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A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Princess Fairytale Hall



By Dave Shute

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

PRINCESS FAIRYTALE HALL

By Jim Korkis

On June 2, 2012, Walt Disney World closed the Snow White’s Scary Adventures attraction. The Disney Princesses had been at the Town Square Theater on Main Street U.S.A. awaiting an expansion of Fantasyland that was originally going to feature individual areas for each of them. Those plans changed and instead the Princess Fairytale Hall opened in the ride’s location on September 18, 2013.

(c) Disney

“Princess Fairytale Hall is an annex to Cinderella Castle where our royal guests, our park guests, will come to meet a visiting princess,” Imagineer Jason Grandt, who was the creative art designer of the space, told me in 2013. “It is done in the same regal style as other additions to the castle so that it is a wonderfully detailed architectural environment fitting of Disney royalty.”

Guests pass through lush purple and gold exterior trimmings with stained glass windows featuring animal characters from the classic Disney animated movie Cinderella (1950) like the mice Jacques and Gus-Gus as well as shields adorned with each princess’s symbol that hang around the marquee. The outdoor light fixtures are in the shape of crowns.

Entering an elegant corridor filled with tapestries and themed lighting leads to an airy, high-ceilinged Royal Gallery with nearly full-sized portraits of Aurora, Tiana, Rapunzel, Mulan, Jasmine, and Snow White. This room also houses Cinderella’s glass slipper illuminated in a special case.

“The space is really opulent and filled with ornate chandeliers and several framed custom princess portraits that are stunning. They were painted by talented Disney artists who diligently labored to capture the atmosphere, design and story moments of the films.

“When they came into the office full size rather than just a computer sized image, we all just gasped; they were so lush and full of detail. Our portraits are to show that there are Disney princesses all over the world but the hall is primarily devoted to Cinderella.

“From there, you will be dispatched to a magnificent receiving room to meet with a princess and get photos, autographs and time to talk with her,” stated Grandt.

The rooms with luxurious carpets and drapes contain open storybooks. Snow White’s storybook is permanently placed as a tribute to the former ride and to the first Disney princess. The rooms also include props from the films like the king’s bookends in the Cinderella room.

“The team kept playing the films while we were working and the more you watch them, the more you see subtle things that you can include.
“For our Disney guests, we know that next to meeting Mickey Mouse, the Disney princesses are their greatest wish for us to make those fantasy worlds become a reality. Our Disney princesses are truly the heart of Fantasyland and now they have this very special location to interact with our guests.

“Part of the fun will be not knowing until that day which princess might be visiting with Cinderella or Rapunzel. Ariel and Belle have their own locations so won’t be here. Our guests want opportunities to meet the princesses and this royal encounter location will help satisfy those wishes.”

According to the Imagineering storyline, Princess Fairytale Hall is a gift from the King to Cinderella, and acts as a place where she can meet with visiting royalty and along with those other princesses can greet the subjects of Fantasyland.
Imagineer Pam Rawlins, assistant producer, said, “Guests are immersed into this majestic world of the princesses. It is all very elegant, with dark wood panelings and elegant finishes, with a bit of a gothic motif, so you really feel like you’re in the castle. You will be a royal subject meeting your princess.”

*  *  *  *  *

Thanks, Jim! As it turns out, the “second” princess in each meet has usually had an extended run, rather than being a daily surprise.

And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, Secret Stories of Disneyland, and his Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, all published by Theme Park Press.

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