Breaking a wicked stepmother’s curse, Disneyland’s fairytale princesses will be whisked away from their crowded one-room temporary home in 2013 and magically transported to a spacious new storybook village more befitting of their royal lineage.
Blame Rapunzel for the extreme home makeover after Disney’s newest princess moved into her own brand-new Fantasyland home in 2010 and immediately drew hour-plus lines to her “Tangled” meet-and-greet location.
In a fit of jealous rage, Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty demanded an upgrade from their windowless, doorless and roofless slapdash digs in an old converted theater.
Now the Disney princesses are moving into a tony new neighborhood located on prime Disneyland real estate. Look out “Real Housewives of Orange County,” here come the “Real Princesses of Disneyland.”
Construction is expected to begin this fall on Fantasy Faire, a medieval village with character meet-and-greet areas, stage shows, food stands and retail shops at the current location of the Carnation Plaza Gardens bandstand next door to Sleeping Beauty Castle.
The Fantasy Faire village will feature Tudor cottages, flag-topped turreted towers and heraldry-draped pavilions that will thematically blend in with the nearby Gothic Revival castle.
Young girls will be able to pose for photos and get autographs in a multi-princess Fairy Tale Hall meet-and-greet location.
In the central square, visitors will participate in a daily Royal Ribbon Parade around a maypole called Tangled Tower.
Concept art of Fantasy Faire shows a theater with Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” performing on stage as children in the front rows wave colorful ribbons while adults sit at tables in the back.
Shoehorning all the princesses into a single village -- with their varying stories hailing from differing countries and centuries -- will undoubtedly present a thematic challenge for Disney’s Imagineers.
The princess village will take over a prime location in an underutilized corner of the Anaheim theme park where big band orchestras performed for swing dancers on weekend evenings. Live music and swing dancing is expected to continue in the Fantasy Faire theater when the new meet-and-greet area debuts in 2013.
The princess franchise has proven wildly popular for Disney from a branding and merchandising standpoint, with the character meet-and-greets separating the theme park giant from its rivals in the all-important tandem demographic of grade-school girls and their free-spending mothers.
Fantasy Faire allows Disneyland to further monetize the typical theme park visit through two key revenue-generating streams: merchandise sales of princess gowns, tiaras and toys as well as keepsake pictures through the PhotoPass program.
Disneyland’s new purpose-built Fantasy Faire combines the meet-and-greet qualities of the park’s existing Disney Princess Fantasy Faire in the Fantasyland Theater with the new Princess Fairytale Hall planned for the Disney World Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland makeover in Florida. A similar Once Upon a Time princess meet-and-greet area is planned for the Shanghai Disneyland castle, set to open in late 2015 or early 2016.
The Fantasyland Theater has hosted princess meet-and-greets and shows since 2006. Before that, the amphitheater was home to stage productions over the years based on Snow White, Pocahontas, Beauty and the Beast andMickey Mouse. In the 1980s and ‘90s, the theater presented Top 40 bands and served as an all-ages dance club known as Videopolis. No word yet on what the theater will be used for next.
Built in 1956, the Carnation Plaza Gardens stage is the longest-running big band stage in the world, according to Stan Freese, Disneyland talent casting and booking director. Some of the biggest names in music have played under the burgundy and gold canopy: Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Cab Calloway, Jimmy Dorsey and Glenn Miller.