Living close to Walt Disney World, our trips are usually short ones. We have always opted for frequent, short visits, rather than infrequent, extended stays. This year was going to be different, however. We had the trip to end all trips planned. We were set for the first week of September, in hopes of taking advantage of low crowds and free dining. We were also going to splurge on a few things we had yet to do in our years as Disney enthusiasts, and one of those things—the one we were most excited about—was taking our four and six year old daughters to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. After years of watching them gawk longingly at little Princesses walking up and down Main Street, U.S.A. it was finally going to be their turn.
Then, as the best laid plans of mice and men often do, things changed. Nothing earthshattering, yet the budget for our once mammoth trip was sudden smaller. Much smaller. Things would have to be cut, and as my wife and I began whittling away, we both knew what the biggest piece of the pie was. Still, we couldn’t bring ourselves to do it. Instead, we decided to cut our trip down to two nights, downgrade our hotel to All-Star Sports, and just be otherwise thrifty where we could. Sure, I debated on if this was the right decision in the weeks leading up to our stay. For reassurance I consulted our daughters on which they would prefer—a longer trip or to keep their appointments at the Boutique—and both were certain they wanted their royal makeovers. In truth—as much as I wanted to spend the extra time on Disney property—I was glad they had stuck with the Boutique. There was no assurance we would be able to take them in the future if they passed on it now, and though my oldest was only six, I feared this would be the last opportunity she would have to really enjoy the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique experience before she outgrew it. And the last opportunity we would have to enjoy her enjoying it.
Of the two locations for the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique—one at Downtown Disney Marketplace and one inside Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom—we had chosen the Magic Kingdom location. Our appointment was set for 9:10 AM and we arrived at the gate around 8:30 AM that morning. Appointments for the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique are treated similarly to dining reservations in that you are cautioned to arrive fifteen to thirty minutes early, and you will be allowed into Magic Kingdom before the park opens if needed to meet that requirement. However, what we were actually told upon arrival at the gate was that, though Magic Kingdom was not scheduled to officially open until 9:00 AM on that day, they would be allowing all guests in at 8:45 AM, and so if your reservation was for 9:05 AM or later, you were told to wait and enter with everyone else. Any reservations prior to 9:05 AM were sent to the park entrance closest to the monorail where a Cast Member would check you in and allow you to enter early for your reservation. Being that our reservation was for 9:10 AM we waited and entered with everyone else, however, we still had plenty of time to get to Cinderella Castle in advance of our scheduled time. TIP: Reservations are a must for the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, especially for the Magic Kingdom location. The early morning times will generally fill up first as a lot of people will pair a makeover at the Boutique with breakfast at neighboring Cinderella’s Royal Table, so I would strongly recommend making reservations when they first become available six months in advance. Also, if you do have a reservation for prior to the official opening of Magic Kingdom, make sure you have the reservation number with you. Unlike dining reservations, Boutique reservations do not get linked to your Magic Band and can not be seen by a Cast Member simply by scanning them.
The first thing we discovered upon entering the Boutique was that it was very small. The second was that it was very busy. As was our plan, crowds during our stay were very light. At EPCOT we waited 10 minutes in the standby line for Soarin’ at 11:00 AM. At Magic Kingdom, we parked in the first row of the Heroes parking lot. The wait times for Splash, Big Thunder, and Space Mountains rarely got above 10 minutes, and never above 20. Yet there was hardly enough room to move in the Boutique waiting area, and there was definitely no available seating. Nevertheless, we were greeted warmly by the Cast Member at the check-in area and asked which package our Princesses would be requiring.
There are 4 packages for girls at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and even 1 package for boys. The Coach Package includes hairstyling, shimmering make-up and face gem, and a princess sash and tote. It costs $54.95, plus tax. The Crown Package includes everything in the Coach Package and adds nail polish. For the Crown Package you will pay $59.95, plus tax. Next up is the Courtyard Package, which includes all of the previously mentioned items and adds a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique t-shirt and a trendy tutu. The Courtyard package costs $94.95, plus tax. Lastly, the Castle Package has all the items of both the Crown and Coach Package, plus a complete costume of the Disney Princess of your choice, and a photo package containing one 6” x 8” photo and four 4” x 6” photos in a princess-themed holder. The Castle Package comes in at $194.95, plus tax. There is also a package listed for boys called the Knight Package. It includes hairstyling with gel, a mighty sword and shield, and confetti.
As for my girls, we had actually had this discussion prior to leaving for our trip. Sure, going with the cheapest package probably could have provided us with the funds for at least one more night at our All-Star Sports accommodations, but I knew not allowing our 4 year old the ability to pick out and wear a princess costume would be torturous for her. The whole thing wouldn’t have been nearly as special to her if she was unable to wear the fancy gown. Even though I was crying inside, I smiled at the Cast Member and told her we would be requiring two Castle Packages.
Next she directed us to the back wall of the waiting area that was displayed with all the Disney Princess costumes they had available that particular day. At times certain costumes do sell out and become unavailable, but on this particular day it appeared everything was in stock. Our choices were: Belle (Beauty and the Beast), Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Anna (Frozen), Elsa(Frozen), Merida (Brave), Cinderella, Snow White, Jasmine (Aladdin), Rapunzel (Tangled), Tinker Bell, and Tiana (Princess and the Frog). My 4 year old daughter chose Belle, while my 6 year old daughter chose Aurora. After the decisions were made, the Cast Member whisked us to a dressing room in the back of the Boutique. Inside, both costumes were hanging up, and both girls were given a crown and a large plastic wand. Each wand and crown is uniquely themed to each princess. Aurora’s crown was made of a hard plastic, was pink, and had her picture in the center. Belle’s crown was a bendable plastic, was yellow, and also had her picture in the center. Likewise, Aurora’s wand was pink with her picture on it and a heart at the top, while Belle’s was yellow with her picture on it and a rose at the top. Both wands also lit up with the push of a button. After changing into their costumes and ensuring they fit correctly, we were brought back to the waiting area until it was our turn.
The “salon” room itself was rather small, with all the Fairy Godmother-In-Training work stations set up along the wall forming a horseshoe around the room. In the center of the room was a long couch for parents to sit on while watching their princesses-to-be. The backing to this couch does go up quite high, forming a barrier in the center of the room. Our concern was that our girls would be split up making it impossible for us to be able to enjoy each one separately, however, we were assured that, while typically the girls will not go in consecutive order, they would not be separated either (meaning that they would be seated next to, or close by one another, as availability allowed).
Our four year old was seated first, about twenty minutes after our appointment was scheduled to begin. Shortly after her makeover began, our six year old was seated in the chair next to her. TIP: If the shoulder straps on your child’s costume are too big ask your Fairy-Godmother-In-Training to adjust them. This was the case with my four year old, and her Fairy-Godmother-In-Training was able to adjust it with a small, clear rubber band.
After the costume adjustment, the first decision that needs to be made is a hair style, of which there are 4 to choose from. TIP: The Fairy-Godmother-In-Training may show pictures of the different hairstyles to your child to choose, not to you. If you have a certain style in mind, or if you want to be the one to make the decision, tell her as your child sits down.
My wife chose to have each girl’s hair put into a bun and each girl also had a small metal tiara tucked securely atop their head, and their own Hidden Mickey—a small metal Mickey clipped into the back of their hair. If this is a hairstyle you are considering please do not be concerned about the bun coming undone or your child’s hair being mussed throughout a day of thrill rides. With the tightness of the bun and the amount of product used to hold it, I am fairly certain hurricane force winds couldn’t break a strand free.
After their hair was done, their nails and makeup was next. Each girl got to choose their own eye shadow and nail polish color, as well as which sparkling face gem (sticker) would be placed on their cheek. TIP: This will be stressed when making the appointment, but ensure your child does not have any nail polish on already at the time of their appointment. The Fairy-Godmother-In-Training will not take it off in order to put new nail polish on.
The makeover ended in a very special way as the Fairy-Godmother-In-Training waved her magic wand over each girl, said the magic words of “Bibbidi, Bobbidi, Boo”, and sprinkled pixie dust over their newly styled hair. As a parent, what comes next may be the most important part of all. The big reveal. During their makeover, your child has been facing away from the mirror the whole time and has no idea how princess-like they look. Ensure you have your camera ready, your hand steady, and your eyes dry as they are spun around to gaze at their royal selves for the first time. Their reaction will be priceless (though Disney makes a good effort to quantify it on your final bill).
With the makeover complete, our little ones emerged from their throwns invigorated and anxious to strut their stuff around the park. Their Fairy-Godmother-In-Training last act was to pin a princess sash over their costume and hand them a small tote containing—not only the left over eye shadow and nail polish—but the colors they didn’t choose as well. All in all, each makeover took roughly twenty five minutes. Next up was royal photo shoot at Castle Couture, which was just to the left as we exited Cinderella Castle.
Once in Castle Couture there is a small picture studio where we gave our Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique receipt to a Cast Member working there. Once our package was verified we were ready to get started. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the photo session. I had assumed it would be a few quick shutter snaps and we’d be sent on our way, but instead it was very professional and well done. We had photos taken of our girls together and separately and the whole process took about fifteen minutes. We were fortunate that when we arrived the people ahead of us were just finishing up, however, when we left there was a line of about four families so there is a possibility you could be waiting for some time. Once the photos were complete we were told to return in about a half hour to choose which ones we wanted. Upon our return we had approximately thirty photos on a monitor to look through in order to choose the best ones. And, again, this can take some time, so if you have four families a head of you in line again be prepared to wait maybe as much as forty five minutes. All in all our experience with the photo session was very good, and I was very pleased with the photos we received, however, there were a few discrepancies that I found between what was advertised in the Castle Package description and what was actually received. The description on the Walt Disney World website promised one 6” x 8” picture and four 4” x 6” pictures in a princess themed holder for each girl. What we received was one 6” x 8” and two 4” x 6” pictures in a princess folder for each girl. The description of a “princess themed holder” is rather ambiguous and I guess, technically, the folder is a holder and was, indeed, princess themed, but the picture total could be an issue. Unfortunately, I did not catch this discrepancy until we were back home so it is unknown to me if this was an error on the part of the Cast Member who told us that we could only choose two 6” x 8” pictures, or if this is an error on the website. Life goes on. UPDATE: I received an email from the Guest Support Coordinator for Disney Photo Imaging who advised I was, indeed, shorted and should have received four 4″ x 6″ pictures. She credited my account on the Disney Photo Pass site so that I could receive the missing pictures for free. It also should be noted that I did not contact Disney in reference to this matter, the Guest Support Coordinator emailed me after reading this post. Another example of great Customer Service!
Now, for the bill. The total amount tendered for services rendered was…gulp…$415.25. Of that $415.25, $129.90 was for the costumes ($64.95 apiece). $35.90 was for the crowns ($17.95 apiece). $39.90 was for the wands ($19.95 apiece). The pictures were valued at $26.90 ($13.45 apiece) but were applied as a credit to the total. We knew what the total would be prior to paying, so there was no shock at the cash register, but as I read the itemized receipt a few things stood out to me. First, the photos—regardless of if we were shorted on them or not—I thought were an exceptional value. I’m sure their cost was worked into the final amount somehow despite the receipt saying otherwise, but they were of excellent quality. Each had a nice, glossy finish, were touched up to remove any blemishes, and cropped perfectly. I would expect to pay $30.00 to $40.00 for these pictures anywhere else, so I was pleasantly surprised such fine quality photos were included in our package. Next, I thought the costumes were a fairly good value. Trust me on this one. I have a daughter who becomes no less than three different princesses a day. My chief fatherly duty is Velcro fastener. Believe me when I say that these were more dresses than costumes. They seemed much sturdier than the dresses we have purchased at Walmart or Toys-R-Us and I have no concern that they will last for quite some time. The $64.95 price tag on them can be debated, but it is entirely possible that they could be worn for Halloween, which would help recoup some of that cost.
When everything was said and done, I reflected on if I had any regret or buyer’s remorse. Was the experience worth the extremely high price? Though my wife and I had agreed that this would be the only time our girls would experience the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, without doubt or qualification I knew the answer was yes. Absolutely, yes. As you would expect from Disney Cast Members, the Fairy-Godmothers-In-Training we had were excellent. They played their parts to perfection and made each girl feel as if they were the center of their own fairytale. The pride and excitement they felt while sitting in those Boutique chairs only grew as the day wore on with every person who smiled at them as they walked through Magic Kingdom. They were special in the most special place on earth, and I could see how much that meant to them. As we settled in to bed that night, the only light coming from the classic Disney cartoons playing on the television, I heard my six year old say softly—to no one in particular—“I can’t believe we got to go to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.” I knew then that it was worth every penny.