Fairytale Garden is nestled on a rarely trafficked path behind Cinderella’s Castle, meandering down toward Tomorrowland. It’s a small outdoor theater and was formerly the home of Story Time with Belle and, more recently, the Tangled Play and Greet.
It was the Tangled feature that first brought us to Fairytale Garden on our maiden trip to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Camille was in love with Rapunzel and while she enjoyed the Princess Breakfast and seeing so many characters throughout our stay, the new princess could only be found by waiting in line for an hour at the gates of the garden. The wait was rewarded with a song and dance routine, a wonderful cast of characters (with puppets!) and finally, one-on-one time with Rapunzel.
Rapunzel’s time has come and gone, apparently, and there is a newer princess in town: Merida. The red-haired star of Brave has moved in to Fairytale Garden with her own meet-and-greet opportunity. On a whim, we decided to wait in line to see her during a quick one-day trip to Disney World last month. Camille didn’t enjoy Brave (Howdy Kids Review) as much as Tangled; but she does have a soft-spot for the spunky girl-power Merida and gladly chose to wait in line to see her rather than take in a few more rides on It’s a Small World.
Our wait was just over a half hour and we were hustled into the familiar garden. The floating lanterns from Tangled have been repurposed a bit and vinyl reproductions of the Queen’s tapestries surrounded the facade. There was no pre-meet “activity” this time (a song and dance and craft activity accompanied seeing Rapunzel) but that kept the lines moving quickly. We were surprised to see the same princess-assistant as last time in the garden (always the bridesmaid) but she was delightful and charming. When not in line to meet the princess, kids could practice their archery skills with a bow and arrow for target practice and one-on-one guidance from a kind, funny older woman. One of the best things about these photo opportunities is that the cast members are so nice and welcoming. They make your child feel like they are the only one in the park. It’s a real talent.
The main attraction, however, was Merida. The girls they cast in these character roles are amazing. They see hundreds of children every day and somehow their eyes still light up when your precious comes running into their arms. They ask good questions and listen attentively. They are never distracted by anything else happening around them. For those three minutes, they are only interested in making sure your child is having the best day ever. Her hair and costuming were phenomenal and the accent and attitude never seemed forced. We got our pictures, shared pleasantries and were on our way.
If your son or daughter is a Merida fan, this meet and greet opportunity won’t last long and is a great chance to let them experience meeting a “real life” hero. While it’s probably not enough to justify an entire trip to Orlando, it’s certainly worth waiting in the comparatively short line for the experience.