Preview: “Mickey and the Magical Map” brings inventive twists to classic Disney, impressive even in Disneyland rehearsal

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Coming May 25th to the Fantasyland Theater in Disneyland Park is an all-new live show featuring Mickey Mouse and a cast of beloved Disney characters. “Mickey and the Magical Map” is a musical show in which Sorcerer Mickey embarks on a series of musical adventures through the magical powers of Yensid’s magic map.

That map is central to the show. Literally. A huge video set piece occupies most of the stage. Yesterday Disneyland had a media preview to show it off and let the world know what can be expected from the show.

While the show is not yet complete, Disney Creative Entertainment’s Michael Jung, along with others on his team, were proud to present a small portion of it in the newly-refurbished Fantasyland Theater.

Mickey and the Magical Map preview at Disneyland

There’s not much to the stage itself. A cartoonish wooden proscenium arch and some paint buckets frame the large map. There were some large foam wrapped objects backstage that look like they might have been paintbrushes for the set. The map itself is comprised of three video screens and a couple of platforms for the performers to interact with it.

Mickey and the Magical Map preview at Disneyland

Mickey and the Magical Map preview at Disneyland

Mickey and the Magical Map preview at Disneyland

The screens are state of the art; very bright and vibrant, even in full daylight. They presented the map portion of two musical segments. There were no performers on stage, so we had to imagine how they would interact with the videos.

The first segment shown was the opening number. It features an original song called “Journey of the Imagination” and sets up the story of the show. Apprentice Mickey (not seen on screen) is told by a CG animated Yen Sid not to touch the map while he’s away. There’s an unfinished “spot” of the map and apparently Mickey will be trying to finish it with a paintbrush. The spot comes to life and moves around the map. Paint is splashed around in an attempt to fill in the spot. In what presumably will be a much more impressive moment with the live performers, Mickey gets sucked into the map and appears on screen (as live action video of the costumed performer.)


Video: Mickey and the Magical Map video screen preview


The map animation is good, but I wasn’t too impressed with this section. The song was a bit forgettable and the Yensid character model was a little rough. Hopefully it isn’t done yet.

The next segment they showed us was fantastic. It was a beautiful medley of Colors of the Wind from Pocahontas, Reflection from Mulan, and I See The Light from Tangled. The animation was gorgeous and really showed off how impressive the map set piece is.

After that they took us backstage to show us a rehearsal performance of “I Wanna Be Like You” from the Jungle Book segment. They’re trying to put a modern twist on some Disney classics. This one infused a slight Bollywood feel into the swingin’ tune. Don’t be alarmed. They’re not ruining the classics. This was a really good arrangement. The performance included a fully articulated King Louie, a live trumpet player, and 24 dancers, some of them on stilts.


Mickey and the Magical Map Jungle Book scene rehearsal


Mickey and the Magical Map preview at Disneyland

Mickey and the Magical Map preview at Disneyland

Mickey and the Magical Map preview at Disneyland

Mickey and the Magical Map preview at Disneyland

Mickey and the Magical Map preview at Disneyland

Other numbers will include songs from The Princess and the Frog, The Little Mermaid, and Lilo and Stitch.

While this preview performance was obviously incomplete, I was struck by Disney Creative Entertainment’s passion for live performances in the park. They are incredibly excited about this show in particular, but also in all manner of live entertainment. Vice President of Creative Entertainment, Kevin Eld said “There is no experience so small that it can’t be excellent.” It’s that kind of passion and commitment to excellence that have me seriously excited about the future of live entertainment in the parks. They’ve been truly excelling in recent years with shows like Red Car Trolley Newsboys and Finding Nemo: The Musical.

Mickey and the Magical Map is a welcome addition to the Disneyland Resort. I look forward to see the finished show when it opens on May 25th.

More photos from Mickey and the Magical Map rehearsal at Disneyland:

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