In our previous post, we took a look at the Festival of Fantasy dining package over at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. While we were able to to technically get our money’s worth of food based on ala carte menu prices, the quality of the food was a mixed bag.
That leads us to the question of whether the reserved viewing area for the parade is worth the risk of paying for a potentially sub par meal. Let’s take a look at the Festival of Fantasy Parade, as viewed from the reserved dining package area.
Before the parade officially kicks off, a marching band from Wisconsin got to perform with a march down Main Street USA. The marching bands actually pay Disney for this honor, but it still must be really cool for the band members.
They were followed a few minutes later by the Main Street Philharmonic.
And finally, each parade has an honorary Grand Marshal to officially kick it off. That being said, it is still a bit of a wait for the rest of the parade to arrive at Main Street after the Grand Marshal passes by.
The ticket you recieve with your dining package suggests arriving 15-35 minutes prior to the parade start time. Keep in mind, the parade doesn’t arrive at Main Street until about 20 minutes after start time. This means you are looking at a 35-55 minute wait if you listen to the ticket.
I arrived at 2:40 (for the 3:00 parade) and was easily able to grab a front and center view. I could have arrived right at 3:00 and still gotten a spot within a few feet to my left or right.
At right around 3:20 the parade arrived at Main Street USA. I am going to try and keep my commentary at a minimum from here on out and let the photos do the talking.
The Princess and the Frog is criminally underused in the parks if you ask me. Tiana and Naveen are always great!
(Controversial?) Opinion: Anna is a way better character than Elsa… Also, I like Olaf and don’t find him annoying at all really.
Maximus from Tangled is the best animal side kick ever created by Disney. Whoever animated that horse is seriously a genius!
The lost boys are definitely a highlight for us.
It’s nice to see Brave get some love as well.
We’re very glad to see Maleficent back in the parade following her accident last year.
Kudos to Disney for taking the the effort to fix the float property and restore the fire breathing aspect. I would not have been surprised it all if they had ditched the fire for good after what happened.
Even beyond the fire, the float is super impressive!
We’re always excited to see the 7 Dwarfs… even more so when its not via a 2 hour wait at an upcharge event.
Overall, Festival of Fantasy is a great parade! I’ve never been a big fan of day time parades but this is the best day one Disney has ever put together. The music is catchy, the floats very neat and it features a ton of characters; many of which are otherwise underutilized in the parks.
As far as the dining package goes, there is no doubt that it gives you the best spot with the least amount of effort. That being said, you could arrive at the lower end of Main Street (closer to the train station) around 30 minutes before showtime and grab a front row spot on the curb there most days. You won’t have a straight on view down the center of the street, but its still a great spot.
For that reason, I have a tough time recommending the parade dining package unless you were already planning on dining at Tony’s. If you’re a Tony’s fan (to each their own) you can definitely get your money’s worth off the menu and be guaranteed the prime parade spot on top of that. For us, the quality of the food was not worth what we paid for it and while the viewing location was great, I don’t think it was worth dropping $60 a head at Tony’s for.
My official recommendation is pass on the dining package and instead arrive by 2:30 (assuming 3:00 parade start time) to grab a spot on Main Street. You won’t have the very best view, but it’ll be close enough for most folks.