Walt Disney World rolled out the red carpet to show off the latest elaborate costume creations for their upcoming Festival of Fantasy parade, debuting next month. With a backdrop of three of the new giant-sized floats, Disney sent parade performers walking the “catwalk” backstage behind the Magic Kingdom to unveil costumes inspired by films including “The Little Mermaid,” “Peter Pan,” “Tangled,” “Brave,” “Pinocchio,” and more.
Jansen Dupuis, costumer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, describes the Festival of Fantasy parade as “classic meets new modern fun” featuring designs that are recognizable in character, but with a contemporary twist. Peter Pan’s Lost Boys become Newsies while Maleficent gets a steampunk makeover. It took the talents of many Disney designers collaborating with vendors of various skills worldwide to create the elaborate outfits that will soon be seen daily at the Magic Kingdom.
Video: Festival of Fantasy parade costume highlights at Walt Disney World
Video: Full Festival of Fantasy parade fashion show debuting costumes
It’s clear these costumes were designed for the daylight, with many translucent, sparkling, shimmering, and pearlescent materials catching the sun’s rays, appearing to glow. The new designs will span across all performers, from characters inspired by elements from Disney’s famous films to the most famous characters themselves, including Ariel, Peter Pan, Captain Hook, Tinker Bell, Merida, Rapunzel, Flynn Rider, along with Mickey, Minnie, Chip, Dale, and other classics. Naturally, the Disney Princesses will be present too, including the newest animated royalty Anna and Elsa from “Frozen” joined by Belle, Cinderella, and many others – all atop a float more than 50 feet long. And it all concludes with a massive finale unit featuring several more eclectic designs.
A cast of more than 100 performers will make the Festival of Fantasy parade come to life, with 40 additional characters presented in animated or sculptural form on the floats themselves.
The steampunk style of the “Sleeping Beauty” unit made for a particular challenge when creating costumes, including moving parts and other surprises. “The raven costume was the biggest challenge for me as the costumer,” said Dupuis. “To really incorporate soft goods with hard goods with a moving parts costume was a challenge but also really fun.” 3D printing technology was used to create the raven’s beak. A thorn-inspired stilt walker will also tower over guests’ heads, a would-be menacing sight if it wasn’t for the 26-foot tall, 53-foot long Maleficent dragon that will be among the most impressive sights.
According to Senior Show Director Randy Wojcik, the dragon will flap its wings, move its head and neck, and breath smoke and real fire. “It really is going to feel like a living, breathing creature out there on the parade route,” said Wojcik.
Many of the floats will have kinetic elements, such as firing canons and a rocking Jolly Roger ship atop the “Peter Pan” float. Wojcik likens these new floats to elaborate Broadway sets moving through the Magic Kingdom streets.
Video: Festival of Fantasy parade floats up close backstage at Walt Disney World
After so many years of rerunning variations of the same daytime parade, Disney’s goal with creating Festival of Fantasy was to “celebrate all things Fantasyland,” explained Wojcik. “We always want to raise the bar and get it right and it was just a perfect storm in a good way. It was just the right time to debut a brand new daytime parade in the Magic Kingdom.”
But Festival of Fantasy isn’t quite ready yet, with no specific debut date set. “We’re still going through quite a few challenges as we launch into opening day in March,” said Wojcik. But when it does premiere, guests are sure to walk away impressed, likely humming the all-new soundtrack created for this show. “What I love about this brand new soundtrack is it’s never been heard in any other park before and it really is going to give the Magic Kingdom and this new parade its own voice.”
More photos from the Festival of Fantasy parade preview at Walt Disney World: