by Character Diva
When we were planning our last Disneyland vacation, my sister really wanted to treat my daughter to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique experience. While it wasn’t something that I really considered a top priority in my book (I’m much more interested in my family experiencing rides or meeting characters than having my daughter get a makeover), I decided to accept her offer and per her request, I agreed to make the reservations. So there I was, 60 days out, all set to make my reservation, when suddenly, the teleprompter stated, “Press 1 for Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, Press 2 for Anna & Elsa’s Boutique.” I immediately hung up the phone. What in the world was Anna & Elsa’s Boutique?! Well after a quick Google search, I uncovered a few details. After calling my sister back and discussing the options, we decided that Anna & Elsa’s Boutique was the best option for our family.
Since most of you are familiar with Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, let’s look at the things we liked about Anna & Elsa’s Boutique as we compared the two:
Things we liked about Anna and Elsa’s Boutique
-It’s not inside a Disney park, meaning you can make a reservation without needing a ticket to get inside Disneyland. As I mentioned before, I am not a huge fan of sacrificing time that could be spent meeting characters or experiencing rides or other attractions. If I lived closer and were an Annual Passholder, I may consider making more exceptions, but when many of us are only able to visit once every year or two (or sometimes, even once in a lifetime), I find my time more valuable than that (especially when coupled with the costs of admission to the parks, and then the added cost of the boutique.) Because Anna & Elsa’s Boutique is located in Downtown Disney, we were able to schedule an appointment for a non-park day, which was perfect because we were actually already planning on being at Downtown Disney that Sunday. For me, this was the best of both worlds because my daughter was able to have the experience (and she absolutely loved it), and I was happy because we didn’t lose any time inside the parks getting it done. Unless you’re an Annual Passholder, if you have any free days at all, I would definitely consider Anna & Elsa’s Boutique over Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.
-You will (most likely) get free parking. A reservation at Anna & Elsa’s Boutique includes up to 3 hours of validated parking in Downtown Disney. (If you are parked in the Mickey and Friends parking garage or one of the hotel parking lots, this discount does not apply.) Obviously, if you stay in the parks longer than three hours, you will have to pay for parking (though some table service places also validate parking… I’m not sure if you can combine these or not). You will also have to pay for parking if there is a special event going on that shuts down the parking lot for Downtown Disney. When we went in September, we were there for the runDisney Disneyland ½ Marathon. While all of the shops and restaurants were open in Downtown Disney, unfortunately, the parking lot was not. If this is the case, you will have to either park in the Mickey & Friends parking structure or one of the hotel parking lots (all of which cost a minimum of $17 for a one day pass… no “pay by the hour” option is available). Ouch. So when making your appointment, it is a good idea to check and see if there are any special events happening in Downtown Disney that day, and find out whether or not this will affect the Downtown Disney Parking. Disney Diva Tip: If you’re staying off-property and are nearby, you can consider walking from your hotel or catching the shuttle if your hotel provides one. Just be sure to allow for plenty of time to get to your appointment. Punctuality is key!
– It’s cheaper. Disney vacations generally come with a pretty hefty price tag. And even if you have budgeted for your trip, who doesn’t like saving money? If nothing else, it puts you that much closer to booking your next vacation or working on some other financial goal. Anna & Elsa’s Boutique’s hairstyles began at $34.95 (plus tax) for the girls and $18.95 for the boy’s Olaf package. In addition to being cheaper, the packages at Anna and Elsa’s Boutique are much simpler than those at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, but as my daughter can attest, they are equally as satisfying.
-There’s no cute backstory. You’re not waited on by fairy-godmothers-in-training, Arendelle’s handmaidens or even a royal hair stylist. At Anna & Elsa’s Boutique, you will find the staff dressed in black pants and black t-shirts. This however, was a minor sacrifice in my opinion, and my four year old daughter couldn’t care less, so it wasn’t a particular deal breaker for our family. If you are used to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique however, it is something you will definitely take note of.
-There’s no photopass photographer. This was the biggest disappointment in my book. While again, it wasn’t enough of a factor to make us switch to a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique reservation (very few things rank higher in my plans than efficiency and time management), this is one area that I think Bibbibi Bobbidi Boutique does better. Of course, if you are going to the parks that day, this isn’t an issue- you can either go to the Bibbibi Bobbidi Boutique location inside Disneyland and request a photoshoot, or you can flag down any Photopass Photographer you see and they will be happy to take pictures for you. But for those of you (who, like me) are trying to go on a non-park day, you’re out of luck.
There are however a couple of cute photo backdrops around the store if you want to take pictures with your own camera or phone. There’s also a small photo booth (think something you would find in a mall) and you can get a small sheet of four photos that way, but personally, I’d opt for using your own camera or other electronic device. Disney Diva Tip: The hairdos actually hold fairly well, so if you are going to one of the theme parks the next day and can convince your little girl to avoid jumping in the pool or going to the beach that day, chances are, her hair will look almost identical to the day before (plus they give you extra bobby pins if you need them), and you can take pictures then. Here are some pictures of Little Princess the following day. Yes, her hair isn’t exactly the same, but considering I did NOTHING to try and fix it, it still seemed to work out.
Okay. So we’ve hashed out the pros and cons… what about the experience itself?
Well, first let’s talk about the environment. If you’re looking for the boutique itself, you can find it in Downtown Disney, somewhat behind The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. If you are getting off of the tram from the Mickey & Friends Parking Garage (right in front of the World of Disney store), you will head right (away from the theme parks), and proceed a little ways down the sidewalk until you come to the tiara-shaped sign for Anna & Elsa’s Boutique (located on the left).
Once you’re inside, you are bombarded with Frozen themed merchandise. While the
insanity hype surrounding Frozen has subsided a bit, if you or someone is looking for Frozen themed merchandise, this is the place to find it. Be it dolls, mugs, stuffed animals, pressed pennies, costumes or other articles of clothing, you can find all of these things (and a whole lot more) inside the boutique. My cousin even found these adorable reindeer ears for my 8 month old to wear while we were waiting. Disney Diva Tip: They also have extra bottles of nail polish, tiaras, and colored hair extensions if you need additional items. And surprise, surprise, the movie, Frozen, is playing in the background, which can be nice to help set the mood (or pass the time while you’re waiting around).
Upon entering, I immediately headed to the check-in desk. From there, Little Princess was able to pick her hairstyle (she wanted the Anna Coronation look), along with a colored hair streak. Disney Diva Tip: Although the Anna package says that it comes with a green colored hair streak, Little Princess actually had multiple colors to choose from. (She picked her favorite color, pink). Next she had to choose between blue or pink nail polish, and again chose pink. Meanwhile, I paid for her styling up front (I had our gratuity in a little envelope that my daughter handed our stylist afterwards), and then we kind of meandered around for a few minutes while we waited for the staff to be ready.
We had an early morning appointment (10am on a Sunday), so needless to say, we were the only guests there. Another perk of it being on a Sunday morning is 1.) Most people are either already at the parks 2.) Sleeping in or 3.) Still at church (unless they went to an earlier Mass or other religious service). So we pretty much had the place to ourselves, which also meant that we were able to lay claim to the couch.
Anna & Elsa’s Boutique doesn’t really provide a lot of sitting space for guests. So depending on how many children are having their hair and/or makeup done, you may be standing around for a while, or circling that couch in the hopes of claiming it the second it is vacant. Also, there are several chairs for children receiving makeovers, and depending on how busy they are, you may or may not be by the couch. It seemed like the kids with the earliest appointments sat in the chairs closest to the couch and then as later appointments came, they were positioned elsewhere around the store. But needless to say, when it comes to Disney, getting places early almost always pays off.
My daughter was waited on by two cast members. Audra, was my daughter’s main stylist, and she was wonderful. She was constantly asking Little Princess questions about our trip and where we came from, and she engaged my family as well. There also was another cast member who did my daughter’s nails, but honestly, she was there so briefly that I didn’t catch her name (and in reality, probably couldn’t have picked her out of a cast member line up). One of my cousin’s daughters was also waited in by two castmembers, while the other daughter (who has very thick, very curly hair) had two stylists for her hair and one for her nails.
My daughter had her nails done first, followed by her hair and then make-up, while one of my cousin’s daughters had the opposite done (make-up, hair, and then nails). The girls didn’t seem to mind one way or the other- They were just excited to get to take in the experience. The big finale however was when they waved a wand, sprinkled more glitter in the girls’ hair while saying a cute little poem, and then spun them around with a big “Let It Go” to reveal the final look. All of the girls looked wonderful, and my daughter definitely felt like a little princess. The girls were then each given a bag with the leftover make-up palette, nail polish, and a few extra bobby pins (in case their hair needed some touching up).
After we finished our appointment, Little Princess gave Audra the envelope with her gratuity in it, along with a great big hug. Hopefully it made Audra’s day as much as it made Little Princess’.
The last thing we proceeded to do was of course, take pictures. As I mentioned, Anna & Elsa’s Boutique does not offer a Photopass photographer, and we weren’t about to pay $5 for mall-like photos. Because I had done research ahead of time, we knew what to expect and I had brought my own camera while other family members used their phones. While it wasn’t quite the Photopass experience we would’ve liked to have had, it still turned out nice, especially since they were in costume. (My daughter was dressed as Anna and my cousin’s daughters were both dressed as Elsa.)
Disney Diva Tip: I knew we would not be buying a dress from Anna & Elsa’s Boutique- 1.) They are ridiculously expensive and 2.) We had our own costumes at home. If you have costumes at home, I highly recommend bringing them and saving the money. We buy my daughter’s costumes through Mom Approved Costumes. They have many Frozen inspired dresses and accessories to help your little girl feel like Anna or Elsa (as well as pretty much any other Disney princess you can think of), and they’re lightweight, durable, non-itchy, and machine-washable. All pros in my book. And as you can tell in the picture below (when my daughter decided she too needed to be Elsa, the costumes are VERY similar.) My aunt spent more than twice as much buying dresses for my cousin’s daughters at the Boutique, and while the girls liked wearing the “official” Disney dresses that day, the California heat made the dresses unbearable when the girls wore them to California Adventure a couple days later, and my poor aunt searched through countless stores trying to find them new outfits. Save yourself the hassle (and money) and just bring your own.
I am so thankful to my sister for letting my daughter have this experience. While it wasn’t something I would’ve probably looked into otherwise, my daughter absolutely loved it, and has enjoyed having her own makeup and nail polish to play with at home.
Other good things to know or take into consideration:
Anna & Elsa’s Boutique is open to children between the ages of 3-15.
An adult (anyone over the age of 18) is required to stay with them during this experience, which wasn’t a problem for us since I wasn’t about to abandon my 4 year old. Disney Diva Tip: If there are multiple adults in your party or you have older children whom you think are responsible enough to explore on their own, you can always tour the rest of Downtown Disney. My husband would often take our 2 ½ year old son to the Lego Store and check in occasionally while they waited for us to finish.
When booking your appointment, you will be asked to give them a valid credit card number. Your account will not be charged in advance, and if you decide to pay with a Disney giftcard, in cash, or some other means of payment instead, you can do that the day of. The purpose of giving them your credit card information is in case you need to cancel. There is a $10 cancellation fee per appointment for any cancellations done with less than 24 hours notice. Disney realizes that people come down with colds, or sometimes there are a change of plans. But if you aren’t going to be able to make it, definitely try to cancel in advance to avoid the fee. Disney Diva Tip: When we went, my cousin’s children were running late due to heavy traffic and no parking (it was a special events weekend, remember?) We did talk to the staff, and fortunately they were able to give them a little wider of a time frame window. Still, you do not want to leave this to chance. My cousin left an hour early (a drive that should have only required half that time) and was still fifteen minutes late. It’s better to get there early and have time to walk around and check out the other shops (or grab something to eat at places like The Rainforest Café, Tortilla Jo’s or Earl of Sandwich), than risk missing out on your appointment.
There are 5 “styles” that you can choose from:
• Elsa – Elsa-inspired coronation hairstyle with a blue color streak, tiara, shimmering makeup and nail polish.
• Anna – Anna-inspired coronation hairstyle with a green color streak, tiara, shimmering makeup and nail polish
• Olaf for Girls – Olaf-inspired hairstyle with top hat headband, orange color streak, shimmering makeup and nail polish
• Olaf for Boys – Olaf-inspired “snow”-frosted hair gel tips and his choice of Olaf tee
• Cool As Ice – Hairstyling with your choice of 2 colorful hair streaks, face gem, shimmering makeup and nail polish
Gratuities are not included in your package, though the stylists were able to accept tips from us. While we will leave the amount you choose to tip up to you, if you are pleased with their work, please consider being generous.
As far as figuring out how much time to allow for the appointment, I would probably set aside an hour of your day. Of course, this is just an estimation, and depending on how busy the cast members are, you may get through much quicker, or be delayed even longer.
Anna & Elsa’s Boutique is open as long as Downtown Disney is open. While their hours of operation will vary throughout the year, if for example, Downtown Disney is open from 9am-12am, you could hypothetically, make an appointment in the late evening and then go to the park a few hours later the following morning. (I would not recommend this, but it is potentially an option.)
Are you an annual passholder? You can qualify for a discount! Currently, the Premium, Signature and Signature Plus Annual Passholders get a 20% discount, while Deluxe, Southern California or Southern California Select passholders can receive a 10% discount. And like the parking situation, Disney gives you the disclaimer that these discounts may only be available for certain days. However, more often than not, the discount will apply.
As of right now, you currently cannot use the Disneyland app to book your reservation to Anna and Elsa’s Boutique. If you wanted to make a reservation, you will need to call (714) 781-7895 and then select option 2. (And while this probably won’t apply to your party, just fyi, guests under 18 years of age must have parent or guardian permission to call.) Reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance. While my aunt had no problem making reservations for my cousin’s children for the next time slot after our appointment, a friendly reminder is that the early bird gets the worm. If getting a certain time slot is important to you (particularly if you have dining plans, nap schedules, or just want to get back into the theme parks), you will want to book as soon as possible, especially if you are going during one of the “peak seasons”.
Need help making your reservations or booking your next vacation? Tips from the Disney Divas & Devos recommends Patricia Payne, an authorized Disney Vacation Planner, to help you plan your next trip. Click here for a free quote.