Mickey and the Magical Map opens

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in Disney, Disney News, Disney Parks, In the Parks


Published on May 23, 2013 at 8:23 pm with 27 Comments

This is an early look at our review of the new Mickey and the Magical Map stage show at Disneyland. Additional information and photos are coming soon, so please check back later this evening for the full story with images.

For seven years, the Disney Princesses, aka the Royal Mafia, held court inside the shell of the old Fantasyland Theatre.  The last bit of live theatre performed in this space, Snow White: An Enchanting Musical, was a high-concept piece of stage work that featured elaborate sets and songs from the classic 1937 film, but left with little fanfare. The celebrated heritage of live performance at the Disney parks was set aside in favor of a princess meet-and-greet that proved enormously lucrative for the park. But, with the royal moneymakers relocated to a more permanent and appropriate location in the charming Fantasy Faire Village, the theatre became available, once again, to stage some Disney magic.


Enter the stage musical, Mickey and the Magical Map, an all new, technologically advanced stage show. The storyline in most Disney theme park shows is superfluous, and mainly serves as framework from which to hang a series of musical numbers that feature our favorite Disney songs.  In this case, we meet classic Apprentice Mickey.  He wants, more than anything, to be a real sorcerer. Yen Sid (Disney spelled backwards, get it?) is the head wizard, who has created a magical living map that transports its creators to exciting new lands of fun and adventure. One day, Mickey discovers an unpainted spot on the map and decides to prove himself as a master wizard by filling in the gap.  The plot is then set in motion, and we are treated to a series of often highly entertaining musical numbers, as Mickey learns what it is to be a real wizard.




The musical’s centerpiece, the magical map, is a 35,000+ square inch, multi-tiered video screen that performers interact with seamlessly to wonderful effect.  The digital images are bright and clear, with characters appearing to literally step in and out of its surface.  The character Yen Sid is actually fully portrayed on this screen as he speaks with Mickey throughout the performance.  While at first the concept seemed dubious and perhaps a cheat, it works.  The Yen Sid character is large and in scale against the Mickey performer without seeming too menacing.  One problem, however is the rudimentary looking, rendering of Yen Sid himself.  Polish on his appearance seems to be missing, as the computerized textures of his figure seems far more plastic than other elements on the map.  It’s not a deal breaker, but certainly something that sticks out.



The show opens with an original bit of music that is fine, if not a bit forgettable in comparison to the far more catchy tunes that follow.  We are first transported to a spectacular destination with an articulated-head King Louie performer singing “I Wanna Be Like You.”  This is a super strong, fun number that gives the show a great beginning.


We are next transported to three far off kingdoms. A beautiful trio between Pocahontas, Mulan, and Rapunzel occurs with their songs and stories intertwining.  This is another wonderful number, in which the Magical Map plays a lovely supporting role, accompanying the performers with complimentary imagery. This is another highpoint to the show.





Then, well, things go a little off course. “Under the Sea,” from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, is next, but seems as though it is now a compulsory song for any current Disney montage production. Backup dancers stream in from the wings of the stage as the lead singer operates an awkward Sebastian the crab puppet at waist height. Bubbles stream from the ceiling as dancers invade the audience.  The number ends on its patented high note.  But, the song’s over-use with the peculiar puppetry doesn’t help to create something interesting, but rather just familiar.

Stranger still is the next number, “Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride.”  Up until this point in the show, we have seen at least one character in each number.  But, here, the troupe of limber dancers cavort only with the bright Hawaiian graphics emanating from the map and a few steel frame surfboards. The song comes after a major plot point and is built up to be a big number.  Instead, it is just OK.  Not horrible, but not remarkable, and completely missing any of the characters from the film. No actors playing Lilo or Stitch, just projections.  An odd choice, to be sure.


Thankfully, the plot finds resolution and Mickey finds his way in the Wizard Workshop.  The closing number in the grand finale does a good job of bringing the show back on track with a rousing rendition of “Dig A Little Deeper” from The Princess and the Frog.  Strangely enough, Tiana is the only character from that film to make in appearance in what should be the big finish.  The set reveal for this scene is wonderful, and is more than adequate, allowing the show to end on a grand note.  But it would add real weight to end the show if just one or two more familiar faces from that wonderful film were added.

In the end, the confetti cannons explode, the audience cheers and everyone has a big smile on their face. And that’s what is really important. This is sold Disney fun. Yes, Mickey and the Magical Map has a few very fixable flaws, but is still a wonderfully entertaining stage show, in the grand tradition of some of the original Disney stage musicals that we have seen in the park in the past.  Most importantly, it is light years better than the Princess meet-and-greet-and-hair-and-shop that was here before!  In fact, we can easily imagine fans falling in love with this charming stage show, much in the way DCA’s Aladdin has its loyal following.

Mickey and the Magical Map will run daily in the park starting Saturday, May 25th.

Daily Showtimes Starting May 25:
11:30 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 4:25 p.m., 5:40 p.m.


About Norman Gidney

Norman Gidney, also known as Fishbulb, produces and edits many of the articles on MiceChat. Tune in every Tuesday for the Orlando Parkhopper and every Friday for In The Parks. But you'll also find his photos in the Weekly Round Up, SAMLAND, and numerous other columns on the site.

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  • Bongo

    Have got to check this out when I go to the park! And I have to agree that the Yen Sid model needs a bit of touch ups from that preview picture posted above. It looks a bit unfinished, especially when put into consideration how much time and effort they devoted to the show.

  • FredSimmons

    Given the huge library of Disney music, the songs mentioned (with the exception of “Under the Sea”) aren’t particularly impressive choices.

  • Kritter

    The only thing I had a problem with in the show is no Lilo or Stitch. The rest is fantastic!

  • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

    Thank you Norm. Great review and beautiful photos. I can’t wait to see this show! I’ve really missed theater at Disneyland.

  • AvidTurtleTalker

    I’m sure once the show opens to the public, they’ll give their opinions loud and clear and might give Disney the heads up to add some more characters to the respectable numbers. Either way, I’m still very excited to see the show!

  • eicarr

    Everything looks cool but I’m shocked they keep bringing up 90′s stinkers like Mulan an Pocohantus. Can’t they use movies not in World of Color? Looking forward to the show

    • jcruise86

      Mulan was not a stinker. She was an excellent character in an excellent movie.

      Great work, Norm! THANK YOU!

      • a-mad

        I agree jcruise… we love Mulan – as do many others, and am glad when we see more exposure of her and the film throughout the parks. Whenever we do see the character in the parks, she always draws a crowd. Kudos to Disney entertainment to include her now in a show.

        Agree with everything said about Under the Sea. It was entertaining for the first, oh, dozen shows…. but let’s move on (and I’m almost to that same breaking point with “Be Our Guest”)

      • TodAZ1

        Totally agree Mulan was not a stinker. Still one of my favorite Disney movies.

      • tcsnwhite

        Nor was Pocahontas. I know, a controversial opinion for Disney fans…but I think the film is so sadly overlooked in so many ways. Just watched the film in HD recently, and the art, music, and film itself still hold up.

        I think the films after Lion King (Pochonatas to Tarzan) in the late 90s are often overlooked, sadly…yet they provide some of the best Disney songs and scores out there. Just because they didn’t live up to the massive success of Lion King (or the early Pixar films) does not mean they were “stinkers”.
        It’s nice to see Creative Entertainment still present them in various productions… as many others here have said, the “Under the Sea”/”Be Our Guest”/etc. standards are getting a bit tired (without some sort of re-invention) in every parade/show.
        (And, it’s nice to see Disney characters not of the Euro ethnicity get their shine too, even if their respective films weren’t as big).

  • brianpinsky

    My guess that there will be enough complaints about Lilo and Stitch that they put them in the show, just a brief appearance probably, but they will be thrown in there.

    • brianpinsky

      Also should we be expecting Fantasmic to get the newer character costumes?

  • don731

    Do you need to get tickets for this show? Or just line up at the appropriate time? We’ll be there in early June.

    • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

      No tickets necessary. You just line up and hope there’s room.

  • Gregg Condon

    Under the Sea … again!!!!

    Other than that and the no Lilo or Stitch the show looks fun.

  • Big D

    It sounds like they borrowed from some of the plot of Epic Mickey when they made this…

  • ttintagel

    It’s nice to see some of the “second stringer” princesses have the spotlight. But yeah, that Sebastian puppet is Weirdsville.

  • Wanda Woman

    Wonderful review and beautiful pictures! Thanks, Norm.

    But, holy cats, are those performers dancing around on tiers above the stage WITHOUT FALL PROTECTION?

  • Skimbob

    I think both Pocahontas and Mulan are wonderful characters and it is about time they are being showcased here in CA. I have to wait to see this show in January. I am sure all the bugs will be worked out by then.

  • DisneylandManFan

    Looks great! But, yeah, that Sebastian puppet and how he’s….ahem….placed, brought out the 12 year old in me. I laughed pretty hard. Sorry for the regression. ;-)

  • ghosty4

    The opening number has Mickey Mouse. Second has King Louie. Third has Pocahontas, Mulan, Rapunzel and Flynn. Fourth has Sebastian. Finale has Tiana. It makes absolutely NO sense that the Stitch character doesn’t perform during the song from his movie. NO SENSE!