On Saturday, February 1, Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings held their 2020 wedding showcase at Disneyland. Like its Walt Disney World counterpart, this one featured venue tours, food and cake samples, tablescapes, display cakes, vendor booths and the chance to talk with Disney sales consultants and event planners. They also had photo ops with characters and an extra-cost evening event featuring a cake decorating demo, a menu planning experience and a surprise viewing of World of Color from a reserved location.
Tickets cost $40. Registration started at 1pm, and the showcase ran from 2pm to 5pm. There was a self-guided tour of the wedding venues at the Disneyland Hotel, but they offered guided tours of the venues at the Grand Californian and Paradise Pier at 1pm and 3pm. You had to sign up for these in advance, and I decided to skip them because I thought they’d take too much time away from the wedding showcase. As it turned out, we probably could have done one of these tours and still had plenty of time to see everything on the show floor.
At registration they gave each of us a Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings bag, a lanyard with the show itinerary on the back of our name badge, a USB drive containing venue pricing and photos, one drink ticket, a raffle ticket, and a coupon for a gift in the store. That turned out to be a mesh bag containing an enamel Cinderella’s Glass Coach pin, a Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings button, a luggage tag and a Mickey Krispy.
In an attempt to avoid crowds, we toured the venues first before tackling the show floor. Interestingly, Disneyland’s showcase confined all the floral and decor to the venues on the tour—there were no tablescapes set up on the show floor. But this turned out to be a genius idea, because at Walt Disney World’s showcase, the tables are always blocked by huge lines for the food samples.
Wedding Venues + Floral & Decor
Our first stop was the Adventure Lawn at the Disneyland Hotel. There are two venues here: the tiny Adventure Lawn Gazebo and the Adventure Lawn itself.
Adventure Lawn Gazebo
Rose Court Garden
This spot is kind of like the Wedding Pavilion at Walt Disney World—everybody wants it! After seeing it in so many photos, I was surprised to realize that the lawn here is fake.
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Disney parked Cinderella’s (other) Glass Coach just outside the Rose Court Garden as a photo op. Later in the day, the Major Domo showed up to further enhance guests’ pictures!
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None of the rest of the outdoor venues were decorated, but here they are anyway!
This lawn… also fake!
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Magic Kingdom Lawn
Over at Disney’s Grand Californian, we shot photos of the Wedding Garden and Parkview Terrace.
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Back at the Disneyland Hotel, there were two indoor reception spaces set up. These doubled as the locations for the cocktail hour and reception for the extra-ticket event later that night.
Sleeping Beauty Pavilion
It was exciting to find out we’d be coming back here later that night for the menu-planning experience. Check out the faux boxwood wall with hanging Champagne flutes. These were actually “escort cards” for our dinner that night—they put a name in each glass!
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Magic Kingdom Ballroom 1 (East)
This is where we had our cocktail hour later that evening. I chatted with the floral designers who did this room. These are what they call “premium flower” floral arrangements—meaning flowers that are a little more exotic, with a price to match. However, prices seemed in line with Walt Disney World’s: $75ish for the small arrangements on the cocktail tables, $200ish for the larger arrangements on the round tables, and $300+ for the huge eucalyptus bowers.
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The Grand Ballroom was still pretty crowded when we got there. But I thought it was really smart to confine all the tasting stations to the sunken area in the center, which kept the lines from blocking access to the vendor booths.
Interestingly, there were only 4 1/2 wedding cakes on display: one in each of the reception venues, one on stage in the main ballroom next to the projection-mapping cake, and then a half-finished cake in the extra-ticket cake demo.
I was surprised to see how close the projector was to the projection-mapping cake. Supposedly it doesn’t have to be that close at a real reception, and they do have ways to better disguise it. But some of them involve costly rigging to suspend it from the ceiling!
Here’s the Mary Poppins “Step in Time” loop with a bit of Cinderella at the beginning…
Here’s the Sorcerer’s Apprentice loop…
And here are the Aladdin and Cinderella loops…
And here’s the full list of projections you can choose from—they have a ton now!
Here’s the cake they had on display in the Sleeping Beauty Pavilion.
And the one on display in the Magic Kingdom Ballroom East (or 1 & 2, depending on what we were reading)…
And here’s the cake that the pastry chef was working on during the demo later that night.
They also had cake samples to try and, although they weren’t the full-sized pieces Disneyland’s showcase handed out last year, they were still bigger than the teeny slivers handed out at Walt Disney World’s last showcase. Plus they had some of Disneyland’s (bland Chantilly) buttercream on them so you could see how it tasted with the filling.
This year’s cake samples were Dole Whip and Churro. I was bummed not to get to try the cotton candy cake flavor that took last year’s showcase by storm!
As I mentioned, Disney cleverly kept all the food sample stations corralled in the sunken center of the ballroom, with plenty of room for the snaking lines to twist around the center area without blocking any displays or booths.
Risotto a la Parmagiano
At the menu tasting experience, we learned from the Disneyland Hotel’s executive chef that this is the first time they’ve tried serving risotto straight from a giant wheel of cheese!
Impossible Meatball with Red Wine Marinara (Vegan)
Scallop with Bacon
Here’s a specialty cocktail they had for sale at the bar…
Character Meet & Greet
I thought this was a great touch and something Disney should add to the Walt Disney World bridal showcase. In the lobby they’d set up a backdrop where you could have your photo taken with Donald and Daisy and, later, Mickey and Minnie.
Interestingly, at Disneyland you are required to use this photo backdrop with ANY Disney character, whereas at Walt Disney World, you can have the Fab Five roam freely at your reception.
Disneyland allows you to use outside vendors for basically anything but food, so there were quite a number of outside photographers, videographers, officiants, cosmetologists and entertainers set up at booths ringing the Grand Ballroom.
Patrick’s favorite was the Selfie X Media booth that lets you make a spectacular fool of yourself in a 360-degree video, complete with crazy props and costumes—this being the best:
Here’s the finished product…
And here’s what it looks like when you’re making it!
There was also a Magic Mirror Selfie Booth setup, with a free photo! The screen displays all the steps to walk your guests through the process.
At 4:30 pm they raffled off these gift bags. We did not win.
Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings Merchandise
Patrick carefully photographed every single item in the shop for you guys. According to one of the cast members, they hope to have most of this stuff at the Walt Disney World bridal showcase in March.
Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings Engagement & Wedding Rings
At Disneyland Bridal Showcase, Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings debuted their first-ever branded collection of wedding and engagement rings, made by Stuller Fine Jewelry. Each ring features subtle Disney details like Hidden Mickeys, Cinderella’s Glass Coach, castles and crowns in white or yellow gold. Prices depend on the size of the center stone and range from $1,200 to $12,000.
The rings will be available inside the parks and at ShopDisney.com in two to three months, with a four-week production period after you place your order. Eventually, Disney hopes to have stock on hand at the jewelry shop on Main Street, U.S.A. in Walt Disney World and Disneyland for spontaneous proposals.
It was difficult to capture the detail with my phone, so I also shot the photos they had at the bridal showcase booth. If you’re planning to attend the Walt Disney World Bridal Showcase in March, it’s likely they’ll have these on display there too!
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Food & Beverage Menu Planning Experience
For an extra $150/person, attendees could sign up for an evening experience that included a cake demonstration, a pre-reception and a menu-planning experience. This was similar to the menu-planning event offered at the Walt Disney World Bridal Showcase in 2014, but much improved.
This half-baked event (ba-da-bing!) was the only misfire of the day. We expected a theater-style presentation with a pastry chef working onstage and maybe another presenter with a PowerPoint with samples of different decorating techniques, information about how cakes are priced, and inspiration photos of past Disneyland wedding cakes. Instead we got a guy sitting in an empty room poking dragées into an almost-finished cake.
When Disney opened the doors with great fanfare at 5:15 pm, we all rushed in and then stopped short, confused about what was happening. There were no chairs. There was no presenter. There was no decor. Just a guy and a fake cake. He even said something that made it sound like he’d been pressed into service at the last second, so maybe there had originally been something else planned…?
To his credit, the pastry chef had interesting answers to the interesting questions, but with no microphone and no prepared presentation, everything depended on the quality of the questions we asked him. And there are only so many “What’s your favorite [fill in the blank]?” we could think of!
After about 20 minutes of shifting uncomfortably on their feet, people started to drift out. But there was a small group of us who felt guilty about walking out right in front of the guy who was working so hard to make dragée-poking interesting, so we stuck it out for the full 45 minutes.
For information on how Walt Disney World prices and creates wedding cakes, check out this interview with a Grand Floridian Wedding Cakes Team member!
Pre-Reception in Magic Kingdom East Ballroom
Next they ushered us back into the beautifully appointed East Ballroom, where we milled around for a few minutes until someone was brave enough to sit down at one of the pristine tables and then we all did.
Servers passed appetizers, including a salmon-y thing….
…. And a bulgogi (maybe?) thing!
Mickey and Minnie showed up for a photo op, which was a nice touch. All day, Patrick had the misfortune to turn up just as the characters were leaving, so he finally got a chance for some photos at the pre-reception.
Longtime listeners to the Disney Wedding Podcast will know that I consider pre-receptions THE most boring part of any wedding, and this was a textbook pre-reception! However, we weren’t bored for long because veteran Wedding Sales Manager Sue Romano sat down at our table and began to regale us with fascinating anecdotes from her storied career with Disney. It was also a great opportunity for others at the table to ask questions about planning Disney weddings.
Menu-Planning Experience in the Sleeping Beauty Pavilion
At last it was time for our dinner back in the Sleeping Beauty Pavilion! It was thrilling to get to actually sit and eat at the beautiful tables Disney’s floral team had set up.
Our escort cards were swirling in glasses of Champagne at the boxwood wall by the entrance.
Disney did something really smart when they assigned a Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings cast member to sit at each table. At the last few bridal showcases, I’ve ended up answering a bunch of questions from the people seated with me at the various extra-cost events. This time, guests got a chance to really get to know the DFTW cast member seated at their table and ask all the questions they had after a day of learning about Disney weddings.
Another smart move was having the head chef explain each dish before it was presented, including why he chose it and how he created it.
Creamy Sunchoke Soup
Crispy Sunchoke Chip, American Sturgeon Caviar
This was my favorite thing of the whole night!
Roasted Butternut Squash Salad
Endive, Rocket Arugula, Frisée & Whipped Goat Cheese; Champagne Vinaigrette
Possibly the most beautiful salad I have ever picked at!
Bread needs no explanation…
Meyer Lemon, Thyme Sorbet
I was SUPER excited about the light-up Cinderella slipper ice sculpture with sorbet because I know how much it costs ($42 per guest!!!) and know it’s always the first thing to go when it comes time to whittle down the BEO.
Roasted Cut Ribeye Medallion & Citrus-Marinated Carabineros Shrimp
Sautéed Caulilini, Romanesco, White Bean Chorizo Cassoulet, Tempranillo Demi
(a.k.a., Surf ‘n’ Turf!)
Mascarpone Mousse with Caramelized Apricots and Vanilla Sponge
White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Blueberry Jelly
Dark Chocolate Mousee With a Cherry Compote and Dulce de Leche Crunch
(a.k.a., Where the Mickey Bars at?)
We were all still figuring out how to eat the swoopy curly thing in the center when it was announced that we’d be escorted to a private viewing area of World of Color at Disney’s California Adventure in five minutes!
We’ve gotten to attend lots of private events at Walt Disney World, but this was our first time following event guides at Disneyland, and they were booking!
We were led to the section just behind the splash/mist zone pretty much in the center of the viewing area. Some of the other attendees ducked into the rows further back, but we didn’t end up getting wet or anything, and it was a great, close view of the show!
World of Color is one of those nighttime spectaculars where you will miss half the show and make yourself crazy if you spent the whole time trying to get the perfect shot. It’s better just to shoot the heck outta the colored fountains of the post show, so here are approx. 1 bazillion photos of that:
I thought this was another really smart move on DFTW’s part because it gave couples the chance to see what it would be like for guests if they added a World of Color viewing to their Disneyland wedding. And it kind of took the sting out of the $150 ticket price for the extra event at the wedding showcase.
So, I know everyone always asks “Is it worth attending Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings’ bridal showcase?” I would say Disneyland’s is definitely worth it—especially since so many of the couples are local or at least on the West Coast, so travel isn’t as much of a burden. I also ran into a surprising number of couples who were planning Walt Disney World weddings but came to the Disneyland showcase just to check things out. (One caveat: Many of the policies and prices differ between Disneyland and Walt Disney World weddings.) I think just the opportunity to talk to a sales consultant or event planner in person is worth the $40 showcase admission, and getting to see floral and decor and taste cake and food is even better.