Yes, it’s a commercial machine. Yes, they pile on the pressure to buy ridiculously expensive popcorn that comes in a Disney-branded tub. Yes it’s for kids. But I went with three adults and we had a blast.
There were bubbles. There was smoke. There was snow and fireworks. Disney on Ice commemorates 100 years of magic in one ice escapade. This was a trip down memory lane with your favourite childhood characters. So why are some people complaining?
OK, so too many characters fell out of their jumps either due to extremely slippery ice or to simple inexperience (it would certainly have been a stronger show if the skaters were more stable). And the finale of the opening performance was an unfortunate anticlimax when a technical problem occurred leaving the stage in complete darkness for 30 seconds. Half the sound equipment also cut off and when the house lights were switched on many audience members stood up and starting shuffling out despite the show continuing.
But when everything is working the visual aspect of the performance is highly impressive. An embellished set design with a movie reel that borders the ice rink is perfectly fitting for the Disney movie experience. The décor and use of a typical fairytale castle proved to be a lot more enchanting than expected, as it is able to manoeuvre and open into different structures including the Great Wall of China.
The costumes make the performance. The Disney characters look as authentic as possible, and the amount of detail that has gone into the costumes is astonishing; from Jasmine’s ice skates that curl up at the toes, to Woody’s plastic hair. Not to mention the sharks from Finding Nemo and the dragon from Mulan and of course, the enormous whale from Pinocchio.
The show entails different scenes from iconic Disney movies with actual voice overs and songs. It’s a bit of a rush from one to the next but transitions are cleverly put together, as characters from the different movies interact and sometimes even overlap.
The show consists of more acting than figure skating, though halfway through the first act a love medley is performed by the all time classic Disney couples; Aladdin and Jasmine, Ariel and Prince Eric, Pocahontas and John Smith, Belle and the Beast, Cinderella and the Prince. The partner work is absolutely beautiful, and involves some remarkable lifts and sweet moments of romance.
The highlight is the conclusion of the first act of It’s A Small World After All as the décor structure opens up into a captivating golden castle that lights up. The performers from all the various nations take the spotlight one by one showcasing all the diverse countries of the world, while a hot air balloon carrying the iconic Mickey Mouse hovers above the ice rink. A charming and mesmerizing scene.
Other than a few technical hiccups, the overall show was a complete sensation – the ultimate children’s performance. This was a well executed Disney experience transferring the audience into 100 years of the magical imagination of Walt Disney.
Disney on Ice ran at Grand Arena, Grandwest from 23 to 27 July 2014.