By Susan and Simon Veness
Ariel has her undersea grotto, Merida has a little woodland cove, Belle has a pretty library, and now Cinderella and Rapunzel have Princess Fairytale Hall, their own royal greeting area in the shadow of Cinderella’s castle.
Princess Fairytale Hall debuted in Magic Kingdom on 18 September, in the location formerly occupied by Snow White’s Scary Adventures. With its regal blue and purple banner and an abundance of shields lending a noble air, the Hall blends beautifully into Fantasyland, with many design elements complementing those found in Cinderella Castle.
The experience begins before you enter the queue, with twin signs indicating which of the two paths lead to Cinderella and her princess friend (at this time, Aurora, better known as Sleeping Beauty) or to Rapunzel and her princess friend (at this time, Snow White), and guests must choose one path or the other. If they would like to meet all four princesses they will have to queue twice, using the alternate route. However, this is a FastPass attraction, and will be a FastPass+ attraction once MyMagic+ becomes available.
During our visit the wait time for Cinderella was listed as 20 minutes, and the wait for Rapunzel was 35 minutes. In actuality, we waited nearly 45 minutes for Cinderella, but hopefully updates will occur more frequently so that accurate wait times can be anticipated, especially as many of the visitors waiting to meet the princesses are under the age of 10, and perhaps slightly less patient than they might otherwise be. We saw quite a few preschoolers flopped on the floor as the queue stalled again and again while FastPass users were ushered in ahead of the Standby guests.
Once guests select which two Princesses they would like to meet, they enter the covered outdoor queue and make their way toward the Hall. Like many attractions at Walt Disney World, this one has two distinct ‘hidden queue’ areas. The first is found just after walking through the arched doorway leading to a galley-like area inside the hall, featuring stained-glass style arched windows with images of Cinderella’s mouse friends, among them Gus, Jaq, and Perla. Unlike most attractions, the two hidden-queue areas are relatively short in terms of the distance you have to cover.
Crest-style banners (interestingly, with crowns shaped like Aurora’s, not Cinderella’s) and shields set the tone, but the first part of the indoor queue is relatively simple and not overly adorned. A more ballroom-like atmosphere reigns in the holding area inside the elegant hall itself. Portraits of beloved Disney princesses—Aurora, Tiana, and Rapunzel on the left; Jasmine, Mulan, and Snow White on the right—line the walls, while the chandeliers are shaped like crowns. At the end of the hall a small alcove holds an ornate wood and glass case displaying Cinderella’s glass slipper, and it’s here guests are directed to a door on the left for Rapunzel, or door on the right for Cinderella. FastPass queues enter at this point, too.
A short hallway leads to an even more elegant chamber where their royal highnesses greet their subjects in turn, taking sufficient time for a chat, an autograph, and plenty of pictures. The little girl in our group posed for a picture with Cinderella, and as soon as the Photopass photographer snapped it, our youngster started to walk away. She was stopped by the photographer who said, “Are you sure that’s enough? Your family can take as many pictures as you like, because pictures are what captures these special memories.” Her parents were delighted, and it did lend a magical sentiment to the moment.
After meeting the Princesses, guests exit into a gift shop (surprise!) where girls can indulge their princess-wannabe dreams with all manner of royal-wear. Although there was a slightly regimented feel to the experience, it was a pleasant visit, too, and we were never rushed or made to feel the next guests were waiting. We will watch with interest to see what happens once FastPass+ comes into play, and if the timing kinks for the Standby queues work out toward a comfortable, efficient wait for little princesses eager to meet Disney royalty.
Also Happening Around The World
Avid golfers take note: with no major golf tournaments at Walt Disney World this year, Disney has taken the time to play around with the [B]Palm golf course[/B], creating new holes, hills, and traps, and adding lots of mature palm trees, pines, and magnolias to the landscaping. Looks like it should lead to a challenging new experience.
The love-bugs have returned! If you have ever visited Orlando in May or September you know what we mean. If not, you’ll have to Google it since we’re not going to describe them any further than informing you they’re called love bugs for a reason. Suffice it to say, they can be downright annoying and this year the little buggers are out in full force. But take comfort in knowing they don’t sting and they don’t bite. In fact, they pose no threat to you at all, other than splatting on your windscreen or making your children ask uncomfortable questions. We only mention them because, well, it’s like discussing the weather; it’s compulsory to say, “It’s not so much the heat as it is the humidity” and it is also true that you must mention the love-bugs at least once in May and September. We’re just fulfilling our obligation.
Kiosks have gone up around World Showcase for Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival, which starts 27 September and runs through 10 November. The excitement is building, and we’ll give you the full details on new offerings and old favourites in an upcoming blog.
The foodie frenzy continues at the Waldorf-Astoria, who host their own Food and Wine Weekends, from 27 September through 9 November; Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic occurs October 18 and 19; and (believe it or not) the Festival of Bacon makes its debut on 5 October at Festival Park in Orlando, featuring 30,000 samples of salty, satisfying bacon-inspired treats. Have slightly simpler tastes? Downtown Disney joins the Food Truck craze with four food trucks featuring favourite offerings from various Disney parks, starting this fall.