Please note that this review is based on the soft opening of the exhibit. All information is subject to change prior to official opening and this should be considered when reading the following article.
With the exception to a couple of hours for a Cast Member preview the day before, Diana: The People’s Princess officially soft opened its doors on July 4, with a scheduled grand opening/media event for Tuesday, July 7. Because of a computer-related issue, the doors opened approximately 20 minutes later than the scheduled opening time of 11 am.
The exhibit is located on the West Side of Downtown Disney, in the building formerly occupied by the Virgin Megastore, sandwiched between the AMC 24 theater and DisneyQuest. Reportedly due to issues with exposure to the exhibit from the sun/weather elements, the main doors are currently not being used (they are closed, but remained unlocked that day, causing confusion for several guests). Instead, the small door all the way to the left of the front is being used as the entrance.
Despite the policy posted on the building window (which prohibits flash photography), photography is not permitted at all so I have nothing from the exhibit to share with you. I was told the confusion with the policy was in error and that it will soon be corrected. The printed tickets do specify No Photography however.
The first item you encounter is a dress of Princess Diana’s and a tiara, arranged in what strikes me as a funeral parlor-esque display (grey faux granite columns topped with large bouquets of white flowers surround the display). With the tiara, you run into the first major issue with the exhibit, which will soon be corrected with any luck: lack of signage. In the extreme majority of the cases, there is absolutely no placard or any time of information associated with the objects on display that give you any indication as to what they are or what they mean to the exhibit. The best example of this is a small, bright orange chair placed directly in the middle of the Charles area with much ado. I also lost a considerable amount of time trying to read a 2 page letter hand-written by Diana trying to identify its content, finally coming to the conclusion that it was just a letter and there wasn’t much more to it than that.
‘DIANA–The People’s Princess’, a One-of-a-Kind Experience, is Coming to Downtown Disney Orlando (Updated)
UPDATE: According to the Foundation’s website, the exhibit is set to open July 1
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The People’s Princess Charitable Foundation, Inc. (PPCF) is bringing “DIANA–The People’s Princess” – a major new exhibit of royal artifacts – to Walt Disney World Resort. Opening in early July 2009, this limited-time experience showcases the life and story of one of the most iconic and inspirational figures in recent history, including a sampling of the royal dresses Diana chose to auction for charity and hundreds of authentic artifacts relating to her life.
“DIANA–The People’s Princess” exhibit will be held in a 17,500-square-foot setting at Downtown Disney West Side adjacent to DisneyQuest. This unique exhibition is one of the largest collections of royal dresses and rare artifacts ever assembled for an American audience which provides an in-depth historical perspective of her life. The exhibit includes five rarely seen royal dresses worn by Princess Diana.