It seems that the Disney bug is hitting more and more people. With the growth in popularity in Vinylmation and the continuing enthusiasm if pin trading in the UK there seems no end to what people will do as long as there is Disney in the title. Disney Store continue to get rave reviews for their new store concepts and this month sees the new Disneyland Adventure game released on XBox 360 Kinect. As if that isn’t enough, this year sees the first time in a long while that Feld Entertainment has toured two Disney on Ice productions in the same year.
Earlier in 2011, we were treated to the wonders of Disney on Ice: Disneyland Adventure and it was no the turn of Worlds of Fantasy to take to the stage. The show is based around 4 different Disney properties, each of them different in their own right and all, of course, presented on ice. The first act presented the stories of Cars, The Little Mermaid and Tinkerbell, with the second act taken up purely by Toy Story 3.
The show begins with the traditional appearance of Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Minnie as their red bubble style car breaks down on the ice. Unable to fix it the four head off to try and find a tow truck nearby. Queue the arrival of Mater followed by the rest of the gang with Lightning McQueen at the end with fire effects galore! Now, I understand the need to include such a big franchise and yes, it was awesome to see full size versions of all the vehicles but I don’t understand how this fits in to a Disney on Ice show. At no point in the films do they ever end up on ice and although the full house were pleased to see all the characters the scene consisted of the gang fixing Mickey’s car and then driving around for a bit. I started to look a little like London in rush hour rather than an actual performance. To me, this section of the show was more about getting bums on seats than actual ice related entertainment. Fortunately, it was only to last 10 minutes. If Disney are going to bring Cars 2 the stage then an arena show just for them would be amazing. We have seen the success that the Batman Live show has had recently and I’m sure arenas would fill up to see an arena version of Cars.
From the dusty roads of Radiator springs, we dove under the sea and joined friends from the classic 90s movie, The Little Mermaid. Many people are familiar with the story and those that aren’t would be able to pick it up from the version presented on stage. It was from this point onwards that I felt I was really watching an ice show. The story was told simply and included all the important elements needed to get the audience clapping along. We had paired skating, Sebastian’s upbeat Under the Sea and follow up with Kiss the Girl. The drama was brought by Ursula (an awesome costume, one of the best of the show) as the cast recreated key moments from the film. There is very little else to be said about the The Little Mermaid section other than it was nice to see a Disney classic among all the newer properties on stage.
From the sea we moved to Pixie Hollow and for the first time, and about time, Tinkerbell was given centre stage. The Pixie Hollow series of movies were never as successful as Disney hoped and, in my opinion, less appreciated by an audience than I think they should be. The storylines were great and the celtic vibe to its score was fantastic. Does this mean Feld Entertainment were brave to include it in one of their shows? I personally think not. Once again the story is told in snippets. Tinkerbell is born, Tinkerbell makes friends and wants to go to the mainland, the fairies try to teach her, Vidia is mean and Tinkerbell ruins everything. In the movie, Tinkerbell then heads of to solve Pixie Hollow’s problems with the help of Cheese. But, in the Disney on Ice version, Cheese is no where to be seen. In fact, the whole adventure Tinkerbell takes is missing. We get an elongated beginning, the end and no middle whatsoever. For a Disney fan this is no problem but to someone who may never have seen the film they would most probably be confused. Again, the show first debuted back in 2008 in the US, the same year as the Tinkerbell Movie was released on DVD. Is this a case of Disney using a live show as a marketing tool? Yes, I am afraid to say I think it is. They are some nice special effects and good use of flying but it feel a little flat on story (something Disney prides itself on). I applaud Feld for including the story but take one point away for it’s actual delivery. Nice to look at but incomprehensible as a story.
Act 2 brought us another modern classic, Toy Story 3. This by my reckoning is the best out of the three Toy Story movies and this was going to have to live up to very high standards. I was intrigued to know how they were going to turn a film into a ice spectacular and one that really had very few songs in it. Well, at the beginning of act 2 the lights came up with a grown up Andy packing his things, preparing to head to College. In a clever use of set design, Andy leaves the stage and the curtains open to reveal a scaled up version of Andy’s room, toy size more to the point. Unlike the film, the Toy Soldiers are the first to arrive. I was hoping they would set up the story but instead we were treated to a lengthy soldier chant/rap. Really, we wanted to see the story we know acted out but instead this went on for a little too long. After the Army men had used up all of their dance steps each main character was roll called on to the ice. A huge cheer went up for each: Jessie, Woody, Buzz, Mr and Mrs Potatohead, Hamm, Slinky and Bullseye. It was then that the story unfolded. There was a very quick change from being home at Andy’s to arriving at Sunnyside. There was very little explanation. In fact, the time taken up for the Army men’s ultra hip dance could have gone in to setting up a storyline.
I was keen to see the arrival of the newer characters from the movie and Lotso did not disappoint. A huge bear who really was huggable was greeted with a mixture of cheers and boos and a very camp Ken and Barbie were also warmly welcomed. Unfortunately, there was no sign of Big Baby! Cue another negative point. I know he is a little scary to a younger audience but he was sort of vital to parts of the storytelling. The story then began to move along as a good pace. The arrival of the Caterpillar room children was cleverly done and some neat effects were sewn in but again, I move back to story. If you were to ask Disney Imagineers what one of the key elements of an attraction is they will always go back to story. And it seems that Feld don’t follow the same philosophy. Great chunks of the story were missing. We saw Woody fly away in the kite but we saw no Bonnie, there was no Mr Pricklepants of Buttercup. The gang jumped from the Sunnyside nursery escape to the flaming inferno in seconds. I am not saying that the representation was all bad. In fact the Ken and Barbie clothes scene was very, very funny. But to me it seemed that there was too much emphasis placed on certain scenes without enough to fully complete the story. I found mydelf mentally filling in the story as the show went on just so I could keep up.
So, how do I sum up this review? This is not a bad show. I admit it is not one of their best and if you saw Disneyland Adventures earlier in the year you may be a little disappointed. The skating, costume and set are wonderful and if it wasn’t for the mish mash approach to story telling this would have been a great show rather than a good one. If your family are Disney fans then this is certainly one too see. I doubt there will ever be any other opportunity to see Cars characters on the scale of this show and those of you into good music you will love the renditions of songs from Tinkerbell as well as the contemporary song additions to Toy Story. Go and see it, yes. But don’t pay out top whack for the most expensive seats. You might feel you have overpaid for a family day out.
If you would still like to catch Disney on Ice it will be performing in the following cities:
17th – 20th November – Captial FM Arena, Nottingham
26th – 28th and 30th December – 1st January 2012 – Citywest Hotel, Dublin.