I think that “magic” is the perfect word to describe this show. Having never been to anything like this as a child, I had no expectations, and was blown away by what I saw. The anticipatory buzz was already in the air at the Canadian Tire Centre before anyone took their seats. At 6pm when I arrived, there were already children milling about in excitement for the 7pm show, the majority of which were dressed as their favourite Disney characters – from a variety of princesses to Woody the cowboy from Toy Story.
It was obvious that many local families take this as an opportunity for a special outing. While I waited in line with my nephew for a rainbow slushie in a Mickey cup (princess cup for my girl Mary), the family behind me in line told me that they go to the show every year. When I saw them head for their front row seats, with cotton candy, popcorn and new Disney toys in tow, I got the impression that they were as happy to be there as the first time they attended the event.
My group included my 2 year old daughter, 7 year old nephew, and my mother-in-law, who is a smidge more than 70 years old. We represented the typical grouping of guests for the event, mostly parents or grandparents and kids, but I was surprised to also see older teen girls take their seats beside my mother-in-law and young couples walking to their seats holding hands and smiling. The show seemed to have drawn people of all ages.
And then it was the moment everyone was waiting for – the show started. Mickey and Minnie Mouse were the first to come out onto the ice, emerging from a huge castle to skate around the rink (edged perfectly in film reel). As the professional skaters performed their routine and interacted with the audience, their voices were broadcast throughout the arena. This was the first surprises of the night for me. I wasn’t expecting the bits and pieces of dialogue from the Disney films, as well as the enchanting songs to be merged into the show. I was pleasantly surprised to hear how effortlessly and seamlessly this was done. And for an adult, hearing the familiar Robin Williams as Genie from Aladdin and Ellen DeGeneres as Dory from Finding Nemo was very special. The range of films covered included classics, such as Cinderella and The Little Mermaid, as well as newer films like The Incredibles.
But this was not just a skating spectacle. It felt at once like going to a carnival and a musical. The costumes were planned right down to the sequin, the castle set was elaborate and was used well in different scenes. Fireworks, lights and smoke were used throughout the performance to showcase each Disney story and all the characters. The performers appeared to be having a great time, and a wave or smile to the audience members drew gasps of delight and cheers from the children.
The show ended with all of the characters from the variety of stories presented coming out for one last skating number, and calling on Mickey Mouse to join them. With a smile and a wave, he joined his comrades and the show drew to a close to loud applause. The show was just under 2 hours and my small daughter as well as my older nephew sat on the edge of their seats until the last minute.
I think that the success of the show was not just evident in the fact that folks of all ages enjoyed it, but also what it inspired in the days following the show. My 2 year old daughter asked to “go back to the show” the next day, and has been practicing her “skating” on my living room floor ever since…