Is your pint-sized princess excited to visit Disneyland's new Fantasy Faire once it opens March 12? Rapunzel, Belle, and friends are anxious for you to be their guests, once you make it past the Stroller Nazis.
The charming courtyard looks like a scene right out of Beauty and the Beast, but its size is so limited, there's precious little room to manuever, let alone park, strollers. So, Fantasyland Operations hosts and hostesses will be positioned out front to direct guests, before enterting, to park their strollers at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or in Frontierland.
The exception will be: if the child is asleep in the stroller when the guests enter the Faire, they will be allowed to proceed. Wheelchairs and motorized assistance vehicles will also be permitted.
Although strollers are not permitted on most attractions, Disneyland has never before instituted a stroller ban for an entire area. Disney insists confiscating strollers is nothing new, but the only example that could be cited was how cast members relocate strollers near the entrance of Mickey's Toontown to alleviate guest flow in front of it's a small world.
But shuffling around empty strollers is fraught with far fewer problems than stopping children from entering a land—a land intended primarily for children—until they give up their wheels.
Disney won't say how long the ban will last—or, for that matter, won't even fully fess up that there will be a ban. According to resort spokesperson Kevin Rafferty, Jr., "Our goal is to ensure an excellent guest experience at the new Fantasy Faire, which may or may not include permitting strollers into the immediate area. The best scenario can be determined once Fantasy Faire is operational."
But Disney is planning on extreme crowding in the area. So while the old Carnation Gardens stage may still be there, the anticipated congestion will likely doom any chances of the stage ever again hosting swing dancing—currently banished to Downtown Disney.
In fact, expect the Fantasy Faire crowds to spill out and make the entire Plaza area considerably more congested. Come to think of it, I wonder if the crowding had anything to do with the Entertainment Department's decision to discontinue the birthday celebrations at Plaza Inn (effective after Fantasy Faire's first weekend) and return the tables to the Foods Department, which can turn the tables more quickly? (See "Pat E. Cake Gets Iced.")
The latest parlor game among cast members is trying to guess which restaurant at Disneyland will be the first to serve alcohol (apart from the private Club 33). After the Magic Kingdom in Florida successfully began serving wine and beer last fall in its new Fantasyland, Disneyland employees figure it's only a matter of time before the booze starts flowing at the Happiest Place on Earth.
Management has given no inkling that such a move is being planned, but wine seems a natural for the Blue Bayou (although knowing Disney, I suspect they'd choose a more strategic location, such as the Hungry Bear, to extend guest traffic to the far western end of the park, or the Big Thunder Ranch Barbeque, to boost buffet sales).
(Send an email to David Koenig)
David Koenig is the senior editor of the 80-year-old business journal, The Merchant Magazine.
After receiving his degree in journalism from California State University, Fullerton (aka Cal State Disneyland), he began years of research for his first book, Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look at Disneyland (1994), which he followed with Mouse Under Glass: Secrets of Disney Animation & Theme Parks (1997, revised 2001) and More Mouse Tales: A Closer Peek Backstage at Disneyland (1999) (All titles published by Bonaventure Press).
He lives in Aliso Viejo, California, with his lovely wife, Laura, their wonderful son, Zachary, and their adorable daughter, Rebecca.