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Disney After Dark: Princess Nite

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#31: In this episode of Happiest Pod, join Ariel and Stef as they recount their magical evening at Disneyland’s After Dark event, Princess Nite. Held for the first time at Disneyland Park on March 7th and 9th from 9 PM to 1 AM, this special event transported guests into a world of princesses and fairy tales. And don’t worry if you missed it, as Ariel and Stef provide an in-depth look at the experience so you’ll know what to expect if you decide to attend next time!

Read the blog post for this episode for additional references and resources.

Become a member of Geek Therapy on Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/geektherapy



  • Intro 0:10
    • Welcome to the happiest pod on earth.

    • Today’s episode is all about Princess Nite.

    • How Princess Nite compares to Merriest Nite.
    • How to plan a Disney event.

  • Dressing Up for Princess Nite 8:14
    • Dressing up for a Disney event.
    • Dressed up for the gram.

  • Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Rail Way 12:06
    • Rise of the Resistance and Mickey’s Runaway Railway.

    • The El Capitan in Los Angeles.

    • The lack of female representation in Disney movies.

    • How Disney has had to adapt to change.
  • Where are the Princesses? 18:20
    • Where to find the Princesses in Fantasyland.

    • The end of the line sign.

    • No signs saying where the Princesses are.

  • Soaring Melodies Under The Starrs 28:06
    • No projections.
    • A live Disney performance with singing and dancing.
    • Pyrotechnics.
  • The Broken Reservation System 30:27
    • High Tea menu at Cafe Orleans.

    • Special event Cinderella Popcorn bucket.

    • The app kept shutting down and didn’t say anything about the special menu.

  • Dinner During Princess Nite 36:09
    • Dinner at Tomorrowland was Princess themed.

    • All food was sweet and sugary, even the spicy tenders.

    • Magic Keyholders can pick up a special gift at The Landing Bay.

    • Pop Princess Dance Party.

  • Suggestions for Improvement 39:48
    • There could have been more interactive experiences.

    • Examples of different Princess interactions.
    • Confusion over the choice of a mirror for the lanyard gift.
  • Final Thoughts on Princess Nite 43:48
    • Disney Princess culture is a thing.
    • Disney Princess Nite had missed opportunities.
    • The DJ was the highlight of the evening.

Stefanie Bautista 0:10
Hello, everyone, welcome to the Happiest Pod on Earth. I’m Stef an educator who uses passions and fandoms to help my students grow and learn about themselves and the world around them.

Ariel Landrum 0:21
And I’m Ariel, I’m a licensed therapist who uses clients passions and fandoms to help them grow and heal from trauma and achieve mental wellness.

Stefanie Bautista 0:30
And Happiest Pod is where we dissect Disney mediums with a critical lens.

Ariel Landrum 0:34
Why? Because we are more than just fans and we expect more from the mediums we consume. So Stef, what Disney experience are we discussing today?

Stefanie Bautista 0:42
Well, it has been a while since we’ve talked about any sort of experience because we’ve been busy busy people lately. But somehow we both carved out time to attend Princess Nite, which is in the realm of after dark events that Disneyland hosts. Other events include Oogie Boogie bash, Sweethearts Nite, I know they did like a Throwback Nite a couple of years ago. So Princess Nite falls into that category. And basically, it’s all Princess themed. This is the first of its kind. And I know in a previous episode, I talked about attending Marriest Nites.

Ariel Landrum 1:17

Stefanie Bautista 1:17
Which did not get renewed this year. But in place of that me and Ariel decided, “Hey, let’s attend Princess Nite and see what it’s all about.” So today’s episode is gonna be all about that and what we think of this particular event and all the other night events.

Ariel Landrum 1:32
And I think this is a good time to talk about it not only because we love princesses, but also because it’s Women’s History Month.

Stefanie Bautista 1:39
Yes, it is.

Ariel Landrum 1:40
And so celebrating the heroic women of Disney.

Stefanie Bautista 1:45
And many of you guys know or maybe some of you don’t know that we have done a whole presentation on Disney Princesses and we have done a deep dive on what they mean to us what they mean to women everywhere and how we always want to challenge people to think about what princesses and you know what the role of women play in media, especially Disney movies, media, and you know, I guess music even.

Ariel Landrum 2:10
Absolutely. So in talking about Princess Nite, because you’ve gone to an after dark event, and this was my first one. How does it compare to Marriest Nites? Which is more holiday themed and so you have a different variety than a very targeted type of IP.

Stefanie Bautista 2:28
Yeah, I think the preparation for this one compared to Marriest Nites was a little bit different. There’s a couple stories that I’ve heard about Princess Nite not being popular when it first came out because I think it was released at the same time as Sweethearts Nite when they released the tickets. And Sweethearts Nite is the Valentine’s Day event that happens in February and that one sold out really quickly whereas Princess Nite did not. They kept advertising it on my Instagram ads. And so I was thinking, you know, maybe they didn’t sell out as fast as normal Disney events do. And normally you have to like be on your computer, getting the tickets like ASAP or else it’s you’re SOL basically. But that didn’t happen this time. And I know it. It was pretty open for a while and Marriest Nites was kind of the same thing. But I think going into Marriest Nites, because it is wholly Hollywood. It is holiday themed. You kind of go into it thinking “Oh, it’s going to be one big holiday party.” And everyone goes to Disneyland or many people go to Disneyland during the holiday season because it is magical. And we know that it’s like celebrating the holidays but amplified right? So Marriest Nites was that and more. So I think there was also just a precedent set there. But Marriest Nites was definitely like, I don’t know what to expect. But apparently they they wanted to do a little more marketing around the princesses. And I shared with Ariel a couple of weeks ago that they had released a map of what everything was. Ariel, was that helpful for you that you kind of had that to go off of?

Ariel Landrum 4:03
I mean, it’s sort of was it was really hard to actually plan and I think I remember when we talked about Marriest Nites, one of the things that you said was there’s kind of just stuff all over the place. And maybe now knowing that it would be easier to plan things out. But for me even with the map because Disney so big, it was hard to kind of figure out how I was going to do things. And the things that I even wanted to do, I couldn’t because of the lines. It was actually I was I was expecting it to be popular. It was a lot more popular event than I had realized, especially being during like a week night. I didn’t expect so many people to come with their very young children so late in the evening. Was that similar to Marriest Nites?

Stefanie Bautista 4:50
Absolutely. And it was winter time still. I know we’re going through a very unusual cold front here in Southern California right now. Which did also kind of take me by surprise. Because I thought by now we would have like a pretty fair night in Orange County, which is like 70 degrees, maybe 60 at like the very coldest. But it was 40 degrees at Disneyland after it had experienced snow for the first time, like two weeks ago, which was bizarre. But yeah, for Marriest Nites like, I knew people were gonna bring their kids but also it is it was during winter break. So it was a surprise, but not too much of a surprise. And I think my event went, if I remember was, I feel like it was like a week, a weekend night, at least like a Friday or a Saturday. Whereas when we attended Princess Nite, we went on a Tuesday.

Ariel Landrum 5:38
Got turnt on a Tuesday.

Stefanie Bautista 5:39
We truly, truly cut Princess wasted on a Tuesday, but I think it also happened last night, the 9th? I think that was the second day. So they were both weeknight events on a time, but normally not a lot of people have off. So interesting choice.

Ariel Landrum 5:58
I think the other thing that surprised me, which I didn’t quite see in advertising people knew so it must have been out there was there were a lot of adults dressed as Disney Princesses, not Disney bounding. Um, so not colorblocking not like the essence of a Disney character. They were in full ball gowns. I mean, the some of these were ornate and intricate. Like it was really people stepping into these outfits and gowns and being these princesses that’s usually not allowed in the park and has aside from Oggie, Boogie Bash, from my understanding has not been allowed. So I was really I was shocked. If I didn’t know and I could have worn a ballgown, I’d a done it.

Stefanie Bautista 6:42
Same and it would have kept us warm because we weren’t for freezing by like 11 o’clock, but I think you’re absolutely right. I sometimes I couldn’t tell whether it was a Disney actor or just a participant of Princess Nite. Because some of these people, they had amazing outfits and they had partners that had matching outfits. And I thought they were the ones who thought they were the Princesses, but they were also in like to take pictures with the Princess. Like, “Okay, kind of confusing there.” But I mean, kudos to them for knowing and just, you know, randomly just having their princess outfit ready and raring to go. But definitely, from the things that I’ve read is, maybe that was like an influencer insider thing in the community of people who cosplay as princesses. Because when we go to WonderCon, you do see Disney Princesses around because normally WonderCon takes place in Anaheim. So it’s like, you know, you double dip by going to Disneyland and you know, going to WonderCon. But definitely, that was the first thing that me and Ariel said to each other when we met up like, “Did you know you could wear a ball gown?” “No. Did you?” “No!” And just that disbelief and like, yeah, because, again, because it was cold. We did not know what to wear. And with these after dark events you it’s a toss up because it’s Orange County, and we’re used to a certain type of weather there, even as regular Disney goers. And yeah, this one was kind of hard to plan around.

Ariel Landrum 8:14
Yeah, outfit wise. We ended up my partner James and I did end up Disney bounding as Ariel and Eric and Eric was so easy. This white shirt, some blue pants and like a red sash, which for the sash, he like used an old uniform from like ROTC I think it was. He’ll correct me if I’m wrong, but whatever. He used an old sash from that, and then for me, I had some mermaid tights or leggings. And then like I tried to wear a tight shirt underneath for extra warmth. That was long sleeve and then another shirt over it was which was from Disney World. And it was the Ariel mermaid jersey from Disney World from when they opened the Grotto. And that was like as Disney bounding as I could get. And then it was jackets upon jackets upon jackets, so.

Stefanie Bautista 9:06
And yeah, as for me, I have the majority of my wardrobe if you know me is black, I wear black everything. I was once you know you’re talking punk rock goth chick, and it just kind of evolved into you know, mom, black clothes.

Ariel Landrum 9:23
Very New York Street esque.

Stefanie Bautista 9:26
Yeah. And so all I had were was this Nike sweatshirt with like a high color that was more pink than I thought it was when I ordered it during COVID. I don’t wear that out at all and I’m like, “Well, this is princessy I guess color wise.” And then I had leggings and then Air Maxes that have a little bit of pink in them that I was supposed to wear for my baby shower but never wore because I dressed up as Alice. So that was you know, totally not what I was planning to wear. And then a big ol puffy jacket because I was cold and I was more concerned of what I was going to dress my children and because they are so young.

Ariel Landrum 10:10
Yeah, you were one of the people who were brought brought kiddos, but yours don’t go to school?

Stefanie Bautista 10:15
No, they do not go to school. So they didn’t have to worry about waking up in the morning. And, you know, no low stakes there. And yeah, my husband did not dress up. I, he just wore a comfy sweater. And you know, we were super laid back. But then I think that’s the thing when you go to these things, and you do love to dress up Disneybound as we do for special events, you kind of feel like you’re missing out when you’re not completely dressed up.

Ariel Landrum 10:42
Yeah, yeah, I didn’t feel as integrated or with the vibe, so to speak, in just being regular clothing. Were not like there weren’t people that works. There definitely were, I think the thing was it. It just felt more fun. I can just see people really enjoying themselves because again, you don’t get to go to the park dressed up in full costume. That’s that’s not allowed. So the fact that they allowed it for this event would have been nice to be a somewhat rule breaker.

Stefanie Bautista 11:14
Yeah, I saw so many cool costumes under huge jackets. And then when people wanted to take their picture in front of the castle or on Main Street, they were like really toughing it out to not freeze over. And like look as cute as possible. So kudos to them. Bravo if you were one of those people, because I commend you for doing it for The Gram.

Ariel Landrum 11:35
Yup. Doing it for The Gram. So Princess-wise the Princess that I didn’t get to see which you never see at the park, which is why I was all excited to see her it was Princess Kida from Atlantis. There was a reason.

Stefanie Bautista 11:49
Yep, so one of the biggest complaints that I was reading in you know, a lot of the comment sections of you know, influencers that I follow is that the lines to take pictures with these Princesses were absolutely insane. I’m talking about like, one to two hour waits.

Ariel Landrum 12:06
You and I both, we took a picture with Moana and then I took a picture with Pluto when we first got there because the event hadn’t started yet. So just like Marriest Nites, you’re able to get in like two hours before the official start of the event to be able to just kind of enjoy Disneyland and the two things that we did that were like off event-type was took a picture with Pluto and then we grabbed some food and then booked it all the way to the actual ride. The new one that they built in Disneyland Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Say that three times fast.

Stefanie Bautista 12:43
That was not part of the Princess Nite agenda at all. But Ariel went on the ride before I did and she’s raving about it and I knew that it was super super cool. I did not get to ride it when I was at Disney World so I was really excited to see how it was this time and yeah even though it wasn’t a Princess Nite thing I did not regret it at all because that right is so cool.

Ariel Landrum 13:05
Did not regret it. It is essentially based off of the one in Paris Disney for Ratatouille. And then they built one I believe you said in Disney World as well right? Before we even got one.

Stefanie Bautista 13:16
Yeah, at Hollywood Studios.

Ariel Landrum 13:18
So okay, when I say that it’s built similar to the one in Paris, Disney. The actual way that track is made, which is that it’s magnetic. You are on a trackless ride and magnets are what’s moving the vehicle, not it being pulled on a track.

Stefanie Bautista 13:34
Yes, not actual, like tracks that are metal.

Ariel Landrum 13:38
Yes yes.

Stefanie Bautista 13:38
Um very similar also to Rise of the Resistance, which is you know, the second most popular ride right now. Now,

Ariel Landrum 13:45
they created that design or functionality for that specific ride in in Paris, Disney and then they created other rides that use that functionality here in the parks in The States. And so there’s the Rise of the Resistance and then Mickey’s Runaway Railway was essentially themed as if you’re going into a theater, and ours here is based off of the El Capitan, which is an old theater that Disney bought out and shows only Disney like movies or Disney products in. And has we’ve talked about it on the show like really fun entertainment and before the movie even starts. Sometimes it’s an organ player a lot of times it’s 15 Different curtains. Now even though that’s the style they went with, allegedly…

Stefanie Bautista 14:33
Here it comes ya’ll. Here it comes.

Ariel Landrum 14:36
Looks like a 50s diner the colors are 50s diner. It is not look like our deco there was one art deco thing and it was a light and that’s it. That’s the only gripe. The only one.

Stefanie Bautista 14:48
Yes, so the El Capitan is one of the you know, the most iconic and oldest theaters in Los Angeles. And, of course, Los Angeles in its heyday was in the 1920s 1930s when you know all the production companies were booming out here. Silent movies to movies with sound and when you step inside the El Capitan it’s beautiful because it is kind of dark it’s kind of you know their art deco style is a lot of like golds and like blacks and a lot of you know those sorts of themes but when you step into the El Captune Theatre in Toon Town it’s more like flows V8 Cafe at Car’s Land.

Ariel Landrum 15:27

Stefanie Bautista 15:27
And the one in Hollywood studios that I have not been inside yet is modeled after the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood as well. But even if you go into that theater, it’s the same dark art deco style of you know, the Hollywood heyday so. I mean it’s Tunetown. So we gotta we gotta be a little you know gracious to them for you know, picking colors that are very kid friendly and bright. It’s kind of consistent to the same style as the Monsters Inc. ride when you go inside where it’s kind of bright. You know, that’s supposed to feel like the DMV I feel.

Ariel Landrum 16:01
Which is never bright.

Stefanie Bautista 16:03
Which is never bright. But it feels like the DMV in there because you know, you’re going on Mike and Sally’s car. But anyway, I digress.

Ariel Landrum 16:10
Now, when you’re walking through, you see old movie posters, quote, unquote, for famous films, but they are taken off of other Disney merchandise is and instead of like the actors and actresses that play them, they are as if the toon characters are playing them. So a lot of I think, my our friend Chance and I we were sharing photos that we took, that’s when I first rode the ride of the different movie posters we had. And there was one that was really confusing to us. And it was like a Parent Trap, but it was the Chipmunk Trap. And it was Chippendale as the two Parent Trap children, but still Daisy and Donald Duck. And I’m like, why would Daisy Donald Duck have chipmunk children? Why weren’t they Huey, Dewey, and Louie? Like, I’m not understanding this.

Stefanie Bautista 17:01
That is what we call a reach. It was a reach. They tried.

Ariel Landrum 17:08
There was some good ones.

Stefanie Bautista 17:09
Yeah. I feel like if they really went for it, they would have to pick some pretty obscure characters.

Ariel Landrum 17:15
The one that we really cackling about was the Hocus Pocus one.

Stefanie Bautista 17:19

Ariel Landrum 17:19
And it had Clara Bell. It was like, |They don do her wrong!” Poor Kathy Najimy.

Stefanie Bautista 17:31
They needed a third female that was part of the you know, Mickey and Minnie animated series. But once you cross off Minnie and you cross off, Daisy, who do you have left?

Ariel Landrum 17:42
Yeah, we were trying to figure out if there was anybody else in the crew that could have been her and it was like that one chicken?

Stefanie Bautista 17:49
Oh, yes, yes, yes, I think I know who you’re talking about. But see, even that it took me a while. Then I feel like that goes back into, you know, female representation in old cartoons and how when they adapt them to more modern structures, there isn’t an equivalent. So there has to be some sort of a reach, because it has developed over the years, which is great. But I think that’s like a really great example of you know, how Disney has had to adapt throughout the years because there was a lack of female representation.

Ariel Landrum 18:20
Huge lack. Okay, and so in talking about female representation on Princess nights, who were the princesses that were there?

Stefanie Bautista 18:30
The ones that we saw are the ones we read about and never saw. We’re not gonna

Ariel Landrum 18:34
Say that all of them that were said to have been there and then who we got to see and who surprised you who was not a princess.

Stefanie Bautista 18:44
It’s great that they gave up the map because we knew where we were going. But I mean, Disneyland is pretty popular. So I kind of know where I’m going. But I needed I needed a little bit more information on where I could find the special things that were specific to Princess Nite. And I know they like the the outline that were on on the I was gonna call it the menu, the map. They had categories of all the lands and who was going to appear in the lands but they didn’t specify where in the lands they were going to be. So Fantasyland of course, because it’s Princess Nite had like a laundry list of princesses like maybe like 10 of them. You had to find them. So not only was it a scavenger hunt to find where these princesses were. Some of them were out in the open like Sophia the First was in that little theater where they normally do the Tangled Show. Ariel was in front of the pond grotto that King Triton statue is in that makes sense.

Ariel Landrum 19:36
And they had bubbles behind her that cute.

Stefanie Bautista 19:37
That was very beautiful, super cute. And then they had Princess Atta that was like tucked in the corner like on the side that we saw.

Ariel Landrum 19:45
Princess Atta from A Bug’s Life if you don’t remember her.

Stefanie Bautista 19:49
From A Bug’s Life, yes. Love her and you know she’s a huge and so who could miss her and and then after that, it kind of didn’t really see anyone. Oh, Snow White. Sorry.

Ariel Landrum 20:01
Yeah Snow White was in the those wishing well.

Stefanie Bautista 20:03
Where she has her statue.

Ariel Landrum 20:05
Allegedly who else was at Fantasyland?

Stefanie Bautista 20:08
Yes. And that that was the thing. So you found the princesses, but then when you tried to find the end of the line to where you needed to stand in order to get a picture with them, it was almost near impossible because it was just a sea of sneaking around.

Ariel Landrum 20:23
It felt like Comic-Con. And I only ever saw like two people with the end of the line signs.

Stefanie Bautista 20:28
Yes. And that was very Comic-Con esque of end of the line signs because that signifies that the line is so long that you have to have somebody saying where the end of the line is.

Ariel Landrum 20:38
So allegedly, who else was at Fantasyland was Aurora.

Stefanie Bautista 20:42

Ariel Landrum 20:42
Bell. Elena of Avila. Kida. Merida. Which I don’t know what she was doing there. Because ended up this is from the map because she ended up being somewhere else. Mulan. Raya. Uh, I didn’t see none of those fools.

Stefanie Bautista 21:02
So we ended up splitting up at one point because we took the kids on It’s A Small World and then on the way back, I saw Mulan, but not as Mulan. It was Ping.

Ariel Landrum 21:13
It was Ping!

Stefanie Bautista 21:14
So she was in her military outfit. It was not Princess is Princess ish, Mulan, it was Ping. And the lines of Ping was crazy, because we don’t see Ping very often, which is, I think that’s cool that you know, she was Ping. However, if you’re saying she was in Fantasyland, that’s really I know, it’s considered Fantasyland, but you’re in like, It’s a Small World territory. I think that should be its own land. Because it’s the huge walkway and then It’s a Small World. And then you have the theater to the side where they do Lion King, which is where Merida was. And we did a cool little game of archery there. That was, you know, a cool little wait, but also not really long, because it was when the event started. So naturally, of course, because there’s archery there Merida was there too. But if you walked into it saying, “I really want to see Merida!” You would have had to walk the far reaches of almost Toontown in order to find Merida in a corner with huge archery sets.

Ariel Landrum 22:13
Yeah, it was weird to the map didn’t have like the actual like dot that showed where each Princess was. And then allegedly the other princesses that are there, I guess. In Disneyland, we saw Moana in Adventureland. And we walked by Jasmine that line was ridiculous.

Stefanie Bautista 22:33
It was the whole line of Jungle Cruise.

Ariel Landrum 22:36
The entire thing and then New Orleans Square Tiana which makes sense, but I didn’t see her. I don’t know where she was. She had to have been on the boat. That’s the only thing I can think of.

Stefanie Bautista 22:43
Yeah, she had to. Yeah, because you even made it towards Club 33. And you didn’t see anybody back there right?

Ariel Landrum 22:49
Nope, nope. And in Frontierland was Pocahontas, which I would love because again, she doesn’t get to come to the park that often. I didn’t see nobody in Frontierland.

Stefanie Bautista 22:58
I saw a line so we walked around from Fantasyland through like were Big Thunder Mountain was there was a line there. But I the princess was not out yet. So I’m wondering if that was Pocahontas because it was right next to Big Thunder Mountain. But I didn’t see. And also, I think that’s another thing you see a line but you don’t know who it’s for, it would have been nice to have a sign saying, “This is where Pocahontas is. Or even just like a backdrop because at Marriest Nites, they had huge holiday postcards that were themed and drawn by many of the artists that couldn’t like contribute to Wonderground. And you know, the Disney Galleries. And that’s how you knew that was a photo op, because it was like a huge backdrop. And I think that would have been something that, you know, they could have incorporated for us to know, “Hey, this is Pocahontas.” Or, you know, not just looking for bubbles behind Ariel, you know? And you think about it right, you’re in line for an hour to an hour and a half for each of these princesses. There’s about at least 20 of them. And you only have from six, nine o’clock until one o’clock in the morning. And not everybody’s out from nine to one in the morning. And then you want to eat you want to do all these things. I get that you’re trying to saturate the event so that there’s something for everyone to do. But I think when you put things that everyone wants to do, all at once it creates like a problem. But you know, again, what would the solutions be right?

Ariel Landrum 24:23
I have a few ideas. But before we get to solutions, the last one which infuriated me was that Princess Leia was there and we never see Princess Leia. She was flipping Tomorrowland. Like, why do we build Batuu that’s supposed to be integrated in the Star Wars universe and she can’t be there? I that boggled my mind. Why should I get the Star core Cruise is in Tomorrowland? But that’s it. That’s it. That’s all it’s there and I don’t get it.

Stefanie Bautista 24:49
Yeah. The Millennium Falcon is in Batuu.

Ariel Landrum 24:52
That could have been in the backdrop of the photo.

Stefanie Bautista 24:55
There’s so many open spaces in Batuu that I think could have been utilized. You could have even had Fennec Shand there, I think, you know, yeah, I’ve been really cool. And yeah, I think that was a missed opportunity, I get maybe that they’re trying to keep all of the traffic into the main Disneyland area for staffing purposes, if I’m thinking, you know, managerially. But I think if you’re really just staying true to the content and the source material, it would have just made sense for her to be over there.

Ariel Landrum 25:27
And I think managerially again, if you’re talking about trying to get people in specific spots, you could have had her be like one of the first princesses that kind of came out both people in the back of the park, and then that area sort of closed down, or they’re migrating towards the front. And then and then it’s like you as an attendee just has to make a sacrificing choice? Do I want to start in the back to and wait in those lines? Or do I want to be more towards the front where I can have some other things to do?

Stefanie Bautista 25:50
That’s another thing that is very tricky about these events is where you start, and where you end up what your priorities are. Because, yes, they give you two hours to enter the park beforehand. But you’re battling against everybody who was at the park already. So you’re already you know, battling lines and battling crowds. And it’s a little bit confusing. So you’re wasting a lot of not wasting, but you’re expending a lot of mental and physical energy, just getting through the parks and trying to situate yourself. And then by the time the event actually starts, you’re like, “Oh my gosh, what do we do?” Cuz you’re in like regular Park mode and then you have to switch to event mode. Which is I think what happened with us because we didn’t want to experience Runaway Railway. And I think that’s a whole nother layer because of what if you don’t regularly go to the parks and you attend this event? And you want to ride the rides? But how do you ride the rides and do all the princess stuff at the same time? You can’t.

Ariel Landrum 26:49
There’s no way you would have had to make a choice. If you were going to do the special event things only or if you were going to do one special event thing in the ride. The things that we did get to do a bow and arrow shooting. And I made my first shot and then the rest two were crappy, but it doesn’t matter because I beat my partner who made no shots. Go me. We also saw like every hour, Giselle just strolling around.

Stefanie Bautista 27:16
Yes Giselle from Enchanted, which I think that was the highlight of many people’s experiences because we don’t see Giselle very often. And if you are listening, Lady who played Giselle, you could pass for Amy Adams impersonator hands down, because so many people were like, “Was that really her?” And you know, she’s waving about and you’re doing things that you she’s so physically animated that and we’re all tired at this point, people it’s like 9, 10, 11 o’clock. So we’re delirious. It you coulda fooled me. I would have thought that was Amy Adams, and they just probably paid her a fat check to be there.

Ariel Landrum 27:51
Yes. I If someone had told me that, that was her. I’d have been like, “Oh, yeah. Okay, bet.”

Stefanie Bautista 27:57
Bet. But that was a nice surprise. And they did a little fanfare for her. There were projections right on Main Street and The Castle.

Ariel Landrum 28:06
Okay, so there were actual projections. And then there was supposed to be like a projection show on the water. But there wasn’t projections really. And it was Soaring Melodies Under The Stars. So they were pulling all the Disney Princesses ‘I Want’ songs. And I was expecting Fantasmic I didn’t get it. But it wasn’t bad. I think from the way the map read and the stuff that I was reading. It said inspiring musical performance. But it didn’t put live. So I had no idea I was gonna be sung to.

Stefanie Bautista 28:35
That was when we split up and Ariel’s like, “Oh, we’re gonna watch a projection.” And I’m thinking it’s a projection because that’s what they do during fireworks. They project things onto Tom Sawyer’s Island. And, I mean, that’s just what I expect. When we were walking up, I hear a theme song, and I think it was it was, “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana. And I was like, “Oh, okay, cool. It’s it’s Moana time.” I hear her singing, and I’m like, “Oh, I hear breathing. And I hear someone’s singing.” And I’m like, “Oh, this is a live performance.” And they did have the Princesses come around the Rivers of America in like that float I guess you wanna say.

Ariel Landrum 29:12
The first song they did was “Colors of The Wind,” with Pocahontas. And she actually was dancing on the island.

Stefanie Bautista 29:18
Oh, okay.

Ariel Landrum 29:19
So she wasn’t even on those weird tiny boats, like she was she was feeling all the colors of the wind all throughout that island. Like, she was leaping like it was very, it was very gorgeous. But so far away, it would be hard to it was hard to see her if you weren’t like actually at the fence, and I was at the fence like I could put my phone…

Stefanie Bautista 29:37

Ariel Landrum 29:37
through it.

Stefanie Bautista 29:38

Ariel Landrum 29:38
And then it was. It might have been Moana first and then Merida and then Tiana. And I think that was it.

Stefanie Bautista 29:46
It was a live performance, which was lovely. I think it was great. The performance did a fantastic job and they had pyrotechnics.

Ariel Landrum 29:53
Yeah, they did. They did.

Stefanie Bautista 29:55
It wasn’t full on fireworks, but it was to the extent of like that Fantasmic fireworks, not as not as much, but there were pyrotechnics. So I don’t think that was said anywhere in the map, right?

Ariel Landrum 30:08
No, it wasn’t. And I’m looking at it right now the map literally says, “An inspiring musical performance with special appearances by Disney Princesses.” So that and it says it’s on Rivers of America. So that makes it sound like, again. I guess performance could have meant like dance, but I would have not thought live singers.

Stefanie Bautista 30:26
Vague. Yeah, we got to watch that. I got to eat one of the featured foods. I wanted to eat more, but I did not get to

Ariel Landrum 30:34
Something else we did not get to do like we want to to.

Stefanie Bautista 30:39
First of all, there was a high tea advertised that you had to make a reservation for and Ariel Do you want to kind of elaborate on what that process was? Because we sent you on that mission.

Ariel Landrum 30:51
Yes. So while you and the kiddos were on, It’s a Small World, my partner and I just like booked it straight to Cafe Orleans. In order to try and do the high tea service. It was it’s a prefix tea service. And it had a variety of things, including like short ribs, caviar, a crab avocado toast. They had plant based option if you are somebody who is vegan or vegetarian and strawberry shortcake. They had blueberry almond scones, like all these lovely, wonderful things that like we are all about. We get there and they said “The walk up menu is already full. You have to make a reservation.” However the app isn’t working. I was like, “Okay.” And they’re like, “Just come back at 10.” My partner gets in line for a popcorn bucket that was special for Princess Nite, which is Cinderella in her wedding dress in her carriage. Popcorn bucket is the carriage

Stefanie Bautista 31:43
Yeah, also did you know they started selling them today in the parks?

Ariel Landrum 31:47
Disrespectful. They said it was her Princess Nite.

Stefanie Bautista 31:50
That’s what I thought too. But I just wanted to sneak that in there. But anyway, go on.

Ariel Landrum 31:53
A disrespectful. Well, I got one first so there.

Stefanie Bautista 31:56
You did it’s beautiful. It was beautiful. It like knock people over. It was great.

Ariel Landrum 32:00
The performance for Rivers of America is at like 9:30. Yes, yes, it was okay. Okay. I’m getting my timelines, right. So it’s a 9:30. So I want to save the spot. In front of the Rivers of America, my partner is getting popcorn bucket, you and AJ are coming back from It’s a Small World. You and AJ stop to get the yummy treat, which we’ll talk about the only yummy treat. And then my partner cannot find me at the Rivers of America. So he just decided to get back in line at New Orleans Square. Because almost it’s now like 9:45, 9:50. The shows been going on and he wants to be able to try and get the walk in menu or whatever. Because the lady did say come back at 10. The woman is at standing at the podium. He’s there at 9:50. So that’s before 10. And she goes “Oh, well, the reservations are back open on the on the app so we’re not taking in any more walk-in ones, you have to do it on the app.” He tells me that and we’re both frantically looking at the app. And I’m like sending messages to Stef while I’m trying to like listen to these beautiful performances about like, apparently we can make reservations the app. I don’t know how we were expected to do that. I really don’t because the app definitely kept shutting down. It didn’t say anything about our special menu. I don’t know where it was supposed to go. So this is another one of those things where it’s like it people seem to have hidden knowledge. It doesn’t say anywhere were that we were allowed to like have this as a thing that we could reserve. In fact, when we locked when we went in at 6pm. And I was just looking at reservations for dinner. They all stopped it at 8 like there were they weren’t taking any more after that on the app because it was a private event after that. So I don’t know if there was like a special like button.

Stefanie Bautista 33:42
Was there a Google form that we had to fill out? Like, I don’t know. Was there like a Survey Monkey that was put out that I didn’t know about? I think it was kind of crazy because she told me that “Yes, it’s on the app.” So I’m frantically pushing a stroller trying to look at this app, but also try to listen to Moana. And I have these two churros in my hand. On our way back, we’re passing by where the Casey Jr. train is. And we see the Churro Stand, and we’re like “Ooh churros!” We haven’t gotten one. I think there’s a special one. And then I see the tiny tiny sign that’s in front of the registered that says “blueberry cheesecake churro.” And AJ loves blueberry and I so do I, but he loves blueberry and I love cheesecake. So I’m like, “No, we’re getting this.” And, you know, I’m texting Ariel like “Hey, do you want a churro?” And she’s like, “Yeah.” And so we get in line super quick. And then we get churro but the churro comes with like us. It’s like a dipping cream Yes, dipping cream. So it was dipping cream so I’m like holding these things and like putting into my stroller trying to like hold up these, churros because there’s no way to, you know, sanitarily is that’s even a word and put a churro down without holding it up. So whatever I’m holding it and I’m trying to check the app to like, find out what High Tear is or where High Tea is. And it’s so dark around the Rivers of America that I could not find remotely where Ariel was nor where James was. Apparently I had passed him and stood like four people away from him without even me knowing. And he was wearing a white shirt. So I was looking for Eric like colorblock Eric, and I couldn’t find him. Because it was so dark. I truly don’t think it needed to be that dark. Because it wasn’t a projection that we expected because it was a fully lit live show. I think it was a little too dark. And they were doing construction in the back in New Orleans squares, which is why we all couldn’t find each other. By the time we all reunited, we were just like, “We’re tired of trying to figure out this High Tea thing. Forget it. Let’s just eat this churro.” Because I took one bite of that churro, and I don’t know if it was because it was tired. I needed sugar or something. But wow, was it the best churro that I’ve had?

Ariel Landrum 35:43
It was the best churro ever. I think it was because we were starving. Because before that the only thing we had eaten was the like tots. Tater tots.

Stefanie Bautista 35:54
We all the four adults and one toddler shared a poutine tater tot plate at the Rose Tavern. Yep, yep. So that was like at 7 o’clock. And now it is nine and we are starving.

Ariel Landrum 36:09
And none of us had dinner because we were expecting a wonderful meal at the park that was that was Princess themed.

Stefanie Bautista 36:15
Cuz I’ve made the mistake. And Ariel’s made this mistake too. When we go to the Food and Wine Festival, we eat beforehand. And then we don’t have space for anything at the Food and Wine Festival. So we’re like, “We’re not gonna make that mistake again.” And we didn’t get to eat anything. So we were starving. But to go in a little bit into detail with this churros. So it’s a regular churro it has like blue and you know, sparkly dusting on it. The star of the show was that dipping cream, because it was as if it was whipped cheesecake with like blueberry in it. And it was so good. You guys, it was so good. And taking away the fact that were tired and you know, kind of upset. I think when desserts are really good, they make your mouth water. And I think it made my mouth like water in it, it made a churro juicy, which I don’t know if that makes sense. But it I love that churro it was really good.

Ariel Landrum 37:06
It was really really good. And looking at some of the other menu items. The majority of them were actually all mostly desserts. And I think this is part of when you think of the trope of a princess you think of very sweet and sugary and all of these things were sweet and sugary. Even of the things that were maybe more savory we have like Cajun honey glaze check. Yeah, we had.

It was spicy wings, right? Oh, yes, yes. The hula hula. Yep.

Stefanie Bautista 37:34
And that was at Tomorrowland, you would have thought from that description that Ariel just said they would have been an adventure land because you know, when you think of huli huli or anything that has like some sort of Polynesian connotation to it, you’d think it’d be there but no, it was in Tomorrowland

Ariel Landrum 37:48
It was at Galactic Grill. Spicy Huli Huli Loaded Tenders. And even though they were spicy, they sought a sweet tank to them.

Stefanie Bautista 37:56
Yes, they were good.

Ariel Landrum 37:57
And the reason we started one over there was because the Magic Keyholders can pick up like a special gift over at the Star Wars Landing Bay. And it was a sticker. So that was cute. I mean, aside from that, I never saw Leia over there. So I don’t know. I don’t know what was going on there. And then there’s the dance party, which I thought was a lot of fun. Pop Princess Dance Party featuring of Vanellope von Schweetz. And there are a lot of different people cosplay costumes as Vanellope von Schweetz.

Stefanie Bautista 38:24
Yeah, I was very surprised. I didn’t know she was such a character that people love. I mean, I think she’s great. But she doesn’t strike me as maybe it’s because she invited all the Disney Princesses like over in WreckIt Ralph Two that like automatically gave her a you know, street cred.

Ariel Landrum 38:39
I was wondering like if it was because her clothes are like comfy? And it’s like, you could wear that jacket and not and you still look like the character.

Stefanie Bautista 38:48
Or it’s really easy to just put your hair in a ponytail and put a bunch of charms in it. Um I yeah, I mean, the the accessibility of that costume is very high.

Ariel Landrum 38:57
And then there were a bunch of other photo ops that we didn’t get to do. I didn’t get to take a picture in Cinderella’s… Well, it’s like a cardboard cutout. So I thought it was going to be her actual crystal coach that I’m climbing into. It’s cardboard cutout. There was a giant storybook that in between walking to Batuu and Critter Country. And then when where we sat down on to have food, area that had these windows with glow in the dark marker that people were writing on and it was supposed to be like leaving your mark.

Stefanie Bautista 39:27
Like you know, affirmations and you know how you celebrate yourself and you know others and I think that was kind of cute. Again, a lot of these things had lines and if you didn’t have the patience or just retired from the night or if you had little ones it’s very hard to justify. I’m gonna stand in this line for 45 minutes to take a picture in front of a cardboard cutout as cute as it is.

Ariel Landrum 39:48
I really think there could have been more interactive stuff like the and this is where I’d say the things that could have helped spread things out. The like the leaving your mark that immediately actually makes me think of Rapunzel because she paints. Like they could have had a Rapunzel like painting and dancing around painting. And then you know, you can’t really stand and take pictures with her. But similar to the dance party, they could have been other people like drawing and painting. And you would have gotten a picture of Rapunzel doing those things, it would have been very interactive, that would be like one way to integrate that. I think another thing would have been, instead of just taking pictures of Tiana, they could have had a lot of the restaurants have windows where you can watch people cook, I think they could have had Tiana like baking, or like being the head restaurateur and like pretending to like tell people what to do. Ah I think there would have been that those interactive experiences would have been very different than just taking a picture with a character in a park and would have helped with creating more space. Especially if you know that that’s just where they’re gonna stay. And you can’t really go up and take a picture with them, but you are seeing the interacting, you are gonna get a picture, I think that would have helped honor the actual Princesses and their characters and who they are. I think that’s what I was expecting, which I don’t know why I was expecting that. But that’s what I was expecting.

Stefanie Bautista 41:08
Well, I think it’s, you know, you’re bringing the P+rincesses to life, right, you’re taking them out of their characters in the movie, where that’s where they live. And you’re seeing them out in the open where as we don’t normally get to see that at Disneyland. They’re just really there for photo ops. For me, I thought that they could have utilized things that they already do for Lunar New Year or, you know, California Food and Wine Festival where they have a coloring station for kids, like, girls could have colored a princess crown, or you know, a fan or a mirror or something like the lanyard that they gave us. For Princess Nite was essentially a cardboard thing with a mirror on it, saying, you know, “You are the princess kind of thing.” And I’m just like, again, a reach.

Ariel Landrum 41:50
Ah reach because to me, the it made me think of vanity, which was disrespectful, or the Evil Queen, but…

Stefanie Bautista 41:59
I was like, “Is somebody gonna pop out of my mirror and say, ‘Who is that fairest one of all?'” Like “What?”, it was kind of weird. And yeah, my toddler loved it because he likes seeing himself in the mirror. But other than that, it was kind of like not too sure if this was the move. For Marriest Nites, they gave you Christmas lights to wear around your neck, which is makes sense because it’s a holiday event. And they lit up and they gave it to you for free. Whereas if you had to pay for it, it’s like upwards to $30. So you feel like you’re getting value out of something that they’re giving you for free. And they had like a booklet of details of what the event had. Whereas this one was just a digital map that you had to download prior to the event or know where to get it in your app, which is not easy to find.

Ariel Landrum 42:50
Despite the fact that they make so much money off of the princesses and like literally it was it was Cinderella that saved that save the company. I feel like they could have done Princess Nite a little bit better. I feel like they did some of our Princesses a little dirty. Again, in thinking about embodying the princesses as certain characteristics. When I think of Ariel, I think of being very curious. Like there could have been a scavenger hunt of like Dingle hoppers like for Ariel, like Mulan’s strength and having like a sword class or something like that. But even with Princess Leia, like lightsaber class. I knew they used to do even like remember the Jedi training. With Belle, like having a library of books that the kids could have picked out or a living book, maybe that was digital. Those are things that they could have incorporated. I don’t know.

Stefanie Bautista 43:39
Yeah, or maybe even like finding your way with Moana like reading a map, or like getting a free map of the islands or something like that, or there’s easy ways of doing this. And these are things that they have done before in the past. So I don’t know if it was just a disconnect of you know, what they do at California Adventure and how to incorporate that at the Disneyland or if it’s just from what I heard from other people have thought this too is? Did they just try to fill an After Dark event with a theme and not really think it through? Because…

Ariel Landrum 44:09
Because that’s what it feels like?

Stefanie Bautista 44:10
Yeah. Disney Princess culture is a thing. And you know, the fact that we have dissected it enough. As you know, women and fans of Disney, I think this was kind of a missed opportunity, especially during Women’s History Month. Give them the honor and the light that they deserve. I hope they learn from this experience, because you know, After Dark events are really fun. And I know the most popular one is Oogie Boogie Bash, because that sells out and like t-minus 10 seconds before people are even thinking about it in like May. And we have yet to attend one of those. But I know that they’ve knocked it out of the park with that event. So maybe take some of those elements. And these are Disney villains that are kind of obscure too. So they’re not even as much in the forefront as our Disney Princesses are and yet they’re able to make them shine.

Ariel Landrum 45:00
Now I do not they do have two upcoming After Dark events, one’s Throwback Nite. And the other one is Star Wars Nite and Star Wars Nite takes place during May the Fourth actually. So there you go. Hopefully they will learn from this experience. My frustration is that I will find out that the other two experiences were were well thought out. And that this one will feel like it was just a spot filler.

Stefanie Bautista 45:29
Yeah, it’s just one of those things that they just tried. And we’re like, “Okay, I guess it didn’t work. So we’re not doing it again.” And that was the one that we experienced.

Ariel Landrum 45:35
Yes, yeah.

Stefanie Bautista 45:37
Umm, remind us of the price point of this particular event.

Ariel Landrum 45:41
Princess Nite, two tickets, $129 each. That’s basically the price of one day pass.

Stefanie Bautista 45:47
A one day pass, however, you only have from 6 to 1 o’clock in the morning. If you’re thinking about it. And, you know, for future events, I would say don’t bank on going on all the rides, because that’s not going to happen. Like we are managing expectations when it comes to what we want to do and what we actually got to do. I did not get to eat the escargot thingyamajig that I wanted to eat. Because it was so far and yeah, it was a little disappointing. But I think even at the end of the night, Ariel, I remember you asked like, “Did you get everything you wanted out of Princess Nite?” And I think at that point, cold and tired and like just happy that at least I got one quarter of a wing in my stomach. I was like, “Yes, I got everything that I needed.” I don’t know if you still felt the same way?

Ariel Landrum 46:39
I am still sad that I didn’t see Kida. I don’t know what I’ll get another opportunity. We’ll see if they bring her back for some other thing for that Princess Nite again. And I just like make that my priority just like stand in the line before it even starts. But other than that, I did enjoy it because I loved seeing everybody in costume. I think for me, the the most enjoyment I had was seeing all of the children dressed up. And little princesses, little princes, just all these people running around in their full costume and garb. I really, really enjoyed that. And I think the other thing that I enjoyed was the archery again, an interactive experience that I think they could have expanded in other ways. And then DJ was really good at the dance party.

Stefanie Bautista 47:29
The DJ was killing it, that DJ was killing it.

Ariel Landrum 47:32
And a woman. Woman DJ, she was doing good with the crowd engagement song choice, the mixing of the songs.

Stefanie Bautista 47:40
That dance floor was packed. I don’t know if it’s because people want it to be warm. But yeah, no, that was really good. It really set a good vibe over there, especially in a place where it’s kind of almost dead, I feel in that area because Star Wars has moved on to Batuu. And they’re just trying to fill in things that Tomorrowland that you know desperately needs kind of a makeover. So it was nice to see a little life over there. And people embracing that, I think for what we experienced and you know, we’re learning as we go, it was good. But obviously things to improve on which is you know, always the case. And I think even in our planning, there’s things that we probably could have improved on. However, you know, it was really nice to do an After Dark event because of the space that was available. I really enjoyed not being body to body with everyone like normally we do. I think the space was really good because you know, you get to breathe and you get to experience the park in a different way. I just wished that they you know could tighten up a few things and maybe not run out have some food. I hope you guys enjoyed our little breakdown of Princess Nite and let us know in our comments on Instagram or tweet at us @HappiestPodGT if you want to let us know about your experience. It felt really good to talk about this again because I know it has been a while.

Ariel Landrum 48:53
Yes. Catch us also at WonderCon. We will be doing a panel that Sunday and we hope to see you on the next podcast.

Stefanie Bautista 49:01
Yep, thanks for listening.

Ariel Landrum 49:02

Media/Characters Mentioned
  • Princess Kida
  • Princess Atta
  • Mulan
  • Ping
  • Pocahontas
  • Princess Merida
  • Princess Ariel
Topics/Themes Mentioned
  • Expectations
  • Women’s History Month
  • Room for improvement
  • Food
  • Maps
  • Navigation
  • Disneybounding

Questions? Comments? Discuss this episode on the GT Forum.

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