REVIEW: Tiana’s Riverboat Party at the Magic Kingdom Offers Distant Parade Viewing & Character Encounters

REVIEW: Tiana's Riverboat Party at the Magic Kingdom Offers Distant Parade Viewing & Character Encounters
This post may contain affiliate links; please read the disclosure for more information.

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.

img_8541

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.

img_8560

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.

img_8561

Rather than utilizing wristbands, this event uses stickers that guests wear to gain admittance to the event upon checking in.

img_8562

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.

img_8566

The dessert selection is OK, but just ice cream and a dessert trio on the dock. Similar-style events have much bigger spreads, including the Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam Holiday Party and the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party, which are only slightly more expensive than this event.

img_8568

The dessert trio is for some reason also listed at the adjacent ice cream station, even though it has a space of its own.

img_8570

The lilly-pad displays and tables are a really nice touch, I’m happy to see some thought go into this event.

img_8572

A selection of canned soft drinks, bottled water, and lemonade is available on the dock.

img_8573

img_8577

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.

img_8578

I personally loved the chocolate cookie sandwich.

img_8579

The yellow sponge cupcake was nothing special, but it was delicious.

img_8580

I even really enjoyed the creme filled tart. Honestly, the dessert trip goes three for three in my book, it’s pretty perfect.

img_8581

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.

img_8599

img_8600

img_8587

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.

img_8588

img_8590

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.

img_8607

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.

img_8609

img_8611

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…

img_8612

The themed elements continue on board, which is neat.

img_8616

The candy popcorn is fun, and it tastes good too!

img_8620

There is also regular popcorn available, which is the stuff you will find around the parks at the various carts.

img_8672

The cotton candy was flavorless, and yes, I forgot to take a pic of it until we got to the car…

img_8625

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.

img_8630

I joked a lot leading up to this that if you squint really hard, you can see the parade. While that was meant to be a comedic exaggeration, this is not the place you want to see Festival of Fantasy from. As much as you may not want to eat at Tony’s Town Square Cafe, their Festival of Fantasy dining package will offer much better parade views (albeit with a menu that it is hard to squeak out a solid meal on). The parade music is also not played onboard the Riverboat.

img_8638

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.

img_8639

We discovered yet another snack station on the bottom floor.

img_8648

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.

img_8651

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).

img_8653

We now switch the Creeper-Cam® on the second level.

img_8654

It is kind of nice to have a mostly empty Riverboat, affording you to opportunity to freely roam and get some great shots.

img_8658

While Tiana and Naveen are on the boat, the remainder of the ship is like a ghost town.

img_8665

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.

I don’t know about you, but there are times when planning a Disney vacation can be overwhelming! There are so many options, where to stay, when to go, is this the best price. So, I want to introduce you all to Cindy Minor and the team at Small World Big Fun. They will help you plan your Disney vacation for FREE. Contact them today!

About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]

25 Comments

Click here to post a comment
  • Thank you so much for your review. I have this booked for our visit in a couple weeks and am so pleased to have an in-depth review. May have to rethink this one…over $200 for our family.

  • Tom, first off, thx for the reviews…my wife and I were talking about your review here and it dawned on us that we don’t see much in the way of “follow up” articles on add-on’s, etc. For instance, does Disney still offer the extra pay early entrance w rides and breakfast. Same for their after hours extra pay, extra magic hours??? How has it been received?? Is that worth it, etc.. I think you get my point. Granted Disney has loads of these now and keeping up on all of them would be near impossible w/o a “staff,” but it would be most informative to read about some of these. Personally, I’d love to hear how STK is doing, had Flying Fish ever gone back to any of their old menu items, The Morimoto-Smith progressive dinner.. how is that?? I’m really interested in how the monorail pot luck progressive dinner goes.. That one seems to have generated a lot of polarizing “opinions.”
    Thx.
    Frank

    • The morning paid extra hours is still available. They should kill it with fire if you ask me. The night paid extra hours are gone due to people, for once, seeing it as a ripoff. Still, someone thinks is a good idea to bring it back even thought they had to literally give away the tickets they had because no one was buying.

      And the monorail thing should also be killed with fire. If you really have money, get a bungalow at the Polynesian and throw yourself a party. Stop salivating about taking away the spot people use to watch their fireworks in peace for free.

      • The morning hours events are generally better received. You get a substantial breakfast and a good head start on several rides, so I have seen many positive reviews. I stillthink its too expesive for what it is. But those that have paid found good value even if the main thing was getting six rides on Toy Story Mania or Seven Dwarves Mine Train.

    • Frank,

      Sadly, there just isn’t enough time in the day or money in the budget to review absolutely everything, so we do have to choose.

      I will say that Extra Morning Magic is overwhelmingly liked by guests who do it. The Disney After Hours event on the other hand is no longer offered.

      As far as STK, we plunked quite a bit into those first two reviews of it and the lack of interest in the restaurant since then has kind of kept us away from it.

      We may do the monorail dinner thing in January, but I’m not sure at this point.

  • It just landed on me (pun intended). Disney decided to replace all Imagineers with caterers. Hell of an idea. They should promote the executive that had this awesome cost cutting idea.

  • $49 for a sugar overload and a terrible parade view. The willingness of suckers to throw their money away because it’s Disney will never cease to amaze me.

  • Thanks for the review. Attempted to cancel immediately after reading only to receive message “cannot be cancelled online.” Went on the app and two clicks later it was sent off to Tom Sawyer Island never to return.

  • Thank you for your honest review. Don’t think I will be partaking in its current form. Sounds like a great idea, but falls flat. I just wish Disney would think about all these things ahead of time. I know Disney means well but they have seeming to fall short in everything they do in the year or so. They keep announcing all these events and don’t deliver on the goods. Disney you can do better, please work out the kinks for us.

    • You say “Disney Means Well”. Disney doesn’t give a crap about their guests. If people sucker in to this, it’s ‘buyer beware’.

  • That is why it is only $49. They knew you would not be able to see the parade. Anyone who has ever ridden the riverboat knows that. It is $49 for the snacks and “exclusive” opportunity. People clearly are willing and able to pay for these experiences they think will “plus” their trip, or make them feel special. People seem willing to pay for any and all “extra charge” events WDW dreams up, and rush to book it before it sells out. If it was good viewing, it would be double the price, or more.

    • That’s fine, but don’t bill it as “parade” viewing. I have ridden the riverboat many times but never during the parade so I never really gave it a thought in relation to that, but you think Disney would have put a little more thought into how they were going to bill this experience. It will be interesting to see if they will change the description or find a way to offer a better view/viewing area.

      • Disney bills it however the most suckers will part with more money. They’re too dumb to realize that not 100% of their crowd is just fat and naive Americans. If they don’t quit “whoring” out their product, they’re going to keep loosing a lot of the base, and keep having to add more promotions like they do lately to get more suckers in the park (cheaper 3 day ticket, 13 month annual pass, free dining plans in shoulder season). What they don’t get, is if had a mindset in management of a better experience, less tacky and schmaltzy, they’d win..money and the true fans!

          • For Matthew: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/shoulder_season

            For Disney: Some managers need to be thrown overboard of that boat and die a painful death, some new talent brought in with idea how to make a destination that is “a fun experience”, and doesn’t feel so much like a bad value/mistake.

            For Disney Guests: There’s still a few spots that you can get a good experience. hint..it’s never in stores, never in ‘extra packages’, or the majority of food bought at WDW, but gotta seek them out.

        • Really? I guess name calling and generalizing people isn’t considered tacky. Thought this was a forum for civil discussions of all things Disney. I don’t agree with or buy into everything Disney does or offers, but I don’t think that gives me the right to be rude to anyone who chooses differently.
          Tom,
          Thanks again for the great reviews I really appreciate that they help me make the right choices for my family, but I don’t really understand why people feel the need to use this outlet to be rude.

          • It’s always the same 4 to 6 people who complain about every thing that Disney does on this site meanwhile millions of people each year leave Disney happy with their experience .Tom’s reviews just makes it easier not to waste our money on something that lessons our experience.

          • Yea, that’s why Disney runs specials now for free food if you stay on property, and adding a month to annual pass free, and offering Brazil groups and others free park admission if they stay one night in group larger than 20, cuz Disney doing so well with their cheapening out plans.

            Wise up wdwfan, you don’t sound like a fan at all. Read the review, and if sounds fair to you, go waste your money on it. Tom’s review that this was another WDW mistake sounds pretty plausible to me. They’re doing terribly lately. Financially and with their offerings to ‘guests’.

  • It’s almost like Disney tries to get complaints by overselling, and under-delivering like the review shows. No wonder in your other article they’re adding guest relations stations in parks. No new rides. No efforts to give a value to guests for price of admission. Just more places to complain. Disney doesn’t have very good management for sure.

  • We’re not parade people, and we love Princess Tiana, so even with the not-so-great reviews, we’ll be checking it out. Thank you for your honesty!

  • How can there be no beignets on this!!?!? I was looking through all your pictures and scrolling through to find them, but nope. This is an absolute no for me based on that alone. Shameful!

    • I’m from South Louisiana and we love beignets. But to be authentic (and worth eating) they would have to be fried on site and served fresh and hot. So I think it is just a matter of logistics.

  • Just a follow-up…we did indeed attend this event on Sunday, December 11th. It ended up being a very enjoyable experience for our whole family. It was perfect for the little ones (3 1/2 & 1 1/2). They loved the treats, the one on one time with the characters and the parade around the deck. The “distant” view of the parade was actually perfect for little ones that were a little uncomfortable with loud noises and big floats.

  • Our family of five with three children, ages 6,8 and 9 had a wonderful time at the Riverboat Party. It was great to have the detailed review so that we knew what to expect. We took it as a nice break in the middle of our day, to view the parade (albeit from a distance) without the crowds and loud noises and to get some special attention from Tiana and Naveen. This was the first time our kids have ever been on the Riverboat, so that also made it a special experience. The theming was great and we were overall very pleased. It was pricey and unecessary, but it did make out day very special. Especially since we were staying at Port Orleans and started off eating beignets at Sassagoula Floatworks! Plus, no one has mentioned that there are photographers on board who will take very nice pictures of the entire experience and link it to your photopass!! The photographer took the most beautiful and artistic photos of my children during our entire vacation!

Fantasy Strollers
Lost Bros
TeePublic

Latest Videos