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!
FANTASY FAIRE Village
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
BIG THUNDER MOUNTAIN REFURB
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 scaffolding in front of Pioneer Mercantile in Frontierland has come down, although the walls are still up.
Swinging over to Disney California Adventure, we see that Silly Symphony is beginning to be reconstructed as its lengthy, every-three-years refurbishment, continues.
GRIZZLY RIVER RUN
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?