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Little Princesses on Parade at Disney World's 'Perfectly Princess Tea Party'

This ultra-expensive event at Disney World's Grand Floridian Resort sells out quickly and, for one little girl, was worth every dime.

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Published: July 28, 2005 at 6:55 PM

The “My Disney Girl's Perfectly Princess Tea Party” at Walt Disney World surely ranks among the world's most expensive theme park resort events. The $200 per couple (one adult and one child) price tag puts this lunchtime tea in a league with tasting menus at Beverly Hills' Spago and other luxe restaurants where children rarely tread.

Optimists with a love for cliché insist money cannot buy happiness. Whatever. But for the load of cash you'll drop here you get 90 minutes of unrelenting good cheer -- enough to make even the most cynical youngster deliriously giddy.

TPI kids Natalie and Brian Niles joined their grandmother at the party this morning, as a thank you for participating in their aunt's wedding this weekend. Not content with two hours of parental freedom, I shoved a camera at the trio and made them promise a full report for TPI, too.

At these prices, the Princess Tea Party can't be a casual affair even for those who can afford the indulgence. You'll find no kids in T-shirts and flip flops here. Instead, a platoon of coiffed and costumed princesses-in-training descend upon the Grand Floridian's Garden View Tea Lounge. Many opt for Disney-branded princess gowns, but a few go their own way, donning velvet capes, and in one case, a flowing blonde wig.

Too many, however, chose fancy plastic shoes for the occasion, leading to the often-heard cry, “Ow, my feet, Mommy, my feet!”

The morning's hostess, Rose Petal, greets each child as she enters with a sprinkle of, well, rose petals, and a tiara for the girls to wear. (Unless, of course, the little guest brought her own. Many do.) Waitresses then escort parents and daughters to their tables.

A Rose Petal greeting at the Disney Perfectly Princess Tea Party

Yes, this is pretty much a girls-only event. Brian, bless his heart, was the only boy in attendance, gamely playing along even though he demurred an invitation to portray Prince Charming during story time.

At each place setting, the girls find an 18-inch Princess Aurora doll to take home (Brian got a Disney Teddy Bear), along with a personalized place card and a bracelet.

The place setting

Each child gets her own pot of Apple “tea” (juice, in reality), which the waitresses cheerfully show the kids how to pour through strainers into their china cups.

Pouring the tea

With the tea, children are served a plate of heart-cut peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, along with a crustless ham and cheese sandwich and a serving of grapes.

The childrens' meal

Adults dine upon a selection of cheeses, including smoked cheddar and a bleu cheese barquette. Egg and salmon salad sandwiches, along with grapes and lavosh, complete the plate.

The adults' meal

After the meal, hostesses present the Princess Cake, a white cake with a light pink frosting and strawberry filling.

The Princess Cake

Each guest is served a hefty slab of the cake before Princess Aurora arrives for story time. Rose Petal and Aurora tell the story of the Sleeping Beauty, inviting the kids to join in and act along, even getting their new princess dolls into the story at one point.

Live piano music and singing follows, as Aurora makes her way around the tables, presenting each child with a real pink rose. She lingers to chat with each child, often asking them to name their favorite princess. Most, captivated by the moment, eagerly respond “Aurora!” Natalie, having inherited her father's crack sense of sarcasm, chirped... “Leia!”

Meeting Princess Aurora

But the flowers, the sunshine, the music and the stories of magic swept even Natalie into the moment, and by the end of the 90-minute program she was waltzing with her grandmother around the room.

At the conclusion of the event, guests are directed upstairs to a gift shop (natch), where cheerful cast members present each child with a customized “Best Friends” certificate with their name and that of their new doll, along with a package of scrapbooking materials and a bag to carry home all the loot.

Despite the hefty cost, the daily event sells out quickly. If you'd like to go, call (407) WDW-DINE [(407) 939-6397] exactly 90 days before the date you wish to attend. “My Disney Girl's Perfectly Princess Tea Party” costs $200 for one adult and one child, plus tax and tip, with an extra charge of $65 for each additional adult and $135 for each additional child. Yep, the kids cost more than the adults. But it is their show.

Readers' Opinions

From Anthony Murphy on July 28, 2005 at 8:05 PM
I am glad that you wrote about this event. Being from a family of all boys, we would never go there especailly if we would drop $200. This does clear up for many about what you get for the money. It seems worth it. I liked the pictures of the little boy. It shows that boys could go there if there is no other option giving an option for the whole family to go there. Did he enjoy it? If I have a daughter, I would take her there.
From Jason Lester on July 28, 2005 at 9:12 PM
For what you pay you'd think the food would be better. I mean, was the food good? Because having a $200 PBJ doesn't seem like the kind of way to spend that money.
From Pete Brecht on July 29, 2005 at 7:59 AM
I noticed on the Disney website recently that they offer a similar princess lunch at their megastore in NYC, so if you live up there, you don't need to go all the way to Florida for the experience.
From Robert Niles on July 29, 2005 at 8:22 AM
The food, honestly, was an afterthought for the kids. They focused on the show and the interaction with the performers. The apple juice, for example, was as much something to play with with the waitresses as something to drink.

My mother reported the adult's plate was delicious, though not always to her taste. (Though, to be fair, I should note that she's not the foodie I am. The menu sounded yummy to me.)

From patrick sayre on July 29, 2005 at 9:26 AM
Whom ever dreamed up this money making scam for the Mouse should immediately be promoted.

Utilizing existant "cast members", inexpensivly made dolls, pbjs, and apple juice I bet this thing nets $150-175 a head.

BRILLIANT!

On the other hand I wonder what this teaches little Mary Jane Trust FUnd about money management and opprotunity cost?

From Robert Niles on July 29, 2005 at 9:32 AM
I think one ought to look at this as a show, rather than a meal. You're paying for a small venue interactive musical show, with a fancy snack and some take-aways. Is it a bad buy? That's up to you to decide. Obviously, the market for this is exclusively parents (almost always of young girls). For certain kids, this is the type of once-in-a-lifetime delight for which their parents would gladly shell out the cash. Other kids would respond to this with a shrug. One very expensive shrug.

That's why I've provided pictures and description here, so parents of young girls who will be visiting Disney can make a more informed decision about whether this would be worth the cost. Mind you, if you are the parent of a child who's finding it hard to smile, $200 to elicit a day's worth is a mighty tempting bargain. But if this sort of thing won't bring that for your daughter, I hope this article will help warn you away from this and toward something else that might be a better buy for your family.

From Jason Lester on July 29, 2005 at 10:07 AM
Well, being a guy mybe I just don't see the appeal in all of this. If I had a daughter I might. For now, it seems like a bad idea. Some day, it might make more sense.
From Lisa Pratt on July 29, 2005 at 3:53 PM
Thank you so much for sharing this information. Although my children are boys I would love to bring my nieces to such an event. I had always wondered what took place. Now if I can figure out how to win the lottery we can go.
From Jason Lester on July 29, 2005 at 4:10 PM
What's funny actually, is at some Disney restaurants a meal for 4 people can total up to around $150-$200. This is $200 for two people, right? So it's basically double the price of a normal lunch plus the theme and storytime, etc. Not as bad as it sounds when you think about it.

When I say some restaurants I don't mean all. More along the lines of Blue Bayou, which I think is vastly overated.

From Robert Niles on July 29, 2005 at 6:48 PM
I'll agree with you on the Bayou. I get asked a lot about finding bargains at theme parks, and I think it is important that people not equate "bargain" with "lowest possible price." If you spend $10 on a theme park ticket and no more than $5 on each meal and have a lousy time -- that's no bargain. It's a waste of $20-$25. But if you spend $2,000 for the best week you've ever had with your family, then that might be the best bargain you've ever found.

The key is getting the most for your money. And with so many choices out there, somebody's offering an experience that's perfect for you and your kids. The trick is finding it. Just going along with the "popular" choice might not be the best way to do that, though.

Ultimately, I think that's what has helped win TPI such acclaim. It's not just a Disney site, or just a roller coaster site. It covers a wide variety of experiences, including wickedly expensive ones ;-) in an effort to arm you with a wide range of informed vacation choices. (Which I suppose should lead to an appeal for people to e-mail suggestions for things like the Princess Tea Party that we ought to profile.)

From Jason Lester on July 29, 2005 at 11:00 PM
Actually, the reason I first tried Bayou is because of it's award winning status here on TPI. I was let down greatly. So good advice about not going with the popular choice. You need to take some time to sit down at a computer or guide book or whatever and research your trip. Sometimes the best places are discovered on a whim, but not all the time. That's why it's good to have a game plan and know your budget and what things are going to cost. It's especially important to know what's worth it in your eyes. If something doesn't sound good, don't go, no matter how popular it is.

Your plan can change, but at least have one.

From Kevin Baxter on July 30, 2005 at 2:21 PM
I have actually been to one of these gawdawful things. I took my friend to a showing of Freaky Friday at the El Capitan and treated her to the Princess Tea Party across the street near the Kodak Theater. The two experiences sound extremely similar, but apparently California kids aren't treated as if tea is frightening to them (ice tea isn't only popular in the South, ya know) and are expected to have taste buds. The finger sandwiches ranged far beyond the PB&J selections in Florida. If it wasn't for the boring princesses (the women playing them were very sweet), and all the obnoxious little girls, it wasn't a bad experience. But the best things? No stoopid doll... it only costs $50... FOR BOTH OF US... and I got a tattoo!!!
From Claudia Hoag on July 31, 2005 at 12:15 AM
I've been to a similar event, in San Diego, earlier this year (just before Easter), but it seems that it was a bit cheaper and offered higher quality - food for sure, but I'm thinking the overall experience - only it wasn't Disney. It was the Easter Bunny Tea and Egg Hunt, at the Westgate Hotel. It was great, small portions of food but with really great quality - some fine canapes, then scones and sweets, followed by a tall glass of straberries with whipped cream (they actually repeated the serving for my little one), selection of teas, coffee, chocolate. Then we moved to the upstairs salon, where we got a little Easter chick and hunted for Easter eggs and candy. And the story time was wonderful, they covered a big carpeted area with clean sheets for all the kids to sit down and be comfortable (in their nice Easter clothes), and they loved every minute. Melody (the clown) was the best thing of all, she was just great.

I think Disney still relies (and charges) a lot on the branding thing itself.

From Jason Lester on July 31, 2005 at 10:42 AM
You'd be right. People are willing to pay $200 not for the event, but for the name Disney. Your event in terms of food and overall quality seems lightyears ahead of Disney's and you said it's cheaper. So why go all the way to Disney for this event. Because it's Disney of course!
From Robert Niles on July 31, 2005 at 5:29 PM
Let's not overlook the live music. Vocalists and pianists (of professional quality) do raise the price of an event over one with just a rubberhead.

But, ultimately, expenses do not set the price of an event. Demand does. Given that Disney's Princess Tea sells out at $200 a couple, one could justly argue that Disney's not charging *enough* for this event. Yikes.

From Jason Lester on July 31, 2005 at 7:03 PM
No, they're charging plenty. Let's not give Disney any ideas.

The reason that the Disney even is in higher demand than other events of the same theme is that, as I said, they're Disney. Would you rather go to a small event at a hotel or one thrown by Disney. The choice isn't that hard to make. Most people would choose Disney.

From Kevin Baxter on August 1, 2005 at 1:04 AM
I don't want to crap all over Disney, because the parks rarely focus on pleasing the little girls in their fanbase. And not everything has to be cheap enough for Ma and Pa Kettle to afford. My problem is what you get for the money. When I paid $25 per person, I thought it was overpriced, but understandably so. Adding a dumb doll just to jack up the price 400% is ridiculous, especially with such meager food and drink options. If that were up to snuff, they dropped the damn dolls (which they probably will once demand for this wanes), and charged half that price, I'd think it was great.

BUT, if you have a princess-mad child, the Restaurant Akershus in Epcot's Norway pavilion apparently has princess meals all day long (no doubt to get people into the least popular restaurant in the park). For $15 to $29 per person!

From Jason Lester on August 1, 2005 at 10:23 AM
That offers another good option. Only problem. It's not going to be as known as the larger one at the Grand Floridian. That's the main problem. Disney knows the GF one is more well known so they know they can jack up the price for a stupid doll.
From Claudia Hoag on August 1, 2005 at 7:30 PM
Just as a note, the event I mentioned in San Diego did have a pianist.

My point is: I really love Disney, but - specially after being to this tea party in San Diego - if I went to this Princess Tea in Disney I would be utterly disappointed. I would be mad. Not like the Mad Hatter, but more like a mad, mad Grumpy. Simply because I would be expecting MORE. More quality. The doll seem flimsy, the cake looks cheap (with a printed display on top). I don't want to diminish your experience, I hope your young ones had a great time, and I imagine that they have a lot to tell to the other kids at school and all. But I'm glad you've put pictures in this site and described the whole thing... so that I will know not to try it.

I don't know how Disney can get away with this kind of stuff, but it certainly can't stand forever. Disney was supposed to mean "good quality". Considering all, charging that much for this event is offensive to the public. I bet many parents were secretly shocked with that kind of food, but just took it because they were paying "for the show", and because they were doing that for their kids. But would you want to pay top price for a Cirque De Soleil show sitting on a metal chair? I think you would take the metal chair if it was a discount price, otherwise...

From Kevin Baxter on August 1, 2005 at 11:45 PM
I don't know how much better known the big one is, since I didn't know this still existed - and I wrote about it TWICE... here too. But I wrote about the Norway thing once and I still remember it. Plus, I clicked on Character Experiences on the WDW site, and this one was the first one listed under Dining. PLUS, and most important, all you have to do is walk into the Norway pavilion and you will know there is a character meal. The Princess Tea needs prior knowledge.
From g coronado on August 2, 2005 at 3:34 PM
I think the pics are sweet and it sounds like the kids had a memorable experience. As for the price: the event as described had a significant amount of one-on-one time. Personal attention is always a bit more expensive than cafeteria style service.
From Jason Lester on August 2, 2005 at 6:18 PM
I'm just saying the name Disney in particular, including the Norway one. If someone heard of one in San Diego and one at Disney, Norway one or not, the Disney one would be a first choice.

From Kevin Baxter on August 6, 2005 at 5:05 PM
HUH?
From Jason Lester on August 6, 2005 at 6:04 PM
That sentence came out wierd. All I meant was Disney is always the first choice for many people.

The name Disney is a brand. The quality of the even doesn't matter to many people if the event is Disney.

From Kevin Baxter on August 11, 2005 at 9:57 PM
So then what does that have to do with the difference between the two Princess things?

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