Annual Passholders were invited to preview Disneyland‘s new Fantasy Faire late last week, getting an early glimpse at the park’s rather intimate new princess meet-and-greet area. The new addition to Disneyland’s Fantasyland opens to the public this week, but will the small village be able to handle the impending spring break crowds? Still, not all Disney Princesses will call Fantasy Faire home. With the opening of the new area this week, several princesses will take up permanent residence in the Faire’s Royal Hall while others move to different locations throughout the park. Meanwhile, work continues on the new stage show at the Fantasyland Theater and at various refurbishments in both parks.
Get a closer look at today’s update! Click on any photo in today’s column for a large, high-resolution version of the image.
|Welcome to Disneyland!|
Our friends at Touring Plans have their weekly crowd forecast below as Disneyland’s popular spring break season gets underway this week.
Disneyland enters the beginning of the busy Spring Break seaon. TouringPlans.com can help you navigate the parks with our per-park Crowd Calendar, Lines – Mobile Wait Times App that gives access to current and estimated wait times for attractions, and Touring Plans detailing the best plan of attack for hitting the attractions. Now more than ever, it’s a good time to subscribe to TouringPlans.com to plan your strategy to avoid the crowds!
Below are the predicted resort-wide crowd numbers for select days generated by the TouringPlans professional statisticians as measured for the upcoming week. For the access to the full year and per-park crowd level predictions, visit our Crowd Calendar.
— Fred Hazelton, Statistician, TouringPlans.com
|Tues., Mar. 12||Here are some quick-hit notes that we hope you’ll find helpful as you prepare your visits for the week:
|Wed., Mar. 13||7 /10|
|Thu., Mar. 14||6 /10|
|Fri., Mar. 15||9/10|
|Crowd levels are based on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the least crowded conditions and 10 being most crowded.See Disneyland crowds for the next 365 days.
Get Disneyland wait times on your iPhone, Android, or Smartphone.Do more. Wait less.
Dateline Disneyland is sponsored by TouringPlans.com.
|Exploring Fantasy Faire|
Fantasy Faire has an impressive five points of entry, but don’t be surprised if you find many of them turned into dead ends for stroller parking or overflow queue when the area opens to the public on Tuesday. Below, the main bridge to Fantasy Faire is prepared to be partially used for overflow queue for the Royal Hall meet-and-greet.
You’ll enter the Royal Hall via a door way and short corridor through what appears to be an extension of Sleeping Beauty Castle (a nice touch), before you emerge into a lovely hall of rich wood tones and festooned with royal banners.
The Royal Hall is actually a large room split in half, with each half divided into three individual meet-and-greet spaces. Guests will only experience one half of the Royal Hall and Disney hopes guests will be oblivious to the fact that there are duplicate princesses meeting with guests on the other side of the wall. The design with double princesses aims to ease wait times, but the partial dividing wall in the Royal Hall has been a point of concern. Early reports have come back saying it wasn’t uncommon to hear another Aurora talking with guests on the other side of the wall while you were getting your photo taken with Aurora on your side of the wall.
Reportedly, Disney’s solution to the problem was to increase the background music — and in my experience, the fix seemed to have worked. The background music didn’t seem too loud and while I could hear the murmur of other guests in the Royal Hall, I couldn’t hear specific words or conversations that might ruin the illusion.
Overall, the Royal Hall is a nice meet-and-greet environment. It accomplishes its goal well enough, providing a much-needed permanent home to three Disney princesses. The Hall is also flexible enough to allow different characters to utilize the space if need be.
Below, a video of the Royal Hall experience from our friends at the In the Parks blog here at MiceChat.
Figaro tries to get a nap in but his caged friend keeps waking him up. The animatronics here aren’t the most advanced, which is to be expected given their outdoor location. They add a lot of charm to the space, though, and it’s great to see this sort of thing still being added to new park experiences.
Below, a video of the new Figaro and bird animatronics:
Below, a video of the music box in action:
Lead by Vaudeville-style hosts, the shows retell the stories from “Tangled” and “Beauty and the Beast” with help from the princesses. The resulting shows are fast-paced, don’t take themselves too seriously and pack in a lot of humor. It’s a refreshing change of pace from Disney — the shows are fun but don’t rely on Disney’s typical out-of-touch attempts at being hip and edgy to achieve the humor.
As of now, Disney has no plans to bring back the popular evening swing dancing back to the former Carnation Plaza Stage, despite Tom Staggs promising such a return at the 2011 D23 Expo. For now, the plan is to keep Fantasy Faire open into the evening, keeping the venue occupied when swing bands would typically be performing. Still, the old dance floor remains in place and the new stage is built with the ability to host bands if Disney wishes to do so in the future. For now, swing dancing will remain in Downtown Disney.
Below, a video from Disney with Show Director Christopher Utley.
The Cheddar Garlic Bagel Twist was a popular choice during Passholder previews. I tried it and enjoyed it for the first couple bites while it was still warm. Once the bagel twist cooled off it got pretty tough and wasn’t worth eating anymore. It might be worth trying once, but I probably wouldn’t get it again.
I didn’t try the pastry twists, which are a bit cheaper and come in chocolate and strawberry flavors. Our friend Guy Selga over at Touring Plans tried the strawberry twist and said it was just okay but would opt for one of Jolly Holiday Bakery’s better options just across the hub.
The cart also offers a new take on Disney’s trend of frozen apple juice drinks that we’ve seen in Cars Land and Walt Disney World’s New Fantasyland. This time, instead of the toasted marshmallow flavor added to the apple juice slush, Disney has swirled in a “wild berry” flavoring and tops the drink with a passionfruit-mango foam. I tried the new Boysen Apple Freeze and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I’m not really a fan of the foams Disney has been topping its new specialty drinks with, so I tended to avoid it. The drink itself is surprisingly refreshing in a way that the similar Red’s Apple Freeze in Cars Land is not. I’d guess the tart berry flavor factored into that and I liked the flavor combination here more than I do the Cars Land drink. Even though I liked the Cars Land drink, I haven’t bought it again since Cars Land’s opening. Will I buy the Boysen Apple Freeze again? I definitely think so, especially during the summer months when it’s hot and humid in the park. The new Boysen Apple Freeze probably isn’t for everyone, though. If you’re not a fan of the Red’s Apple Freeze or other extremely sweet drinks, you might want to avoid this one.
Overall, the new area is exquisitely executed. It’s a very rich and charming environment to be in but that might change once big crowds descend on the area. Like much of Disneyland, Fantasy Faire is tight quarters and guests will certainly feel it on busy days. I’m not one to frequent meet-and-greets so Fantasy Faire already offers very little for me and the big crowds certain to hit the area will further lessen my desire to visit the new area.
When you’re in Fantasy Faire, the entire space feels right. It especially comes together when you stand in the middle of the village and look back toward the spires of Sleeping Beauty Castle. In that moment, all the pieces come together and it all seems to work. Fantasy Faire’s location isn’t exactly ideal, however, and it can certainly be a bit jarring to see this much of Fantasyland when you’re walking through Disneyland’s Central Plaza (the hub). Sleeping Beauty Castle is Fantasyland’s proper portal and Fantasy Faire is a very obvious part of the land outside its proper boundaries. It’s perhaps a minor qualm in the grand scheme of things but it’s certainly noticeable and can be distracting when you’re in the hub — an issue that’s similarly true for Tomorrowland’s rockwork and Astro Orbiter.
As strollers, we’ll see how stroller parking will be handled for the new area once it officially opens to the public on Tuesday. The original bridge for the Carnation Plaza Gardens was converted into stroller parking during Passholder previews, with space in front of the Royal Hall and along the path to Frontierland along the side of the Royal Theater was also used for strollers. Rumors detailing various purported plans for stroller parking have been a matter of discussion online for weeks now. Rumors shave suggested a full stroller ban in the area, forcing stroller parking to be located outside of Fantasy Faire in a variety of locations including the path along the Castle moat toward the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, an area near Frontierland’s entrance, and even turning the west half of the hub into stroller parking after the Main Street Vehicles conclude operation for the day. Whatever happens, strollers are likely to be an ongoing headache for Cast Members and Guests in the coming months.
It’s also a shame that the historical Carnation Plaza Gardens Stage has been reduced to a venue for princess storytelling. Over its 50+ year history, the stage played host to countless community performing arts groups and some of the most famous musical acts in American history including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Count Basie. While nightly swing dancing is still available in Downtown Disney, the popular evening dancing at the Carnation Stage is now history and isn’t expected to return anytime soon.
While it’s a bummer that so much history can be wiped away so quickly, Disneyland does need keep up with the demands of its guests and princesses bring in big money. It was the right move to move the princesses out of the old Fantasyland Theater and open that venue back up for a proper stage show. Could a better location for Fantasy Faire have been carved out elsewhere? Maybe, but it wasn’t and what we got is quality, even if it isn’t necessarily ideal. Perhaps the only thing Disney could have done better with Fantasy Faire is their handling of the transition. A lot more grace and honesty could have gone a long way in terms of goodwill with park fans. Instead, Disney promised the return of swing bands without the intention of following through and then tried to justify the new project by saying the project was in line with what Walt Disney had always wanted. Wouldn’t it have just been easier to explain the demand and need for the new area and offered a proper send-off to the swing bands? Was offering false hope and concocting false Walt Disney history really necessary? Nevertheless, Fantasy Faire is a charming and quality new addition to the park, giving the extremely popular princesses a much-needed permanent home in the park. The Imagineers, led by Tony Baxter on this project, did a top-notch job with the space they were given.
Want more Fantasy Faire? If you’re an Annual Passholder, Disney is offering a free panel discussion on the “making of” Fantasy Faire this Thursday. Details below:
March 14, 2013
- Get a special peek behind the magic as Show Director Christopher Utley and Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Director Michel den Dulk share a fascinating “making of” Presentation and Panel Discussion on the highly anticipated Fantasy Faire in Disneyland Park. After the discussion there will be a Q&A where Annual Passholders can ask questions about the making of Fantasy Faire.
- Thursday, March 14, 2013
- Main Street Opera House in Disneyland Park
- 6:00 p.m.
- Event Registration and Wristband Distribution
- Passholders may begin registration at 11:30 a.m. at the Main Street, U.S.A. Opera House in Disneyland Park.
- All participating Guests (ages 3 and older) must be valid Annual Passholders on the day of the event.
- Registration must be completed in person at the Main Street, U.S.A. Opera House on the day of the event only; no phone reservations or other registration will be accepted.
- It is recommended that all members of your party register together to help ensure that everyone receives an event wristband.
- All participating Annual Passholders must present their active Annual Passport to the event Cast Member, who will check event availability. Photo ID may be required.
|Princess Relocation Program|
You may have noticed that Fantasy Faire doesn’t offer a permanent home to all of Disney’s princesses. The temporary Princess Royal Walk along Small World Promenade will close and the rest of Disney’s royalty will be relocated to different areas throughout the park. The Royal Walk continued to draw big lines over the weekend:
And back in New Orleans Square, Princess Tiana will now make regular appearances in the beautiful Court des Anges. Tiana calls the courtyard home during Disneyland’s annual New Orleans Bayou Bash, but will now appear here throughout the rest of the year with the closure of the Princess Royal Walk in Fantasyland.
|The Gumball Rally Strikes Back!
MAY 4, 2013
Can you conquer every attraction at Disneyland in a single day? MiceChat’s famous Gumball Rally returns this spring to put you to the test — Tickets on sale now!
- When: May 4th, 2013.
- Where: Disneyland Resort (both parks) in Anaheim, California.
- Cost: Approx. $27.50 per person. 10% discount available through February 28 with promo code: early. MiceChat Gold Memebers can get a 15% discount.
- How Do I Sign Up?: Eventzilla Gumball Rally Registration Page
- How Does the Rally Work?: Details on the Rally Information Page.
|Welcome to California Adventure|
|Limited Time Magic|
Limited Time Magic continues this week with its on-going Oz-related offering below:
at Disney California Adventure
Through March 31, 2013
Continuing this week is the eight-minute sneak preview of Disney’s new movie, “Oz: The Great and Powerful.” “Oz” is in theaters now. The preview at California Adventure will run through March 31.
|This and That|
The signs may help guests find what they need in the shops but unfortunately they ignore the differentiation between retail spaces including the Crystal Arcade, Fortuosity Shop and Jewelry Shop. Instead all of these separate but connected spaces are labeled as part of the Emporium. It might be a minor issue, but it further points toward the mall-ification of Main Street and it’s sad to see Disney dumbing down the experience.
|Weekly News & Information Round-Up|
|Weekly Theme Park Hours
March 11 — 17, 2013
|Disneyland Park||Disney California Adventure|
|Monday-Thursday: 9 am – 10 pm
Friday: 8 am – 12 midnight
Saturday: 9 am – 11 pm
Sunday: 8 am – 11 pm
Monday-Thursday: 9 am – 10 pm
Friday 8 am – 11 pm
Saturday: 9 am – 10 pm
Sunday: 8 am – 11 pm
visit the Disneyland.com Theme Park Calendar
5.2—9.2 out of 10
7.1—8.0 out of 10
with 1 being the least crowded conditions and 10 being most crowded.
For crowd predictions for the next 365 days, visit
A quick look at noteworthy Disney theme park headlines from around the web.
Alright, that wraps up this week’s Dateline Disneyland. What do you think of Disneyland’s new Fantasy Faire? Did you attend an Annual Passholder preview or do you plan to visit once it opens this week? Let us know your thoughts on the new area in the comments section below!
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|FTC-Mandated Disclosure: Promotional consideration for this edition of Dateline Disneyland was provided by TouringPlans.com | Do More. Wait Less. and the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel & Water Playground.|