This post reviews the brand new Walt Disney Studios Park show: Mickey and the Magician. There will be a few photos and spoilers, so avoid reading if you’re not up for that.
Saturday 2 July, we meet up with a bunch of invited fans in front of Studio 2, now dubbed the Animagique Theater. A nice new sign sits on top of the canopy, replacing that weird logo with Mickey’s hand holding a magic wand (did that sign over make sense anyway?). We’re escorted inside the theater and get assigned seats in front of the stage. The air is filled with smoke and blue-purple lights set a mysterious atmosphere. “And now… Mickey and the Magician!”, the curtain opens and Joel McNeely’s score blasts through the speakers. We see an attic, with a projection of the Paris skyline. The moon is glowing in the sky, one of the many George Méliès references in the show. The Magician comes on stage escorted by a song written just for this show: “Let the Magic Shine”, quickly followed by Mickey Mouse himself, as you’ve never seen him before at Disneyland Paris…
From here on, the show follows the classic Disney template: the main character (Mickey) has to use the help of his friends to find the magic within himself. It’s eerie similar to the Dreams and Believe shows on the Disney Cruise Line ships: there’s Fairy Godmother performing Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo, a big Be Our Guest dance routine, a Las Vegas style Friends Like Me and a belting Rafiki. It’s a classic Disney cocktail, but loaded with extra spices like mind-boggling magic tricks (how does that box levitate only to have a dancer come out of it?) and Joel McNeely’s powerful soundtrack. Hearing Let it Go performed by a 70 piece orchestra gave me chills.
That fact that Mickey and Magician feels so familiar to American Disney productions is no coincidence. Michael Jung , creative head of all the theatrical productions at the Disney Destinations is one of the driving forces behind the show. It’s under his lead and Disneyland Paris’ own Katy Harris that the show was produced to the highest Disney standards, something that has been lacking in some of the the park’s past productions.
There hasn’t been a a big Broadway-style production here since The Legend of the Lion King in 2004, which was flawed from the beginning by having the cast perform inside a fast food restaurant: the theater was not emerging enough and seating was limited. Mickey and the Magician on the other hand fixes all of this, it’s everything the audience wants it to be: a big Disney musical production with live performers, a grand stage, impressing effects, popular Disney songs and yes, Frozen.
I didn’t visit the resort for almost 2 years before this weekend for various reasons, but after walking through the parks looking at all the refurbishments going on, staying at the refurbished Newport Bay Club and watching this show, I can say that it’s not Mickey who found his magic in this show, it’s Disneyland Paris. The resort is finally shedding off its Ugly Duckling image and is slowly, but surely, transforming itself into a Disney Destination that fans can be proud off.