Belle, Rapunzel, and their fairy-tale friends from many of Disney’s best-loved animated films are making their way to the almost-ready Fantasy Faire, opening March 12 at Disneyland Park in California. Located on the west side of the “Hub” or Central Plaza, this new half-acre village-like setting expands Fantasyland into the former Carnation Plaza Gardens location near the forecourt of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Designed in the old-world style common throughout Fantasyland, this addition promises guests a new immersive experience where they can meet their favorite Disney princesses, watch live-action vaudeville-style shows, grab some cool new treats, and stumble upon some surprises.
We got invited to take a tour of the still-under-construction attraction, hardhats and all, and heard from the designers on what to expect when this new, enchanted village opens in a few weeks.
This concept image shows how Fantasy Faire will blend into the rest of Fantasyland. “I would like to have the two areas meld together over time until it really looks like just one land,” says Michel Den Dulk, Creative Director, Walt Disney Imagineering.
Here, we see the main town square of Fantasy Faire under construction. Notice how the spires of Sleeping Beauty Castle and the top of the Matterhorn frame the background; this gives you a pretty good idea of where the Faire is located and how it fits into the overall Fantasyland scheme.
“I love that this is an extension of Fantasyland,” says Christopher Utley, Show Director, Disneyland Resort Entertainment. “It allows us to populate this area with a variety of characters. We’re not just limited to ‘royalty.’” Christopher is referring to the fact that although the Disney Princesses will be center-stage in this new area, other favorite characters will join them as well.
You’ll notice a worker in a yellow safety vest in the lower-right-hand corner. He’s standing where Clopin’s Music Box will be, an interactive mechanical toy representing the Feast of Fools from Hunchback.
Another character who’ll be hanging out—literally—on one of the window ledges here in Fantasy Faire is Figaro, that fuzzy feline from Pinocchio, seen in this Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) concept art. Like most cats, he’ll soak up the warm sunshine on one of the ledges here in the town square, spending most of his day asleep. “He’ll wake up when he hears a nearby bird singing a Disney melody,” Michel says. “They’ll interact to the song a bit, then Figaro will fall back asleep again.”
As shown in this WDI rendering, the central part of the town square will be dominated by Tangled Tower, a sculpture inspired by the story of Rapunzel from Tangled. In the concept art, the Tower is surrounded by children with Rapunzel’s “house” at the top. After dark, Rapunzel’s hair, twisting around the tower sculpture, comes to life with twinkling lights.
As an homage to Carnation Plaza Gardens, which used to occupy this site, a special crest is being put above one of the ornate doorways. As shown in this concept artwork, it features the initials C, P, and G for Carnation Plaza Gardens, with a carnation flower carved underneath.
Here are a few of the goodies to be served at Maurice’s Treats. Belle’s inventor father, Maurice, has transformed an old gypsy wagon into a colorful food cart serving bread twists—cheddar cheese garlic and strawberry almond cream flavors—along with a signature beverage, the Boysen Apple Freeze.
If you look closely at the construction shot, you might be able to pick out which unfinished doorway in the background will be the home for the Carnation Plaza Gardens crest. Directly above the Imagineer taking a photo is a window where the crest will reside.
Here, guests will be treated to two different shows: the tales of Rapunzel and Belle as presented by Mr. Smythe and Mr. Jones, a pair of vaudeville-style Renaissance storytellers. Each princess will join in the fun and remain in the audience to greet guests following the conclusion of the story.
Chris is quick to point out that the Princesses are not “actors,” per se, in these shows—they’re just willing to play along with Smythe and Jones. “Also, they’re going to make sure that their stories are being told correctly,” he says.
There are three separate areas within the Hall, each one with its own princess interaction area. As shown in these photos—one with Cinderella herself!—the hall has deep wood paneling and ornate chandeliers fit for royalty. You can see the “A-frame” roof over the Royal Hall entrance in the construction photo.