Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire is the newest Cinderella Castle daytime stage show in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, having debuted in Summer 2016. This post features photos of the show, my review of it, and viewing tips for best-experiencing Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire. This isn’t a spoiler-free review given that it has photos, but I’ve limited them to only the Fab Five sequences.
For starters, I need to put this review in the proper context. I was never a huge fan of Dream Along with Mickey. Aside from one trip with Cinderellabration, Dream Along with Mickey was the Cinderella Castle show that ran for the duration of our adult visits to Walt Disney World (a 10 year run–pretty impressive). Despite that, I think we saw it from start to finish maybe twice. We caught passing segments a lot (the “DREAMS COME TRUE” chant will be forever burnt into my memory), but never felt inclined to schedule it into our visits. It just wasn’t our cup of tea, particularly when you factor in the whole “standing in the Florida sun” for half an hour thing.
Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire is fundamentally similar to Dream Along with Mickey. Accordingly, my review of this new show should not carry a whole lot of weight if you’re a first-timer with small children planning a family vacation to Walt Disney World. I’m quite obviously not the target audience, and nothing in Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire moves the needle to such a degree that I’ll suddenly pencil this into our schedule for every visit.
With all of that said, I enjoyed Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire for what it is, and found it to be an improvement upon Dream Along with Mickey. For me, the biggest difference is that the show (mostly) drops the pretense of a plot, and lets the show exist just for the sake of existing, as a fun festival with Mickey and various characters dancing and singing. In fairness, what I considered to be a corny “plot” in the predecessor likely worked for the target audience.
Additionally, I found costuming was more impressive, with the regal outfits nicely done and fitting in light of the location. There was also a more a diverse assortment of characters, both in terms of films represented, and types of characters with a good balance among the Fab Five, princesses, and comedic relief characters (which I assume is now even better since Louis the Alligator has been added to the show since my viewing–more Princess and the Frog anything is good by me!)
However, in the end, Dream Along with Mickey v. Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire is really going to come down to personal preference. I’m not going to throw down with anyone who proclaims Dream Along was better, or anyone who thinks they’re both brilliant. I happen to like Friendship Faire more, but neither really hold a ton of appeal or re-watchability for me because (for the third time), I’m not the target audience. I’d love a show that works on multiple levels so both kids and adults can enjoy it for different reasons, but I hardly take issue with the show not targeting 30-something, childless males.
Okay, let’s turn to the tips. At least my thoughts there are marginally useful…
One of the biggest challenges in viewing Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire is that there is absolutely no shade in the prime viewing area. For this reason, we recommend doing the 10:30 a.m. or 5:15 p.m. (if the times have changed–the first or last) showings.
Crowds will be heavier for the final showing, but I favor that one because the sun is less intense and lines elsewhere are at or close to their peaks. This will be especially true in the fall and winter months, once the sun sets earlier. Starting in early October and continuing through the fall and winter when the sun sets at 7 p.m. (and earlier), that last show could be a good 10 degrees cooler than the midday shows.
If you instead opt for the first showing, you’re giving up shorter lines around Magic Kingdom for a slight gain in terms of heat and sun. More importantly, you’re rolling the dice on potentially starting the day on the wrong foot with prolonged exposure to the sweltering weather. At least if you go in the afternoon, everyone will already be cranky, so what’s a little more fuel to the fire? (Just be sure to pack some Snickers, the panacea for crankiness, and all will be fine.)
The first and last showings of Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire are bookended by the Move It! Shake It! Whatever It! Roaming Noise Festival, so unless you hate your eardrums or have an affinity for mobile boxes, you’ll want to book it out of the Central Plaza/Hub after Friendship Faire, or risk exposure to that.
Or, maybe your “kids love it!” in which case you should plan to stick around. (Although you might question whether your kids really love Move It! Shake It!…or if they actually just hate you.)
Unlike the parades and fireworks, you don’t have to arrive far in advance to secure a good view for Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire. To the contrary, I’d advise showing up as close to the show as possible to minimize your time in the sun. Every minute counts, and one too many could be the tipping point for a meltdown. (Just ask Sarah…I threw a temper tantrum afterwards that only 3 consecutive rides on the PeopleMover could fix.)
When it comes to viewing spots for Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire, I’d recommend either getting as close to the stage as possible, or drifting back by the Partners statue. Back by Partners you’ll have clearer sight-lines thanks to the decline of the pavement in front of you. If you stand somewhere in between, there’s a reasonable chance heads will block the views of you and/or your kids. Personally, I prefer as close to the stage as possible and find that on days with normal crowd levels, this area doesn’t really fill up until 5 minutes before the show.
Viewing Friendship Faire is one situation in which I’m lax on my normally stringent anti-shoulder kid philosophy (unfortunately, I’m not the ultimate arbiter of park etiquette, so it’s not as if you should care about my philosophy either way). Given the number of Friendship Faire showings per day and lack of shade, the crowds for each showing of Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire normally aren’t too bad, and have some breathing room.
If you’re in the ‘no man’s land’ between the stage and Partners, hoisting your kid up on your shoulders before the show starts should be no issue. (I consider it proper etiquette to do this at least 5 minutes before the show starts, so those filing in after you can position themselves accordingly. Don’t Trojan Horse the people behind you with a surprise shoulder kid 2 seconds into the show.) There is usually tons of open space, and it’s pretty easy for those behind you to position themselves accordingly with minimal inconvenience.
Of course, exercise judgment when doing this. If it’s New Year’s Eve and the crowds are elbow-to-elbow, shoulder-kidding remains impolite–hold them at eye-level, instead. That is, unless your child is the center of the universe, in which case I’m sure the 10-20 people whose views you block behind you will totally understand. After all, you paid a lot of money for this vacation(!!!)…and the people behind you probably got in for free or something.
Overall, if you’re a parent with small children, you’d be remiss if you didn’t watch Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire. If you’re Walt Disney World regulars without kids like us, you should still probably check it out, but you might want to wait until fall or winter (it’s safe to say this show will be around for the next 5 years, at minimum). It’s a cute, energetic show, and while not for everyone, its target audience is sure to love it.
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Do you agree or disagree with our take on Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire and/or Dream Along with Mickey? Do you think shoulder kids are okay here? Share any questions, tips, or additional thoughts you have in the comments!