Fantasy Faire – A Dad’s Eye View

Good day to you all, fellow DisNerds! Ready for some princesses? Would you like a Boysen-Apple Freeze and a show to go with them?

Fantasy Faire, the new expansion of Fantasyland at Disneyland that takes over Carnation Gardens, opens March 12th. Living out of state, I’m not able to be at the parks whenever a new area opens up. Fortunately, on my last trip to the Happiest Place on Earth, I was able to preview the area with my family. I know there are lots of pictures floating around at this point. However, I wanted to share from my perspective: a parent, seeing it through the eyes of his little girl.

We went in to this trip with her truly believing she wouldn’t be able to see the Faire until our next trip, as we were just a little too early. When we met our friend from Disney Park Secrets, he hinted at it to her:

Austen: “See that area over there? What do you know about it?”

Caitlin: “It’s the Fantasy Faire. We won’t be able to go till next trip.”

Austen: “I don’t know, I see people in there…”

Caitlin: “No, that’s just workers, it’s not ready yet.”

That was followed by this little exchange once he told her he we were sneak previewing it:


From that point of disbelief on, all she could keep saying was, “Best..Surprise…EVER!!!” And well, seeing her eyes light up at everything from the shows to the scenery to the meet and greets…I couldn’t disagree. As follows, here are some of the pictures I took with my cell phone (Please forgive the fuzziness in a few) with observations of the area.


The village itself has some great detail. It definitely has a wonderful Fantasyland feel. Imagineers should be proud!


The first thing we did as we arrived was head over to the Royal Theatre, where the Tangled performance was about to begin. Now, for any parent who has visited the old Princess Fantasy Faire and seen a coronation ceremony or storytelling time, you understand the idea that I wasn’t going in with high expectations. I mean, the presentations were cute for kids, and it’s fun to watch the little ones dance, but that’s about it. So to say the shows here exceeded my expectations was an understatement.


The shows, told by “Mr. Jones and Mr. Smythe” with help from the lead characters, are extremely entertaining. Told with humor and music, I heard as many adults laughing as children. If you don’t have children to take for the meet and greet area, still make time to see the shows here. You won’t regret it.


Afterward, we got to meet Rapunzel and Flynn! Charming as always, this was a plus for the children in attendance.


Yeah…. he’s got smoulder.


After the show was over, Mr. Smythe or Mr. Jones would take turns for fun in the Square. Here, he plays “Lost and Found” with the help of the village maidens, asking my little one if she recognizes a certain shoe:



Great to see these kinds of interactions – boys and girls alike were getting into it!


After this little impromptu gathering, we headed toward the Royal Hall (the meet and greet area). The princesses in attendance that day were Cinderella, Ariel and Aurora (this may be par for the course, as Snow White is set to make appearances by her wishing well and other princesses in their appropriately themed lands).

Although I’ve included only one picture of the area, you can see just how intricate and elegant the meeting area is!


Upon exiting, it’s time to leave, right?


The next Tangled show was starting, which gave us the perfect opportunity to check out the details in the rest of the area and maybe have a snack from Maurice’s. Before we headed to his cart, however, we stopped to check out this fun little feature:


Clopin’s Music Box is a fun little interactive element where visitors turn the wheel to set things into motion, with music and moving features.


Make sure you look closely at all of the characters in the far background – see how many Disney characters you can spot!


Remember to click on the link for a bigger picture to see better!


Another nice touch that we all loved was Figaro, who sleeps high up on a ledge…


Everything was nice and peaceful….


Until his little feathered friend wakes him up.


“Are you tweetin’ at me?”


Time for a snack! Maurice’s sells a few different twists, including cheddar garlic, strawberry, and chocolate. But the real highlight here is the Boysen-Apple (Get it? POISON Apple?) Freeze. Quite sweet and refreshing on a warm day, this is bound to be a hit!


It’s a great drink for kids and adults alike, and those in my party preferred this over Red’s Apple Freeze from the Cozy Cones in Cars Land.


We were able to come back later to catch the Beauty and the Beast Show in the Royal Theatre. Once again, it was very entertaining for audiences of all ages and included a meet and greet with Belle afterward.


My princess with the Disney variety – they have the same tailor!


As all good things must come to an end, so did our time in the new Fantasy Faire. However, it’s safe to say, we’ll be back. This area will remain popular for a long time for families and many grown ups as well. Perhaps I’m skewed as a parent who got to see the joy on his daughter’s face, but I have a hard time finding flaw with any aspect of this area. From the shows to interactions, food to detail, Disney once again has another area to be truly proud of.

One last shot to share… as I went to attempt a picture of Rapunzel’s tower with Sleeping Beauty Castle in the background, a friend stopped by in the clouds to say hello….


See ya real soon, Fantasy Faire!


That’s it for now, folks! A special thanks to Austen over at Disney Park Secrets for making this day possible for a friend and his family!

Plaza Gardens Memories

April 30th, 2012 marked the end of an era for Disneyland. Carnation Gardens Plaza was closed to make way for a new Princess Fantasy Faire location. The site of swing dancing, school choirs, bands, and other various performances has gone into Yesterland along with the Skyway, the People Mover, and so much more. It seems this piece of Disney history has hit so many people harder. Was it because they performed there themselves? Was it because they loved to dance there on Saturday night? Is it because another original piece of the park is being torn down to make way for something new? Perhaps it’s all of the above. Over the past few days I’ve read many personal stories about people and their connections to the Plaza Garden area. While I never performed there in choir (we sang at the Disneyland Hotel) or took a spin across the floor, there are a couple memories that stick out in my mind.

Even the man himself would dance here!

A few years ago, my wife and I were fortunate enough to see the original Mousketeers from the Mickey Mouse Club reunite on the Garden stage for their 50th anniversary . What a kick we got out of hearing the Mousketeers tell their stories, sing their songs, dance, and even seeing Cubby play the drums! Perhaps more entertaining were their legions of followers, screaming as if David Cassidy or Davy Jones had just taken the stage. The fact that these performers, so many years later, still held a place in so many people’s hearts was amazing and warming to see. Later that evening, we made our way back to the stage. It was dark and empty, just the backdrop for the show remained. Although the show was over, we managed to snag a few pictures up on stage, pictures that will remind us that we were briefly Mousketeers as well.

Why? Because we like you!

The other memory that sticks out in my mind does not involve the performing area at all, just the area surrounding it. Last December, my family and I were at the park and happened to see Cinderella in the Gardens area as we waited to see her, who should walk up but Alice and the Mad Hatter? Turns out they were in the area “conducting interviews” and needed a subject. And something to write on. Cinderella became the subject, and my daughter offered up her autograph book as the interview pad. As they kept interrupting the princess and her guests, Mary Poppins and Bert were taking a “Jolly Holiday” stroll to the same location and joined in the interview and ensuing silliness. There were so few areas in the park that accommodated such a gathering, such a grand time as the Carnation Plaza Gardens, and it will be truly missed.

Oh, it's a Jolly Holiday with Mary.... and Bert ... and Alice... and the Hatter.... and Cindy! No wonder it's the Gardens that we love!

I, like so many, will miss the Gardens. I’ll miss the entertainment, the space, the unexpected meetings. But Disneyland IS always changing. It doesn’t stay the same from one visit to the next.  The classic look and feel may be going away, but swing dancing will return there. Shows will find their way back to the stage. New favorites will emerge. My daughter loves the princesses, and plans for the new Fantasy Faire area look nothing short of beautiful. I can’t help but wonder, many years from now, if the Fantasy Faire gets replaced with something else, will she lament the renovation of a dear friend, as so many of us are doing now?

Perhaps so, but hopefully she’ll be able to look forward to sharing something new with future generations as well.

Farewell, Plaza Gardens, and thanks for the memories.