The princesses have arrived. After many long months of exile on small world mall, the Disney princesses have a new home in Fantasy Faire Village. Previews began yesterday for annual passholders, We also have more pictures of Spring plantings and the lovely work that the horticulture department does every year around this time. With the return of it’s a small world we’ve got a POV ride-through for you, shots of the new Rainbow Ridge being built at Big Thunder Mountain, Silly Symphony Swings progress and more!  So come on . . .  let’s get in the parks!


We took a look at the new Fantasy Faire Village princess meet and greet area yesterday.  While the small new addition to Fantasyland does not officially open until March 12th, Disney set previews for Annual Passholders on Thursday (yesterday), Friday, and Saturday between 12pm and 6pm.

With much trepidation, we watched the construction of the expansion from the Hub over these past few months, as the traditional dance floor of Carnation Gardens and its quiet surroundings were transformed into a new hive of princess activity.  The tranquil dining area slowly transformed into a charming Bavarian village backdrop as the Carnation Gardens stage was morphed into a gold and pink monstrosity.

Then we visited the new area in person.  In short, this is a surprisingly nice addition to the park that actually works a lot better than we anticipated.  Why?  To begin with, the details laced throughout the storefronts and facades are exemplary.  Once surrounded by the patchwork architecture and cobbled rooftops, one feels immersed in the little village.  Glancing back at the Sleeping Beauty Castle only reinforces the illusion that you are in a magical realm.

The footprint of the village is relatively small.  It is understandable that Disney would want to offer a place to take advantage of the wildly lucrative princess dress-up market they have created.  The old Princess Fantasy Faire next to it’s a small world was far too large for this purpose and, when in operation, put a nice theatre on hiatus.  Not to mention the fact that the new location is literally down the path from the Bibbidi Bobbidy Boutique inside the castle.  The placement just makes sense.

Clopin’s music box is a cute but small interactive element.

Guests crank the brass wheel and music plays while the figures dance.
A surprisingly cute element is the Figaro animatronic on a ledge above guests.
Figaro is asleep, until the bird in the cage next to him begins chirping.
Then suddenly Figaro’s eyes blink open and he occasionally paws at the bird.

There is one meet and greet, The Royal Hall; one store, Fairy Tale Treasures; one food location, Maurice’s Treats; and one entertainment offering, The Royal Theatre.

Expect massive lines for the nicely done Royal Hall princess meet and greet.  They mercifully built a large shaded queue and pathway through the gardens below the castle to allow for a wait that won’t be nearly as painful as the temporary Royal Walk on small world mall.  Once inside, guests are directed to one of two paths (the meet and greet areas are duplicated for capacity), and allowed to visit with not one, but three separate Disney Princesses.  The main room has a divider wall that separates the area into four meet and greet spots, serving two sides.   After the main hall there is another room with one more princess.  On our visit we got to meet Aurora, Ariel, and Cinderella.

The open ceiling above the divider walls, causing minor sound issues.

There is one small problem in the main hall, regarding sound leakage.   There have already been reports of children asking why they can hear more princesses on the other side of the divider wall. Unfortunately, the wall does not reach the ceiling, thus allowing sound to bounce from one side to the other.  They should be able to address this simply by bumping the music levels up a bit. When we entered the meet and greet, it had a ten minute wait.  When we exited, it had ballooned to 45 minutes.  Something tells me that the lines will only be longer after previews.  If you plan on visiting the princesses, be sure to bring patience and pixie dust.

Next up is the charming show staged at the Royal Theatre.  We ignored the eye-popping colors on the tent above us as we took our seats and were treated to an adorable show.   A small troupe of actors played out the story of Rapunzel, with her newly crowned prince, Flynn.  The performers, with live piano accompaniment,  engaged the younger audience members without talking down to them.  Playhouse Disney, this ain’t.  Catch this show if you can, as they really did an impressive job here.

Notice, the benches are not affixed to the floor. There may be hope for swing dancing yet.
Live accompaniment to the performance.

Finally, we stopped by the food cart, Maurice’s Treats.

The edibles here are fine, but nothing outstanding.  The Boysen-Apple freeze for $4.69 ($9.99 in a souvenir mug) is similar to what you can grab in Carsland, but with a berry flavored twist of course.  We next tried the Cheddar Garlic Bagel twist for $4.19  Ouch!  That cheddar is awfully jagged.  The flavor is fine, but not exactly worth $4.50.  Bring it south of $3 and we’ll talk.

$9.99? Really?

Jumping over to the Fairy Tale Treasures, we see that the merchandise here is just an extension of the existing Princess dress up stuff over at the boutique.  It’s a princess factory folks.

While we are actually 99% happy with this little addition to the park, there are some downsides.    Some purists, including this journalist, would argue that the magic of Fantasyland belongs behind Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, not in front.  They have attempted to make it work by extending the wall of the castle over to the new facades, and it certainly blends well.  But again, it’s a minor qualm.  The fact is there was no room to do this behind the castle without serious infrastructure work or the removal of a ride or two.  It’s a decision that had good and bad sides, but one that will likely make sense to most folks..

The other downside is, of course, the bright pink tent for the Royal Theatre.  Its overly bright pink, purple and gold color scheme and crowns atop the center pole are so obnoxiously colored that they pull the eye away from the castle and compete for attention,  upstaging the established star of the park (which now looks like it needs a paint job to match).  If the tent for the royal theatre was toned down in color by about 50 percent or colors complimentary to the Hub were used, it would blend better with its surroundings. It would also help make the area appear more approachable to little boys (and therefore make the area more friendly to the entire family). The village portion of the area is really a perfect match. We just hope that the tent coloration will be addressed to truly help this little area blend with the Hub aesthetic.

Those minor issues aside, we can safely say that the Fantasy Faire Village is a lovely addition to the park. If you are an annual pass holder, and would like to take advantage of the previews being offered today and tomorrow, get to the park early.  After presenting your annual pass at the Frontierland gates near Westward Ho, you will be assigned a 2 hour window of time in which to enter the Fantasy Faire.  Photo ID may also be required.


It bears repeating that Disneyland’s horticulture department is one of the best in the world.  Their work literally brings the park back to life after winter.  Here are some shots from the park in bloom.

it’s a small world

it’s a small world is back and it looks and sounds great. Below are a few select shots and a ride through video of the attraction from this week.

New belts keep the boats on track at the loading dock.

EEEEK! This horse has the mange!



Yes, Big Thunder is still closed and will be through late fall.  However, we do have some pics of the new Rainbow Ridge area near the queue under construction.

The new facades are popping up

Nothing noticeable at the station.
Wood along the track at the second to last break stop.
This guy up in the crane seemed a little lonely.

Work on the second lift hill is visible.



The scaffolding in front of Pioneer Mercantile in Frontierland has come down, although the walls are still up.

The facade, while aged, is noticeably new.
Even the copper is still shiny


Swinging over to Disney California Adventure, we see that Silly Symphony is beginning to be reconstructed as its lengthy, every-three-years refurbishment, continues.

The cleaned up canopy skirts the main support pole for the ride.


Just pop those panels back on and call it a day.


Grizzly also reopened after a winter refurbishment and the ride is all sparkly and new looking. No new additions have been made to the ride, and it is just as it was before. It’s too bad that they still don’t see fit to add more atmosphere or storyline to this large attraction.

Will you be visiting the Fantasy Faire Village when it opens to the general public on March 12th?

  • Trumpet

    Great Update Norman

    The Fantasy Faire looks good and will help with the underused theatre. A good addition to the park.

    Thanks Again Norman


  • Lobot

    There have been a couple rounds of refurbishment done to GRR and still has remnants of the previous, extreme sports theme, do they not notice the watermill – which is fashioned out of giant bicycle wheel!

    • ayalexander

      Its not a bicycle wheel, if you research that specific watermill its a high pressure water mill designed to move much faster and with more intensity due to the fact that piped water from the top of the mountain is shot into the cups and produces more energy/force for whatever the mill is used. Its a period appropriate prop.

      • Lobot

        yeah my bad! I always saw bike spokes when I looked at thing. Thought they were being cute.

      • wec

        I think the wheel is a so called “:Pelton Wheel.” The originals were patented and produced in my home town of Grass Valley, CA. The original iron works building where they were built still stands.

  • eicarr

    I’m glad Fantasy Faire extends beyond the land to take crowds out of it. It’s nicer than tomorrowland’s intrusion into the hub and I’ll apritiate the alternate scenic route into the land. Great area and report!!

    • Norman Gidney

      Agreed. It’s certainly a more elegant addition than the rocks and Astro-orbiter

  • Internitty

    If they fix the colour of the tent in Fantasy Faire and blend in the surroundings a bit more with denser foliage, perhaps a shrubbery and a feature like pulling King Arthur’s sword, perhaps cutting down the largest tree in the forest with a herring, FF will be really very lovely, business ways it makes perfect sense to ultilise the previously underused area. After all if we want more and more cool cutting edge and even charming additions to the park they need to make all the money they can to pay for it, hopefully Cars Land is raking in enough to start phase 2 of the DCA makeover as well.

    • ayalexander

      I hope they start phase 2 as well. I was thinking about it yesterday and told myself “the work has only begun!” -When it comes to fantasy fair, I agree the Royal Theatre colors need to be toned down a bit, not because I believe it will distract from the castle, (since guests see the castle first thing when they trek down Main Street anyway) but because its a little “loud”. But I doubt they’ll make the foilage any taller or denser due to the fact that they want the attention given to that once forgotten corner. They might never tone down the color, they want all little girls to walk to the pink tent and they want all experienced park goers to realize something took the place of Plaza Gardens.

      • Internitty

        You make an excellent point about no obscuring it so the little girls will see it and that is completely understandable, I guess like anything new we’ll all get used to it, was there a circus tent around that area many many years ago for The Mickey Mouse Club? Someone said that the pink will fade in time but I think they are likely to replace it when it does fade. I’m glad someone else has been thinking about stage 2 of DCA too, my biggest fear was that with the with success of the revamped DCA and the change in management that they might rest on their laurels as it were and we might not see any more major work for years until the numbers drop off.

    • Shipperson

      “perhaps cutting down the largest tree in the forest with a herring”. Is this a Python reference perhaps? : >

      • Internitty

        I feel there are not enough Python references in …anything really …Ni !

    • Susan Hughes

      During the Cast Member preview, we were told that the color scheme of the Royal Theater tent was to pay tribute to the original Fantasyland at Disneyland. Yes, the colors are too bright and obnoxious. But that’s the reason they chose that particular look. By the way, the Fantasyland in Orlando “still” looks like that. So go gripe about that.

      • Internitty

        Everyone already does. Not all tributes are a good thing

  • Oswald the Rabbitt

    Several show enhancements have taken place at Grizzly River Run.

    • ayalexander

      I’ve never ridden the attraction (since I don’t like getting soaked on rides) but I am curious to know, what enhancements?

      • Internitty

        Best river rapid ride EVER!

  • Gregg Condon

    Great update Norm.

  • SpectroMan

    Fantasy Faire looks a lot like the new Tangled restroom area at WDW. The bright tent will be fine; it’ll fade in a few months.

    Did they paint Small World’s facade? It was looking REALLY dirty lately.

    • ayalexander

      nope they did not. I wish they did. Cause I mean, wow.

  • CandyPandora

    Are you kidding? The cheddar garlic twists are DIVINE! More for me! 😉

  • chesirecat

    I think I’d give PFF overall and A to and A+, simply looks fantastic.

    Yes, the color scheme on the tent *clash*, (being various shades of purple and red), but I don’t think its the “monstrosity” or “hideous” thing that it has been described as in these columns. The old CPG had brighter colors, being white and red, its just that the Royal Theater awning colors don’t match very well. As PFF looks like it belongs right next to the castle, I don’t think it needs to be hidden from view. After all, this is going to be one of the most popular areas of the park.

    Tony Baxter was shoved out the door, and DCA 1.0 costed about $1 billion dollars, if DLR makes profits of $200 million a year, then it would take five years just to pay for Carsland and all of this new stuff . . . given that DLR isn’t a non-profit, I’m sure Burbank will be happy with no major attractions at DLR for the next eight years, or longer, to actually turn a profit. Tony Baxter was an advocate for new lands/attractions at Disneyland, though corporate sees growth opportunities oversees, they still kinda view DLR as not having enough room for a major new expansion/attraction, unless they want to spend $$$ to expand Frontierland, or to do reconstructive surgery on Tomorrowland.

  • DisneyDrums

    Everything is looking great. Can’t wait to go back once it’s baseball season. Me and my parents plan on visiting the Big A to watch my A’s take on the Halos (and hopefully win.)

  • peanutj

    The Royal Theatre is so pink it’ll cure diarrhea and upset stomachs.

    • mysteriouspnai

      Lol, I too was thinking it was pept-abysmally pink.

  • Saw the new area yesterday and have to agree that it’s really wonderful. A great addition to the park. However, that hot pink has to go. I’d suggest they use the same pink that is used on the castle or perhaps a more victorian pink such as might be used on Main Street. OR better yet, ditch the pink and use a more family friendly color complimentary to the hub area.

    Overall, this is a big win for the park and allows the Fantasyland Theater to return to its original purpose.

  • DisneylandTraveler

    It’s Fantasyland for a reason. For historical purposes back in the middle ages, why would you build a village for towns people outside the protective walls of a castle surrounded by a moat?

    As for the lonely guy in the crane. I wouldn’t feel too bad, probably makes more money in a day than most people make in a week, or 2, or 3, or …..

    • chesirecat

      The great Disneyland Peace treaty of 717, which was negotiated between Princess Aurora, representing Fantasyland, an the Pirate auctioneer of New Orleans Square representing the west side of Disneyland, put an end to bloody battles for the foreseeable future, hence a village was built outside the walls, but well within the protection afforded by the moat. There are signs posted around PFF about what to do during a pirate/frontiersman/bear attack from the west side of the park, namely retreat to the nearest defensible location which is the princess boutique which has an armory in the back.

    • JMazz

      In “real life” or an historical sense, many many times villages were OUTSIDE the castle walls. These were the poor, disenfranchised, and/or less connected folks. As this system of government grew, they rarely expanded the castle grounds for obvious reasons. Ppl would live just outside the protected area. An invasion? Grab your family and head for the draw bridge before it was pulled up.

      There is more “right” with this new village than “wrong”.

      Now if they would fix the cat’s weird lazy eye…

      • Internitty

        Also Princesses are well known to hide in amongst the poor and on occasion hook up with the local rapscallion who often is a prince in disguise or the hero of the masses AND Cinderella lived out of the castle for most of her life before moving into the castle

  • mysteriouspnai

    Does anyone know if they’ll have a grand opening ceremony? I’m there March 11-12 and hoping to catch the grand opening.

  • scarymouse

    Love the report fish, and the hot pink will be fade to a neutral color in no time, I think the got smart and starting using extra bright colors so they will last longer and will be more vibrant for a longer period between refurbs. I like to think it was a Fantasyland refurb now move on to frontierland then T- land……keep it moving along. add here and there in those spots we all know about.Has the new guy made any difference to the time schedule of new things to come, I haven’t heard much. Let’s hope for new and better experiences for us all.

  • Spongeocto4

    Thanks for the update

  • Seawolf

    The Royal Theater and tile roofing is obnoxiously colored and doesn’t match Fantasyland in any sense of the word.

  • mondo

    Thanks for the update but I am bothered by this quote.”Some purists, including this journalist, would argue that the magic of Fantasyland belongs behind Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, not in front.”

    How can you and anyone else who thinks this, can be considered a purists when Walt Disney was okay with some of Fantasyland being outside of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. He build Snow White’s Wishing Well and Grotto outside of the castle in ’61. I have never read or heard anyone disliking the Wishing Well/Grotto location and the argument that Fantasyland should be behind the castle wall until FFV. That is over 50 years. I am assuming you are also 99% happy with Snow White’s Wishing Well and Grotto too, based on what you said.

    • Shipperson

      I’ve come to learn that Disneyland, will listen to what anyone says, but then pretty much do what they want anyways. Disneyland, like a casino, is all about how many dollars are we bringing in, per square foot of property. I loved Carnation Plaza and the Bandstand and dance floor but, to Disneyland it was an area void of dollar generation! No shops, food stands, princess products or anything be bring in money! It was bands playing, people dancing and people sitting still and NOT spending money! It is sad to see it go but all part of big business. Doesn’t matter, if it is in front, behind, beside the castle, fits in with the theme or anything else. I really do hope they monitor sites like these, because I really wish they would listen to the people once in a while! Oh and if they are, REALLY, $150 in one year? ; >

    • Norman Gidney

      That’s actually a great point! I guess I always thought of the area in front of the castle as sort of the prelude to Fantasyland.

      But the Snow White grotto and wishing well were far more subtle in execution. Nestled into a winding garden path, the rustic wishing well and statue representations of Snow White and the seven dwarves is, arguably, more subtle than giving the live characters a new home right outside the castle.

      I suppose it’s about where one feels Fantasyland begins and how the show should be presented.

      • DobbysCloset

        Or how pink things should be. It says something about us culturally to be reacting to so much pink. I totally feel as though I got enough of the experience to not go there myself. Thanks so much.

  • Shipperson

    Look, I don’t mean to be the rain on everyone’s parade but….. O.k., it’s a lie, I like to be at least a smattering of rain on the parade. The Carnation Plaza bandstand and dance floor has been there since Walt opened the place. He would feature it on the World of Color show each week. Many big bands played there and people came to Disneyland, just to go dancing! I loved to go, in the modern times and see the Disneyland band play there and the College Band play there in the summer. I loved seeing people come out in their fancy dancing cloths and dancing shoes and dance to the big band music. It was cute, you might see some young women there and they clearly looked like they wanted to get out there and dance, then I would see a dapper gentleman that would excuse himself from his partner and come over and show her some proper dance steps. It was cute and the music amazing. During the summer, Dr. Ron of the Disneyland College Band fame would invite a friend who was an AMAZING singer and she would do a set with the College Band. She reminded me of a young Ella! I miss the old Carnation Plaza. Maybe they will do that in the old Princess Fare area or at least do a stage show there again! Sorry, I hate change! : >

    • DobbysCloset

      It sounds lovely. Anachronistic but lovely. It belongs in 1940’s land, for sure.

  • 4Apples4Disney

    Great update as usual! Perfect start to a weekend!

  • Tanthus

    The Beauty and the Beast Pantomime (yes it as close as you can get to a Pantomime in America) was really well done. Including sing along, booing the bad guy, princess, ect ect. The actors are really good and put there all into it. I would see it again too, which is something I don’t say about many “kids” shows.


    Good, if only they would begin work on the planned PeopleMover 2.0. I hear Disneyland is working on adding a station in Star Tours? And an accepted sponsorship with Monsanto? And Goodyear? What does it mean???

    • Norman Gidney

      Sadly, even tony Baxter himself admitted that the peoplemover attraction at Disneyland is dead.

    • DobbysCloset

      It means you are having flashbacks to the ’60’s?

  • sixalex

    Really nice update. I especially enjoyed the interior pix of Small World. I have long since given up trying to get a good shot with my little point and shoot.

    Just a note for those who “hate c
    hange” and want everything to stay the way Walt made it…so, no Fantasmic, Big Thunder Mountain, renovated Fantasyland or Jolly Holiday? Let it go folks. Look to the future. It is where we all get to live.

  • Susan Hughes

    Lots of excitement over the new Fantasy Faire. But not for me. Yes, it looks great and will add some excitement to a previously dead, unused area. But I will miss seeing the Princesses walking amongst the crowd as they take that long stroll from Tomorrowland, past Pixie Hollow, and on to the castle for meet and greets. And of course, what better setting to see a Princess than by the castle.
    Instead, they will be herded into a green room behind the Royal Hall where they will remain out of sight until it’s time for their hidden meet and greets.
    The one thing Disneyland had which gave it a charm unlike their Florida counterpart are the characters roaming around the grounds, mingling with the park guests. I will truly miss not seeing the Princesses do that anymore.

  • darkamor

    I still can’t believe I lost a great place for Live Swing Music / Swing Dancing to another Stroller Parking Lot built to cha-ching parental units into making purchases for their toddlers (was Pixie Hollow not enough? (rolls eyes). Judging by the prices for a flavored bagel ($4?), along with a 20 oz juice in a cheap plastic cup ($10?); I know where I will avoid when going to Disneyland (please don’t call me a sore arse, save that for term whomever is going to sit on those non cushioned wooden benches – & the day Disneyland holds Live Swing inside a Princess Tent , is the day they attempt to hold a Rave inside Old World Village during Octoberfest!) …


  • darkamor

    PIONEER MERCANTILE – looks fantastic & I hope the rest of Frontierland maintains that “Old West with a touch of Victorian” charm. Yes I join many sighing over the fact Rainbow Ridge will be completely rebuilt (meaning there will not be an original Rainbow Ridge Structure), but @ least it wasn’t abandoned like Fort Wilderness was on Tom Sawyer Island (& there was no excuse for that!) and I can’t wait for Big Thunder Mountain to be re-opened …

  • darkamor

    SILLY SYMPHONY SWINGS – why oh why does DCA still have this ride? Why can’t Team Disney Anaheim do us a favor & replace it with another Water Ride? (something 1/2 indoors, something that would float your boat, something that lasts longer then 5 minutes and doesn’t have more then a 30 minute wait in a shaded queue line) ….

    GRIZZLY RIVER RUN – easily the cleanest Raft Ride in any Southern California Theme Park and the most themed of them all; but the problem is there’s no “cohesive theme” (here’s an idea, why not borrow from that 1954 Donald Duck cartoon “Grin and Bear It”, where we got our 1st appearance of the Ranger who tries to keep Humphrey the Bear from helping himself to Donald’s picnic in Brownstone National Park – so there you have it – Donald Duck, Bears, Park Ranger, Brownstone National Park – C’mon TDA ! That’s a no brainer!) …

    Thank you for reminding me that Disneyland is top notch when it comes to Seasonal Horticulture, Samland 🙂

    C J