Festival of FantasySince kick off, I have not been a fan of the Festival of Fantasy parade in Magic Kingdom.

There. I said it. Online, for the whole world to see.

Now, before you send me hate mail, I have found a way to finally appreciate this performance. But, let me back up to opening day and explain.

When it was announced that “Celebrate A Dream Come True” (CaDCT) was retiring, I was sad, but not for the reasons you think. I was quite over the reused floats and matching wigs. The music, though, was catchy, and was the first parade NDK really identified with. Just a toddler when it started, she would sing and dance alongside this parade…

Every. Single. Time.

I was sad that “her” parade was going away, but I was elated we were getting something NEW! One of the very first press releases I ever posted on the DDL was about opening day! The concept art looked amazing and we counted down the days until the parade made its debut.

Festival of Fantasy - maidensOpening day arrived, and we were there. We hurried to find a spot in Frontierland and luckily scored a front row seat. I promise you, I was almost in tears. I sat on the curb next to NDK, camera ready, on a beautifully sunny, picture perfect Florida day. It was finally 3:00pm.

As I started filming, and yes, I was still sitting down, I realized that I was not able to fully capture the floats in the parade. These ginormous floats were towering. And looking up into Florida 3:00 sun, I’m sure you can see where this is going.

As the towering floats got closer, most of the detail, the characters and the playful nature of the parade was vanishing. It was then that I realized, from NDK’s viewpoint, most of this parade is out of her sight. That severely disappointed me. I proceeded to get up and walk away.

Festival of Fantasy - plutoI was not happy. I was aggravated by the overuse of bodysuits. I was appalled that almost every single float was so large, children who sit front row miss out. I was completely annoyed by the “bubble girls” as I call them. I complained heavily to my family, who absolutely adore this parade and think I am nuts. I shared my disappointment with my friends who were there that day as well. They also thought I was nuts. This is when my very good friend said to me, “You are what they call a ‘Conservative Traditionalist’.” I took that in stride as they begged me not to write about my extreme dislike for this parade.

I promised NDD that I would watch the parade again. Try it from another angle, maybe? A new location, perhaps? My family wanted me to love this parade. So, because we are talking Disney, I gave it many chances. I’ve even taken LOTS of photos. But still, while I did find elements that I do like, overall, I still was not a fan. I just cannot tell you how bothered I was about how small children in strollers or sitting curbside were affected by the size of the floats. But, for fairness, here is, what I feel, the good and the bad:

  • Opening – The royal announcement booming from the speakers is enough to send chills down your spine. The music, while it may not be catchy enough for me, is upbeat and happy. I still only can remember the words “Festival of Fantasy.”
  • Festival of Fantasy - swan courtThe Swan Court is magnificent as they lead the beautiful Princess Unit. I love how each character does their best to smile and wave to everyone they see.
  • The Tangled Unit is fun, but hard to appreciate when it is right on top of you. I adore Mime and the goat.
  • The Little Mermaid Unit – sadly, not a fan. It is very hard to see Ariel way up there.
  • The Peter Pan Unit – while this is what I was most looking forward to, once it is on top of you, all you can appreciate is Skull Rock. I really wanted to see all of the action that goes on in the ship! Seeing Tic-Toc follow along is a bonus, though!
  • Brave Unit – this part of the parade brings tears to my eyes. While I have only seen this parade a few times(under 10), Merida is, in my opinion, the liveliest of all the performers. Her happiness WAY UP THERE on top of that bagpipe radiates like no other. She is so full of sunshine and spunk, and she always makes sure she is making eye contact! I have noticed that she is very careful to look down and wave as well.
  • Festival of Fantasy - maleficentMaleficent – while I am not a “Steampunk” fan, the float is well done. It’s not that I do not like it, I just don’t understand it. But a fire breathing dragon on Main Street, yes, this NDM approves.
  • Finale – this is my most favorite part of the entire parade. I ADORE this float, all 90 feet of it! It is musical, it is colorful and happy. There is SO much to see. But the best part? It is a not as tall and towering as the other floats. The only part of this unit that I do not like is those “Bubble Girls.” Maybe it is the abuse of bodysuits, or the enormous bubbles that are a part of their costume, I am not sure. Mickey and Minnie in the balloon is a cute and different way to end the parade.

So, you see, I have found points of this parade that I do appreciate. But I still was not a fan. I wouldn’t go out of my way to see the parade. Until last Monday…

Spring break was here and we decided to book a quick trip. We are locals, but sometimes just seeing that Hidden Mickey towel on a hotel bed from an overnight stay needs to happen. When we arrived at Magic Kingdom, it was a very wet, overcast day. We had lunch ADRs at The Plaza, so off we went. While waiting to be seated, it hit me…I hadn’t seen the new hub area, Central Plaza Gardens, yet. I was incredibly giddy, to say the least. It looked magnificent!! After lunch, we skipped, well, I skipped across the new concrete and onto the new “Hub Grass.” I was in heaven. It was so incredibly beautiful, that we may have sat there for about a half hour. And then, it happened….

The 3:00 parade started.

Maybe it was my over-giddiness, maybe it had to do with the fact the sun came out and it wasn’t supposed to, but whatever it was, I wanted to stay on the Hub Grass, and watch the parade. So we stayed and watched.

Festival of Fantasy Hub Grass

Festival of Fantasy Hub GrassThe Peter Pan float, the one I had wanted to love and adore more than anything came around the bend. With Cinderella Castle as a backdrop, the sun glittered and so did that sparkly rainbow! I could see Peter and Wendy playing on the ship. I could see the magnificent colors. I could fully appreciate it!

While I could not see the performers that are not on a float, I could see the floats in their entirety.  And so could NDK. I finally was in love with what Festival of Fantasy had to offer.

Festival of Fantasy Hub GrassThe take-away here? Sometimes, changes take time to love. I am not a big fan of change when it comes to Disney. I understand that the parks are not museums, and I remind myself of that. I take the change and adapt slowly, I suppose, earning me the title of Conservative Traditionalist. Everyone needs to “keep moving forward” in order to grow. Maybe all I needed to enjoy the parade was a beautiful viewing spot. The new hub area certainly fits that spot!

What do you think?



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