Show Spotlight: Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular

“I’d sacrifice riches beyond measure…”

The Cave of Wonders!

The Cave of Wonders!

I’ve been looking forward all year to featuring this – in my opinion, the greatest show ever produced at a Disney park… and ironically the week I scheduled it for comes a week after it was just announced that the show will be closing to be replaced by (of course)… Frozen. That new production will open in Summer 2016.

I was actually in tears at this news. And when someone pointed out that there would be no other place to hear Jasmine sing the song “To Be Free” which was composed especially for this production (since that number is apparently not in the Broadway version), I was doubly devastated.

And unlike the previous attempt by Disney to shut down the show (when they wanted to replace it with a version of the Disney Cruise Line Toy Story Musical) that the vocal fans fought and won – this time I think there will be no reprieve for Genie and his friends despite another loud vocal outcry against this move to close an extremely popular show that continues to play to capacity more than a decade after its original debut.

And while some might feel that the show has worn out its welcome after so long (I’m not one of them), I think the dismay is as much about what is replacing this show as that it is being replaced at all.

Later this week, I’ll discuss in more depth my thoughts on the entertainment changes occurring in the Disney Parks, but for today, let’s celebrate the best Broadway-quality show you can see for free (after park entry cost) at any stateside Disney theme park!

What is Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular?

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If you were to visit the Disneyland Resort only once in a lifetime, this is the one show I would say you cannot miss. Nothing else compares to the quality and sheer entertainment value of this show based on the popular Disney animated film, Aladdin.

Wirework, puppeteering, dancing, singing, comedy, panto-style interactions with the audience – this show has it all! It appeals to the entire family no matter your age or gender.

And it has Genie.

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And did I mention Genie?

Because really, he makes the show with his range of constantly changing improvised jokes and his ability to tug at anyone’s heartstrings. Can I just say: pinky swear. (You teared up at that, didn’t you? You’re not alone.)

But there’s even more to this wonderful show than Genie.

There’s the “Whole New World” sequence which is too magical and magnificent to spoiler but is always the showstopping moment that makes the audience gasp in surprise and awe. And the Jafar final transformation is spectacular indeed!

Plus… Genie!

Who are the performers? Continue reading

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Performer Spotlight: Dapper Steven @ The Dapper Dans of Disneyland

“When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you…”

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First off, I will qualify by noting since he wears badges with both “Steve” and “Steven” on them, I’m not sure which his preference is, but I’ll go with the more formal Dapper Steven here (until I get the chance to clarify next time I see him!).

I will say, I have always thought of Steven as the ‘Happy Dapper’ of the Dapper Dans of Disneyland because he just radiates happiness as he’s performing.

Even though he’s dressed in baritone blue, I associate Steven with the color yellow because he’s always so bright and cheerful!

I don’t know if Dapper Steven was grinning about Dapper Nathan’s chapeau here, but I certainly was!

I don’t know if Dapper Steven was grinning about Dapper Nathan’s chapeau here, but I certainly was!

He has the warmest most constant smile to go along with his delightful baritone vocals and it always makes the day just a bit brighter when his smile is part of it! Continue reading

Performer Spotlight: Dapper Gabriel @ The Dapper Dans of Disneyland

“I’m quittin’ the blues of the world – just singing a song…”

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Returning once again to Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland Park, it’s time to talk about another one of the Dapper Dans funny guys who always makes me laugh when I see him – Dapper Gabriel.

Now, he is not the broad comedian that Dapper Jeremy is or the goofball that Dapper Nathan is or the quietly sardonic one that Dapper Jon is, nor the naïve innocent that Dapper Jason essays so charmingly. But like each of these other talented folks, Dapper Gabriel has his own unique style that adds to the Dapper Dans mix so wonderfully well.

Everything is just a bit heightened and a little extra exaggerated with this guy and it makes for a fun experience both for the audience and for the rest of the Dapper team singing with him.

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Dapper Gabriel consistently appears to be having a good time when he’s performing. He’s always lighthearted and doesn’t seem to take anything very seriously. And his amusement at it all is contagious. Continue reading

Show Spotlight: The (New) Disneyland Band

“There’s nothing we won’t do…”

The new Disneyland Band multi-tasks with music and choreography.

The new Disneyland Band multi-tasks with music and choreography.

What is The (New) Disneyland Band?

The new band in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle just prior to the Diamond Anniversary March-Along.

The new band in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle just prior to the Diamond Anniversary March-Along.

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Disneyland Resort, the original Disneyland Band was retired and replaced with a new higher-energy marching band.

And, yes, as anticipated, there are now comedy antics and choreography. More even seemingly than I recall from Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom marching band, the Main Street Philharmonic (whose costumes are clearly mirrored here, though in Diamond Anniversary blue and silver tones). They also may sing a bit at times. I personally find it all rather distracting and a bit overwhelming but I guess that’s the modern style of marching bands?

As with their Orlando counterparts, there is no longer a conductor per se for the band, but there is still a leader who introduces the performers and interacts with the crowd (and the leader actually does get to wear a conductor coat for one special set during the day). Happily, two of these leaders that I’ve seen so far seem to be conductors from the earlier iterations of the band.

Who are the performers?

The band performing in front of the Golden Horseshoe.

The band performing in front of the Golden Horseshoe.

I didn’t stop to count, but let’s just say a whole lotta people playing a whole lotta brass instruments (and actually, some silver-toned ones to blend for the anniversary with their uniforms) and drums.

When and where can I find them? Continue reading

Performer Spotlight: Nigel @ The 80z All-Stars

“I’ll give you anything you want…”

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On this Labor Day, I couldn’t think of anyone more appropriate to spotlight than one of the hardest working performers to hit a Disneyland Resort stage – lead singer Nigel of The 80z All-Stars!

Nigel not only gives the audience anything it wants, but he gives them everything he’s got!

Leapin' lead singers!

Leapin’ lead singers!

A consummate showman with the most amazing wardrobe, he is completely committed to the performance, the music and the fans. Continue reading

Top 10 Other Things That Could Be Done With Mickey’s Toontown

Following on an earlier post about other things that could be done with Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree (and one of my guesses turned out to be right!), now that that location is being refocused and rethemed, it’s time to turn to another area of the park that is really underutilized space with potential to be much more!

Currently Mickey’s Toontown is a mishmash of leftover 90’s Disney Afternoon meets Disney Junior meets the original idea of Toontown from the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit? but with little of the charm of or commitment to any of it.

I’m with a lot of other fans who would like to see the still popular Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin attraction moved to the far more thematically appropriate Hollywood Land in Disney California Adventure where it would fit in wonderfully with the time period of such set pieces as the Red Car Trolley and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. But assuming that it makes little financial sense to pack up that attraction and move it, here are some other personal ideas just off the top of my head of things I might do if I could remake Mickey’s Toontown.

  1. As mentioned earlier this week, why not make the area a Meet & Greet location for rare characters? Plenty of people would love to meet more than just the most popular Princesses or Fab Five characters who can also be found in Town Square on Main Street or at Disney California Adventure.  So why not have a different set of characters from a different film appear here each month? Maybe base it on the anniversaries of their films? Just imagine getting to meet characters from The Lion King one month, Pinocchio the next, Sleeping Beauty the next (including Phillip and Maleficent!), and so on… Continue reading