You have a problem: your little girl wants a princess to come to her birthday party, but you have no idea where to start. You live in Southern California, the greater Los Angeles area to be exact, and there are just too many princesses to choose from. Every entertainment company says they have “the best” princesses, but how do you which ones employ the true professionals? How can you tell which one will deliver on their promises? You want a princess with a top-notch look, but you also want her to be able to entertain your entire group of twenty rambunctious four-year-old girls (and boys, too)! How do you know who will give you the ultimate princess party experience?
It’s difficult, I know… wading through dozens of sites, videos, and pictures. It’s overwhelming, to say the least! But you’re not the type to settle for second-best; you want is the whole package. You want top-notch-service, a beautiful costume, a realistic, well-groomed wig, a princess who looks like the character has come-to-life, and not only that, you want a princess who can entertain your party guests from beginning to end, for one hour or longer. There are dozens of princess party companies in Los Angeles, it can be seemingly tricky to find the one that will deliver on everything you’re looking for. Fear not! I’m going to help you navigate the crowded waters of Los Angeles party princess entertainers and show you exactly how to find the perfect party princess.
First, let’s start with what we already know: you have excellent taste. You recognize high-quality when you see and hear it. Remember to trust that instinct and allow your preference for the finer things to guide you as you begin your search.
Secondly, now that we know you have great taste, guess what: so do your friends! One of the best places to start looking for a party princess is to ask your friends who they’ve booked for their kids’ parties. If you don’t have many friends with kids the same age as yours, then ask the moms and dads at the daycare — you’re probably inviting the pre-school children to the party anyway, so it’s a great way to find out what other parents have already done in the way of characters and themes.
Once you’ve gotten a few referrals from friends and fellow parents, check out the princess’ website, and other social media sites online. The website should look up-to-date, including the pictures — do the photos look current, or like they were taken in 1983? If a company’s pictures look old, how can you be sure of what you’re actually going to get from them? Be sure the costume you see is the exact costume your princess will wear. Plus, the princess company should be active on social media sites, engaging with relevant information, photos, and videos so that you can be certain of what you’re buying.
Next, read the reviews of the companies you are considering. Ask the company to point you to a place online where you can read their reviews if you are having trouble finding some, or if you aren’t sure about the legitimacy of the reviews you may have read. Hint: If you are looking on Yelp, check the filtered reviews, too. Yelp uses an algorithm that often hides reviews of first time users and users who aren’t very active on the site, and while you should usually take someone else’s opinion as simply that, an opinion, it’s good to get the general consensus of what people are saying about their experiences with the company. When you do read reviews online, look for a mix of people who were first-time customers and people who are repeat customers. This will show you consistency, in that the company is making a great impression; they are trustworthy, setting new customers at ease, and they are also bringing back customers time and again, party after party.
You’ve read the reviews, checked out the pictures, but also remember to look for videos. Promo videos are fine, but do they have videos of actual events, too? They should have both. A promo video features just the princess; this is good to look at so that you can see if the princess knows her character and you can listen to hear if she can sound similar to the character (that’s nearly as important as looking like the character). A video of the princess in action at one of their actual events will show you even more: are the kids engaging with the character, visually, audibly? What kind of activities is the princess leading? Is it a good variety activities? Paying attention to these cues will help you find, not only the best princess for your party, but also one who will give you the most bang for your buck.
As you’re watching princess performer videos, pay attention to how they move, listen to how they talk. For ultimate believability, your party princess should be a keen impersonator.
- She should have her own realistic impression of the character’s voice and say things that the princess would probably say in real life (for example, maybe she refers to kids as “friends” or simply “children” rather than “you guys” — your princess is a royal, after all, and should speak accordingly).
- If the character is supposed to have a foreign accent, she should be able to imitate that accent.
- The princess should move like the character she is playing, too. For example, a “Brave” princess should have a free-spirited gait and maybe even slightly slouched posture, which works perfectly for the character‘s tom-boyish nature, while a “Rapunzel” princess should sit up straight, have a lot of energy and pure excitement in every move she makes, while maintaining gracefulness, too.
- If the princess is to sing at your child’s party, remember not all singers are created equal. You want to make sure you’ve heard her singing samples, that you think she realistically sounds like the singing voice the children will expect to hear (some performers may be fine singers, but sound completely different than the original character), and most importantly, that the same princess you’ve heard sing will be the one performing at your party. Also, how is the singing incorporated? A singing performance that includes aspects of the story, perhaps even adding a live instrument to the mix, will make the princess’ singing an interactive, magical experience.
Now that you’ve done all the preliminary research, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty details. Remember, you’re looking for the perfect party princess, so there are a lot of things to consider:
- How long has the princess or company of princesses been performing?
- Were they trained by someone, an expert in the children’s entertainment field, or did they just decide to be a princess one day?
- What is their background in working with kids?
These are all important questions. You want your princess to be very experienced as an actor (look for classically trained, theme park performers, improv performers, comediennes, and film/TV actors), but you also want her to know what kids like to do at parties. You want your princess to be an expert on her character; she should know the fairy-tale backwards and forwards and all the little details in between (the kids do, so should your princess).
As far as time-spent-on-the job goes, you’re looking for one of two things:
- An expert party princess, in which an expert is defined as someone who has logged at least 10,000 hours as a children’s entertainer (that’s a minimum of 1,000 parties performed!) or…
- A princess who has been trained and is currently coached by an expert children‘s entertainer.
These are important distinctions to make as you are looking for a party princess. While it may seem simple and easy to throw on a costume and play a character, and that anyone can do it, it’s not. Do you want to keep your group of 20 kids engaged for a full hour or longer? Do you want the princess to sound like the character? Do you want her to move and behave like the character? Do you want your party princess to know how to handle disruptive children with grace? Do you want your princess to have charm, wits, and poise? Do you want her to know what activities will be inline with the age-group of the kids at the party as well as what activities will tie the party theme and performance together?
If your answer is yes, then you want either an expert princess or a princess trained by an expert. Certainly, anyone can grab a Halloween costume from eBay and come to your party, but if you want more than “good-enough”, and if you want to elevate your party theme and truly bring the fairy-tale to life, if you want to take your princess party from good to amazing, and if you want kids to actually be engaged from start to finish, then you want either an expert princess or a princess trained by an expert.
Take a close look at the costume. For a princess character, it’s important to make sure the costume is not a bag-o-costume, but a custom made, theatrical-grade garment. A costume made for stage or film is going to look incredible, of course, not only in person but in photos, too. But hand-made costumes are not all equal: be sure to look at the textures on the fabric, and the details. Does it look high-quality to you? If the costume is impressive looking in a photo, it’s sure to be even more divine in person, and of course you know it will look fabulous in all of your treasured princess birthday party pictures.
Let’s have a look next at the wig. Yes, a princess should wear a wig. A fantastic wig completes the larger-than-life look of the princess costume. Even if the princess has hair similar to the character, you simply cannot get an authentic, consistent look without one. Plus, you live in the Los Angeles area; your child and her guests are used to seeing characters at the theme parks, who all wear wigs, so it would look odd to kids otherwise. As for the quality of the wig, your princess should have a wig of the same heightened quality of the costume she wears.
Personally, my heart weeps when I see a beautiful princess in a gorgeous gown with a cheap wig. What good is spending hundreds of dollars on an incredible costume if the performer or company isn’t going to invest in the perfect wig to finish the look? As a customer, you want to observe how well the wig is made: does the wig have life to it? It should be professionally styled, with a theatrical look, like something from a Broadway show, while maintaining a sense of realism, but it should not look too cartoonish or over-the-top. Also look at the quality and fit: does it look like it’s been a long time since the princess has had the wig re-styled? If you’re not sure, ask to see a recent picture of the costume and wig, even just on the shelf or rack, to make sure it’s still well kept. Also look to see how the wig fits her head: if it comes down too far on the forehead, it’s going to be an obvious giveaway to your party guests that the hair is a wig. If it’s up too high on the forehead, you’re going to see the real hair underneath. The perfect wig will elevate the costume and add believability to the overall performance.
You’ll also want to take a close look at the princess performers in the pictures themselves. Do they actually look like the character you want? I think details are important: if the character is typically visualized with light eyes, then kids will probably notice if the princess shows up with brown eyes. It’s OK if the eye color, or shape of the nose, or cheek bones are somewhat different, but they should be close enough to suspend disbelief, making kids perceive that the princess has truly come to life at the party. The princess’ make-up should be heightened, too, as if she has just stepped-off stage. An impressive princess will have eyes that pop with properly fitted false lashes and gradient shadows, bright blush, matching lip color, and a powdered, finished look.
At this point, if you like what you’ve seen, you’re probably ready to talk to someone from the princess company. You want the office personnel to be friendly, of course, but they should be knowledgeable and explain in detail what the princess party experience will be like, too. You want the booking process to be easy, fair (remember to ask about retainer or deposit policies), professional (you should get a booking confirmation or contract outlining all of the terms you and the company have agreed to regarding the princess’ performance), and fun! After all, you’re planning your little princess’ special birthday party. The booking process should be one that puts you at ease, gets you excited for the big day, and gives you the confidence that you’ve chosen the best princess for your child’s party. You’re about to make your darling’s dream of meeting her favorite fairy-tale princess come true!
And finally, the activities your princess will lead are vital to the party experience. Activities should be easy for small children to understand, but not so simple that you could have done it yourself. For example, sure, kids like coloring, but you can easily put out your own coloring sheets & crayons on a table for the kids. If you’re hiring a princess to entertain the kids at your party, she should take over your party and wow your guests with a fully engaging experience, with everything from non-competitive games, comedy, mesmerizing magic spells, music, pretty face-painting and more, and all of it perfectly coordinated to the princess’ story and your party theme. Her equipment should also look like it belongs to her character. How does she present her things? Does she walk in carrying a bulky, black boom box? Is she rolling in with a suitcase? Your party princess should be a completely interactive one-woman-show for kids; props and equipment should add to the magical experience, not distract from it. Overall, your princess needs to be quite multi-talented; she should be part comedienne, part artist, and part enthusiastic pre-school teacher in order to combine the best elements to keep your whole group engaged and enjoying themselves.
Whew! I know that was a lot to digest, but if you’ve taken all of this information into consideration, and you’ve chosen your party princess wisely, you will hear squeals of joy, not only from your littlest guests, but from your grown-up guests, too. The other parents at the party will come up to you and tell you how fantastic the princess was, how impressed they were with her performance, and even better, will commend you on your fabulous taste, demanding to know where-in-the-world you found her. Pat yourself on the back, mom and dad; you’ve found the perfect party princess.
“Queen Butterfly” & Lead Expert Performer//Papillons Entertainment
P.S. If you’d like to talk about booking a party princess for your up-coming Los Angeles area birthday celebration or special event, please get in touch! I’m here to help and would love to be of service.