REVIEW: Tiana’s Riverboat Party at the Magic Kingdom Offers Distant Parade Viewing & Character Encounters
The special add-on event, Tiana’s Riverboat Party at the Magic Kingdom, started operation today and we were on-hand to check it out. The event promises guests a selection of various ice cream and snacks, meet and greet opportunities with both Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen, a ride on the Liberty Belle Riverboat, and special viewing of the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade at 3PM for $49.00 per adult, $29.00 per child.
The event greatly reduces the operating hours of the Liberty Belle riverboat in liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom. Every afternoon guests will see that the riverboat will be down for three hours total to accommodate this event.
Event check-in is set to begin at 2:15, but can begin anytime in the 15 minutes before that if the set-up for the event is done.
Rather than utilizing wristbands, this event uses stickers that guests wear to gain admittance to the event upon checking in.
The event begins on the boat landing for the first half hour or so. Here guests can find a selection of ice cream, a dessert trio, and ice cream toppings station, and a drink station, as well as their first chance to meet Tiana and Naveen.
The dessert trio is for some reason also listed at the adjacent ice cream station, even though it has a space of its own.
The lilly-pad displays and tables are a really nice touch, I’m happy to see some thought go into this event.
A selection of canned soft drinks, bottled water, and lemonade is available on the dock.
The dessert trio is pretty adorable and shows a fair amount of effort on Disney’s part to make this special and highly-themed to the Princess and the Frog characters.
I personally loved the chocolate cookie sandwich.
The yellow sponge cupcake was nothing special, but it was delicious.
I even really enjoyed the creme filled tart. Honestly, the dessert trip goes three for three in my book, it’s pretty perfect.
It is hard to mess up ice cream and Disney doesn’t at this event. The toppings bar is fun and kids of all ages will enjoy the freedom to eat endless ice cream with as much of any topping as they might want.
Rather than signing autographs, the now customary autograph cards are handed out for Tiana and Naveen at this event, even though guests likely paid to have a normal meet and greet with these characters. That being said, the line was never unreasonable to meet the characters due to the restricted attendance at this event, so I don’t see why they couldn’t sign.
You can first meet Tiana and Naveen on the dock while enjoying some snacks. They do leave once the boat is finally boarded. The cast members did a nice job of going around and making sure everyone got to chance to meet them before heading onboard.
The dock itself had very few tables available and was a bit cramped, but guests made it work. Onboard the Riverboat has the opposite problem, so I’m not really sure what the answer is. I wouldn’t say the event was overcrowded as the meet and greet, nor the food and drink stations ever really had a line.
While there are no tables on board, it is really neat to see snacks and drinks still served, especially out of the actual bar onboard the Liberty Belle Riverboat. Who knows the last time this was actually used? I think it was converted to a life jacket storage space sometime in more recent history.
The selection onboard is pretty solid and you are free to get as much as you like, even if you just want to fill your bag with snacks for later. Just remember there is no restroom on-board the boat and you can’t get off until the Parade and the full trip around is over…
The themed elements continue on board, which is neat.
The candy popcorn is fun, and it tastes good too!
There is also regular popcorn available, which is the stuff you will find around the parks at the various carts.
The cotton candy was flavorless, and yes, I forgot to take a pic of it until we got to the car…
Alright, here is where the event falls apart: the actual viewing of the Festival of Fantasy Parade. Once everyone is onboard, the boat pulls out of the station and forward just enough for parade viewing.
If you have a really nice DSLR camera, this will offer some high angle pictures you may enjoy, but it’s not gonna be easy. I didn’t focus on pics as I wasn’t sure that video had ever been recorded of the parade from on top of the Liberty Belle Riverboat, at least not in a stationary position. I can now see why. The view was really bad. How bad? Check out our video below:
We stood on the top level for the parade, but I can’t imagine that the lower levels would be any better. How could they be?
After parade viewing, the boat backs up so Naveen and Tiana can get onboard, fresh from their appearance in the parade.
We discovered yet another snack station on the bottom floor.
Once they get on-board, Tiana and Naveen lead a parade around the bottom level of the boat. The parade lasts one loop and seemed rather uncoordinated for today’s first run. Other than the little girl who got to hold Tiana’s hand (and was photographed by PhotoPass, I’m not sure this benefitted anyone else.
After that, they host another meet and greet on the front of the boat, which can be really cool if you time it right (Tom Sawyer Island has some nice backgrounds, such as the windmill).
We now switch the Creeper-Cam® on the second level.
It is kind of nice to have a mostly empty Riverboat, affording you to opportunity to freely roam and get some great shots.
While Tiana and Naveen are on the boat, the remainder of the ship is like a ghost town.
As you can see, I timed my greeting poorly and got the “Devil’s Elbow” sign in the background… at a side view… Regardless, meeting these two on a riverboat is really, really cool.
I also have a video overview of the food, meet and greets and more that you may enjoy:
Overall, this event is a neat idea, but poorly executed. The Festival of Fantasy Parade viewing is a joke and there is no way this can be valued at $49.00 per adult, $29.00 for kids. The treats are good, the themed elements are fun, and the character interactions are great, but I just don’t know how you sell this as parade viewing.
The little girl next to me started to cry when the parade was over, upset because she felt like she had still not seen the parade. Her parents promised here they would go see it later in their trip. Also, the bevy of Magic Kingdom managers on-baord clearly had not seen what the view would be like, and I even overheard them talking about how to deal with it. Sorry guys, maybe don’t sell this until you can guarantee guests an experience worth their time and money. Also, I’m not sure ripping trees down in Liberty Square is the answer…
This event can be fixed, I would suggest they just make a viewing area in Liberty Square for these guests and then just walk them onto the Riverboat after the parade is over. Problem solved. I understand the concept of watching the parade from the Riverboat is cool, but it just doesn’t actually work.
Otherwise the event is fun, and if “The Princess and the Frog” is the favorite movie of you or someone in your family, I think you will enjoy this with expectations based on what you read in this review. Tiana’s Riverboat Party needs some work, but it has a good foundations, it’s just a shame people have to pay $49.00 for this in its current incarnation.