Written by Robert Niles
Published: July 28, 2005 at 6:55 PM
Optimists with a love for cliché insist money cannot buy happiness. Whatever. But for the load of cash you'll drop here you get 90 minutes of unrelenting good cheer -- enough to make even the most cynical youngster deliriously giddy.
TPI kids Natalie and Brian Niles joined their grandmother at the party this morning, as a thank you for participating in their aunt's wedding this weekend. Not content with two hours of parental freedom, I shoved a camera at the trio and made them promise a full report for TPI, too.
At these prices, the Princess Tea Party can't be a casual affair even for those who can afford the indulgence. You'll find no kids in T-shirts and flip flops here. Instead, a platoon of coiffed and costumed princesses-in-training descend upon the Grand Floridian's Garden View Tea Lounge. Many opt for Disney-branded princess gowns, but a few go their own way, donning velvet capes, and in one case, a flowing blonde wig.
Too many, however, chose fancy plastic shoes for the occasion, leading to the often-heard cry, “Ow, my feet, Mommy, my feet!”
The morning's hostess, Rose Petal, greets each child as she enters with a sprinkle of, well, rose petals, and a tiara for the girls to wear. (Unless, of course, the little guest brought her own. Many do.) Waitresses then escort parents and daughters to their tables.
Yes, this is pretty much a girls-only event. Brian, bless his heart, was the only boy in attendance, gamely playing along even though he demurred an invitation to portray Prince Charming during story time.
At each place setting, the girls find an 18-inch Princess Aurora doll to take home (Brian got a Disney Teddy Bear), along with a personalized place card and a bracelet.
Each child gets her own pot of Apple “tea” (juice, in reality), which the waitresses cheerfully show the kids how to pour through strainers into their china cups.
With the tea, children are served a plate of heart-cut peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, along with a crustless ham and cheese sandwich and a serving of grapes.
Adults dine upon a selection of cheeses, including smoked cheddar and a bleu cheese barquette. Egg and salmon salad sandwiches, along with grapes and lavosh, complete the plate.
After the meal, hostesses present the Princess Cake, a white cake with a light pink frosting and strawberry filling.
Each guest is served a hefty slab of the cake before Princess Aurora arrives for story time. Rose Petal and Aurora tell the story of the Sleeping Beauty, inviting the kids to join in and act along, even getting their new princess dolls into the story at one point.
Live piano music and singing follows, as Aurora makes her way around the tables, presenting each child with a real pink rose. She lingers to chat with each child, often asking them to name their favorite princess. Most, captivated by the moment, eagerly respond “Aurora!” Natalie, having inherited her father's crack sense of sarcasm, chirped... “Leia!”
But the flowers, the sunshine, the music and the stories of magic swept even Natalie into the moment, and by the end of the 90-minute program she was waltzing with her grandmother around the room.
At the conclusion of the event, guests are directed upstairs to a gift shop (natch), where cheerful cast members present each child with a customized “Best Friends” certificate with their name and that of their new doll, along with a package of scrapbooking materials and a bag to carry home all the loot.
Despite the hefty cost, the daily event sells out quickly. If you'd like to go, call (407) WDW-DINE [(407) 939-6397] exactly 90 days before the date you wish to attend. “My Disney Girl's Perfectly Princess Tea Party” costs $200 for one adult and one child, plus tax and tip, with an extra charge of $65 for each additional adult and $135 for each additional child. Yep, the kids cost more than the adults. But it is their show.