It's tough to make your dreams come true with dinner at Cinderella's Castle at Walt Disney World Resort.
I never dreamed it would be so hard.
After trying four times before, my family this year finally got our chance to experience dinner inside the storied Cinderella Castle.
I tried, oh how I tried, to get a reservation before and during our four previous trips to the Happiest Place On Earth. I'm a vicious planner during our family vacations but even I was stymied. Each time, once our plans were set and our trip was paid, I would call the Disney reservations line ready to take anything, but Cinderella's Royal Table was always booked solid.
This time I did something different. I asked my travel agent, Matthew from CAA Manitoba, to make supper reservations at Cinderella's Royal Table right there from his desk as I paid the deposit on our vacation. We got the evening we wanted and the time we wanted. I was stunned.
This was 31/2 months in advance of our trip, which seems a long time but really isn't by Cinderella's Royal Table standards. WDW dining rules allow resort guests to make reservations up to six months in advance of your arrival date. It doesn't cost anything to cancel or change a reservation, as long as you give 24 hours notice; otherwise you will be charged.
You can also book online at http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/reservations/dining/ which was how I booked all the rest of our table service meals for the trip.
Our evening began just inside the castle entrance with a professional photo of our daughters with Cinderella. A photo package is included in the price of the meal and came with four 4x6 prints and one 6x8 print of our photo, as well as one 6x8 print of the Cinderella Castle in a special photo holder.
We were escorted up a red-carpeted spiral staircase to the next level where the restaurant is located. I could then see why it's so hard to get in. There are only 130 tables and you are allowed to take as much time as you need for your dinner. The other princesses, after brief PA introductions, visit each table for photos and to sign autograph books. We met Belle, Ariel, Snow White, Aurora and Jasmine.
Children at the tables are each given special "wishing stars," which you need during the wishing ceremony. The lights briefly go down, strobe lights flash and all "young princesses and young knights" are instructed to "close your eyes and wish with all your might" and "always wish and celebrate, and may all your wishes come true."
The price of the dinner for our family of four was nearly $200, so you are paying for an experience. If you are on the Disney Dining Plan, it will use two table service meal credits per person.
PRINCESS SIGHTING TIP
Disney's newest princess, Princess Tiana, is not yet part of the castle experience. We were able to meet Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen (from The Princess and the Frog) by consulting the Magic Kingdom's daily times guide and lining up near a gazebo in Liberty Square. We came about 45 minutes early and were middle of the line. A Disney cast member determined the end of the line well in advance of the characters' departure so that everyone waiting in the line was able to meet Princess Tiana.