Maybe because she is our middle child, I have always told my four-year-old daughter that she is Daddy's little princess. Every night, when I tuck her into bed I say, "Good night, Princess Creagh." But Creagh has been tough to charm. "I am just Creagh," she responds. "I am not a princess."
So when we went on a father-daughter trip to Disney World recently, I decided to take her for some "princess therapy" -- at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, a new salon for young girls at Cinderella's Castle.
Named for the song that Cinderella's godmother sings as she transforms Cinderella from cinders to glamour for the Prince's ball, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is much more than a makeover experience for young girls. Like all Disney attractions, every detail is carefully conceived and executed to create a magical experience. Disney magic is hard at work here for the lucky young girls whose parents are willing to pay for the experience (from $49.95 for the basic "Coach" package which includes hairstyle and shimmering makeup--to $249.95 for the deluxe "Castle" package which also includes a gown, shoes, accessories and photos). And the magical effects last far longer than the glitter does.
At Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, Creagh met a fairy godmother-in-training who asked her about her favorite princess (Cinderella) and helped her pick out a gown, shoes and accessories in the style of that princess. Then, with typical Disney grand style, the fairy godmother-in-training brought my daughter in front of large curtain. She whisked the curtain back, and voila! All of Creagh's choices, in her own size, are laid out for her in a huge dressing room area fit for a princess.
After she is dressed, my daughter meets a few more fairy-godmothers-in-training who help her pick out a hairstyle and makeup. Later, her fairy-godmother-in-training asks, "Princess Creagh, which color would you like for your nails?" My daughter looked puzzled and responded, "I am just Creagh. I am not a princess." Then from a rainbow palette of nail colors, she chose one of four sparkly shades of pink.
After a few minutes, my daughter relaxes into the fantasy of being a princess and began to enjoy all the personal attention. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is buzzing with young girls, but the fairy godmothers-in-training make the experience very personal and attentive. The staff treat each girl with great respect and make each feel uniquely special. It is a type of attention that busy parents rarely have the patience or time to provide, and the girls seem to thrive in their own Disney bubble of personal care and consideration.
Finally, an hour and a quarter later, the transformation is complete. Disney magic has given my daughter a beautiful princess gown, a soft glittering glow to her face and a dramatic hair style including long pink tresses. Her look is wholesome, but ethereal -- more Broadway than a beauty pageant. -- She has been expertly styled and has emerged as another creature entirely from the shy girl who entered the salon earlier. She stands taller and exudes confidence.
As she mounts the royal throne for her photo session, my daughter has the gleam in her eye of a real princess. She had become a princess in her own mind, and no longer corrects anyone when they referred to her as "Princess Creagh." She has found her inner princess and likes it.
I loved seeing my daughter transformed into a fantasy princess and enjoyed watching her soak up all the attention that was gracefully given to her. And for many parents--including me, seeing my daughter "come out" as a princess was a very moving experience.
One mom next to me was crying profusely. She told me that she had saved up for months to give her daughter this special experience. There had been a lot of conflict over the past year between her and her daughter. And she was grateful for the opportunity to see that her daughter was "really a princess."
It took the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique experience to show her that the inner beauty of her daughter was still there--despite their recent hard times. The staff told me that crying parents are a common sight at the salon. Many parents weep and even sob -- not just because their daughters look like beautiful princesses, but also because they love to see how their daughters bask in the spotlight and thrive under the attentive care of the Disney fairy godmothers-in-training.
The girls clearly love the attention, make-up and pretty dresses, but the princess makeover has an even greater effect on their parents. Congratulations to Disney for letting little girls and their families find their "princesses." Princess therapy really works, for daughter and for parent. Just ask Princess Creagh.
Mallory Factor is the co-chairman and co-founder of the Monday Meeting, an influential meeting of economic conservatives, journalists and corporate leaders in New York City. Mr. Factor is a well-known merchant banker and speaks and writes frequently on economic and fiscal topics for news stations, leading newspapers and other print and online publications.