! The entire place could be more impressive. It’s incredibly underwhelming. It’s the kind of place where you’d stick a long line of Annual Passholders who are picking up a popcorn bucket so that other Guests don’t see them. Disney did this exact thing when the Mr. Toad popcorn bucket made its debut. I know this because I was one of the people who stood in line to get it upon release only to see it sold months later at standard popcorn carts, but I digress.
As we said, Storybook Circus opened in the spring of 2012. It was part of the larger reveal of the entire section known today as New Fantasyland. It seems as if the budget was blown early on for the rest of New Fantasyland leaving little to work with when the circus area was constructed. This is complete speculation, but if you’ve wandered around back there recently, you’ll notice that it isn’t standing up to the test of time. Maybe some corners were cut. Maybe that played a role in the fire at Big Top Souvenirs back in 2019.
In a time and place where we have lands like Pandora and Galaxy’s Edge, Storybook Circus just doesn’t compare. The detailing just doesn’t match up with the rest of Magic Kingdom, much less some of the newer park locations. Maybe the expectation is too high, but it just seems disconnected from the rest of the park. It doesn’t feel like it belongs. It feels lazy and not at all like a circus. Instead, it presents the notion of a five-dollar pop-up carnival you’d find at the local county fairgrounds. I understand that it is supposed to feel like the circus in Dumbo, but it just feels cheap and underkept. Maybe I’m a fastidious person. Maybe I just don’t understand the land, but I’ll never forgive it because we lost Mickey’s Toontown Fair! It’s time to tear it down and start over. Give us some of that Disney Imagineering we’re accustomed to.