Amidst the vast entertainment offered on the Disney Fantasy cruise ship, a standout star is the new musical simply called “Wishes.” Taking a nod (and a borrowed theme song) from the Walt Disney World fireworks show of the same name, this new stage show follows a trio of soon-to-be-graduating high school students on “one last ride” at Disneyland, sparked by a magical wish, leading them on a journey through classic Disney animated song-filled scenes.
The extravagant Walt Disney Theatre is home to “Wishes,” an elegant setting that would be incredibly impressive on land, let alone on a cruise ship at sea. Gold and red dominate the regal theater with illuminated accents and namesake “WD” initials as details.
There are a variety of musicals performed in this theater on the Disney Fantasy, including “Believe” – which debuted on the Disney Dream last year – and “Aladdin,” a version of the popular Disney California Adventure theme park show. But “Wishes” is the only show developed exclusively for the Disney Fantasy, offering all-new musical numbers wrapped in an original story.
Though photography is normally not permitted during Disney Cruise Line’s elaborate shows, during the Inaugural sailing of the Disney Fantasy this past weekend, I had Disney’s permission to shoot the new “Wishes” musical, as my recording of the first-ever stage performance of “I See the Light” from “Tangled” on the Dream last year has had nearly a million excited fans view it. Disney did a fantastic job translating the beautiful and touching CG-animated sequence from the hugely popular film starring Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder to the stage during that “Golden Mickeys” performance and they’ve done an equally impressive job bringing the Snuggly Duckling tavern to life for “I’ve Got a Dream” in the new show on the Fantasy.
Below you’ll find a video overview of some of the musical numbers performed in “Wishes,” followed by the complete debut performance of “I’ve Got a Dream” from “Tangled,” starring Rapunzel, Flynn Ryder, and the whole Snuggly Duckling gang of thugs. Also worth focusing on in the highlights video is the modern, dubstep-style rendition of “I’ve Got No Strings” from “Pinocchio,” a polarizing take on the classic song. You’ll either love it or hate it.
Keep reading past the videos for a closer look at the good and the bad of Disney’s newest show.
Video: “Wishes” musical stage show highlights on the Disney Fantasy
Video: “I’ve Got a Dream” from Tangled as performed during “Wishes” on the Disney Fantasy
Though “Wishes” is a fireworks show at Walt Disney World, the creators of the new Disney Fantasy show of the same name decided to set it at Disneyland instead, with a longer and richer history of nostalgia. Opening with a contemporary dance number starring teenage characters, “Wishes” at times feels a bit like Grad Nite, particularly given the story that follows three high school seniors and longtime friends desperately trying to hold onto their childhoods while also planning for their futures.
The Disneyland tie-in continues with references to a number of attractions, including a fun recreation of Splash Mountain’s big drop on stage.
(You may have also noticed a faint howl from The Haunted Mansion in the highlight video above.)
These three main characters are a girl worrying about her upcoming graduation speech and struggling with growing up, another girl eagerly awaiting a chance at dance school, and love-struck teenage boy who has a secret crush on one of the other two girls. It’s not a particularly original, interesting, or captivating story, with the unfamiliar song that opens the show rather forgettable – not unlike Disney Cruise Line’s “Believe.” But as a wish is made at Snow White’s wishing well for a final childhood ride, Disney magic takes control sending the trio on a whirlwind trip through a variety of classic Disney animated musical scenes.
Scenes from The Lion King and Mulan are rather unremarkable, fairly standard for Disney performances.
The Jungle Book offers an articulated King Louie, moving his large lips as he sings his song. His groove has toes tapping across the theater.
While Hercules may not be the most popular Disney movie ever, it does get credit as the most technologically interesting scene in the show, as Hercules battles giant silhouetted monsters that show up via projections. His seamless interactions with these projections are a great spectacle.
But it is “Tangled” and “Pinocchio” that are the most striking in “Wishes,” for entirely different reasons. The recreation of the Snuggly Duckling on stage, complete with all its memorable singing thieves and thugs, is spot-on. The many, many fans of this popular film, will be overjoyed to be transported inside a tavern that’s just begging to be created in a Disney theme park. It’s not a special effects-heavy scene, but the upbeat music and talented performers pull it off perfectly.
In complete contrast, as part of the dancer girl’s story, Pinocchio is brought from a decades-old film into today’s modern music, with a catchy song remix. It’s been stuck in my head since I saw it nearly a week ago, but I’m not sure I liked it. It definitely stands out as the only untraditional rendition of a Disney song in the show, but the dance is entertaining.
Also worth noting is the show features a rare appearance by a “face” character version of Pinocchio, offering more expression than in Disney’s theme parks.
A particular favorite of mine was the “Kiss the Girl” number from The Little Mermaid, sung by puppet Sebastian and accompanied by puppet Flounder. It’s a scene that’s quite similar to the “I See the Light” moment in “Golden Mickeys,” with a boat gliding through the scrim-covered background.
And though Lilo and Stitch are not my favorite Disney characters, their “Hawaiian Roller Coaster” scene adds energy to the show, particularly as hula dancers descend into the audience to offer leis to a handful of lucky guests.
After all that familiar Disney excitement, it’s a bit jarring for the show to close with an unfamiliar song that’s equally as forgettable as the opening number. Back to the “Grad Nite” feel, the magical journey through Disney films comes to an end, culminating in a fog and pyrotechnic-filled finale.
If such an elaborately entertaining show wasn’t reason enough to step foot into the Walt Disney Theatre, guests may also have a chance to see the Fantasy’s cruise director and/or crew, all of whom made an appearance before last week’s show:
“Wishes” is roughly an hour long, which sounds like a big time investment while vacationing at sea, but is well worth it, consistently holding the viewers’ attention throughout. The Walt Disney Theatre is stunning by itself and the many Disney song performances that fill the majority of the new show are completely entertaining, performed by a talented cast. Like all the stage shows on board, “Wishes” has two performances in a night, allowing each dinner seating a chance to see it. And though the Walt Disney Theatre is huge, complete with a large balcony, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Even in the back row, the show looks and sounds great, a magical escape from the already incredible escape from real life on the Disney Fantasy.
More photos from “Wishes” on the Disney Fantasy:”
(Photos by Ricky Brigante and Michelle Moss)