Friday, May 23, 2014

Festival of Fantasy, Part 3

Ok, time for the best part of the new Festival parade at WDW: the giant fire-breathing steampunk dragon!!

But first, a few fairies:

Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather come gliding out on special Segways hidden under their skirts. I love their new costumes; the cascading ombré effect is just lovely. Plus, check out those hats!

Prince Philip comes striding out directly behind them:

 ::Dramatic cape flip::

Philip starts out by battling these thorny stilt-walkers:

These costumes are a really cool way to bring Philip's battle through the thorns to life.

And once he's "vanquished" all the Thornies, iiiiit's SHOWTIME!

I'm not very happy with these shots, so here's a more dramatic one from Main Street:


And I promised you a little fire action, didn't I?

This also gives you a nice idea of the dragon's massive scale. 

("Scale." Heh. Aheh. Heh.)

The dragon's legs move with the wheels, giving the impression that it's walking, and the massive neck and head have an impressive range of motion.

It's impossible to not feel a sense of awe as the dragon rolls past you, spouting flames:

Inside the dragon's belly is a thorn-encrusted spinning wheel; another fantastic nod to Sleeping Beauty's storyline:

Also inside the belly are a set of riveted metal doors, complete with gauges and piping reminiscent of an old industrial furnace:

I want to go to there.

The closer you get to the dragon, the more impressive she is. Every rivet, gear, and chunk of plated "skin" is exquisitely detailed:

I've read that all the parade floats (and many of the street characters!) have at least one hidden Mickey on them, btw, and that Maleficent's is on one of her back legs. Considering how big the floats are and how quickly they fly past you, though, finding them all is going to be a challenge!

Bringing up the rear of the Maleficent segment are more of my favorite costumes: these abstract ravens:

 The filigree masks are gorgeous, but the real showstoppers - if you can believe it - are their boots:

See the talons? The boots are stylized bird feet!

Ok, pick that jaw up off the desk, folks, 'cuz we're not done yet!

Here comes the whole gang! 

I know I keep going on about the costumes, but that Dopey-riding-Happy's-shoulders costume is GENIUS. The performer really works it, too, frequently looking down so the two dwarves appear to be making eye contact:

After the street load of characters from Snow White, Alice, and Pinocchio, come these fabulous Balloon costumes:
Apparently they sometimes arrange the balloons in their back bows into a hidden Mickey, but I didn't see one this time.

Love this pose:

These ladies have perfected the art of the sassy flounce, and I love it.

Next, the second massive float brought over from Tokyo DL: a three-parter celebrating Pinocchio, Dumbo, and Fantasia.

The little Ferris Wheel and swing set spin, along with the wind-up key in the side of the whale.
If you look closely (or click to embiggen) you can also see all the bubbles Dumbo is blowing. :)

You have to turn around to see Dumbo properly, since he's riding on the tail end (literally! Ha!) of the first whale section:

 Donald and Daisy are in the middle float:

 Followed by a massive spinning swing, complete with twirling hippos and crocodiles from Fantasia:

 The characters in the swings are pretty hard to see as the float gets closer, since they're directly overhead. I didn't get any shots of them at all last time, so these pics are from Main Street again.

 Next, more (yes, MORE) of my favorite costumes:
Everything about these circus tent dresses is pure fabulousness, right down to the swirly ribbon wigs:


Which brings us to the big finale float!

 Hot air balloon!! Woot!

Like everything here, it's beautifully detailed. Look at the roof section over Mickey & Minnie:

One last view as the parade leaves us behind:

And two more from Main Street:

Hope you guys enjoyed all the eye candy! I'd be embarrassed to tell you how long I've spent editing all these photos, but the truth is, I had a blast doing it. :)


Congrats to Rose Dolphin, this month's art give-away winner! Please e-mail me your mailing address, Rose, along with your choice of prize from my Pinterest give-away board!


  1. Love the pictures! How do you get the colors so bright? We just got back from a trip, and your pics make me want to visit again immediately!

    Where you say that the balloon-skirt girls sometimes have hidden Mickeys, there appears to be one behind the girl all the way to the right--Mickey's head is yellow, and his ears are green. Could be a coincidence; I'd imagine with balloons it's easy to spot things that weren't necessarily intended.

  2. YAY! Congrats Rose! Enjoy your pic/s!

    I think I see the hidden Mickey in the picture of the four balloon girls. The girl closest to us has a yellow balloon with 2 green ones on top. Maybe?

    1. I agree!!! I saw that one too. :)

  3. Wow! These are gorgeous pictures, Jen! They'll have to keep me company until I can go back, again (prob. not for a number of years). Thank you for sharing and great work on the photos themselves.

    BTW - The costumes for the thorn bushes are such a great detail that no one but Disney would think of. Well done!

  4. Wow -- did not get tired of seeing those pics even after three postings. I've always wanted to see the big parades in any Disneyland resort. I haven't been to one yet -- yup, that's right. Maybe some day.
    What a strange but wonderful fun and creative job those performers have! I really like that they seem to be enjoying the heck out of themselves.
    Thanks, Jen!

  5. that parade looks AMAZING! the costumes are sensational. we will be there in August. I love how you've intensified the colors.

  6. I ADORE the pictures! I'm sure your editing muscle is spent with exhaustion but I always love your story telling with pictures, love the new richness that is in them.
    Thank you Jen!

  7. Awesome pics Jen!

    I see the hidden Mickey on the back of Maleficent's leg in your picture. It's made with 3 rivets. Cool catch :)

  8. I've always wanted to go to Disney but now I want to go just to see this parade!!! I have loved every minute of this series of pictures. I even called my husband into the room to check them out and tried to convince him to leave the kids at home and just take me to Disney immediately ;)

  9. How cool would it be to have a job at Disney helping to design the parades, floats, and costumes? This is just so full of awesome!!! And the Steampunk dragon is just the icing on the cake. Thanks for posting all the cool photos!

  10. Thanks for the wonderful photos Jen! I'm glad you enjoyed it! I work as a costumer on this parade and it is lovely to see such beautiful shots of the parade I've worked so hard on! I hate to burst you're bubble on the bows for the 'bubble girls' but the bubbles are totally random, no intentional hidden mickeys there. There is however another one on Maleficent. It's actually on one of the cogs for the spinning wheel. I know because I've seen it up close. I can tell you a few more hidden mickeys on some of the other floats as well so you can look for them next time if you like. Ariel has two. One is made up of the purple shells on the back of the float and the other which, really hard to see is on the jewels on the bottom. It's on the left side if you are facing the float. The Fantasia float has some of the bubbles on the side in the shape of mickey too.

  11. I have been enjoying these parade posts so much! The colors and happiness captured in these photos have made me smile and just brightened my day. I live just north of you and haven't been to Disney in a few years. Maybe it's time I take a low key trip back to enjoy all these wonderful parts of Disney you've captured so well.

    First time poster, but have been reading since the beginning. Keep it up Jen, you rock!

  12. SO fantastic! Love ALL the photos from all three of the parade posts! Thank you so much for giving us this beautiful gift, Jen!

    Can you tell us your secret to getting so many of the parade characters to pose for you? Do they actually stop and pose, or are they moving constantly while you're clicking the camera nonstop and you just happen to catch them exactly when they make eye contact? Or does John flag them down and get them to walk toward you? I can't even imagine the skill it must take to focus and shoot that quickly and perfectly.

    The costumes and floats are all spectacular, so congrats to anyone reading the comments (including Anna G above) who worked on the parade for your beautiful achievements.

    I want to go to the Magic Kingdom so badly, but my husband is not into it at all, and my son is only mildly interested. Sigh. I need a friend who hasn't been in a long time, like me, and who is super excited to see it all again. Anyone? Anyone?


    1. Thanks, KW! As for the "secret" of getting good poses, it's all about non-stop clicking and a hefty dose of luck, since the performers are a non-stop blur of motion. (To give you an idea: I took 500 photos in one parade viewing. That's about 33 photos per minute! Ha!)

      Sometimes if the characters see your camera up in that split second they WILL look directly at you, but usually they're just hitting poses aimed at the entire section of crowd.

  13. Beautiful! I cannot thank you enough for this. This tops Disney Ads. They should be ashamed of themselves (or steal some photo editing tips from you!) :D

  14. Wow! I love all the different costumes like the balloons and circus tents! I have never seen any like that! So amazing! I really need to go to Disneyworld one day!

  15. Thank you for all the amazing photos! I really appreciate the time that you take to take us into the world of Disney. I'm a fellow Dizgeek and circumstances permitting, I'd be there every week. Sadly, bad health has taken its toll, the details of which I won't bore you with, and I'm limited to one Disney trip every six years or so (in the wheelchair). But looking at your pictures lets me live vicariously through you and feel like I'm at my favorite place in the world almost every month. Thanks so much, Jen! You have no idea what your site means to me! :)

  16. My husband and I are going to Disney this fall- just the two of us. He doesn't really care for parades, and I've seen several there already, so I wasn't planning to look out for this one either. I may have to change my mind for this. It looks amazing, and your pictures are beautiful!

  17. I totally want that crow costume for LARPing in...

  18. Hey Jen, I don't know if others have mentioned this, but for the last few days (weeks?) the photos on your posts are taking ages to load! Are you using larger image files than you used to? I don't know enough to know if it could be a bug with the blog site/system, but it's only happening on this page (for me).


  19. I don't know if anyone else, noticed/mentioned it, but the way Donald and Daisy are dressed is how they are portrayed in the art my Romero Britto. He is all about patterns and bright colours and if you look at Daisy's hair bow and Donald's feet, there is where is confirmed it for me. Google his stuff to see what I mean! :)

  20. Wahooo! My friend Beth is the fairy in the orange and yellow dress! I don't know which one that is...Fauna maybe? Either way, I always get excited when I see people I know on your blog! :-)

  21. Did they take out the chimney sweeps? They have always been my favorite part of the Disney parades!

  22. All the female actors and characters look like drag queens.

  23. Thanks for posting these, I love the costuming and colors.

  24. The photos are AMAZING! I'm thinking they should pay you for them. ;)

  25. Not sure if you use instagram, but the user jedipixie designed many of the costumes you love, including the circus tent girls! :)

    1. Hi there! JediPixie here - The costumes for Festival of Fantasy were designed by the lovely and talented Mirena Rada. I was the Costume Design Intern at Walt Disney World while the parade was being created and was lucky enough to work with Mirena and the rest of the team. I'm so thrilled to have been just a small part of the parade and being able to learn from Mirena was a once in a lifetime experience!


Please be respectful when commenting; dissenting opinions are great, but personal attacks or hateful remarks will be removed. Also, including a link? Then here's your html cheat sheet: <a href="LINK ADDRESS">YOUR TEXT</a>