A special experience for girls (boys too, but it’s definitely focused on girls) at Disneyland and Disney World is the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (B.B.B.). I am sure that many of you have heard about this experience, but I don’t know how many of you have let your child take advantage of the “Magical” makeover that the Fairy Godmother-In-Training (no, I did not make that up, and they use the term all through the experience) can provide for your child. Let’s start off by making it clear that if you are attempting to travel on a tight budget, this would be something you can easily skip, or do to a lesser extent by yourself in your hotel room before coming to the parks. I would also say that if you had multiple children that would be in the acceptable age range (3 to 12 as stated by the Disney website) for this experience, then you may also want to skip it as your costs would basically double, or triple, etc. I am sure that you would not let one child have this experience, and not the other, unless you love one child more than the other.
You are going to pay between $50 and $200 per child depending on what package you choose. There is a Knight package for boys in the $20 range, but again, this seems to really focus on girls. I know that there are some little boys that would appreciate the experience as well. However, in general I think that boys would rather go to the Pirates League in Disney World (Pirates League is also available for little girls) but as far as I know, they do not do the Pirates League in Disneyland. A complete list of the packages that are available at B.B.B. in Disneyland here, a very similar, but just slightly different link to the Disney World B.B.B. can be found here. Also, as preface to my comments about the B.B.B., we have a single child, a girl, who was 4 at the time of our trip. We did this at the Disneyland B.B.B., so the World one may be slightly different. I did feel that she was a little young, but not knowing when we were coming back we decided to let her go through with the experience.
We obviously did not have an unlimited budget, and are not independently wealthy, but we budgeted money in advance knowing what the prices were up front. Again, as the Father of the group, and not really into glitter, hair and makeup, I could have taken or left it. I would have rather spent the money upgrading some of the meals to table service from quick service or to nicer restaurants, but having a wife and daughter who are into princesses and glitter, I was left with little choice in the matter. I was simply outvoted.
Far ahead of your trip date, similar to Advance Dining Reservations, you call to make your appointment. You arrive at the designated time, and wait for your turn. There were benches for the parents to sit on in front of the stylist’s chair so the parents can watch, and help make any decisions if necessary. The child faces away from the mirror, so they can have a magical reveal at the end of the process. After the child picks the hair style, the Godmother-In-Training begins to style their hair while making polite conversation with the child and the parents. They pretty much stay in character while doing it, making comments about the real Fairy Godmother, and different princess etc. I understand that they have specific appointment/reservation times that they must stick to in order to get through the sheer volume of children, that being said, our Godmother-In-Training, and most of the ones I observed were…….efficient. By that I mean that they were not rude in any way, they just were able to do the hair very quickly, and it almost seemed rushed. I believe that this is because they only offer a limited number of hair styles to choose from, so they obviously are trained on those specific styles only, and probably have done each of them hundreds of times.
A different Godmother-In-Training came along to paint her nails with her choice of colors, pink or blue. Then, very subtle, but still noticeable make up was applied. Finally to top it off, they had a “Magic” wand filled with glitter that they proceeded to sprinkle/pour all over the child. They had a lot of customized tools to use to make the process go quickly, for example, a face shield for the child to hold to protect them from the can of hair spray they used. Also, they had many colors of hair extensions to fill out the child’s hair to make the hairdo look fuller, and more like the pictures. They also used brand new combs, brushes, make up and nail polish for each child, and the child got to bring those items home in a B.B.B. bag.
One of the big and unexpected benefits that I found, not knowing a lot about nail polish, but having a little girl who likes it, is that they used some kind of super-fast drying nail polish. Literally, they put it on, had the child wave their hands a little to dry the nails, while saying the phrase, “Bibbidi, Bobbidi, Boo,” and it was dry to the touch in like 5 seconds. To this day we use that nail polish when she wants her nails painted because we don’t have to worry about getting wet polish all over the place.
Once the makeover is complete, then they turn the child around to the mirror, and they do the big reveal. The curtains are pulled back and a small, yet exciting to the child, effect happens around the edge of the mirror. By this time as a parent, you know what to expect, as the assembly line of little princesses is occurring around you, and you probably have seen two or three others already have their reveal. However, since the child has their back turned to the mirror, they don’t know exactly what is going to happen, so it’s fun for them.
I also thought that it was nice that the Photo Pass people were there to take pictures during the experience. On that trip, we had already decided to do the photo pass plus package, so we went out of our way to get extra pictures, and wait for photo pass photographers as we knew that we were going to get the cd with all the pictures we took. For an extra fee, your child can have a photo session in the carriage room. A room with a mural painted on the walls, faux grass on the ground, a few props, and to top it off, a carriage fit for your little princess.
After going through this experience once, let me offer a few tips for you, especially if it would be your first time:
- I would definitely save this for special occasions. I would not want my child to think that this is going to be something that we do every time we go. However, I will probably do it again at some point.
- Make sure you block out enough time for the experience. Remember, you are going to end up spending over an hour (give or take) especially if the initial wait is long, or you have the photo session afterwards. You have to weigh the value of your time, meaning, would you be better able to use your time doing other things in the park.
- Plan to go visit characters afterwards. Your little princess will be all made up and feeling cute, so take the opportunity to go out of your way to get character photos with your child. For example, when we did it, we immediately went to Fantasy Faire, then park hopped over to DCA to have character (more princesses) lunch at Ariel’s Grotto. We coordinated the reservations intentionally. This gives us our own photos and photo pass photos of our princess with a good variety of Disney princesses. It’s a lot better than the ones where she has ice cream all over her shirt, but those are special in a different way. (Side Note: If you go for the $200 package at Disneyland, they take you to Fantasy Faire right after you are done, and you skip the line and go directly to meet the princesses inside.)
- I WOULD NOT recommend the $200 package, unless you have money to burn. The $50-$70 ones are just fine. The main difference between the two ranges is that the $200 will give your child a costume and some accessories. You can purchase your own costume, even an official Disney one, brand new at your local Disney store (or lots of other places/online) for much less. You then bring the costume with you, and you can set it up in the changing room for your child. They do have the kids change before the makeover part starts if there is a reason to change clothing. We bought her a brand new princess dress for her to wear and surprised her with it when we got to the B.B.B. Mom did a great job of hiding it before we left, and packing it to bring without her knowing.
- Have regular shoes ready. If you do the $200 package, I believe that they give you shoes too, but you would not want to wear those walking around Disney all day. Even if you bring your own costume, I would make sure that you pick comfortable shoes to walk in, yet remember that your child will be wearing a princess dress, so you have to find the right combination of style and comfort.
- Let your child enjoy the rest of the day as a princess. It will be very obvious that she went through the experience by the way she looks. All day we had people, and not just cast members, calling her princess, and bowing and making her feel special. By the time we got back to the hotel, we (the parents) had to keep reminding her that she was not actually a real princess.
- Be prepared for glitter. You can ask them to go light on the glitter, and we did, but we still had glitter all over all of us for days after. It was also all over the sheets, and hotel room. It’s not just from the glitter they put on, but we brought a dress that had glitter too, so it was everywhere.
- You may have to prepare your child to lose the hairdo. Although she didn’t want to, we forced hetr to bathe and we had to wash her hair. Obviously the hairstyle is not going to stay after the washing, but it was required as the amount of hair spray they use literally made her hair crusty. There were a few tears about it. On the positive side, her hair did stay that way all day without mussing or even moving a little on the fast/windy rides.
- Take time to look at the environment of the B.B.B. Once we discovered the things high up on the store shelves in the room, we were somewhat amazed at the small touches that the imaginers included. Things that represented each princess, but in a very realistic manner. It was like they had little tchotchkes from each of the princesses dressing tables on display.
Thanks for taking the time to read the post. Feel free to comment or ask questions below.
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