Behind the construction walls in Fantasy Faire

by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer
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Disney Princesses will have a new neighborhood starting March 12 when Fantasy Faire opens at Disneyland Park. The 15,000-square-foot expansion of Fantasyland on the former Carnation Plaza Gardens site includes a dedicated princess meet-and-greet area called the Royal Hall, a Royal Theater with live storytelling sessions featuring Belle and Rapunzel, the new Fairytale Treasures shop, and Maurice’s Treats, a food cart named in honor of Belle's inventor father.

Yesterday, Disney invited reporters and bloggers to step behind the walls to look at the progress made so far in Fantasy Faire, and to listen from some of the Imagineers involved with the project. In an unusual departure from normal Disney policy, cameras were welcome behind the construction walls, and construction crews hammered, sawed, and painted away while we toured the site.

It's clear from our tour that Fantasy Fair is not quite ready for prime time, so it's unfair to draw any conclusions about the new land until the work is finished and the first little princesses meet their grown-up counterparts. Regardless, these photos will give you an idea of what you'll find when you enter Fantasy Faire—we'll reserve most of our opinions for now.


To the right of the Village Square of Fantasy Faire is the Royal Hall, while the Royal Theater is on the left. Photo by Bryan Pugh.


The passage to Frontierland (rectangular opening) was extended to make room for a new gift shop (arched doorway). Photo by Bryan Pugh.

The main walkway from Sleeping Beauty Castle into Fantasy Faire leads over what was once a small arched bridge on the west side of the castle. That bridge is gone, replaced with a wide flat walkway—but happily, designers left some of the small ponds and a second bridge from the Carnation Plaza Gardens in place. If you enter Fantasy Faire from this direction, the Royal Hall is ahead and to the right and the Royal Theater (the former stage, sporting a new canopy but seemingly the same dance floor) is to the left. Maurice's Cart is also to the left, across from the Royal Theater.


Rooftop detailing is visible on the Royal Hall. Photo by Bryan Pugh.


While one bridge was removed to form the new entrance to Fantasy Faire, some of the water features and a second bridge remain. Photo by Bryan Pugh.

The transition walkway between Frontierland and Fantasyland was extended into Fantasy Faire, providing both a better exit from the Royal Hall (otherwise, guests would have inexplicably found themselves in Frontierland after leaving the meet-and-greet), and room for the very small Fairytale Treasures shop.

Not yet complete was the village square with the centerpiece Tangled Tower, though the foundation was in place and workers were busily installing paving stones around the courtyard.


Imagineer Michel Den Dulk describes some of the features of Fantasy Faire and the Royal Hall. Photo by Bryan Pugh.

The highlight of the new land and what some say is its entire purpose, is the Royal Hall. This building houses the new Princess meet-and-greet area, and features a large outdoor shaded queue. Once inside, visitors navigate the corridors to a series of three chambers to meet three different Princesses. Disney declined to give hourly capacity estimates for this new meet-and-greet venue, but confirmed that Fastpass will not be used here, as is seen at some of the new meet-and-greet locations in Walt Disney World.


Princesses will pose for photos in chambers inside the Royal Hall. Photo by Bryan Pugh.


The ceiling is adorned with a lighting fixture in the Royal Hall. Photo by Bryan Pugh.

The exterior of the Royal Hall has two unique attractions that will likely delight younger visitors: A figure of Figaro (Geppetto's cat) will appear to be napping on a window sill, and will occasionally wake up and walk around in response to a particular bird call. Another element is "Clopin’s Music Box," which Disney describes as "a fascinating, interactive mechanical toy representing the Feast of Fools from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. "

The other big draw of the area is the Royal Theater, where two performers, a Mr. Smythe and a Mr. Jones, perform two "renaissance vaudeville" shows with the help of a piano player and the heroine of that particular tale, either Belle or Rapunzel. Each story is performed with Smythe and Jones portraying the other roles, and with the help of the audience. A meet-and-greet follows each story time session, offering another way to meet the princesses.


The Royal Theater occupies the former Carnation Plaza stage and dance floor. Photo by Bryan Pugh.


"The Stage that Walt Built" remains in Fantasy Faire, but has a colorful new canopy. Photo by Bryan Pugh.

Fantasy Faire will also boast a new snack cart, Maurice's Treats. Another of the themed permanent outdoor food locations being added around Disneyland, this one is built to look like Maurice's steam-powered wagon. The cart offers a limited menu of sweet or savory bread twists—we sampled the cheddar-garlic bagel ($4.19), chocolate ($3.49), and strawberry-almond ($3.49) versions during our preview, and they were well-received.


Maurice's Treats is the new snack cart in Fantasy Faire. Photo by Bryan Pugh.

Keeping with the trend of signature drinks, Maurice's will offer Boysen Apple Freeze, which is essentially Red's Apple Freeze from Cars Land made with boysenberry instead of marshmallow flavor. The drink is $4.69, or available for $9.99 in your choice of a Princess goblet or Gaston's Tavern stein. We also sampled the frozen drink today, and it looked to be a hit—nearly everyone drained their glass.


Maurice's offers bread twists with a variety of fillings. Photo by Bryan Pugh.


Boysen Apple Freeze is available in two souvenir glasses. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.

Comments

  1. By Jeff Kober

    Great insights into the new Fantasy Faire. I wasn't all that excited but now look forward to it. The interior shots may give us some sense of what may be in store out in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom of Walt Disney World. I would appreciate that kind of detail in the interior. I simply wish that same kind of detail was being considered for the exterior of that new attraction. Thanks for sharing!

  2. By stan4d_steph

    Is the apple drink the same as in Cars Land and WDW New Fantasyland?

  3. By jmorgan

    I hate to be one of those people that state nothing should be changed, but I will miss Carnation Plaza. As a kid I remember watching my parents dance to "big bands" on the stage and as an adult I enjoyed eating lunch in the peace and quite of the Plaza. Oh well, I guess every inch of the park has to make money.

  4. By familymemories

    It actually looks nice. I was a little bummed about Carnation Plaza changing. We will be able to see it in June for our 25th anniversary trip.

  5. By Cory Gross

    A little of column A, a little of column B.

    On the one hand, I'm saddened by the loss of a piece of Disney history in the original Carnation Gradens. I would have loved to see them try to enhance that space while keeping the integrity of the Main St. setting.

    On the other hand, I have to admit that the Princess Fantasy Faire looks like it will be pretty cool. The attractions are all imports from other places, and meant for people considerably younger and more feminine than myself, but the architecture looks fantastic. In quieter times of day/year I could see us just hanging out in this space. I also love the Disney fanservice with things like the Figaro animatronic. I can't wait to see how THAT works.

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