Written by Joe Lane
Published: April 25, 2005 at 8:15 PM
Take a moment to think about the different character categories in the Disney franchise. There's Mickey & Friends, Pooh & Pals, Toy Story and of course, Princesses.
It makes sense that a company that built its foundation on fanciful fairy tales like "Snow White," "Sleeping Beauty" and "Cinderella" should have one of its most popular properties focus entirely on their Princesses.
After all, for little girls, it's all about being a princess. And the merchandising potential, well, I don't have to tell you. Any Disney fan with a little princess of their own would be quite familiar with the vast collection of dresses, tiaras and dolls that make up the Disney Princess collection.
The popularity of Cindy, Belle and Jasmine should come as no surprise. There's a strong traditional image of little girls fanaticizing about being a princess. The tea parties, the royal balls, the handsome prince who saves the day and finding true love--all formal components engrained in the concept of being a princess. Naturally, these stereotypes don't always apply nowadays.
But at Walt Disney World, the old traditions are alive and well in the form of Cinderellabration, a true Princess-fest imported from Tokyo Disneyland.
The show is presented in part for Disneyland's 50th Anniversary, "The Happiest Celebration on Earth." While DL in California will receive the royal treatment it deserves, WDW, the bread-and-butter of Disney's theme park division, is getting a pretty decent serving as well in the form of transplanted attractions from Magic Kingdoms across the globe.
The Castle Forecourt Stage in front of Cinderella Castle has been home to a number of different live shows over the past few years. A more permanent production was introduced in October 2001, "Cinderella's Surprise Celebration," a full-blown technical performance featuring the whole gamut of Disney characters, from the Fab Five to characters from Disney films like "Aladdin" and "Mulan" and yes, those wonderful Princesses.
Today, WDW's Cinderellabration is a festive presentation that features the Princesses, just the Princesses, and nothing but the Princesses.
The show originally debuted at Tokyo Disneyland last year, as part of their 20th anniversary event. It was their nighttime spectacular--their own Fantasmic!--and featured all the Princesses, plus other Disney characters (including Mickey & Friends) dressed in royal attire.
Our Orlando version, however, has been revised to play several times throughout the day and features a reduced cast, so don't look for Mickey or the gang to make an appearance.
Cinderella's Surprise Celebration featured a well-rounded Disney cast throwing a surprise party for Cindy, with the Disney villains interrupting the fun with Walt Disney-sleight-of-hand, only to be outdone by their respective heroes.
The new show tells the story of Cinderella's coronation, complete with a singing, dancing royal court and appearances by Snow White, Princess Aurora, Princess Jasmine and Belle. No villains, no conflict, just fairy tale royalty at its finest. It's also a rare opportunity to see The Beast in his human form, as well as face characters of the King and the Grand Duke. And the acting of the performers are, as usual, top notch, full of energy and excitement.
Speaking of excitement, is the show exciting? For your own little princess, perhaps, but it doesn't have the same overall appeal as the previous show did.
There's certainly an argument for the necessity of a Princess-themed attraction. The majority of Magic Kingdom rides cater exclusively to the young male demographic (Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, Pirates of the Caribbean and Stitch's Great Escape, to name a few examples). In this, a show starring the Princesses is clearly justified. While its prominence might raise questions, the show appears very much at home at on the forecourt of Cinderella Castle. In any case, the issue is up for discussion, although the poor quality this cloned show compared to its original Tokyo parent seems to have eclipsed any other topics of discussion.
Cinderellabration is currently in its soft opening stage, with the official opening slated for May 5, the official date for the global Disney festival.