If you’ve ever seen a TV commercial or promotional video for Walt Disney World, then you’ve certainly seen images of young girls wearing Disney princess dresses in the theme parks. This iconography is so prevalent that it’s easy to get the impression that ball gown attire is mandatory for every elementary-school-age child entering the Magic Kingdom.
Cinderella dress sold at WDW, fall 2012. Click to enlarge.
While many girls do choose to wear princess dresses for some of their time at Walt Disney World, this is certainly not a requirement for any activity at the parks. Your daughter might love to dress up, or she might be completely uncomfortable in princess attire. Both opinions are perfectly OK. You should follow your child’s lead on whether to consider princess dresses as part of your vacation plan.
Here’s the complete scoop on how to navigate the princess dress situation in a way that makes sense for your family.
Do most girls wear princess dresses at Walt Disney World?
When you’re just walking around the park, you’ll see just a small percentage of girls ages about 3 to 8 wearing princess costumes, maybe 5%. However, there are some places at the parks where the percentage of girls in princess attire will be much higher.
My non-scientific, personal observation is that something along the lines of 50-60% of the preschool and elementary age girls at the princess-themed character meals will be wearing princess dresses. Note that this also means that 40-50% of the girls there will NOT be wearing gowns. Very few girls older than age 8 or 9 will be wearing princess dresses at meals, or anywhere else.
Ariel dress sold at WDW, fall 2012. Click to enlarge.
Something on the order of 80% of the girls getting makeovers at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (BBB) will be sporting some form of princess attire. Similarly, something on the order of 80-90% of the children attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party will be wearing costumes. These might be princess gowns, but could just as easily be something else entirely.
My own three daughters did lots of princess dress-up at home, but never chose to wear gowns while at Walt Disney World, not even at the princess meals or the BBB. That was their choice. They never felt uncomfortable that other girls were wearing dresses at character meals while they were not. You should use your judgment about your own child’s personality about whether you think she would feel left out or sad if other girls are dressed in gowns while she is not.
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