One of the highlights of our trip to Walt Disney World was the Festival of Fantasy Parade at the Magic Kingdom. Following a leisurely and delicious lunch, we had one of the best views of the famed Festival of Fantasy Parade or FOF, as it’s better known to Disney fans. As a family with a small child, it was simply a magical experience. I know what you’re thinking but no – we didn’t have to stake out our spot hours ahead of time. So, how did we score this prime viewing real estate? With the Festival of Fantasy Parade Dining Package. Maybe you’ve heard of this package but are waffling on whether or not it’s worth it? Spoiler alert: in my humble opinion, it most definitely is. Read on my friend. This post is about to make your decision for you!
What is the Festival of Fantasy Parade?
The Disney websites says: Celebrate the stories you love with a magical mix of floats, costumes and original music. Paying homage to the unbridled magic and vivid pageantry of Fantasyland and its many inhabitants, the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade is a thrilling sight-and-sound spectacular that winds its way through the streets of Magic Kingdom park each afternoon. Be a part of this grand gala, which includes spectacular, state-of-the-art floats starring Characters from some of your favorite Disney stories, plus colorfully costumed performers on stilts, pendulums and swings.
Basically, the Festival of Fantasy is a suped-up parade where you get to see your favorite Disney characters come to life. The vibrancy and sheer creativity of the event is definitely worth seeing and experiencing.
What is included with the Festival of Fantasy Parade Dining Package?
The Disney website says: Dig into a delicious dining opportunity before soaking up VIP views of a beloved daytime spectacular.
Dinner and a show? Yes, please. The Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade Dining Package costs $49 for adults and $19 for children ages 9 and under (tax and gratuity not included). The best part, and what sealed the deal for us, is that it’s included on the Disney Dining Plan (see my review here) and is considered one table service credit for each person dining.
Lunch is at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant, the Lady and the Tramp inspired Italian eatery that’s one of the oldest in the park. I really enjoyed that throw back Disney-vibe. Each dining package includes an appetizer, entrée, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage, along with a VIP viewing voucher for the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade. At some point during lunch, you will receive your viewing voucher(s).
TIPS: If doing booking online, you will have to access this package directly on the dining package page (not on the regular Tony’s Town Square Restaurant page). Also, to reduce your wait time between eating lunch and the actual parade (which usually begins at 3:00 p.m.), we recommend making your reservation after 1:00 p.m., if possible. I believe the last dining slot is 1:30 p.m.
Our Experience with the Festival of Fantasy Parade Dining Package: The Food
As previously mentioned, you can use a table service credit from your Disney Dining Plan for this package. This fact made it a no-brainer for us. Whether you are on the plan or not, however, the meal is a good value. Let’s consider the costs of the food alone (with pictures).
Each person gets an appetizer. We started with the House Salad which is priced at $11 and the Calamari which is $16. The total “value” of our appetizers before tax was $27. Taste-wise, the House Salad was good – it was nice to actually eat some greens – and the calamari was decent. Oh, and although we tried to stay clear of bread basket, I did sneak a piece. It was scrumptious.
For our entrees, I went with the Braised Short Ribs with Mascarpone Polenta and Broccolini for $32 and my husband chose the Sustainable Fish of the Day (Salmon) which was Market Price. Unfortunately, I’ve since lost my receipt, but I’m pretty sure it was the same price as the Short Ribs. So let’s just say the total for the entrees was $64. Both dishes were well-made, seasoned and delicious. For Disney food, I was thoroughly impressed.
For dessert, we chose Chocolate Gelato (sorry, no picture – we ate it too fast. OMG. So good!) at $7 and Tiramisù for $8, for a total of $15.
Let’s take stock. So far, the total value of our meal is $106 before tax. If you recall, the package is priced at $49/per (adult) person. Had we’d been paying cash, we would have already gotten our money’s worth in food alone. Plus, our daughter ate from our plates. On the DDP, where you can think of the “value” of a table service credit as being around the $40-$45 range, we also got great value!
Now for the drinks. The website states that only non-alcoholic beverages are included with the Festival of Fantasy Parade Dining Package. However, my husband and I were both able to order alcoholic drinks. I cannot be sure if this was an error on the side of the restaurant (which I doubt), the information on the website is incorrect (possible) or if it was because we were on the Disney Dining Plan which allows us one alcoholic beverage each with our meal. I’m inclined to think it’s the latter. Anyway when you include the cost of our drinks, the value for food only increases. All of this before we even considered the VIP viewing voucher which also has “value” attached to it.
Our Experience with the Festival of Fantasy Parade Dining Package: Viewing area for the Parade
Saying that our “seats” were up close and personal is an understatement. Notwithstanding the the odd bench (where your view will likely be obstructed by people), parade viewing is pretty much a standing affair. The “VIP viewing area” for the Dining Package is at the Main Street, U.S.A. Flag Pole in Town Square. Depending on where you are situated in this area, you may have a direct view of the procession as it makes its way down Main Street. Our dining reservation was booked for 1:05 p.m. and we ate at a leisurely pace before showing up around 2:55 p.m. Because the parade takes about 15 minutes to move from Adventureland to Main Street, we ended up waiting about 20 minutes. Not many people came after us, so we could have spent a few more minutes in the (air-conditioned) restaurant.
Prior to the start of the parade, the VIP viewing area is partitioned with rope and manned by cast members. If you want to access it, you’ll have to show your voucher. You may see cast members allowing non-voucher holders to wander about the area. Once the procession draws nearer, however, those without a voucher will be asked to leave. During this time, the ropes are removed to enhance the parade experience. Oh, and if you’re wondering, yes, they are very strict about this policy. We even witnessed cast members (politely) eject park-goers who tried to “sneak” into the area without a vouhcer. I know I’ll sound like a snob for saying this, but I kind of appreciated that. Otherwise, why go through the trouble of purchasing the package if anyone will be able to access the area? I know there will be many who disagree with me on this.
Anyway, controversy aside, we could not have been more pleased with how everything turned out. It was our first time experiencing the Festival of Fantasy parade and the joy on our daughter’s face was worth all of the effort. She was inches away from the floats, her eyes wide in wonderment and her hands waving frantically in excitement. She even got a high-five from one of the characters, which was priceless. Here are some of the photos, to give you an idea of how close we were. Please excuse the quality but they are screen-shot from my video recording. I’m not tech-savy enough to figure out a better way to capture them so they’re not so grainy. Any tips?
Final Thoughts and Other Options for Viewing the Festival of Fantasy Parade
Do you absolutely have to purchase the Dining Package in order to secure a great spot to view the Festival of Fantasy Parade? No, of course not. If you’re keen on a great view of the parade, you can, like many do, choose to stake out a spot early. While the flagpole is a great spot, I’m not saying it is the BEST spot. That is largely subjective. Based on our experience with the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween parade last year, for example, other great parade viewing spots include:
- Frontierland (the parade is just getting started at this point, so everyone is energized – view anywhere between the Frontier Trading Post to the Country Bear Jamboree)
- Walt Disney World Railroad – Main Street, U.S.A. (from the elevated position and a direct view of the castle, you’ll have a unique birdseye view)
If it is within your budget, the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade Dining Package is for:
- First-Timers to the Magic Kingdom for whom viewing the parade is a priority
- Families with small children for whom viewing the parade is a priority
- Families with large appetites that will find value in the dining aspect of the package
- Parties on the DDP who do not have other priority restaurants on which to use their table service credits
Alternatively, if you’re not into this package, you can look into the Tiana’s Riverboat Party – Ice Cream Social and Viewing Party when it comes back on stream (currently on a hiatus due to Riverboat refurbishments).
Finally, if all of this planning is too much or if you prefer spontaneity, you can choose not stress about it. Simply show up when the parade begins. I’m not being sarcastic when I say this. Many people have luck with this option, especially if the foot traffic at the park is slow to moderate that day.
However, personally, having now had the experience, as far as I’m concerned, the Festival of Fantasy Parade Dining Package is the way to go if you want a convenient, stress-free, spectacular view of the parade.
We hope this was helpful! What are some of your favorite Disney parade viewing spots and tips? I’d love to read them!
This content is provided informational purposes only and is based on the author's personal experience. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians. All items featured in this post were purchased by the author unless otherwise noted. Any products or services provided as PR will be marked with an asterisk "*". This website uses Skimlinks and this post may contain affiliate links.