To round out the Festival of Pirates & Princesses season (hopefully just until next year!) Disneyland Paris held it’s first Soirée Exclusive Pass Annuels of 2019: The Pirates & Princesses party! If you weren’t able to make it to this sparkly, swashbuckling occasion, then let me make you feel a bit better upfront by telling you that this was the best AP night yet! Sorry, not sorry. ?
So, if you’ve chosen your side and you’re ready to dance, read on!
Upon entering Disneyland Park, guests were greeted by a motley crew of pirates and some princess attendants urging guests to choose their side. On the balcony of Main Street station, Silver Ocean and Violette Rose cheered at guests who joined their respective teams. While this was a nice touch, Silver and Violette’s costumes were simply the same as those of the dancers who escort each team’s float along the parade route. I doubt anyone who hadn’t been following the lead-up to the event on social media would’ve had any idea who these two were supposed to be (Jimmy and Betty’s respective cousins). A missed opportunity? Maybe. Perhaps it would’ve been better to have had Jimmy & Betty there instead.
As is the norm with the majority of hard-ticketed events in Disneyland Park, the ambience in the park was spruced up for the occasion. Sleeping Beauty’s castle showcased specially designed projections for the night which, while short, were a fun sight to watch a couple of times. The usual music loops in each of the lands were replaced with songs from many classic Pirate or Princess based Disney song, although the majority were in French. Not necessarily a bad thing when the likes of I See the Light and Part of Your World sound beautiful in French.
Shows & Parades
Following on from the success of the Mickey 90th AP Night, the Pirates & Princesses party featured a fantastic slate of entertainment to compliment the huge amount of Meet & Greets (more on that, later), as well as access to the majority of attractions.
The much-loved Starlit Princess Waltz from the 25th Anniversary celebrations made its return to Royal Castle stage. While the core format of the show remained unchanged, all the princesses were wearing their Pirates & Princess dresses for the show which, complemented by the rare opportunity to see the show during the dark of night (something that hadn’t really been possible since 2017), made sure that the magic came shining through. Even though the show was billed for two runs at the soirée, both performances drew sizeable crowds – showing that there is still fond interest in this show.
The surprise highlight of the night, for both Princess and Pirate fans alike, was Minnie’s Pirate Academy. Last seen during the 2015 Halloween Soirée, this delightfully quirky and camp show was made all the better for the audience participation throughout. The balance between French and English meant that most guests could understand what was going on in and easily get into the swing of things. We’d love to see this show return again during the Halloween Soirée’s, or even the New Year’s Eve party, this year – it’s a perfect, fun, and energetic fit for Videopolis. Aye, aye, captain!
Of course, the much loved Pirates & Princesses: Make Your Choice returned for the night in a slightly altered format. Rather than have the teams start at opposite ends of the parade route and meet in Central Plaza, both teams individually had the full run of the parade route – performing both the Main Street and Castle Stage show stops along the way. To close the festivities of the night, the final Make Your Choice battle took place in Central Plaza, with packed crowds, special dialogue and sparklers.
The atmosphere in Central Plaza for the final battle was electric, with the majority of guests dancing, singing along, and cheering inbetween every other breath. Some fans waved around banners requesting the season to return in 2020, with Betty and Jimmy heading back to their floats to loud chants of « BETTY, BETTY, BETTY » and « JIMMY, JIMMY, JIMMY » respectively. If the season doesn’t return in 2020, it certainly wouldn’t be due to lack of trying by fans!
Meet & Greets
To say the number of characters out during the Pirates & Princesses Party was high would be quite the understatement! All of the royal couples were meeting, including rare appearances by the Beast, the Fairy Godmother, and the three fairies. Anna & Elsa were meeting in Discoveryland theater, drawing huge interest given their rarity in Disneyland Paris. The likes of Jake the Pirate, Angelica, and Jim Hawkins were also meeting. Mickey and Minnie also met in their Pirates & Princesses costumes. All in all, guests had the chance to meet over 30 characters!
The queueing situation for Meet & Greets has always been one of the biggest sources of criticism leveled toward the AP nights so far. The rotating sets system that debuted at FanDaze was scrapped for this event, so guests knew exactly who they were going to meet when joining a queue. Although the official rule of 1 personal photo and 1 PhotoPass photo remained unchanged, this was still largely at the discretion of the attendants with each character, with some being far more lenient than others. As is (sadly) to be expected, the lines for some of the more popular characters filled up very quickly – with the likes of Anna & Elsa, Belle & Beast, and Rapunzel & Flynn quickly amassing 2+ hour queues.
However, contrary to other AP nights, the majority of lines did not get cut – with characters meeting right up until park closing, even while the final Make Your Choice battle was going on. While this goes against the rules of « good show » (the same character can’t be in more than one place at any given time) it did allow guests the chance to squeeze more meets in, something appreciated by the more dedicated of character hunters.
Belle & the Beast provided the biggest disappointment for many. The Beast has only recently had his in park appearance changed, so naturally many guests were eager to take the opportunity to meet the couple. Not only did this result in a really long line, things were unfortunately compounded by the Beast needing to take rather frequent breaks leading to awkward situations where Belle was left meeting on her own, with some guests flat-out refusing to meet her on her own. A sad time for our favourite bookworm. Eventually, some guests caved and took the opportunity to just meet Belle on her own, but they were understandably frustrated. Having a face and fur character meeting together is a complicated arrangement, and it’s something that needs to be worked on for future events – even as far as simply communicating in advance about breaks etc. would probably alleviate some of the frustration.
Special Gift & Merchandise
It wouldn’t be an AP night without a special free gift for guests. For the Pirates & Princesses party, guests were given a special programme and tote bagbased on which side they chose at the entrance to the party. Team Pirates received a black and gold tote bag, along with the event programme themed as a treasure map. Whereas Team Princesses received a white and gold tote bag, and the event programme styled as a royal invitation. A nice touch.
While exclusive merchandise has still yet to become a big « thing » at AP nights at Disneyland Paris, there were 2 exclusive pins for sale. One for Team Princesses, featuring Rapunzel and Belle. Likewise one for Team Pirates, featuring Peter Pan and Captain Hook. As far as event exclusive pins go, these were certainly a lot nicer in appearance than we’ve seen previously.
The Pirates & Princesses party was the best AP night to date. Disneyland Paris really seem to be taking on board feedback provided by guests after previous soirée’s, and while things still aren’t perfect yet, there’s been definite improvements. For a pirate or princess fan, this night was a sure delight, and really showcased that Disneyland Park can put on great parties outside of Halloween and New Year’s Eve.
- Wide choice of Meet & Greets.
- Great selection of entertainment.
- Nice free gift.
- The park did not feel overly crowded.
- Confusingly managed queues to get into the park. Maybe it’s time the wristband system from Halloween and NYE is introduced to AP nights.
- Lack of communication about set rotations of fur characters, causing frustration for both guests and attendants.
- Not a very wide selection of restaurants open after 10:30pm.
A big shout-out also has to be given to all the guests who dressed up in costume for the night, which really added to the overall atmosphere. MVPs!