How do you condense 100 years of Disney into a two-hour live performance? There are so many favourite films and musical numbers that you could make the show last a week and still not even come close to covering it all.
But Disney On Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic does a great job of combining old classics alongside newer films for a show full of breath-taking ice choreography set to a soundtrack of Disney musical numbers you can’t help but sing along to, all enhanced by impressive special effects and spectacular costumes.
Currently at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena until Sunday as part of its UK tour, it’s a truly magical experience.
All five of us absolutely loved it.
This was the third Disney On Ice for me, Little Miss E, my seven-year-old daughter, and Little Man O, my five-and-a-half-year-old middle child.
Cardiff Daddy and Toddler Boy I, who has just turned three, came along for the first time. At the end of the performance, there was only one word on Toddler’s lips: “more”. And I think we were all in agreement. To see all the Disney magic you know and love unfold before your eyes is an incredible experience, and to see your child witnessing it for the first time is even more special.
You can watch our video featuring some of the highlights of the night here.
Visually, the show is delightful, with action taking place all over the rink, and the turns, lifts and spins from the team of 50+ dancers provided so many “wow” moments.
The outfits worn by the skaters look as if they have stepped right out of the films and onto the ice in all their full Technicolor glory. Some of the cast wear full-on plush animal outfits – and it’s pretty impressive they can still skate to such high standards while wearing a huge furry animal head.
The show opens with warm-up dancers getting us up and dancing with a routine for The Mouse Bounce. This is part of Disney’s new Fit To Dance initiative, inspiring children to create their own story and an accompanying dance.
From there, classic favourites Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy whizz on to the rink. As with previous Disney On Ice shows, the four provide a narrative that links the various performances together, with Goofy telling us he wants to make his own movie, featuring a story to be inspired by.
The first act begins with a whistle-stop store of Disney favourites. Two numbers from Pinocchio – When You Wish Upon A Star, featuring some incredible spins and turns from the Blue Fairy, and by Pinocchio’s Got No Strings – are quickly followed by scenes from Finding Nemo, with some fantastic costumes and a huge and impressive Crush, the sea turtle, moving around the huge ice arena.
Beauty and the Beast is a very timely and well-received inclusion, given the success of the recent live action film. When Lumiere and Cogsworth entered, you could hear the collective wow from the audience. I love both versions of the film, so would have loved to have seen more. Instead, we had a montage of dances from various Disney princesses and princes, including Ariel, Rapunzel and Snow White.
Frozen ended the first act and was by far the longest section. Too long in my opinion, especially compared to the fast-paced nature of the rest of the show and also given it featured heavily last year. Still, the performances were faultless and some of the turns and spins breath-taking. The audience were singing along word perfectly to musical numbers including Love Is An Open Door, Let it Go and In Summer, from everyone’s favourite snowman Olaf, who got one of the biggest cheers of the night.
The second act opens with Aladdin and included a well-choreographed You Ain’t Never Had A Friend Like Me from Aladdin and Genie, not to mention a stage full of blue genies. We then move on to Toy Story and a cast of marching green soldiers plus Woody, Buzz and Jessie; followed by fearless warrior Mulan with some very impressive skating moves.
The Lion King is clearly a favourite in Cardiff tonight with the rousing Hakuna Matata and the serene Can You Feel The Love Tonight? providing a great contrast. I would have loved to have seen more, but before we knew it, the whole company were back on stage and waving goodbye.
As I said, all three of my children absolutely loved the show.
It was Toddler’s first Disney on Ice and he did amazingly to sit through it all and stay up way past his usual bed time.
Little Man loves Aladdin and Toy Story was so pleased to see those, while Miss E was most excited by Beauty and the Beast.
She surprised me with her reaction to Frozen, saying she doesn’t like it any more! She was four when the film came out in the cinema and immediately loved it. In fact, she was obsessed with it for such a long time. I have so many memories of us all singing along to the soundtrack, which was on constant repeat in the car for months and months, and the beautiful Elsa costume she used to put on for breakfast every morning and insist on wearing out and about. But not anymore. It seems my little girl is growing up and his moved on. (Incidentally, she’s hoping her new favourite Moana, released in the UK just before Christmas, will make the cut next year, if any producers want to take note!)
I, however, couldn’t help but sing along to every word… and I noticed Cardiff Daddy was too. Frozen might be one of Disney’s newest films but for me it is already overflowing with beautiful nostalgia and conjures up many happy memories and I’m sure one day my daughter will rediscover her love for all things Anna and Elsa.
Because that’s the thing about Disney. You are never too old for the magical feelings it creates and there’s enough of it to last a life time.
Disney on Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic is at Motorpoint Arena Cardiff until Sunday 9th April with tickets still available for most performances.
Thursday, 6.30pm; Friday 2.30pm and 6.30pm; Saturday and Sunday 10.30am, 2.30pm, 6.30pm.
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*Thanks to Disney On Ice for providing us with review tickets for the show.