‘Mickey and the Magical Map’ is a tale about a mouse apprentice who is desperate to impress his master and become a map maker. Make no mistake about it, Mickey Mouse impresses.
Disney has done a phenomenal job of pairing technology with classic characters to present a fast moving stage show. The magical map is a stage length three tiered video wall/platform that Mickey Mouse interacts with throughout the show. He constantly tries to paint an unfinished spot on the map which doesn’t want to be painted. The spot maneuvers around the map to avoid Mickey and in the process transports Mickey to four destinations based on the points of the compass. The first stop on the tour is East. The map splits into two pieces and turns into a jungle back drop as King Louie from ‘The Jungle Book’ emerges to sing “I Want to Be Like You”. This is not just another costume character moving along to audio as has been the case in past stage shows. Louie’s mouth and eyes open and close as he sings along making the character much more lifelike. His costume seems much more flexible and lighter than past iterations as he gracefully dances along the stage… well as gracefully as a 500 pound orangutan can. Another point on the compass unlocks Sebastian the crab from the ‘Little Mermaid’. Sebastian is not a costume character but a large puppet that is carried around the stage during a salsa number in which his puppeteer sings “Under the Sea”. By the time all the directions on the map are unlocked we’ve seen Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana from ‘The Princess and the Frog’, and Rapunzel with Fylnn Rider from ‘Tangled’. We also get a peek at Stitch from ‘Lilo and Stitch’ but oddly this is just video and the only segment in which the character does not emerge from the map. It is very likely that in time there will be a Stitch running around the stage and that the costume/puppet just wasn’t finished before the May 25th launch date of the show. ‘Mickey and the Magical Map’ is a fun show that brilliantly combines technology with old school showmanship. It’s nice to see the princess characters actually sing their parts live and live trumpet players help to spice up ‘The Jungle Book’ and ‘The Princess and the Frog’ segments. Seeing Mickey Mouse move his mouth and eyes as he speaks to Yen Sid the wizard (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) is magical.
‘Mickey and the Magical Map’ appears to be built as a modular show meaning the producers will be able to swap out segments to highlight various characters. This will be useful to market new movies and their characters or to celebrate various Disneyland events. This past weekend was Greek Week at Disneyland marking the return of Hercules to the park. The next time Disneyland holds a Greek Week, they could easily work a Hercules segment into one of the compass directions. Disney has been trying to work in modular aspects to their new attractions so that they are ever changing and keep park guests intrigued. Radiator Springs Racers in Disney’s California Adventure has a portion with two different tracks each with their own exclusive story segment. The revamped Star Tours ride has used modular segments to create 54 possible ride scenarios for guests.
The big question with a new Disneyland attraction is always “What did it replace?” ‘Mickey and the Magical Map’ took over the Fantasyland Theater near It’s a Small World. The venue formerly hosted ‘Disney Princess Fantasy Faire’ which was essentially moved to its own brand new area next to Sleeping Beauty Castle as an expansion of Fantasyland called Fantasy Faire. The Fantasyland theater is a covered amphitheater that holds around 1,800 guests.
The 22 minutes of ‘Mickey and the Magical Map’ will quickly blow by reminding you of why you’ve loved Disney all these years. The show is beautiful. The sound is great. The benches are terrible but are worth sitting on to see this show.