Disney Parks Blog Meet-Up: Mickey and the Magical Map

In celebration of Disneyland’s new musical spectacular, Mickey and the Magical Map, the Disney Parks Blog invited 700 lucky readers to a very special event that included a private viewing of the show.  We were fortunate (and quick) enough to nab a spot for this exclusive experience; continue reading for a recap of the event, and our review of the show!

 

Check-in opened up at 4:30 just outside the Disneyland gates, and when we marched up with our confirmation and signed releases in hand (they would be photographing the event)  around 4:45, we were greeted with a long line.  The funny thing about these types of events (meet-up’s, annual passholder, D23, or otherwise), is that you tend to see a lot of familiar faces over time, so it’s easy to make friends and catch-up while waiting in line.

Once we made it to the front, we were given a not-so-fancy blue wristband, a free (FREE!) ticket into the park for that day, and two raffle tickets (one for each person).  From there, we were escorted down Main Street, USA in small groups, taken around the castle toward it’s a small world, and welcomed into our final destination – the newly refurbished Fantasyland Theatre. 

Welcome to Disneyland's Fantasyland Theatre

 

The venue, which originally opened in 1985 as Videopolis, has been home to a Disney Princess meet & greet since 2006.  Now that their Royal Highness’ have moved into their swanky new digs by the castle, the theater has been completely refurbished in preparation for its first stage production in 7 years.

As our group was escorted into the theater, each person was given a popcorn bucket full of yummy kettle corn, and a choice of a bottled water or soda.

Mickey & the Magical Map Popcorn Buckets

 

As a side note – if you’re hungry while visiting the theater (or the area), the Troubadour Tavern is just outside the entrance, and has also undergone a refurbishment.  The selections here are limited, although seemingly hearty. They offer bratwurst in a brioche bun with bacon, pretzel bites with cheese, a cinnamon-apple baton (pastry), and some snack items are also listed on the menu.  

With our shiny new popcorn buckets and drinks in hand, we picked a seat toward the center of the theater.  I’ve heard there really aren’t any bad seats in the house, but a lot of the show is portrayed on a giant LCD screen that can appear slightly warped if you sit to the far left or far right side. The seats are long bleacher-style benches, and the aisles in the theater are ramped, so steps aren’t an issue (for those that may be concerned).  The seats are fairly comfortable, as much as a bench can be, and they’re spaced out nicely.

The stage is set for the show!

 

A few minutes after we settled into our seats, Erin Glover from the Disney Parks Blog took to the stage and welcomed everyone to the event.  She noted that more surprises were in store, so to be sure and stick around after the show.

Erin Glover from the Disney Parks Blog - How adorable is her Sorcerer Mickey inspired outfit?

 

After the short & sweet introduction, it was time for the show!  While this is an all new stage production with some fabulous special effects, several elements are very familiar.  The mischievous Apprentice Mickey is the star of the show, and all he wants to do is help finish the map.  Going against Sorcerer Yen Sid’s direction, Mickey tries to finish the map on his own, which pulls him into some very magical realms.  Several classic Disney films are represented, including the Jungle Book, the Little Mermaid, and Lilo & Stitch, to name a few.

Apprentice Mickey and the Map Makers performing the new original song, "Journey Into Imagination"

The unfinished spot in the map interacts with Mickey through the LCD screens

Fully articulate King Louie jiving to "I Wanna Be Like You"

Pocahantas, Mulan, and Rapunzel come together in a beautiful medley

Yen Sid teaches Mickey the importance of the unfinished map

A grand finale, indeed!

 

All-in-all, we really enjoyed the show, and I’m certain we’ll be back to watch it again.  It’s definitely geared towards families of all ages, incorporating both classic and modern characters.  At a run time of 22 minutes, it’s just long enough to keep the little ones from getting antsy, and not so long that it eats a huge chunk out of your park day.

Since I don’t want to give away every element of the show, I thought I’d share my 3 favorite things about the performance:

1) The music.  From the songs they’ve selected, to the way they’ve been arranged for the show, I loved every minute of the performances.

2) The map.  The capabilities of the map are incredible, and it really acted as a character in itself.

3) The choreography.  There’s something to be said for big musical numbers, and this show is chock-full of them.  We really loved what they did in the “Hawaiian Roller Coaster” number, and we’re not even Lilo & Stitch fans! (blasphemy, I know)

The cast performs "Hawaiian Roller Coaster"

 

To counter my favorites, I do have a couple of criticisms:

1) The computer animated Yen Sid and Apprentice Mickey are similar to the style of the Tinker Bell movies and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, which are so jarring and unnatural, to me. Especially on a larger-than-life LCD (35,000 square inches, to be exact). I wish they would use hand drawn animation (or Pixar’s tools).

2) The overall message of the show is very sweet, albeit slightly heavy-handed. All of the standard Disney messages are packed into the show, and dare I say, with an over usage of the Disney vocabulary (namely magic and imagination).

After the show, Erin came back to the stage to host a raffle. There were about 5-7 different prize packages to giveaway, including Mickey watches, themed gift bags stuffed to the brim with various merchandise, and even artwork.  Sadly, we didn’t win anything, but this adorable kid in a pair of R2-D2 ears won a Mickey watch!

Next up, a panel took to the stage for a Q&A session with the guests.  The speakers on hand were Tracy Halas, show director and choreographer; Mike Layman, technical director; and Scott Auerbach, art director.

L-R: Scott, Mike, and Tracy

 

Microphones were set up in the audience for guests to ask the panel questions directly.  Here is some of what we learned:

  • Sorcerer Yen Sid, and the show as a whole, were inspired by elements of the Epic Mickey video game
  • Each part of the show can transition, and the LCD lends itself to seasonal changes for the show (though none are currently planned)
  • 900 people auditioned for the show, 55 were chosen
  • There are multiple hidden Mickey’s that can be spotted during the performance

Possibly the cutest moment of the evening was when the kid in the R2-D2 ears went up to the mic and asked the panel: “How does Mickey get INTO the map?!”  There was a collective “awww” heard across the audience. It was priceless.

At the end of the panel, it was time to bid adieu to the Fantasyland Theatre.  On our way out we were handed one last parting gift – a Mickey Rice Krispie treat with a Mickey and the Magical Map luggage tag! Such a cute idea!

This was a fantastic event, and a great show.  I love that Disney holds these types of events for their fans, and was extremely happy to be a part of it! It was an experience we won’t soon forget.  

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About Chrysty Summers

Growing up in southern California, Disneyland has always been a staple for my family. Today, my husband and I spend most of our free time at the parks, where you can usually find us soaking up the atmosphere of Buena Vista Street in California Adventure. We also love traveling to Walt Disney World as often as we can, especially during the Epcot Food & Wine Festival in the Fall! Find me on Twitter @PenelopePeach for live updates from around the parks.