A Little Context
The Festival of Pirates and Princesses made its debut in 2018 in the Spring season at Disneyland Paris, many fans were very skeptical before its launch as it was replacing the fan favourite Swing Into Spring Season coupled with confirmation that the season would be reusing old floats from Magic on Parade a lot of fans really weren’t sure what to make of it all.
Then we were introduced to Betty Rose and Jimmy Ocean in a series of videos released by Disneyland Paris on YouTube in which we were taught two different dances. Betty and Jimmy were brand new characters and we instantly fell in love them. Betty as an expert on all things princess heads up Team Princess with Mickey and the Disney Princesses and Jimmy, a swash buckling pirate heads up Team Pirate with Minnie, Hook, Mr Smee, Peter, Wendy and Jake The Neverland Pirate.
Then the day came the music started and the parade floats rolled down Main Street and Fantasyland stopping at the Castle Stage and half way down Main Street for the first show stop.
Fans had heard that Pirates and Princesses was actually just meant to be only a one off season to fill in the gap they had in spring and wasn’t meant to return but the satisfaction was so high and there was so much love for Betty and Jimmy that the higher ups were scrambling to work out how to bring the season back. This sounds like it should be simple just put it back on same time same place but there’s was just a slight problem, the calendar for 2019 was already set. So the decision was made to run in Pirates and Princesses from January to March in Disneyland Park while Legends of The Force runs in Walt Disney Studios. This was not the ideal time to run the season due to the risk of the weather but it really was the only time it could be fit in.
But before Betty and Jimmy came back for round two of Pirates and Princesses they make a special guest appearance in the Surprise Mickey show at Walt Disney Studios Park as part of the Mickey90 celebrations taking at the resort helping Minnie prepare Mickey’s birthday surprise. Disneyland Paris have stated that Betty and Jimmy are here to stay and will be returning again even after Pirates and Princesses.
Pirates and Princesses 2019
The stage was set and ready at the castle stage, It was a clear blue sky but it was freezing cold as soon as the music started the cold just instantly disappeared and out came Prince Mickey and Betty Rose with Team Princesses! The Princess show on Castle Stage was much the same as last year with Betty Rose leading Mickey and The Princesses in song and dance helping guest to find their inner power that is princess power. A big change to the show however is Ariel has grown legs and joins the rest of the princesses on the stage instead of being stuck in her car. Another change is the outfits for the show have been adapted to be warmer in order to suit the cold weather.
After the Castle stage show concluded it was time for the dash to the hub for the show stop on central plaza. Choose your side, Team Pirates or Team Princesses? Obviously Team Princesses won and straight to Betty Roses podium. Another change here is who’s with who now on the podiums. Betty now is joined by the classic princesses of Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora and Ariel and Mickey is joined by the newer Princesses, Jasmin, Tiana, Merida and Moana. Over on the other side of the hub the pirates stages remain the same with Jimmy Ocean being joined by Peter, Wendy, Captain Hook and Mr Smee and Minnie being joined by Jake The Neverland Pirate and a few of the pirates.
The hub was absolutely packed and the atmosphere was electric, everyone was there to see this show and it did not disappoint Pirates and Princesses were back!
As the season went on the wet and cold weather did take its toll on the season as there were numerous show stops on the hub cancelled or full days where the whole show was cancelled all together as the weather improved into March the shows began to run a lot smoother but it does beg the question as to why it didn’t start in March for the Spring Season as there is currently no seasonal entertainment happening at Disneyland Park.
Pirates & Princesses AP Night
As the Festival of Pirates and Princesses was getting close the the end it was announced that the weekend after the end of the season Disneyland Paris would host a Pirates & Princesses AP night to close the season with a bang. This would be the 2nd AP night held in Disneyland Park and while there were a few issues with logistics on getting everyone into the park overall the whole night was a lot of fun.
Entry & Atmosphere
Upon entering the park guests were greeted by Violet Rose (Betty’s Cousin) and Silver Ocean (Jimmy’s first mate) who were on the balcony at Main Street Station encouraging guests to choice their side Team Pirates to the left, Team Princesses to to right. Going under the station guests were given their free gift which was a tote bag with different designs and colours depending on if you picked Pirates or Princesses along with a rolled up park map and program bound with a seal with the Pirates and Princesses logo on it.
At the hub the Castle was illuminated with a special projections with splashes of colour and waves animations. The music loops of the lands were also replaces by music from films of pirates and princesses and guests were encourages to dress up for the evening which resulted in some spectacular costumes which all added to the atmosphere of the evening.
Character Meet & Greets
Character Meet & Greets are always one of the main draws of AP nights and this one did did not disappoint which a massive line up of characters, over 30 were meeting guests. With the theme of the night being Pirates & Princesses there was pretty much every Princess and related characters out with the most popular of the night being Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather meeting together as face characters and Belle meeting with Beast. On the Pirates side Jim Hawkings made a rare appearance and Captain Jack Sparrow was meeting with Angelica.
Other notable characters that were meeting on the night were Minnie in her pirate outfit from the show, meeting near the Pirate Gallon and Mickey in his Prince outfit from the show who was meeting in Meet Mickey. Jake The Neverland pirate was also meeting and Anna & Elsa were meeting together which is always a rarity at Disneyland Paris resulting in massive queues.
Shows & Parades
Along with the Meet & Greets there was numerous shows though out the night including a return of the Starlight Princess Waltz on the Castle Stage and Minnies Pirate Academy in Videopolis.
The Starlight Princess Waltz was a fan favourite that many people were happy to see again on the night as its a beautiful show to see especially at night with the castle stage light up. Minnies Pirate Academy made a return, the show was originally in the halloween season in 2014/15. The show was fun full of interactive elements with Minnie and Clarice teaching gusts the steps oh how to be a pirate and ending with a pirate rave. Full of energy and super enjoyable and a highlight of the evening.
Though out the evening the Pirates and Princesses each took turn to parade thought the park and do their show stops on the castle stage and in main street this was a nice idea for the night as it gave guests a chance to see the shows at each point if they wanted as usually it has always been a choice between seeing the show stops or the hub show.
Make Your Choice: The Final Confrontation
As the night was coming to an end there was one final show Make Your Choice: The Final Confrontation between Betty Rose with Team Princesses and Jimmy Ocean with Team Pirates. The Hub was absolutely packed with everyone taking their positions to be either on Team Princess or Team Pirates then the parade music started and everyone just burst into life singing along as Betty and Jimmy came rolling in on their floats and then taking positions on their podiums for the final confrontation. The atmosphere was electric with the stages light up and the addition of projections on the castle, pyrotechnics and fountains just added to it.
Everyone who was there really got into the show singing along and dancing along and from nowhere banners appeared saying Pirates & Princesses 2020 a sign of just how much the season is loved by fans and how much they want it to return in 2020. The floats rolled away with fans chanting for Betty and Jimmy and disappeared down Main Street and into Fantasyland and with that the show was over and the night had come to an end.
Overall the night was an absolute joy from start to finish with a massive line up for everyone to enjoy. Plenty of characters out many had very managed queues lots of entertainment with multiple shows though out the night and the final make your choice show as well as attractions open all night with little to no wait times. The only criticism would be the lack of dining options available and in the last hours of the night no restaurants were open at all.
Disneyland Paris continues to go from strength to strength with its AP nights and hopefully will continue to offer unique experiences for the next AP night.