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Disney On Ice

Published on September 29th 2005.

I consider Lady and the Tramp, The Lion King and Shrek cinematic classics, and between the ages of four and eight, I watched Mary Poppins practically daily. I’ve also got three little cousins with a similar penchant for all things Disney, so obviously, I jumped at the chance to go and see the current production of Mickey and Minnie’s Magical Journey on Ice at the MEN Arena.

Tickets were checked and we hit the confectionary stall en masse. I hastily paid for the three bags of candyfloss they’d chosen, only for the price to sink in after we’d taken our seats. EIGHTEEN pounds. Candy floss is heated sugar. For a kilo of sugar at Tesco it’s 73p. How do they work that one out?

Anyhow, back to the show. Mickey and Minnie, joined by Goofy and their old pals Donald and Daisy Duck, set up the basic plotline: They were going to take a vacation around the world, dropping in on a few of their favourite Disney characters along the way. First stop was Never Never Land and Peter Pan flew on to the stage. “You can see the wires!”, 11-year-old Matthew told me, but luckily this didn’t ruin the overall effect.

Bright, energetic scenes followed, accompanied by a fantastic set complete with pirate ship and huge inflatable crocodile. Lots of aural and visual action kept my cousins entertained, but at the end of it, when Mickey and co. were introducing their next destination, Matthew asked ‘What’s the story of Peter Pan?’ This, for me, is the show’s main downfall. If you’re not familiar with the films, the story can be a little random. The Disney people who’ve developed the show seem to have lifted ‘key’ scenes from the original animations, rather than create new dialogue that attempts to summarise the plot. Disney movies, believe it or not, can leave you ever so slightly confused in this instance.

Next we were ushered to London for 101 Dalmations. The skating was pretty impressive, "amazing" the kids called it, but this is unsurprising given that the routines are choreographed by Cindy Stuart- a member of the US international team.

The best part of this section was the appearance of the full, 101 Dalmatians through a clever feat of costume design. A bar on the back of the skaters’ costumes attached dog figures to either side of their body. The rink was a mass of black and white dots and Holly (7) exclaimed “I wish I had that many dogs!”

The second half started with a trip under the sea to visit Ariel and Flounder in The Little Mermaid. I lapped up this film in its heyday, so it was definitely my favourite part. The performers lip-synced their way through the recording, and synchronised massive gestures with their dialogue. The benefit of having it recorded like this meant that the characters had exactly the same voices as they do in the films. The miming might be annoying, but the skaters’ real voices just wouldn’t work. The pantomime style performances could also be over the top, but at least everybody can see what’s going on. A huge arena tour – on ice – is not the place for subtlety.

Finally, we saw Lilo and Stitch, and this is where I got lost as I’ve no idea what the animation’s about. My cousins though, who’ve all seen the film, loved it. The grand finale summarised everything the show was about- loud Disney music, grand routines and striking special effects - with more fireworks and Stitch, on a surfboard, playing the guitar, hovering over the stage!

All in all, this is two hours of good old-fashioned family fun. Although I had initially thought the show might be too young for my cousins, they seemed to have a good time. Personally, I don’t think it’s age that’s the key to enjoying the show, but rather a familiarity with the films. Then again even if you haven’t seen the film, with everything going on, you’ll be entertained. Just don’t forget your wallet.

Jemma McCann

Disney On Ice
MEN Arena
Price: £17.50 - £10.50
Tel: 950 5000


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