Debuting in March 2014 (with a rumored date of March 16, 2014 to be precise), the ‘Disney Festival of Fantasy,’ will be the new daytime parade at the Magic Kingdom. To celebrate the new entertainment, Walt Disney World has provided us with full details on the floats and costumes that will be featured in the parade.
Earlier this month and under cover of darkness, Walt Disney World cast members and crew escorted several of the floats down the road in the middle of the night. The floats in this magical caravan include a 53-foot-long steampunk-inspired Maleficent Dragon from the 1959 Disney animated classic, Sleeping Beauty, a Fantasia-themed balloon and gondola for Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, a giant Brave bagpipe, and a Peter Pan float featuring Skull Rock and Captain Hook’s The Jolly Roger pirate ship.
Disney Festival of Fantasy parade is the first of a new generation of parades for Disney Parks featuring never-before-used technology on eye-popping floats adorned with Disney characters from more than a dozen fairytales. Set to an all-new musical score, the dazzling parade floats will soar up to three stories tall with spirited performers donning dramatic costumes crafted at ten different design houses across the country.
Seven unique units comprised of nine spectacular floats will march down Main Street, U.S.A to the beat of an original soundtrack inspired by favorite Disney films, composed by Mark Hammond, known for his work on World of Color at Disney California Adventure and the Flights of Fantasy parade at Hong Kong Disneyland. The parade has its own voice with a theme song customized for each float followed by a medley of songs woven throughout the cavalcade.
- The Princess Garden — This pageantry of princesses celebrates Disney royalty. Cinderella, Tiana and Belle accompanied by their respective princes, ride in a garden of topiaries with woodland creatures, birds and more. Cinderella’s dress playfully twirls like a turntable, while Swan Court couples lead the 50-foot-long majestic float, capped off with a special appearance by Anna and Elsa from Disney’s hit animated feature, Frozen.
- Tangled — A massive long ship on the high seas showcases Flynn Rider and Rapunzel in search of adventure and another Best. Day. Ever! Rapunzel’s iconic tresses weave throughout this 36-foot-long float decked out with swaying pendulums carrying dastardly thugs.
- Little Mermaid — Ariel and her friends sit atop a colorfully kinetic seashell music box that boasts an enchanting musical jubilee. There’s no shortage of whimsy on this Under the Sea float with conga dancing fish kicking up their fins and bubbles galore. Shimmering fabrics and intricately designed costumes for the Lion Fish, Coral Fish, Seashell and Sea Horse performers are runway-inspired.
- Peter Pan — Straight from Never Land come Peter Pan and Wendy soaring high aboard the famous Jolly Roger pirate ship complete with smoke effects and special surprises. A rainbow arch shines over Skull Rock and Tinker Bell nestled among giant flowers, while Captain Hook takes center stage on a swinging anchor. ‘Newsies-inspired’ Lost Boys kick up their heels to high-energy choreography.
- Brave — Celtic couples and a vessel shaped like an enormous bagpipe announce the arrival of Merida perched high on her majestic crown. Scottish dancers step to melodies of the Great Highlands in celebration of the popular Disney*Pixar film, “Brave.”
- Sleeping Beauty – The heroic Prince Phillip battles a Steampunk-inspired Dragon as the wicked Maleficent. This float stretches 53 feet in length and 26 feet tall with a prickly spinning wheel dead center of the float. With fiery eyes and glowing effects the spectacular dragon was built on an articulating chassis allowing the float to bend and flex as it moves along the parade route – a first for Disney parades. This float was designed in a partnership with Tony Award-winner Michael Curry. There’s Prince Phillip, thorn-inspired stilt performers, dramatic raven dancers, plus the three good fairies, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather glide along the parade route.
- Finale and Mickey’s Airship — The parade culminates with a 90-foot-long magical caravan of characters featuring Pinocchio, Dumbo, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Mad Hatter, Pluto and more in a splashy carnival of color. There’s Pegasus horses, dancing hippos and sassy Bubble Girls with cotton-candy-like hair celebrating Storybook Circus in New Fantasyland. Sporting zany new costumes Mickey and Minnie Mouse sit sky high in Mickey’s Airship — a giant hot air balloon that rounds out Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade.
For the costumes of the nearly 100 performers featured in the parade, the production process took almost a year to complete. The creations transpired in 10 different costume houses across eight cities and two countries, with the Creative Costuming facilities in both Florida and California among the mix.
From the Swing Thugs aboard the Tangled unit’s massive longship to the troupe of Scottish dancers announcing Merida’s arrival in the Brave unit, costume designer Mirena Rada carefully planned and executed the detail of each piece. Visual cues such as color and texture choices were taken from each float and incorporated in the costume designs. Additionally, she closely studied the style guide of each film for whimsical details and fabric patterns to capture the essence of each story.
Putting a modern spin on classic elements is a theme that resonates throughout Rada’s designs. From the swan neck collar and iridescent feathers on the Princess Garden unit’s Swan Court ball gowns to the sculpted conch shell headpiece and shimmering pastel dress that comprise The Little Mermaid unit’s Seashell Girl, the old and new are blended seamlessly – a trend that is ever present in today’s fashion world.
The production process mirrors current fashion trends, utilizing new technology to design and print custom fabrics in house. Rada partnered with Walt Disney World Resort costumers to select fabrics that would withstand the central Florida climate while also accommodating the needs of each performer.
An innovative 3D printing technology brought to life even Rada’s most intricate concepts, with the hauntingly elegant beaks of the Ravens in the Sleeping Beauty unit being a prime example. Using a 3D origami program, a paper beak was created and placed on a performer’s head to obtain the initial scale and shape. A digital sculptor then worked on the filigree beak design, which was printed, fitted and refined to produce the final shape. Each piece was base coated, bronzed, lacquered and gilded with fiery Swarovski stones to complete the finished look.
In the true spirit of fashion, each look was not considered complete until complemented by the perfect hair, makeup and accessories. The Finale unit’s Cha Cha Girl is the queen of head-to-toe ensemble with her big top inspired fit and flare dress, bolero jacket embellished with sequins, star spangled tights and hair reminiscent of pulled taffy exuding the essence of Storybook Circus in New Fantasyland. However, simple touches that might elude guests, such as the elegant gold tones incorporated into eyelashes on the female Swan Court members, and in the custom socks worn by the Lost Boys were not overlooked – a testament to Disney’s attention to detail.