In Walt Disney’s 1959 adaptation of “Sleeping Beauty,” the story is set in motion when the evil fairy Maleficent curses the young Princess Aurora as retribution for not being invited to the baby’s christening. When Magic Kingdom debuted the “Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade” in 2014, it was clear that this was another “glittering assemblage” from which Maleficent did not want to be excluded. The Mistress of All Evil may be of the few Disney Villains present in this celebration of Fantasyland, but that’s not the only reason she stands out in this crowd. The most notable one would be that she appears in the form of a 53-foot long fire-breathing dragon!
Inspired by the climactic scene in which Prince Philip does battle with the wicked fairy-turned-dragon, the designers of “Festival of Fantasy” put their own spin on the subject by re-imagining the dragon in a Steampunk aesthetic complete with visible rivets and gears. When building this mechanical Maleficent, Disney called on celebrated puppet designer Michael Curry to consult on its design. Curry went into the project with plenty of experience bringing Disney characters to three-dimensional life, having previously designed the acclaimed puppets for the Broadway production of “The Lion King” as well as contributing to several theme park entertainment offerings including the puppet characters for Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s “Finding Nemo- the Musical.” With it’s massive scale, Steampunk flair, and real flames it shooting out of its mouth, the Maleficent dragon float demands the attention of all assembled as it makes it way down Magic Kingdom’s parade route.