Show Spotlight Flashback: Mickey’s Soundsational Parade

Mickey Mouse!

Next weekend will herald the return of the refreshed Pixar Play Parade, moving from its original home at Disney California Adventure to its newer incarnation with plussed/added floats in Disneyland Park.  So this week seems the appropriate time to look back at Mickey’s Soundsational Parade that came in with a bang a few years ago and left recently with no send-off whatsoever… (though granted, the park website is still listing it as “Returning Later”, so it may yet get a formal good-bye – or a welcome back!)

What was Mickey’s Soundsational Parade?

Ariel!

Mickey’s Soundsational Parade premiered in the summer of 2011 and featured sections from:

  • The Fab Five (Mickey Mouse & Friends)
  • Aladdin
  • The Little Mermaid
  • The Three Caballeros
  • The Lion King
  • The Princess and the Frog
  • Peter Pan
  • Mary Poppins

The floats and vehicles were generally a mix of movie-location-themed (ala Rapunzel’s tower or a sea-grouping for Ariel) and music/drum themed pieces for the “Soundsational” music concept tying them all together.

Tiana and Louis!

Who were the performers? Continue reading

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Show Spotlight Flashback: Disney California Adventure Festival of Holidays 2017 – Holiday Sunset Concerts – Phat Cat Swinger

Swing it!

What was the Disney California Adventure Festival of Holidays 2017 – Holiday Sunset Concerts – Phat Cat Swinger?

Phat Cat Swinger

This past holiday season at Disney California Adventure, to happily add a live music component to the festivities, there were nightly concerts held right after the sun set to give maximum effect to the bright colorful lights in the background. Depending on which night you would go, you might see different bands there, but one of the main ones was Phat Cat Swinger!

They’re a big band group that would sing and swing a range of music that fit the season, their big band theme and the Disney location.  They’d even throw in an occasional original song, too!

Great to listen to, they were even more fun to watch with their choreographed movements adding to the show quality.

Who were the performers?

The Phat Cat Swinger band is comprised of a lead singer (with the shiniest suits!) and multiple musicians playing everything from brass to drums. But once in a while, even the sax player gets to sing a song!

When and where could I find it? Continue reading

Show Spotlight Flashback: Buena Vista Street Holiday Tree Lighting with The Buena Vista Street Community Bell Ringers

“If I cannot bring you comfort, then at least I bring you hope…”

The Bell Ringers and Mickey Mouse help light the Christmas tree on Buena Vista Street!

The Bell Ringers and Mickey Mouse help light the Christmas tree on Buena Vista Street!

As we did not get to see The Buena Vista Street Community Bell Ringers out in Disney California Adventure this year – a great loss to Christmas cheer! – it means we also lost the associated event of their participation in the Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Buena Vista Street. So we’ll flashback now to what you would have enjoyed at this time last year…

What was the Buena Vista Street Holiday Tree Lighting with The Buena Vista Street Community Bell Ringers?

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This was a brief show by the Bell Ringers with a holiday song or two performed in their beautiful vocal and instrumental style to celebrate the nightly lighting of the Christmas tree at Disney California Adventure.

Along with the music, there was a welcome to guests with appearances by the Citizens of Buena Vista Street and various Disney characters.

Who were the performers?

The Bell Ringers greet Mickey Mouse and PhiPhi!

The Bell Ringers greet Mickey Mouse and PhiPhi!

This unique show brought together three different entertainment elements – the Buena Vista Street Community Bell Ringers, the Citizens of Buena Vista Street and Disney characters like Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse dressed in their Buena Vista Street period seasonal best!

The Bell Ringers incorporated their music into the presentation and encouraged the crowd to sing along, while the various characters wished everyone a happy holidays!

When and where could I find it? Continue reading

Show Spotlight Flashback: Billy Hill and the Hillbillies

Sit down in that chair right there, and let me show you how it’s done!”

It’s hard to believe that this week marks two years since Billy Hill and the Hillbillies last performed at Disneyland Park. But in honor of that anniversary, let’s look back at the joy these musical comedians gave audiences there for more than 20 years.

What was Billy Hill and the Hillbillies?

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Billy Hill and the Hillbillies (or “the Billies” as they were fondly known) were a team of incredibly skilled musicians whose fingers flew over their instruments as quickly as their jokes flew out at the audience!

Their musical performances were cleverly choreographed and could take them both around the stage and out into the audience with equal precision and timing while still feeling spur of the moment spontaneous.

The humor was pure southern cornpone and perfectly fit their main venue of the Golden Horseshoe Saloon.

The music was a mix of bluegrass and country folk heaven – a respite of charm and Americana in the midst of guests’ bustling day at the park. And their fans, myself included, just ate it all up!

Who were the performers?

Big Al and his friends join Billy Hill and the Hillbillies for a song!

Big Al and his friends join Billy Hill and the Hillbillies for a song!

Billy Hill and all his brothers – each also named Billy Hill – made up a group that performed on everything from guitar to fiddle to banjo to mandolin to upright bass. Several members of the group played multiple instruments even within the same show!

And on occasion, they were joined by a few Country Bears as well!

When and where could I find it? Continue reading

A No Pictures Show Flashback – Celebrate! Goofy and The Beast

Looking back at the year, there were definitely shows that I wanted to cover – in particular, some no longer with us – but didn’t have any pictures to share and decided I couldn’t do full features on them without proper photo accompaniment.

But today, I’d still like to give some praise to those couple of former shows that I would have featured in more depth individually if I could have.

I’ll start with a short-lived but fun parade at Disneyland Park that ran from 2009-2010:

Celebrate! A Street Party Parade

I may be literally the only person on earth who loved this parade. I credit it to the great musical selections and high energy dancing (no surprise here!) that always made me have to stop and watch and dance along!

Most people seemed to regard it as just a low budget production with very simple floats for the characters to ride upon and accompanying bicycle carts. And pretty much everyone agreed that its replacement, Mickey’s Soundsational Parade (to be spotlighted here at a later date!) was a vast qualitative improvement – and even I can’t argue that.

But there was a joy and a fun to Celebrate! that I dearly loved – whether it was interacting with the DJ-style hosts at the tops of the floats or the performers along Main Street, U.S.A. I can’t recall having a better time at a Disney parade than this one. Just hearing the first strains of “Hey! Get up! Get loud! Start pumpin’ up the party now!” would get me excited and I’d head right for the parade route.

Its counterpart at Walt Disney World Resort would probably be the Move It! Shake It! Parades (I will be doing a flashback at some point on the early incarnation of Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! at a future date). These are both parades designed to invite the guests to join in the fun and I really like that aspect of it. However, I loved the music of Celebrate! at Disneyland Park best. It made me so happy to hear upbeat songs like “The Cup of Life (Ale Ale Ale)” with the accompanying stilt walkers and conga line or “You Can’t Stop the Beat” – possibly one of the most dance-worthy songs ever!

That’s probably why I got teary a few years after it ended when I happened to be at EPCOT at park open and they had a brief opening musical moment that included Celebrate’s signature song “Celebrate You!” This song was also used in the Magic Kingdom’s former parade, Celebrate a Dream Come True (also due for a future flashback feature!). But for me, the energy of it worked best at Celebrate! at Disneyland.

For me, this was closer to a traveling dance show with long choreographed performances and constant cast member costume changes than an actual parade and that’s probably why I loved it and maybe why as a parade it wasn’t so successful!

Instant Concert! … just add water

Another terrific and sadly missed show that lasted for over two years at Disney California Adventure is Goofy’s Instant Concert! … just add water. Continue reading

The Mad T Party Flashback – Christmas T

“All I want for Christmas is you!”

The very first “special” cup of T at The Mad T Party in Disney California Adventure was back in the winter of 2012, just a few months after the show originally debuted. This was the Christmas version of the show. It would prove to be so well received that the even more popular Halloween Mad T Party would premiere in the fall of 2013.

Sadly, due to the never-changing set list of the current Diamond Mad T Party iteration, we not only lost Halloween T this year, but also Christmas T. This is particularly sad as Christmas T was cut short last year to bring in the temporary unsuccessful Freeze the Night! event.

But while I spend my time thankful that we at least have SOME version of The Mad T Party still playing, I thought it was the perfect occasion to look back at what we are missing at Christmas T time…

Christmas T stage decorations in November 2014.

Christmas T stage decorations in November 2014.

The first and most obvious change for Christmas T was the decorations. Snowflakes and red ribbons wrapped the poles around the main stage, while icicle-like lights adorned the trees in the Hollywood Land area around the T Party.

The second big change was the set list. Fun Christmas songs ranging from “This Christmas” to “Run, Run, Rudolph” to “Let it Snow” added great seasonal cheer and merriment to the show – not to mention some nice musical variety!

I don’t want a lot for Christmas… T is all I’m asking for!

I don’t want a lot for Christmas… T is all I’m asking for!

But the big showstopper was when Alice would take to the front of the stage to just tear it up on “All I Want For Christmas Is You”! Really, my Christmas is no longer complete without this. But this year, I have to settle for watching videos of it from the previous holiday seasons! Continue reading

Show Spotlight Flashback: The Plight Before Christmas at the Jingle Jangle Jamboree

Miss Holly Day dances with her beau, Sheriff Douglas Fir.

Miss Holly Day dances with her beau, Sheriff Douglas Fir.

What was The Plight Before Christmas?

Booooo! Hiss! The villain threatens our heroine.

Booooo! Hiss! The villain threatens our heroine.

The idea was that the townsfolk of Frontierland in Disneyland Park were going to put on a Christmas play in the form of a melodrama.

Along the lines of a classic Western, there were good guys to root for and a bad guy to root against and a heroine in jeopardy who wound up tied at the railroad tracks with the train approaching. In vaudeville style, there were corny jokes and silly songs, and the audience was encouraged to participate and respond to the on-stage shenanigans.

Who were the performers?

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The characters included traditional Western hero Sheriff Douglas Fir, heroine Miss Holly Day, villain Noah Count and a pair of sidekicks, along with a piano-playing accompanist.

When and where could I find it? Continue reading