If you want to ride the big attractions here
you have to get to them either really early or really late at night.
The dark ride attractions can have lines that back up to an hour
sometimes and the ride only lasts a couple minutes. Also if you/
your kid wants to go on Dumbo, plan for a wait. There is only a
limited number of Dumbos to ride in and you might be stuck there
for quite a while.
* Insider tip: If you want to ride a "classic dark ride" and do
not want to wait in a long line, most people ignore Pinochio and
Snow White's rides which are located opposite Peter Pan and Mr.
Toad. The reason they are ignored is because they are not as good
as the other two in most people's opinion, but they are still ok.
· If you are in the park around Christmas time, you need to check
out It's a Small World Holiday. This annual transformation occurs
in early November and they decorate the entire attraction and change
the soundtrack. The facade is covered with thousands of lights and
its incredible to see.
My thoughts on the Fantasy Faire (March 8, 2013 during an Annual Passholder Preview)
- Overview - I was impressed with the Fantasy Faire. The Imagineers took a very small plot of land that was not utilized and turned it into a detailed environment. We can all argue amount the idea of expanding Fantasyland in front of the castle walls and if that was good or bad, but looking at what they created given the constraints they had to work with I think they delivered a product we expect from Disney. The area gives the princesses a place to inhabit vs a thrown together area in the Small World Mall. Also I thought it was good to see a show again in the former Plaza Gardens. I can still remember some of the Christmas and other shows that I have seen there over the years and always thought it gave some life to the area during the day. Looking at the area and the small size I have a feeling this once quiet portion of the park will be alive with activity come Tuesday and the days of having a quiet retreat there during the summer crowds to take in an afternoon concert to chat with friends in the sea of open chairs will be long gone.
- Royal Hall - The main attraction for many will be the Royal Hall. This is where you get to meet some Disney Princesses. The queue for the hall takes up a good portion of the area. The building itself has two routes inside. Each featuring three princesses in their own space for you to interact with. The spaces are generic so the princesses can be any. There is a sign out front saying who is available and the wait time. Each area has a princess and a photopass photographer to help you capture the moment. There were also plenty of other cast members roaming around to keep the traffic flowing and help out. Once inside things moved rather quickly so I did not really have time to dwell on the sets or rooms. On my first glance around I did not find any hidden gems.
- Royal Theatre - The Royal Theatre currently houses two shows. The Cast Members said the afternoons will see Beauty and the Beast and the mornings/early shows Rapunzel. I thought the overlay to the old band stand looks ok. The bright canopy is a little distracting from the hub, but the interior looks good given the space/size. The main seating is on benches and there is a floor area for children. You can also stand around the perimeter (outside the rails). I thought the show itself was great. The performers were funny and the pace was good. I would have liked to have seen the opportunity for more ad-libbing but that may come as the show matures. Unlike some of the shows that have found their way into the parks this one does not talk down to the audience. It is a classic show in that way. There is humor that works for the kids as well as adults, including some fun film references. I am looking forward to seeing the Rapunzel show on a future visit.
Here are some video clips of Beauty and the Beast:
- Fairy Tale Treasures - This is the small gift shop that features a large selection of princess merchandise. Should be interesting to see how this effects the other shops in Fantasyland. Wonder if princesses will give up some shelf space in those other stores for other merchandise? I would have liked to have seen some Fantasy Faire specific merchandise and not just generic character merchandise. The shop itself has some nice touches in it. If you visit be sure to study the items above the registers and if the store is not busy ask a Cast Member about them, they can tell you some stories.
- Maurice's Treats - This snack cart is located right across from the theater and has a selection of twists and cold beverages. Kind of surprised no sodas on the menu. I did not try the food so cannot comment on it, but overheard several other guests and they seemed to be enjoying their snacks. Again I would have liked to have seen something Fantasy Faire specific for the beverage cup logos instead of generic.
- Other entertainment - In between shows in the Theatre the characters are available for pictures. And there are short performances called Jester Training sessions that take place in the courtyard.
Here is a video of one:
- Other Details of the Fantasy Faire - As you walk around be sure to soak keep an eye open. There are obvious items such as the Tangled Tower or the Owl Pole. And more subtle like the Carnation Plaza Gardens reference in the crest on one of the buildings. Figaro is also present taking a nap as most cats do. He is awaken by a near by bird.
Here is a video clip:
Also in the courtyard is Clopin's Music Box. This detailed box features Clopin from the Hunchback of Notre Dame and as you turn the crank you hear music from the film and the box comes to life. Spend some time looking at the crowd in the background. You will find some familiar faces.
Here is a video clip:
My thoughts/observations from February 20, 2009 and my first ride throughs of the newly updated/reopened Small World Attraction:
I finally made it on Small World. I was rained out the past two trip attempts since it has re-opened. The wait was posted at about 20 minutes. The first time we waited no more than 10 but the second time it was about 25 due to a boat getting stuck at the launch.
I thought there were some great changes/updates with the rehab and then some things that really bugged me.
- First the good. I thought the overall look of the attraction was fresh, clean, and great! All the dolls I noticed seemed to be present and working, no voids like before. The new lighting systems really showcased some of the scenes and looked good. As I mentioned back in December when it opened the new flume and boats work and have nothing too interesting to comment on except I thought the boats looked a little too plastic.
- The new sound system and mix was a net positive. I really enjoyed being able to clearly make out some of the instruments and some of the new pieces worked well. One area that did bug me was the solo Ariel had.. I thought this sounded awkward and really did not work well.
- The American scene that was added before the finale was ok... the it was an interesting choice to go with a Western theme for the US..
- The Lazygeek had an interesting observation. He thought the American Scene reminded him of Superstar Limo.. with the lighting, the Hollywood Bowl (I guess that is what it is as you exit the room?) and then the larger than life Woody and Jessie... I found that kind of funny and at the same time made sense almost..
- As for the Disney Characters being added to the attraction.... I was disappointed with the way the additions were done. Let us skip the debate if they should be there or not for a second and just look at the implementation. Adding them is one thing, but making them the focal point of so many scenes just does not seem correct to me. If they were added and off to the side or a supporting role I do not think it would have bugged me too much, but making them all front and center and in your face just did not seem right. If my memory serves none of the character dolls move or blink.. they are all static (anyone know for sure.. I only went on it twice so not 100% certain), I thought this made them feel like props almost in some cases. I found some of them to really be out of place.. for example the Finding Nemo characters.. yes the story takes place there, but they really have nothing to do with the country, culture, etc... or Lilo and Stitch... at least some are fairy tales or stem from folk lore of the region/country and those seemed to work a bit better but the implementation still rubbed me the wrong way.
- I know there has been quite a few bytes of internet data taken up with debates, rants, etc... about the changes and how they do not fit with the theme/story of the attraction verses those who think an update is a great way to breath new life into an old attraction. I come down somewhere in the middle on this debate. I agree Disneyland should not be a museum and that change is sometimes good (for example retiring Fantasy in the Sky to replace it with Believe and then Remember). But on the other hand change for changes sake just does not work for me and sometimes I think it sends an attraction backwards (for example the Tiki Room in Florida). I think Small World is somewhere in a gray area and I am not sure where I come down. Overall I do not think its going to effect the head count one way or the other. Small World always has a decent crowd and the popular holiday overlay keep its turn styles clicking. Which really begs the question why add the characters? And why make these new characters the focal point of many of the scenes? Seems to me that does not fit the storyline of the attraction. I am curious what the new/current description for the attraction is, I did not catch the sign this trip, I will next trip to see if they updated it or if its still the same as before.