On May 25th, Fantasyland Theatre (née Videopolis) debuted a new live show, "Mickey and the Magical Map." At a preview for the media, Disneyland President Michael Colglazier made an appearance to introduce it.
Mickey, apparently in the middle of his preparations to go onstage as the show's star, joined him in welcoming everyone.
The background for all the numbers is made up of an innovative LED screen which features nearly 1 million pixels and 35,000 square inches. It moves in sections, on wagons that weigh more than 9,000 lbs each.
Without giving too much away...The story begins with the Sorcerer Yen Sid (perhaps familiar from the Epic Mickey games) directing his Mapmakers to paint a map able to transport dreamers to all the places they imagine.
Video of the entire show:
[SPOILERS follow for those concerned about such things.]
The ensemble proceeds to carry out his wishes, to the tune of the original song, "Journey of the Imagination."
To his dismay, Mickey is apparently unqualified to help out with this project, having not yet finished his apprenticeship and gotten his degree in mapmaking.
Left to his own devices, however, he manages to find an unfinished spot on the map, and decides painting it in would be a good proof of his abilities. Unfortunately the spot has other ideas and he finds the process a little more involved than it initially appeared. In pursuit of Spot he ends up entering the map and getting carried away to different worlds of classic Disney films.
The first stop is The Jungle Book, where King Louie performs "I Wan'na Be Like you," with the ensemble cast.
Next, a highlight of the show presents three Princesses in sequence: Pocahontas, singing "Just Around the Riverbend..."
...Mulan, performing "Reflection..."
...And Rapunzel singing "I See the Light," with Flynn Rider.
They end up all singing their different songs together. The map plays a nice role in differentiating the numbers as each section morphs in turn, into a background suitable for each respective princess.
The spot isn't finished with Mickey yet, by a long shot, and the next stop is "Under the Sea," with Sebastian and guys in bubbles.
In retrospect, I'm not really sure why the bubble guys aren't asphyxiating, since you have to figure their heads are completely covered in latex.
Eventually Mickey comes to the realization that not only are all who wander not lost, but not all who are not painted really want to be painted. Happily accepting the status quo, Mickey and Spot scoot off for one more adventure with "Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride," from Lilo and Stitch.
Sorcerer Yen Sid returns to congratulate his apprentice on learning the lesson that just as there are no bounds to our imagination, the map can never be finished as long as there are new dreams left in the world.
Mickey graduates from his apprenticeship and is given his choice of anywhere the magic will take him. He chooses...New Orleans? Well, that's as magical as any, I guess. Princess Tiana and her showboat make an appearance to the tune of "Dig a Little Deeper."
To end the show, Mickey appears back out of the map and closes with a reprise of "Journey of the Imagination," with the usual blast of confetti streamers.
Afterwards, we were treated to a brief Q&A with Kevin Eld, Head of WDI Creative Entertainment, and Michael Jung, Theatrical Development Executive, WDI Creative Entertainment.
For the most part, they spoke of how glad they were to be able to utilize the theater to tell more stories, now that the Princesses have relocated to the new Fantasy Faire area. The process of choosing musical numbers was multifactorial, including the criteria that the songs well articulate the heart of the story--that imagination can take you anywhere. Songs were mostly kept upbeat, to better deal with the open-air theater's ambient audio.
Although the nature of the show seems to lend itself to changing different numbers, possibly to support new films ("Frozen?") and remain relevant, the team assured us that the current incarnation would likely stay around for awhile.
Laura also interviewed Executive Producer Doug McIntyre:
The show is certainly entertaining, with a plethora of energetic singing and dancing. The screens are used inventively with Mickey's transition from outside to inside the map handled particularly well, although the subsequent interstitial bits combining animated Mickey with live-action Mickey seem a little rough to me.
As a whole, the show reminded me a great deal of some of the newer shows Disney has recently unveiled on the cruise ships. "Wishes" in particular has the same heavy use of the video screens as background, and also includes "I Wan'na Be Like You," "Reflection," and "Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride," as well as different songs from the movies "Tangled" and "The Little Mermaid." The production values look good and the songs are mostly your classic Disney standards...so whether or not you find the saga of Mickey and the Unpainted Spot compelling, the musical numbers are pretty solid entertainment.
"Mickey and the Magical Map," runs 22 minutes long, and is scheduled to run five times a day throughout the summer.
The previous post in this blog was How I Spent My Monstrous Summer Day.
The next post in this blog is On the Move: Aulani Disney Resort.