Magic Kingdom’s Storybook Circus: Don’t Miss Its Old-Time Charm

©Disney
©Disney

The extremely well-themed Storybook Circus area of Fantasyland in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom can be easy to miss. Hidden behind the newest mountain and one of the hottest FastPass+ attractions in the park (hint: a certain number of dwarfs call this mountain home), Storybook Circus isn’t generally a top priority for guests. However, those looking to indulge in more of the old-time charm that is one of the best features of Main Street, U.S.A. and other lands like Frontierland and Liberty Square shouldn’t overlook Storybook Circus.

So let’s head to the back of the park and take a look at some of the highlights of Storybook Circus, where abundant details bring to life old-fashioned fun at the circus fairgrounds.

Dumbo

No attraction shows off the energy of Storybook Circus better than Dumbo the Flying Elephant. From its fast-flying elephants, to its brightly painted accents and Big Top queue, to its spinning lights, down to its sparkling fountains, Dumbo says “look at me.”

Dumbo night_Tom Bricker
©Tom Bricker DisneyTouristBlog.com

Before the new Fantasyland expansion, when Dumbo was relocated to Storybook Circus and reconstructed in duplicate with much-enhanced details, it was the target of a headlong rush by many guests as their first attraction of the day. Confession time: because of that opening time rush and sustained lines throughout the day, I never actually rode Dumbo in its previous spot. But now that Dumbo has moved to Storybook Circus, my attitude is entirely different.

Incredible detail at the top of Dumbo the Flying Elephant ©Sarah Graffam

Not only have the lines for Dumbo died down, but its charm and kinetic energy have been so amped up that it is now one of my favorite attractions to head to at night. I love to plan for it to be the final attraction of my day, followed by a leisurely stroll to the park exit. Even better, try riding it during Wishes for a different view of the fireworks and then take your time exiting the park behind the crowds.

Big Top Souvenirs (and Treats)

Across from Dumbo is the large and airy (and of course tent-shaped) Big Top Souvenirs. Features of the shop include faux tent stitching on the floors, strung lights on the ceiling, circus car checkout counters, and vibrant signage. In terms of souvenirs, much of its merchandise can also be found in the Emporium on Main Street, U.S.A. mixed in with some circus-themed goods such as housewares and apparel. But the real star here is Big Top Treats.

©Rikki Niblett

Big Top Treats are served at a large, circular counter at the center of the tent. This counter is set up so that guests can watch Cast Members actually creating the fantastic variety of snacks on offer, including caramel corn, candied and caramel apples, cotton candy, cake pops, fudge, cookies, and many more sweets.

And with all that color in Storybook Circus, I can’t help but order a red or blue Goofy’s Glacier slushy to sip outside while surveying the energy of the circus grounds.

Tip: If you are looking for plain popcorn, there is a Storybook Circus popcorn cart as well as carts for hot dogs and pretzels.

Pete’s Silly Side Show Meet & Greet

©Disney
©Disney

To meet Donald, Goofy, Minnie, and Daisy in the role of circus performers, head over to the character meet & greet housed inside Pete’s Silly Side Show. This fabulously detailed building is a great example of the larger-than-life feeling of Storybook Circus. Huge signs (including a giant cutout of a devious-looking Pete) beckon guests inside to meet the Great Goofini, the Astounding Donaldo, Madame Daisy Fortuna, and Minnie Magnifique.

©Disney
©Disney

Tip: There is one line for Goofy and Donald and another for Daisy and Minnie. All are in one large open area, so you can catch glimpses of all four characters through the lines of guests while you wait in air-conditioned comfort. It didn’t take my family long to get through both lines even during a busy mid-day at the park.

Walt Disney World Railroad – Fantasyland Train Station

Fantasyland Train Station ©Julia Mascardo

For direct transport into the middle of the action in Storybook Circus, take a ride on the Walt Disney World Railroad to its Fantasyland station. With the debut of Storybook Circus, this train station was rebuilt and themed in blues and greens, brick siding, warm wood accents, barn doors and other barn accents, posters of attractions like Dumbo, and details such as multi-colored travel trunks.

Also look for touches honoring Walt Disney, such as a sign for Carolwood Park over the entrance to the station. This sign refers to the scale-model, ride-on Carolwood-Pacific Railroad that Disney built in his own backyard at his Carolwood Drive home.

The barn accents of the train station provide a nice connection to the first attraction that guests encounter when exiting the station—the Barnstormer coaster. But where the neat and tidy feeling of the train station ends, the Barnstormer immediately plunges guests into the hectic circus atmosphere.

Detail at the Fantasyland Train Station ©Julia Mascardo

Other Storybook Stuff

Storybook Circus has a couple more attractions in its round up that add to the hustle and bustle of the area, though they are not usually part of my plans for a couple of reasons.

These include the aforementioned Barnstormer, a short but lively kiddie coaster. Here, guests can see the Great Goofini of Pete’s sideshow “crashing” through the attraction’s billboard and other parts of the structure. While the Barnstormer is very visually appealing, it typically has long lines, and its small cars mean it is more targeted to kids than adults.

© Sarah Graffam
© Sarah Graffam

There is also Casey Jr. Splash N’ Soak Station. The word “soak” is absolutely accurate and a big clue that this is not an experience for me without the serious payoff of an attraction like Splash Mountain. Still, I’ve seen many kids enjoying a mid-day cooling off bath from Casey Jr. Train’s spraying circus animals.

Thanks for joining me on a short visit to this not-to-be-overlooked area of Magic Kingdom. If you have a choice, I definitely recommend visiting at night to get the full effect of Storybook Circus’s lights and bright colors. And don’t forget to look for smaller details such as the animal footprints in the cement walkways and Storybook Circus’s many meticulously designed signs and circus props. Who else is excited for some circus fun like Goofy showing off his bear wrasslin’ and tiger juggling skills or taking your chances on a Wheel of Peril?

Sarah Graffam

Sarah gets that giddy feeling when walking down Main Street, U.S.A. (and sometimes in her own living room just thinking about her next trip to Disney World). She is a Disney Vacation Club member and has been a professional writer and editor since 1990. Other favorite places she has traveled include Hong Kong, the Czech Republic, England, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Alaska, Kenya, Tanzania, and Disneyland.

4 thoughts on “Magic Kingdom’s Storybook Circus: Don’t Miss Its Old-Time Charm

  • July 29, 2015 at 12:40 pm
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    I totally agree this is a great area. On our last trip, June 2014, we thoroughly enjoyed the meet and greet with Minnie, Daisy, Goofy and Donald. Great interactions. And the Splash area was wonderful for everyone to cool off a little. Both my daughter and I cooled off a little– not soaking– but enough to feel some relief from the June sun. Visiting at night also gives it a magical feel. We even watched the fireworks from here one night. Not ideal for viewing, but a nice spot to sit without any crowds.

  • July 29, 2015 at 1:55 pm
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    Thanks for the great ideas…and the descriptions…we’re going in early December, and will have to check the area out at night. It sounds like a great way to end our first day at WDW.

  • July 29, 2015 at 6:10 pm
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    We loved the character meet-and-greet when we went with my two-year-old. And the characters are just in the coolest costumes! We thought my daughter may be confused that they weren’t in their “classic” outfits, but she didn’t care. She was still in awe. And we got in and out quickly! Overall, we had a better experience with the photographers here than we did at the Epcot character spot, which was just disappointing.

    Believe it or not, I wish they had a meeting for Pete. My daughter squealed and pointed when she saw the giant picture of Pete on the outside of the building. I know he’s kind of a villain, but my Clubhouse obsessed daughter loves him.

  • July 30, 2015 at 1:30 pm
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    Late at night on a Halloween party night, you can ride Dumbo two times in a row without getting out. We could have stayed on longer, but there was candy to collect, and really, if you’re not a toddler, once around Dumbo is enough.

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