Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Disney California Adventure: An Aladdin's Fan Take on Frozen

I’m fortunate that Disneyland is a day trip for me, and I have visited both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure many times.  Through the years, attractions and entertainment have changed.  Some changes, such as the disappearance of Captain EO or Innoventions, have not caused me any grief.  Other changes, though, such as the loss of Billy Hill and the Hillbillies, and more recently, the Hyperion Theatre’s Aladdin, have been harder to swallow.

I almost always went to see Aladdin each time I was at DCA.  Though the story line remained the same, the genie always had freedom to ad lib a bit.  He was brilliant, and managed to tie current events into his jokes.  He made the show exciting for the adults as well as the children. 

When I heard that the Aladdin show was going to be replaced by a Frozen musical, I was not very happy.  I admit that I am not enamored of Frozen.  It’s not primarily a matter of being tired of everything Frozen; rather, I have some fundamental issues with the “Let it Go” ideology.  However, there are plenty of cute moments in the movie, and I do appreciate the strong female protagonists and the focus on the love between sisters.   I appreciate the Disney talent, and wanted to see how Frozen: the Musical would be portrayed.

The set, costuming, and puppetry did not disappoint.  Olaf and Sven were particularly appealing, as were the rock creatures. Children in the audience were delighted with the “snow” that fell in the theater.  Projections extended onto the sides of the theater, so those sitting in the orchestra section felt like they were in the scene. 

So, how does Frozen compare to Aladdin?  Though performers ran up to the stage from the back of the orchestra section, they did not stop to greet the children, as they did in Aladdin.  Even though the projections extended onto the sides of the theater in Frozen, I still felt more a part of the play in Aladdin, particularly during Aladdin’s grand entrance on the elephant.

And although the elephant parade was one of my favorite scenes, Sven is a hundred times better than the trotting horses in Aladdin.  Though he is a non-verbal character, he manages to be quite expressive.  The puppetry of Olaf was clever, too.

Aladdin had the flying carpet.  Frozen has a giant “ice” formation that drops down from the ceiling.  (Well, it is supposed to.  It didn’t work properly at first, and the show was temporarily stopped while it was fixed.) I prefer the flying carpet.

As for stunts, Aladdin used cables to “jump” and escape being caught, and to descend into the Cave of Wonders.   In Frozen, cables were used on the sled, Kristof, Anna, and Sven as they escaped the wolves.  I thought that scene was particularly well done.  Frozen might have a slight edge here.

The musical and acting talent were comparable, but—and this is the clincher for me—Frozen does not have a genie-type character to keep the lines fresh.  I suspect that little girls will not grow tired of watching their favorite film come to stage, but Frozen will not be on my must-do list every visit.

(If it is on your to-do list anytime in the near future, though, I would highly recommend getting fast passes first thing in the morning.  They go quickly.  I was able to get in on standby, but I would have preferred the assurance of a seat.)


I wish Aladdin would return to the Hyperion.  Where’s the genie when you need him?

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Thanks for talented performers. 

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5 comments:

  1. The Disney shows that have interaction and ad libbing with the audience are always much better than the straight plays/musicals. For example, the Raiders of the Lost Ark show is awesome because they use people from the audience to be in it. (Even better when your own family member is chosen, as Bryan was last time.) We go to that show every time. However, the Beauty and the Beast one is the same every time. No variation. We only went back to that one this last time because the little boys hadn't seen it.
    Sorry they took one of your favorite shows away.

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    1. I agree. While change is inevitable in Disney parks, I wish they could have kept an ad-libbing character in the new show.

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  2. Well written review of the two shows.

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  3. I know that I am much older than you but do you remember when they retired The Electrical Parade? I was so sad to see that happen.

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Thanks for making this a conversation. I love to hear your comments!