At some point in the late 1990s Disney started to aggressively market its stable of princess characters. Before that, princess products were pretty much limited to whatever new animated princess movie the company was promoting for that year. When the Disney Princess line became one of the most profitable brands in the company, their presence in the theme parks also began to grow. In 2006 the princesses were given a dedicated spot in Disneyland called “Princess Fantasy Faire.” It quickly became one of the most popular attractions in the park, commanding wait times of over 90 minutes or more on busy days.
Unfortunately, Princess Fantasy Faire was installed inside the Fantasyland Theater. This brought the end to live stage shows, which had been a part of the park since the Fantasyland Theater opened in 1987. During the 2011 D23 Expo Tom Staggs, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, announced that the princesses would receive a new permanent home in 2013. The new Fantasy Faire replaced the Carnation Plaza Gardens area near Disneyland’s hub, so if you’re familiar with that area, you know how small it is. But Disney still managed to pack it full of details. Now I’ll walk you through the four major focal points of the new Fantasy Faire.
This is the center of Fantasy Faire. It is where you will find entrances to the Royal Hall and Royal Theatre, as well as access to Fantasyland, Disneyland’s hub, and Frontierland. This is area is beautiful and packed with details.
The Royal Theatre features a small stage show with abridged reenactments of either Tangled or Beauty and the Beast. The stories of the two films are played out on stage by Rapunzel or Belle and their prince counterparts, along with two other performers that provide the singing. There are benches for seating in the back, and floor seating in the front, where parents are encouraged to sit with their kids.
Key moments from the movie are acted out on stage. Here you can see Flynn Rider be knocked out with a frying pan after he enters Rapunzel’s tower. Overall, the Royal Theatre show was a lot better than I thought it was going to be. The performers are talented, and the show keeps a brisk pace. Some parts got a lot of laughs from the adults as well as children, and everyone in attendance seemed entertained. The seating area is relatively small; I recommend getting there at least 20 minutes early to guarantee a spot.
This theater is in the same location as the old Carnation Plaza stage, where legendary performers like Louis Armstrong and Buddy Rich once performed. Thankfully, the original dance floor was saved during construction (seen above).
The usual assortment of princess merchandise is for sale inside Fairy Tale Treasures.
The cart offers some new Disney treats! I tried the Strawberry Twist, Cheddar Garlic Bagel Twist, and Boysen Apple Freeze drink. The Strawberry Twist was good, but a tad overpriced in my opinion. The Cheddar Garlic Bagel Twist was awful: hard as a rock and absolutely flavorless. Some have suggested that it was just dried out from sitting under a heat lamp, but at $4.19 I’m not going to take the chance again. The Boysen Apple Freeze continues the trend over extremely sweet frozen drinks Disney started with Red’s Apple Freeze from Cars Land last summer. As usual, it as foam on the top.
A lot of hard core Disneyland fans were against the idea of the Carnation Plaza Gardens being removed. I do miss that quiet area of the park, but at least it was replaced with a beautifully themed mini-land. While Fantasy Faire does not appeal to me personally, it’s impossible to deny the popularity of meet and greets. Disney took an area that was used during a very low number of hours of the week and turned it in to another attraction that will draw plenty of guests, albeit one that doesn’t cater to very many demographics. Another plus is that the Fantasyland Theater is now free to host stage shows again, which it will starting this summer. The new Fantasy Faire officially opens March 12.