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Op-Ed: Princess Nite After Hours Event Made For Disney Influencers (and Possibly No One Else)

disneyland after dark princess nite

After attending Princess Nite at the Disneyland Resort on Thursday, I think it’s safe to say that the Disney event had some merits, but ultimately not enough to warrant the high price point. Held on March 7 and March 9, Disney Parks advertised the Southern California event in the popular Disneyland After Dark series as a “celebration under the stars where adventurous heroines and aspirational hearts unite.”

Disney confirmed our speculations about who these rare special Guests would be when releasing the event guide, including the classic princess line-up of Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Tiana, Elena of Avalor, and Moana. At the same time, many fans had already enjoyed its predecessors like Sweethearts Nite, Grad Nite Reunion, Villains Nite, ’80s Nite, ’90s Nite, and the massively attended Star Wars Nite, this being the first ever princess-themed after-hours, Guests didn’t know what to expect.

princess merida in her signature green dress and huge mass of red curls runns smiling through disneyland castle with a young redheaded girl in a merida costume and her mother in a blue shirt with red curls as well

Credit: Disney

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As further described on the Disneyland Resort site, Princess Nite featured “iconic who light the world with kindness, courage, and a touch of magic,” plus “shimmering décor, special photo opportunities, themed food and beverage offerings, commemorative keepsakes.” I attended the second night and so already had a brief glimpse at what the five-hour evening entailed based on others’ social media posts.

We arrived for the pre-party mix around 7 p.m. but didn’t make it into Disneyland Park until closer to 8 p.m. after a horrendous parking situation, security checks, and the tram. Firstly, the keepsake was a cute lanyard themed to look like a magic mirror. No complaints there, although for the $145 plus $30 parking we paid, it would have been nice also to receive complimentary snack items like those given out at the Walt Disney World Resort during holiday after-hours.

Moreover, while the photo backdrops were nice, some of them felt like an afterthought compared to backdrops provided during regular Park hours for things like the Disneyland 60th, which was especially disappointing because I’d say the event was 50% families and 50% recognizable Disney Adult Influencers from Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, many of whom came in cosplay of their favorite princess for character photos.

 

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Although Disney had a few entertainment options, they did not captivate my attention. Vanellope Von Schweetz’s dance party seemed really fun when I passed by, but was mostly a crowd of under ten’s and their families while when we walked by the vocal concert, there were so few Guests in front of Rivers of America, we thought it hadn’t started yet!

My biggest issues were the character meet-and-greets and the special food options, many of which felt like they had absolutely no relation to the Disney Princesses or were just regular items with edible glitter, sprinkles, etc. While I would have enjoyed more creativity in terms of the menu in appearance or references to the films, I did try the Princess Sundae from Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor, which had blackberry, raspberry, and peach sorbet… And I will dream of it for the rest of my life. Delicious!

a waffle cone with white chocolate rim holds three scoops of sorbet in pink light orange and magenta with a black spoon and dollop of white whipped cream

Credit: Spencer Johnette / DisneyDining

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(I also received the saddest, smallest Safari Skewer of my life when ordering a midnight snack at Adventureland’s Bengal Barbecue, but I digress.) Of course, while the character offerings were great, chances to meet more rare characters such as Princess Minnie Mouse and Princess Daisy Duck, Mulan as Fa Ping, and Pocahontas were slim due to high demand. Even regulars like Ariel and Rapunzel had lengthy lines because of special photo backdrops or a high influx of cosplayers dressed like a specific character.

In fact, many characters sported lines of over an hour, with Princess Leia clocking in at around three hours max wait! Luckily, I was able to meet Merida, Princess Kida from Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001), and A Bug’s Life (1998) ’s Princess Atta towards the end of the night, as well as my beloved Sofia the First, whose line was only 25 minutes and had seats while you waited!

Rapunzel and Mulan in her green and black ping outfit disneyland princess nite

Credit: Spencer Johnette / DisneyDining

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However, all the service was great, and it was wonderful to have the complimentary Disney PhotoPass downloads because the photographers made everything run more quickly than wrangling your cellphone for a grainy shot in the nighttime lighting, even if hosts did rush some interactions to keep the lines moving. Additionally, I was able to catch Giselle from Enchanted (2007), and she was perfect. My only regret is she wasn’t meeting Guests, though apparently, it’s because her gown weighs around 40 lbs, according to a Cast Member!

I do wish Disney had gone all out on a princess-themed nighttime parade because having just Giselle felt a bit anti-climactic, and even if it was only the princess portions of A Christmas Fantasy, Paint the Night, and Mickey’s Soundsational Parade combined, it would have been a royal delight! If your biggest priority was the ability to dress up in authentic-looking cosplay outside of regular Park rules, wanted elaborate shots for Instagram, or were okay with spending half the night in line for five minutes and three photos with one character, next year’s Princess Nite may be for you!

 

About Spencer Johnette

Spencer is a lifelong lover of theme parks, princesses, and Disney history that recently relocated to Northern California. She completed her undergraduate studies at UCLA, where she was the founder and first president of the campus Disney Club. A former Cast Member still mourning the loss of the Disney Store, she now haunts the Walt Disney Family Museum halls and shares her opinions with anyone who will listen @gothelsflower.