Editor: Please welcome back guest author Zoë Periale with her review of Disneyland’s newest stage show:
Mickey and the Magical Map is a new show in Disneyland’s Fantasyland Theatre. Many people will know this location to previously house The Princess Fantasy Faire, Snow White: An Enchanting Musical, or one of it’s many other previous shows and events. Upon taking your seat in the theater the first thing you’ll see is naturally, the stage. When not in use a large cloth reminiscent of Yen Sid’s sorcerer’s hat from Fantasia’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice covers what soon will be revealed as the map itself. Surrounding the map and it’s cover are large panels of gold trimmed cartoonish wood as well as multiple buckets of paint.
When the show begins, you are quickly introduced to the main characters. Yen Sid, the Sorcerer who presides not only over the map and his workshop, but as Mickey’s Mentor. Mickey Mouse himself in his classic Sorcerer’s Apprentice robes, as well as a cast of characters called map makers. The story of the show goes as this; Mickey once again is getting ahead of himself, frustrated at simply being an apprentice. Desiring to paint the map like the other map makers, he is not yet allowed as he has not learned the secret of the map; which is the key to graduating from his apprentice role. Chaos ensues as once again, Yen Sid puts too much faith in Mickey and leaves him alone with the map and a paint brush. As seen in the Fantasia Short or even the Junction Point series of video games, Epic Mickey, our curious hero can’t be trusted alone with anything that may be magical.
Mickey takes it upon himself to finish the map as it was left unfinished, and this one stubbornly unpainted spot of the map takes Mickey through many different adventures. Starting in the Jungle with an impressively revamped King Louie singing “I Wanna Be Like You”, Mickey proceeds to visit numerous locations where the map makers and local inhabitants wow the audience with a musical number. At one point Mickey travels “west” on the map to arrive at the Princess’ obligatory number. Pocahontas begins singing “Just Around the Riverbend”, to be joined by Mulan singing “Reflection” and Rapunzel singing with her thief turned prince “I See The Light”. While the mash up in my opinion was a little forced, it’s a clear set up to not be a permanent fixture in the show, giving them leeway to change the Princess lineup as they see fit.
The Magical Map is a constant backdrop for any musical number or adventure the show takes Mickey through, being a large digital screen that animates itself according to it’s current need. Essentially the main character of the show, the map can be many things. It’s most impressive feature however, is probably when Mickey interacts with it. Often picking up a paint brush or paint itself to attempt and “fix” the unpainted spot, the map reacts accordingly to splatter or fill areas with paint, that can even act as water when the spot desires to take Mickey to Atlantica with Ariel and Sebastian. The visuals of the show are gorgeous and playful, reminiscent of the feeling one gets from watching any of the water scenes in Fantasia’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
The moral of the story is revealed in the end when of course, Mickey discovers the secret of the map. To graduate from apprentice to map maker, Mickey had to realize that the spot perhaps didn’t want to be painted. That the spot was perfect the way it was, and the map didn’t need to be finished. Yen Sid appears to inform Mickey; that that is exactly the lesson he tries to teach with his map. That the map will never be completed, so long as there is imagination in the world.
Encouraging the audience to never stop dreaming or imagining, they end the show with Mickey receiving a golden paintbrush and taking the audience on one last adventure. Attending a party in New Orleans with Princess Tiana, she arrives on a paintbrush themed steam boat. Like the boat, many of the visuals in the show had been recreated to look as if made from paint or paint brushes as one must remember, the entire show essentially takes place within the map. A fun, light hearted and visually appealing show with a positive story and very few drawbacks Mickey and the Magical Map is a welcome addition to Fantasyland’s many attractions and the Theatre’s long standing history of live entertainment.
Disneyland has also shared this special video of the people who work behind the scenes to make the show magical: