Festival of Fantasy Parade
Located: Magic Kingdom
Premiered: Spring 2014
As many can guess, I have returned from my trip down to that beautifully sunny land known to many as Florida and rather than begin where I had left off with my Disney Princesses review, I’ll instead focus on an aspect of my trip that well and truly impressed above many others, Star Wars Weekends aside of course.
The Festival of Fantasy Parade is yet another parade (currently) found in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom theme park and while not breaking any records, I can’t help but feel that it provides a refreshingly amazing new look at many popular Disney characters both young and old. Unfortunately, there is no official name for any of the floats save for a few key phrases associated with the characters astride them or for whom they are based. As such, I’ll do my best to name them appropriately to what I feel fits them best.
In order of appearance, the first float, which I’ve come to call “The Royal Gardens” features the most popularized Disney Royalty with Belle and Beast at the fore and dancing merrily with one another. While I can’t recall the precise music involved (honestly there was a strange bit of excited shrieking occurring as the float drew near for me to make out any lyrics let alone tunes) the float itself was both elegant and tamed by comparison to previous floats. It wasn’t overly girly with hues of pink or an excessive amount of flowers but was wholly a float befitting the royals that were astride it. It wasn’t until the tail end of the float approached that I discovered the source of the excited shrieks and was rendered temporarily deaf for a good while afterward as both Elsa and Anna made their appearance on their snow capped portion of the float.
Just an FYI for any of those curious and because even now I cannot believe it myself, I had arrived at the Magic Kingdom on one of its early opening hours, available only to those whom are staying at a Disney Resort, and had arrived at the Princess Fairytale Hall to try my hand at getting a picture taken with Elsa and/or Anna. The time was roughly fifteen minutes after the park had opened its gates give. The wait time was two hundred and forty minutes. That being said, I later learned that the waiting period for a Fastpass was somewhere around, or over, one hundred and eighty days in advance.
Needless to say, I called that a wash and satisfied my ever ravenous urge for pictures with this one below, the one moment where I’m sure people could hear the excited screams across the lake if not the other side of Walt Disney World itself…
The following float, which I’ve dubbed the “BEST DAY EVER” is essentially a Viking vessel stylized after the infamous Snuggly Duckling complete with animal skulls, swinging axes, angry Vikings and equally angry Maximus, and, surprisingly, a long braid of Rapunzel’s hair draped across the top of the float. Honestly, it was a small detail that I failed to notice until just now. Heck, there is even a section of the boat upon which hangs an assortment of frying pans of varying sizes, something I’m sure makes this one of the deadliest ships to ever sail the shores of the Magic Kingdom.
Keeping with the aquatic theme, Ariel’s float, which I’ve dubbed as “Under the Sea,” is a float that is easily one of the most colorful in the entire parade. With an animatronic Sebastian at the fore and dancing fish galore, the one and only thing that brings forth a massive sweatdrop across my forehead is the fact that Ariel is, yet again, using a fork to comb her hair. While she did get a slight redesign, like a few other characters to follow, I can’t help but wonder what the obsession is with Ariel’s fork-as-a-comb dilemma. Seriously, there was even a piggy bank of a human Ariel doing this! That and for whatever reason, there wasn’t a day that went by where I didn’t hear “Part of Your World” playing in the background somewhere…
From under the sea to the second star to the right, we reach the next float that I call “Never, Never” only because it is a strangely pieced together assortment of what-the-heck with a dash of bemusement. At the fore of the float is the infamous Skull Island from which emerges an actual rainbow that falls all the way back to a small piece of Pixie Hollow upon which sits Tinkerbell with wand and attitude well in hand. Atop the arch of the rainbow upon their borrowed ship are Peter Pan and Wendy Darling with an irate Captain Hook waving angrily up at them from where he hangs on the anchor below.
What made this float particularly interesting to me was that it is preceded by a group of redesigned Lost Boys whose attire is still based on certain animals but of a far more realistic take on what kids, particularly boys, would make. Of course, as always, Tick-Tock the crocodile follows after the trail of Hook with tongue hanging out in hungry glee.
What followed in the wake of the “Never, Never” is easily the strangest float of them all, that being the “Brave Defiance” or rather an incredibly oversized bagpipe upon which stands Merida and one of her bear-cursed brothers. Preceding this odd float are a team of actual highland dancers who do a jolly jig to traditional Scottish dance that made even me want to get in on the act and have my own go at it.
While there have been many cast members who look the part for any Disney character, like Elsa and Anna before her, I couldn’t help but feel that this was Merida herself astride this float, particularly as she laughed jovially at the sights around her.
What comes next is easily my favorite float of them all and one that I sincerely wished had been recreated in a smaller scale for purchase. Though not the wicked fairy herself, the “Steampunk Maleficent” is no less a frighteningly beautiful sight to behold. With a coven of living thorns and iron ravens at her fore, with those meddlesome fairies and rather bland prince beforehand, the mechanical dragon is by far the most detailed of the floats with its ability to breathe actual fire and how every tiny part moves and works in her body.
This float even has actual sound effects from the metallic boom of her footsteps to the leathery creaking of her wings to the wooden clacking of her spindle heart whirling deep in her breast. If ever there was something of Walt Disney World that I want to take home with me, the Steampunk Maleficent is it. In point of fact, if ever there was a float that deserved a toy if not an actual statue, it is this one and I sincerely hope to hear of such a thing being released this upcoming winter season. Needless to say, it will be on the top of my Christmas list.
Coming upon the tail end of the parade is an assortment of colorful characters ranging from those of Alice in Wonderland to the seven dwarfs, whom are no doubt celebrating their latest ride, but what really took the cake is the float I call “Fantasia Monstro.” A float that is one part Monstro if Monstro not only became a good guy but decided to try his fin at being an actual clown and bits and pieces of the film Fantasia, predominately the portions of myth and fantasy. That of course being ballerina hippos and ostriches.
Donald and Daisy Duck are also astride this float alongside Pluto, the former being dressed in an oddly colorful variation of their usual clothes. I’d honestly say that, like Monstro, the two ducks were dressed for the circus and considering that there is one at the Magic Kingdom now, that’s not too much of a stretch…
Finally, we lead up to the last float with the popular duo of Chip & Dale alongside the loveable Goof himself, all three dressed similarly to the Ducks before them with Mad Hatter styled hats atop their heads. Considering how the Mad Hatter was acting, I’m fairly certain the man made it rich with this latest parade.
Following in their wake is Mickey and Minnie Mouse standing in a hot air balloon the likes of which I really like. I can’t pinpoint it down to the unique design of the “Soarin’ Fantasy” itself or how it actually seemed to rise up and down as it went by but I really like this float. It isn’t too overly extravagant compared to any of the others nor is it underwhelming. I feel that it’s an appropriate end to an otherwise bright and colorful parade, one whose entire concept is that of a celebration of all things fantasy.
For really, what is more realistically fantastical than riding on a hot air balloon?