All the way from Scotland, Disney’s newest princess Merida began meeting and greeting with guests at the Magic Kingdom alongside three mischievous bear cub buddies, all from the upcoming Pixar film “Brave.”
Though not officially open until next week, the new Walt Disney World play-and-greet experience is located just to the right of Cinderella Castle inside Fairytale Garden, not only featuring a photo opportunity with Merida and the baby bears but also a chance to learn a few archery skills and color.
Video: First Look: Merida “Brave” meet-and-greet at the Magic Kingdom
With bagpipe music playing, guests enter Fairytale Garden on the border between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland and make a choice between two lines, one wrapping around to meet Merida and the three bears and the other passing around a large table for coloring, followed by a quick archery lesson taught by kilt-wearing Walt Disney World cast members.
The meet-and-greet side takes guests past artwork, tapestries, and artifacts reminiscent of the movie “Brave,” featuring characters that fans will soon meet on the big screen.
With a not-so-thick Scottish accent, vibrant curly red hair, and a flowing green dress, Merida greets each guest with a smile, though her bow is never far away.
Behind her, animated bear cubs try their best to become the center of attention, smiling for photos, turning their heads, blinking, and audibly laughing. Though Merida is always quick to pose for a photo, the cubs are indeed mischievous and occasionally look away or close their eyes instead of smiling big for the camera.
Before and/or after the meet-and-greet, guests can use crayons to color a picture of Merida riding her horse.
Afterward, an archery lesson gives guests of all ages a chance to learn Merida’s best skill, shooting a soft, padded arrow at a large bullseye target a few feet away, with guidance from a cast member.
The cast member asks which hand is the guest’s “coloring hand” and then instructs on how to properly hold the bow. It’s rare Disney theme park guests are encouraged to shoot a projectile within the parks, but this experience is perfectly safe, with young kids becoming quite proficient at shooting arrows after just a short lesson.
Naturally, outside Fairytale Garden, a merchandise cart has been set up selling plenty of items from “Brave,” including plush characters and, yes, bow-and-arrow sets.
The new Merida meet-and-greet officially opens on Friday, May 18, 2012, at the Magic Kingdom, though unscheduled soft openings are set to continue between now and then. Disney/Pixar’s “Brave” hits U.S. theaters June 22, 2012.
More photos from the “Brave” Merida meet-and-greet at the Magic Kingdom: