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

in Disney, Disneyland, Disneyland Resort, Entertainment, Events, Movies, Music, Theme Parks

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:


  1. Matt

    “The first segment shown was the opening number. It features an original song called “Journey of the Imagination””

    Can you hear that Disney? That’s the sound of my money going to Universal.

    1. Teddy Leo

      Thank god he is going to Universal so Disney doesn’t have to deal with him.

      1. Mitchell

        All Disney Cast Members are all rejoicing.

        I don’t like the look of this either, but I know it’s not directed at me. They have to have shows and rides that are directed directly at little kids. You’re not going to like EVERYTHING in the park.
        Anyway, it’s just a show, it won’t be ’round forever.

        1. Teddy Leo

          totally agree

    2. Fred

      Yet another cynical, unclever comment on the Internet…

    3. Kevin

      I would argue Disney’s characters have more traction and potential when it comes to opportunities in design. However, I would agree, Disney reliance on animation mapping, may be its downfall as much as it is its saving grace.

      I think Disney, needs to take a few pages from universal’s designers for the Wizarding World, and really need to find ways to become more seamlessly integrated. I have know imagineers that were blown away by the detail and integration of technology in the expansion. And many could not figure out how they did it. The enchantment Disney was known for is starting to decrease while universal has been quoted that the harry potter world was almost an underachievement in design due to early risk factors. If universal actually starts doing things the right way, it has the potential to overcast Disney in spatial experiences. The fact that universal refuses to increase the size on its upcoming HP expansion, highlights the fact that their designers are becoming story concentric. Disney is currently moving the other direction-they are looking for maximal return on investment. Why else does a project screen take up majority of a theatrical set? And it seems like it is in every new attraction Disney comes out with. Where is the magic, or the mystery? When I see a giant screen on a stage, that’s very disappointing as an entertainment designer, myself. More thought has to be put into spaces and not entertainment or you might as well just give a kid a wii so he go play a ‘Epic Mickey II’. Now tell me Disney how did that do, again?

    4. Kitty

      It’s always so sad to see people judge a final product based on a tiny preview. There’s so much more to the show than the introduction so why not see how the rest of the show turns out? Maybe it’s not for you, but maybe its not supposed to be for you.

  2. Chaz

    I’m not going to lie: This attraction doesn’t excite me the many other recent Imagineering projects have, but I’ll still give this show a chance. It sounds as though we’ll be seeing old Disney characters mixed with new Disney characters, which is something I enjoy. We’ll just have to wait and see I guess.

    1. Teddy Leo

      Doesn’t Disney creative entertainment design the shows not Imagineering?

      1. Chaz

        Maybe. I always though Imagineering handled every project in the Disney Parks. I could be wrong though.

        1. Kevin

          They are the same department. Creative Entertainment is an arm of Imagineering. But, depending on whether it is a thing Creative Entertainment wants to do or whether it is a park attraction determines the involvement of both groups. There are creative entertainment jobs that work directly with Imagineering project teams and are imagineers.

  3. Mike

    I personally love this so far. It’s still in the production phase so of course it’s a little rough. The choreography in “I Wanna Be Like You” is sick, and I think the set and music is wonderful. Really looking forward to this coming together.

  4. Marc Morini

    I have to say it is kind of cool to see Yen Sid actually appear in the park even if it is just show, though he dose look a bit unfinished. King Louie on the other hand….LOOKS FREAKING AWESOME! Laddies and Gentlemen the King of the Swingers is back!

  5. Fred

    I don’t understand what is wrong with how Yen Sid looks. How can you possibly describe him as “rough”? Saying that he looks “rough” doesn’t make sense in any meaning of the word. From what the video shows, the animation is smooth and fluid.

    Also, from what the sneak peek video has, I fail to see what is wrong with the music.

    1. Apocalypse Pooh

      It’s not “the look” so much as it is the animation. The motion, the acting — very stiff, like a plastic puppet. Disney and Pixar have done better.

  6. Lizzie

    I totally agree about the entertainment in the parks! I was struck by DCA’s new additions when I went about two weeks ago! Surprise entertainment around every corner now! Really exciting, especially for a performer like myself!

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