In The Parks: Disneyland Opens Fantasy Faire Village

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort, In the Parks

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Published on March 08, 2013 at 4:04 am with 50 Comments

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.

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.

SPRING

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!

 

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 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.

 

PIONEER MERCANTILE

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 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?

About Norman Gidney

Norman Gidney, also known as Fishbulb, produces and edits many of the articles on MiceChat. Tune in every Tuesday for the Orlando Parkhopper and every Friday for In The Parks. But you'll also find his photos in the Weekly Round Up, SAMLAND, and numerous other columns on the site.

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50 Comments

Comments for In The Parks: Disneyland Opens Fantasy Faire Village are now closed.

  1. Thanks for the update

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

  3. 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.

    • 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? ; >

    • 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.

      • 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.

  4. 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! : >

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

  5. Great update as usual! Perfect start to a weekend!

  6. 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.

  7. 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???

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

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!) …

    PIONEER MERCANTILE

  11. 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 …

  12. 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!) …

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GPRpYzX03M

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

    C J