Diamond Mad T Party – Return to Wonderland

“So we back in the club with our bodies rockin’ from side to side…”

Mousertainment Memorandum: Article updated at the end with reactions to the soft open of the show on the evening of 5/21!  Now with photos!

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Original post 5/21:

Friday, May 22nd kicks off the 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration at Disneyland Resort with a 24 hour event. But for all Mad T Party fans, there’s even more reason to celebrate as we get our party back!

There will be some changes for the new Diamond edition, but hopefully their impact will be minimal. And really, as long as I have my favorite band back playing long sets of great pop and rock music, I’m good.

A few differences will include:

  • The closing of the Mad Arcade – which actually closed with the T Party this past winter, but it’s not coming back and I don’t think too many people will miss it – unlike Flynn’s Arcade from ElecTRONica which is still totally missed.
  • No return for the aerialist act either – which I’m not upset about since I didn’t care for their performance music and never understood how they made sense thematically.
  • The second stage over by the former Mad Arcade that was used for the Who R U?, the aerialist act and the Hottest Deck in Town dance crew was removed for Freeze the Night! and has not returned. Instead the dance crew will move over to the backlot stage across from the band stage.
  • The color scheme and setup of the T stage have changed with elements moved around in the area. The large teapot and former teacup home of the White Rabbit DJ have moved offstage which opens up the space onstage quite a bit. There are some new Wonderland themed touches decorating the backlot area as well. 

There will also be additions of:

  • A photo op area – not sure yet if this will include live or digital characters or backgrounds or whether this will be themed to the classic animated version of Alice in Wonderland for the Diamond anniversary or the Tim Burton version to match the Mad T Party.
  • Interactive activities in the area – I’m guessing maybe the light patterns on the floor for kids to jump on type of thing that they had for Freeze the Night! If so, I don’t see that going over well with the T crowd as it doesn’t trend that young.
  • Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum will reflect on the history of Disneyland during the evening and a nostalgia theme will be woven into the show. Hopefully this doesn’t slow down the pacing and energy of a great consistently upbeat event.

What will stay the same:

  • The Mad T Party band! Seriously, this was the key component that made this event such a success for the first 2 ½ years of its run. There is no Mad T Party without this special group of manic musicians and magical performers.
  • The White Rabbit DJ – who provides music to entertain the crowd between the band sets and helps keep the energy up.
  • The Hottest Deck in Town – the really talented dance crew with terrific choreography. I’m very glad they’re moving this crew over to the backlot stage so I’ll hopefully be able to see them better when I’m across the way near the band stage – there are some truly amazing dancers in this group!
  • The Tweedles will remain the hosts of the party – which makes me happy as I love their silliness and the more Wonderland characters the merrier!

The rest of this week I will be spotlighting some more terrifically talented T performers who I look forward to seeing again soon as we go down the rabbit hole together once again!

Will you be visiting the Diamond Mad T Party? Are you sad to see some of the entertainment options not returning or do you think the party will be better in this more streamlined version?

 

Update 5/22/15: WOW! WOW! WOW! I went to the soft open of the Diamond Mad T Party last night and it was INCREDIBLE!  I can honestly say it’s one of the best set lists T has ever had as they have (short of the new opening number) pretty much ditched the random pop and R&B music in favor of an all rock ‘n roll sound!

On the one hand, I’m kind of sad about this as the pop and R&B music were some of my most favorites at T.  However, this Diamond selection of songs with some new and retro choices and some former T favorites made for the most cohesive musical sound that T has ever had, in my opinion.

This of course means that some favorites were lost (we miss you, “Very Merry Unbirthday”!) but some other old favorites were brought back too, so it balanced out eventually.

So what else was new aside from what had been previewed above?  Surprisingly a lot and most of it was great!

The Most Dazzling Deck in Town and the Tweedles on the Backlot Stage.

The Most Dazzling Deck in Town and the Tweedles on the Backlot Stage.

The Hottest Deck in Town got a total makeover – including their name!  They are now The Most Dazzling Deck in Town!  They got new outfits and lost their wigs.  I was apparently in the minority in not liking the new outfits as I felt they lost their uniformity and much of their “muchness” as the previous outfits clearly defined them as part of the Card Guards of Wonderland.  The new outfits are more individual and seem less obviously Wonderland to me.  Fortunately, the dancers and dancing are as incredible as ever, so I can live with the other changes.  Plus moving them to the backlot stage worked terrifically well as those of us by the band stage – with a bit of craning our necks – could at least finally see the dancers in action!

The Mad T Party band’s outfits got bedazzled to differing levels of effect.  The guys got some sparkly details on a few spots of their costumes.  Hatter got a new scarf and some new lace cuffs added to his jacket.  But Alice’s already gorgeous costume got some fun bling added to it – and while throwing rhinestones all over everything is not generally the most appealing way to add visual interest to an outfit, it really did make Alice sparkle and I think it turned out great.

White Rabbit DJ Wendy back at T!

White Rabbit DJ Wendy back at T in her new location on stage!

In a bit of a confusing move, the majority of the band switched locations on stage – the March Hare and Dormouse exchanged spots, and the Cheshire Cat was displaced from the center of the stage off to the Caterpillar’s former location on the side, while the Caterpillar moved to the opposite side of the stage.  This left space at the back center of the stage for the White Rabbit DJ to stand at a new “T” shaped dais, similar to where DJ Chill had stood during Freeze the Night!  I think the sound seemed unbalanced by these moves, but it’s always hard to hear optimally when you’re closer to the stage as the music is actually balanced for people standing in the back of the area, not the front!

Wait, why is March Hare over there and Dormouse over there?

Wait, why is March Hare over there and Dormouse over there?

Around the stage itself, the beautiful “paper” lanterns that formerly decorated the area were replaced by some sparkly cardboard chandeliers to less successful effect.  Whereas the lighting around the stage was increased to terrific results from both above and below the band!  Also the screens at the back of the stage were increased in size and there were lots of great new graphics playing on them during the band sets!

Photo location with former stage props.

Photo location with former stage props.

The photo op area – at least as far as I saw it prior to the show – seemed to just be the Teapot (now sealed) and former White Rabbit DJ Tea Cup (now filled in).  Not sure if anything was added over there once the show started. But the area was pretty. 

My biggest criticism is the decision to change the time of the band sets to accommodate a brief nostalgic Disneyland-themed interlude by the Tweedles at 7pm.  This could have been incorporated into the normal DJ time without pushing back the band sets, but for whatever reason, there is now more than an hour break between the first and second band sets.  So instead of performing at the top of each hour, the band will play at 6pm, 7:30pm, 8:30pm and 9:30pm, ending right at 10pm.  For those of us who liked that T previously ended at 9:30pm so we could run over to Disneyland for our choice of evening entertainment options over there, this will cut into that ability dramatically as many things will be over before we can get there (possibly an intentional scheduling choice to reduce evening crowds at the other park?).  So for me, that’s the most frustrating change made for this new Diamond Mad T Party. 

Happily though, we’ve dived right into the “summer schedule”, meaning the Diamond Mad T Party will be running 7 days a week for the next few months, so there will be plenty of opportunities to catch all of these amazing performers rocking out all summer long!

And so it begins...

And so it begins…

The best part of the new event?  Well, I don’t want to spoiler it, so I’ll just say that there is a new routine that blew the crowd away – we screamed our approval through the whole thing as surprise after surprise popped out at us!  People I spoke with there agreed this was the best thing T has done since the original introduction of Halloween T (to be spotlighted in the appropriate spooky season later this year!)!  Amazing, impressive and heartwarming simultaneously!

With this number, Diamond Mad T successfully bridged the gap between Disneyland Resort history and present – it was fun, exciting and respectful.  Kudos to all who made this happen!

Nothing makes me happier than seeing these two performing together at T!

I just adore seeing these two performing together at T!

And best of all, it’s just a pleasure to be able to say: welcome back Mad T Party band, White Rabbit DJ, Tweedles and Most Dazzling Deck in Town – we’ve missed you!!!

Update 1/27/16: I know one of the biggest questions is always, “what’s the set list?” and since the Diamond Mad T Party set list hasn’t changed since it started, I figured I’d add it here for reference.  I will point out that this is the full regular list and occasionally songs get dropped on any given night due to vocal issues, dancer or Tweedle availability, or even weather (sometimes it’s too hot or too cold or too rainy to do the full sets).  Also, if it’s an Alice-only or Hatter-only night, they usually only do two shorter sets for the night and the song list can be mixed up or added to (for example, on Hatter-only nights, the Hatter often likes to bring back “P.Y.T.” which was performed at Mad T a while ago).  But on most Diamond T nights, this is what you will hear!

Diamond Mad T Party Set List:

1st Set:

  • Uptown Funk
  • All the Small Things
  • What I Like About You/Happy
  • Counting Stars
  • Come On Eileen
  • Separate Ways
  • Let’s Go Crazy

2nd Set:

  • 80’s Medley/Jessie’s Girl/Summer of ‘69/Your Love/Just What I Needed
  • Spiderwebs
  • Are You Gonna Be My Girl
  • Ho Hey
  • You Give Love a Bad Name
  • Don’t Stop Believin’
  • When You Wish Upon a Star/Best Day of My Life/Classic

3rd Set:

  • Sweet Child of Mine
  • Vertigo
  • Heartbreaker
  • Love Runs Out
  • Ballroom Blitz
  • Raise Your Glass
  • The Pretender

4th Set:

  • Shut Up and Dance With Me
  • Somebody Told Me
  • Wrecking Ball
  • Everybody Talks
  • Part of Me
  • Living on a Prayer
  • When You Wish Upon a Star/Best Day of My Life/Classic

Update 2/17/16: It saddens me greatly to report that Disney has announced that the Diamond Mad T Party will be closing as of March 30th.  The news has taken us all by surprise – especially given the timing with a new Alice movie being released a few weeks later.  So let us all raise our glass one more time to some of the best entertainment this Resort has ever provided – three cheers for The Mad T Party!

Update 11/13/16: Check out some of this band’s performances here on the Mousertainment YouTube Channel

Check out some of the Most Dazzling Deck in Town dancers performances here on the Mousertainment YouTube Channel

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