Disneyland has debuted Mickey and the Magical Map, a fantastic new live show at the Fantasyland Theatre that appeals to parents and kids alike with a Broadway-style production filled with classic songs that will have you tapping your toes and singing along. There are plenty of “WOW!” moments as the Disney magic flows between live performers and an LED map, which, though subtle, is a main character in the show. The show is worth fitting into your Disneyland visit.
Where is the Fantasyland Theatre, you ask? You’ve walked by it on your way to Toontown, and maybe walked inside as for awhile it served as the princess meet-and-greet spot (…or you could be really old and remember seeing Samantha Fox play there during your own Grad Night way back when). The Fantasyland Theatre had been slightly forgotten unless you have a princess-obsessed child, but it’s returned as a destination spot as part of a greater Fantasyland renewal with the opening of the Fantasy Faire, and now the restored theatre. (More on Fantasy Faire and why we think it’s special.)
Mickey and the Magical Map
Mickey returns to a playful role as a young apprentice to wise sorcerer Yen Sid (Disney, spelled backwards), who has asked his apprentices to paint a magical map, one that has the power to take dreamers anyplace they can imagine. Mickey gets in a little over his head in an effort to get noticed, and tries to paint the map’s one unfinished spot. The mischievous spot has other plans and it leads Mickey on a great journey crossing paths with King Louie from The Jungle Book, Pocahontas, Mulan, Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from Tangled, and Tiana from The Princess and the Frog. The classic Disney stories are seamlessly woven together through the map, with songs moving the story along.
Mickey and the Magical Map Appeals to All
There is nothing scary, the story is upbeat, fun, and full of excitement. The singing is live, not canned, making the production feel natural. The cast is truly phenomenal. The show has the expected Disney duality – appealing to both kids and adults – and the show works for little kids, too. It’s not too long – running about 22 minutes – and it’s full of activity to captivate even short attention spans. The seating is raked, allowing a good view from all seats, even for kids. Not only is the stage raised from the seats, but action occurs on different levels, raising some of the performers up to higher parts of the map. The map is large – about 35,000 square inches of screen and about a million pixels, but it doesn’t take over the stage and it isn’t overwhelming.
Mickey and the Magical Map will show five times daily through the summer, with a new schedule beginning in the fall.
Behind the Show
There were many daunting challenges to make this work in an outdoor venue, especially because it’s impossible to “keep the outside on the outside,” as explained by Kevin Eld, vice president of Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment. The show needed to be “robust enough to stand up to the outside world intruding into the theatre,” he said.
Thanks to proximity to Los Angeles, there was a deep well of talent from which to cast the show. Over 900 performers auditioned, with 54 selected for the final cast (24 performers in each show).
We never noticed park noises once in the theatre. Once we walked into Fantasyland Theatre, we were fully engaged with the stage, and then the performance once it begin. It was comfortable outdoors, not only with fresh air, but sometimes indoor shows can be too loud or overwhelming to younger children. The open, outdoor nature of the Fantasyland Theatre removed that.
I looked over at my six year old son throughout the performance to gauge his take and never once did he take his eyes off the stage. He was entranced. Afterward, he raved, saying it was a lot of fun and that he loved it. This was high praise from a boy who was a little apprehensive prior to the show that it was going to be about princesses only.
This show will be one of the highlights of your visits.
Photos courtesy of Disneyland