The moment we entered the Grand Arena we were ambushed by Disney merchandise.
Ice slushies were being sold for over R100 in Olaf the Snowman mugs, popcorn prices ranged from R30 to R120 depending on whether the heated maize kernels were contained in a cardboard box or a Disney themed bag, while disembodied Disney soundtracks played on a loop, which added excitement to an increasingly electric atmosphere. I surrendered to the shameless systematic coercion and bought the only thing that I could afford – two Disney colouring books for R60 each – ironically to the omnipotent crooning of ‘Let It Go’. As we took our seats, cynicism abandoned me and when Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck and Goofy glided onto the ice rink, I was catapulted backwards into my childhood.
The show is divided into four parts, namely Toy Story, The Little Mermaid, Cars, and Frozen. Storylines are excerpted and condensed versions of their film counterparts, with introductions by the hosts in between each tale. The exceptional detail and evident effort that went into creating each costume, prop and set design is staggering. This meticulous attention to detail and the inclusion of voiceovers from the original cast, made one feel as though they are experiencing magnified versions of their fictional heroes. Judging by the booming cheers, Cars’ Lightning McQueen and Frozen’s Olaf the Snowman were clear crowd favourites.
A mesmerizing sensory treat, World of Enchantment is designed to entrance with a captivating cacophony of colour, music and sound. There was smoke, the bang of fireworks, the rush of bubbles and a flurry of snow as the backdrop changed into a different setting with the fall of a curtain. Highlights were the synchronistic choreography of the marching toy soldiers as well as the kaleidoscopic blend of colour in the impressive dance sequence of the underwater creatures in The Little Mermaid.
Having never witnessed a performance with professional ice-skaters, I spent most of the show holding my breath, wincing and willing them not to slip and fall. I wondered what it takes to be able to glide gracefully on ice, in bladed shoes while dressed as a reindeer. In the occasional moments where I did relax, I giddily sang along to signature soundtracks including The Little Mermaid’s ‘Under The Sea’ Frozen’s ‘Let it Go’ and I had to swallow back a lump in my throat during Toy Story’s ‘You Got a Friend in Me’. An unexpected surprise was the addition of Michael Jackson’s “Leave Me Alone”, Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music White Boy” and I burst out laughing as Ken modeled to Chic’s “Le Freak”.
Although the show delivers through most of the show with regards to props, I was disappointed with the anti-climactic reveal of Elsa’s magical snow castle which constitutes of a two-way staircase and a white lace curtain. Despite this, Disney on Ice: World of Enchantment lives up to its name. As the show ended and I morphed back into my adult self, I felt utterly elated and entertained. I patted my loose pockets as I passed the various overpriced curios, and I wondered if I had spared myself enough money to get home.
Disney on Ice runs at the Grand Arena at the Grand West from 6 July until 10 July 2016.