Princess Aurora: What'd she ever do to you??
Magic Kingdom has a Fastpass+ ready attraction called Princess Fairytale Hall to help facilitate kids getting to meet some of their favorite Disney Princesses. It's brilliant, really, you can place two Disney Princesses in the same room with a dedicated line that allows you to meet them both in one spot, opting in to a FastPass if you want to bypass what can amount do an astronomical wait time.
However, right now, this set up is really working against one of my favorite childhood Disney ladies, and I hate to see crappy things happen to good people. Aurora is getting seriously short changed out of the current set up.
The absolute hysteria surrounding Frozen and its two leading ladies is felt nowhere more keenly than in the Disney Parks: Anna and Elsa merchandise can't be kept in stock, tearful little girls abound is the Castle Couture store when they discover they can't buy Anna OR Elsa's dress, and the lines to meet these ladies have reached lengths that are truly unprecedented. Originally, these Norwegian ladies were set up to do meetings in Epcot, aptly Norway. However Norway is just not laid out to accommodate the crowds these two were attracting (easily four hours within 30 minutes of the World Showcase opening). So to make a more manageable character meeting and to allow for the option of FastPass visits, Disney moved Anna & Elsa to PFH at Magic Kingdom. They also opened up booking for FastPass months ahead of time, which promptly sold out within just a couple days of them becoming available (allegedly, they are sold out through July at this point, that means that just through resort guests these are selling out, because resort passholders are the only ones with that far advanced FP booking, annual passholders only have 6 weeks advance). The old wisdom of arriving at the park for rope drop and going straight to the attraction isn't working either, desperate parents have found loopholes (booking character breakfasts within the park before the park opens and sending someone, sans breakfast, over to PFH to start waiting in line before the park opens!) So that's how a poor, shellshocked parent can walk up to PFH at 9:20 am hoping to have a reasonable wait to see Anna & Elsa can instead be greeted with this horror show:
Almost 5 hours to meet Aurora and Anna & Elsa? Now we come back to the whole point of this post:
Aurora is getting a raw deal.
Currently, Rapunzel and Cinderella (both tremendously popular with today's kid audience with recent film and Disney vault releases) share one of the Princess Fairytale Hall rooms. This is a great match. The line is consistently between 30-90 minutes without FastPass, indicating a solid popularity among park attendees without being too ridiculous. Provided you book at least the night before, it is not difficult to acquire a FastPass and if your kid has his/her heart set on meeting either of these lovely ladies, there's no reason that you can't make it happen.
Sleeping Beauty hasn't been out of the vault since 2009 (longer than the majority of Anna & Elsa fans have been alive!). Even if your kid DOES know who Aurora is and wants to meet her, there is NO way they're waiting in a 5 hour line to do it. So that brings us to the sad state of affairs that I encountered at PFH when I finally managed to snag a FastPass for Anna & Elsa.
We were the last to be ushered into the private room, so we had about 5 or 6 little groups waiting ahead of us. Anna & Elsa were the first to greet coming out of the line, followed by Aurora on the way out. While waiting our turn, I watched group after group leave the embraces of Anna & Elsa, only to completely shut out poor Aurora. Most of them wouldn't go near her, barely standing next to her for the obligatory photo op. Most of the kids had no idea who she was. Watching her just made me get sadder and sadder. I think my favorite part of starting to do these princess greetings has been to see how much FUN it is for the Princesses, seeing the joy on kids faces meeting their heroes and being enthusiastically embraced and engaged in conversation. Aurora was getting NONE of that. Ouch. When our line was halfway gone, D finally got over a little bit of the dumbstruck awe she had on first seeing Anna & Elsa and noticed that there was another Princess in the room. She eyeballed Aurora (who was already getting major pity stares from me) then pointed and asked me "Who dat?" I crouched down next to Daphne, "That's Aurora. Aurora was one of Mommy's favorite Princesses when I was a little girl like you. Do you see how these other kids are ignoring her or not being nice?" She nodded. "That's pretty sad, huh? It must be tough for Aurora, watching how excited everybody is to see Anna & Elsa, and then getting no love herself." D continued to look at Aurora thoughtfully.
Finally, D got her turn with Anna & Elsa. It was the most quiet I've ever seen D during a character meeting, she was totally awestruck. She couldn't even rip her eyes off Elsa for the first minute or so. I sensed this Elsa awe is a common theme, when Anna plaintively asked toward the end "Any chance I can have a hug, too?" Poor Anna, no magic, always in her sister's shadow. At least some of the kids in line were sporting her shirt, though. Aurora? Not so much.
As I walked D over to Aurora, she was still staring back at Anna & Elsa. She took Aurora's hand and Aurora tried to engage her in conversation. Suddenly, D found her voice. "ELSAAA! ELSA ELSA ELSA!" she pointed enthusiastically. Aurora, bless her heart, clearly she's used to this. "Oh did you just meet Queen Elsa and Princess Anna? Aren't they sweet?" D still didn't look away from Elsa. At that point I engaged Aurora in some chit chat. I told her she was my favorite Princess growing up, and that it must be tough getting roomed with the popular girls while most of these little kids haven't had a chance to see her movie. Aurora did not miss a beat, "Oh, well, I think that, with Maleficent's movie coming out, this will all turn around for me soon!" Bless your heart, Aurora, I hope so.
D was still totally basking in Elsa. Aurora was not to be deterred, "Who's that on your dress? Is that Anna & Elsa?" Ohhh compliment D on her clothing? Clever girl. That finally got her attention.
D granted Aurora some eye contact and she ran with it. Mostly they talked about Elsa, but at least Daphne was looking at Aurora while they talked. Then D really surprised Aurora: she tackled her.
LOOK AT AURORA'S FACE! Tell me that poor Princess wasn't in need of a hug! It was the first one I'd seen her get since we'd been in the room, especially a hug that wasn't prompted by a parent's encouragement.
Maybe D sensed that, because after posing for some more pictures, she gave Aurora another hug, even bigger than the first. You could have knocked that princess over with a feather at that point.
The whole experience left me stewing on the post you're reading now. Who did Aurora make so mad that she's being relegated to such second fiddledom?
So, Disney, this is my petition to you to give Aurora a full character meeting makeover. Because there's another bone I need to pick with you about Aurora, one I've only slightly touched on in Aurora's DH countdown entry...
WORST. COSTUME. EVER.
The dress that they sell to the little girls in the gift shops are cuter than this monstrosity that they force on Aurora! First, It's Pepto Pink VELVET, which is awful to begin with, but look at how BULKY that bodice is. It's like they're trying to make her look awkward and misshapen. Don't get me started on those bizarre padded shoulder... things. She looks like she should be hanging out with Margaery and Lady Olenna Tyrell down in Highgarden.
With the rollout of Maleficent, Aurora should get her own separate character meeting spot. If you feel the need to double it up, how about grouping her with Maleficent to capitalize on the sure to be surge in popularity with the new film's release? They should have their own location, too, maybe in a separate area of Fantasyland. Give them an abandoned gazebo or something (you did it for Tiana, don't look at me sideways!). If you don't feel like using the new Aurora costume that you're already selling on the Disneystore.com, at least redo this one so it's not such an abomination of Pepto Velvet Frump.