Recently we came back from another short trip to Disney and there was something I wanted to write about. I usually don’t write “short-ish” posts like this, especially about just one topic, but this one impressed me so much I feel it warrants its own post.
Up until now we have always skipped one attraction at Magic Kingdom, “Enchanted Tales with Belle“. It’s a new attraction, a part of the Fantasyland redesign, it always has insane waits and up until now it was not included into the FastPass program. So we had skipped it every time.
This last time, however, it was one of our three FastPasses that we are allowed per day under the new program that we got. So we went.
This attraction was a complete shock to me because I was going there expecting it to be a waste of time for a 2 year old and two adults. As an adult, I don’t care to go there again ( or really see it the first time), but for children it’s magical, and that’s all that counts.
If you’re planning on taking a Disney trip in the near future, read on! If not, just skip to the part two paragraphs down.
It helps if your child knows who Belle is before they go there, so make sure to read them “Beauty and the Beast” many times to make it really fun. The best version of the story fit for toddlers with beautiful pictures and simpler text (not too simple, just not a whole page of storytelling per picture) is this one.
The attraction starts with a very dimly lit room which can potentially scare some two year olds who are just developing fears of darkness, but you should try to talk them through it and distract them because what’s next to come will surely be a treat. They lead you into a room with some jars and books and a mirror on the wall and direct the kids to stand up front and the tall people (us) in the back. Lexi was NOT happy being in a dark room waiting for something to happen, so I got her interested in the jars pretend-dipping our fingers and applying pretend make up. I had to kneel next to her to make sure that I was the same heights the row of kids in front of me. That kept her attention while the lady talked and gave us the back story of the attraction (which will only be interesting to older kids). Then suddenly the room gets dark (hold your children!) and the mirror lights up with some moderate noise ( that’s the only real scary part). Then the mirror (that was used by Belle in the story to see the beast) shows a cartoon story about Belle and her Beast. Once it’s over, the fake props open out and we are allowed to proceed into the room where we are going to further prepare for our meeting with Belle.
Lexi was still quite concerned at that point and didn’t want to leave my arms until I showed her the talking cupboard and let her touch it. This instantly got her engaged and she wanted down to explore. Again all the kids stayed up front and the adults behind them. The attendants gave story props to the children and coached them on what they are supposed to do once they meet Belle. Lexi was so excited to take something that she ran for the first thing that was being given out: the bars behind which Maurice was held. She was supposed to be Maurice and needed to practice shivering. So she held it and when I said “Lexi shiver!”, she shook while saying “Ssssiiiivvveeeerrr”. The whole crowd laughed with me.
Once the practice was over we were let into the room with benches where the attraction would take place. At some point Belle walks in, starts talking to things in the room and the guests. My husband was picked as a guard initially, so he had to stand there the whole time, which was a shame because he couldn’t videotape what was going on and I was helping Lexi, so I wasn’t very effective.
So everyone reenacted the story of Belle from the ride on the horse to finding her father to meeting Mrs Teapot and Chip and then the Beast. Each person had a role in the show so if your child is brave enough or old enough, make sure they get a prop initially in that prep room, otherwise they will be passive participants rather than active ones. The horse has to walk up and talk to Belle and answer her questions. For little ones, Chip, the cup, is probably the best character because they are simply required to say hi to Belle.
The person who got the most personal time with Belle was the Beast (the lucky boy who wore the red cape in the prep). He got to dance with her, hug her, talk to her and just in general interact the most.
Once it was all over all the participants stood in line and Belle thanked them one by one giving them a bookmark, and taking pictures. The passive participants also got a chance to do it after all the active ones were done. I almost wish it wasn’t about the pictures with Belle but about meeting Belle, but I guess Disney has to make its money on the photos too 🙂
The thing is, it all sounds ordinary and boring, but being there and seeing Lexi (and other kids) react to what was going on was precious. I have never seen Lexi act that way. She is usually the one who is always up front and center, active, brave and yet when it was her turn with Belle, she was just SMITTEN! I was like she was in slow motion. A video below will give a better idea of what was going on. I barely managed to videotape because I was too preoccupied with Lexi and helping and encouraging her, so some shots are miserable, but I got enough to be able to see that absolute awe in her when she meets Belle. If you’ve been following us for a while and seen other videos, you’ll know what I am talking about.
One word about Belle: the actress they hired to play her was the sweetest girl ever. The way she was with the kids, gentle, sweet and quiet was probably the best I’ve ever seen. It makes sense because she IS the attraction so they had to get someone really good. She would sit there head to head with each child and whisper with them and look at them and just make them feel super super special.
Lexi was smitten and wouldn’t stop talking about her. When she went to bed that night, before closing her eyes, she looked and me and said (as a statement): “Go seep. Wake up. See Belle again.”
She still talks about Belle and how she went to see her and how she will go see her again. 🙂