Warning: This post might get a wee bit rambly.
The Disney social media world was in quite the tizzy this weekend as many beloved attractions were about to be closed at the Disneyland Resort, some for more than a year while construction of Star Wars Land takes place, and some permanently. Probably the most controversial (and sad) closure was the Aladdin musical that has been housed in the Hyperion Theater at California Adventure for the past thirteen years. While the majority of the other closures were at Disneyland, and for the sole purpose of constructing Star Wars Land, Aladdin was closed to bring in a new show. Frozen. Sigh. The new Frozen musical will be right across the street from the Frozen Sing Along musical show that already exists at DCA and is just another slice in the Frozen takeover pie.
I’m not going to lie to you, I have never been a diehard Aladdin A Musical Spectacular fan. I have a background in theater and I have been seeing professional Broadway productions since I was six. I have high expectations when it comes to live theater, and this show never met them. The sets and costumes are gorgeous and every Genie I have seen has been hilarious, but there was always way too much cheese for my liking. Also, as a tech nerd, the “stunts” and some of the effects (hello sightlines) always left a little something to be desired, especially considering the budget and talent Disney has at its fingertips.
However, I always thought the performers were excellent and I loved the ever-changing jokes of the Genie keeping things fresh and relevant. I went to see the show one last time last week and it was 45 minutes well spent. And the audience loved it. And anytime you have kids (and adults for that matter) enjoying live theater, I’m cool with it. And while I may not have personally been sad about the closure of this show in particular, I know what it is like to close a show, and I know how emotional it can be, for both cast and crew and their loyal followers.
I’m sure the new show will delight audiences just as much as AAMS, but the Disney diehards like myself will probably be staying away. We might be singing a different tune if the show were being replaced by Tangled or Beauty and the Beast or even Hercules or Tarzan. But because it is Frozen, the sting of the loss burns a little more.
The thing is, I don’t mind change in the parks. Walt would have wanted things to continue to change and evolve, so I am all about that. And honestly, there are very few shows/attractions that have been removed from the parks that I really, truly miss (the exceptions being the Sky Buckets, which were removed for safety reasons, and the Peoplemover, which I still believe has hope of a return). It’s not logical to think that a show is going to stick around for twenty some odd years (I think Fantasmic is probably the only one that has and will). I am 100% cool with changing the park to make room for Star Wars Land and I am 100% cool with bringing in a new show. I just wish it weren’t Frozen. The actions (cough cough price raises) at Disneyland lately have made it clear that the goal is to weed out local passholders and from a financial standpoint, I totally get it. They don’t make as much money off of us as the do the once or twice a year visitors, or even the once every other year visitors. Whether we like it or not, Disney is a business first, and it would be stupid of them to not think about how to make money. And a couple of really smart recent decisions (read Star Wars and Frozen) are making Disney a buttload of money.
So I guess what it comes down to is this: As much as we would like to think that we, the diehard fans, are an important piece of Disney, to the CEOs and decision makers, we’re just not. And I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I think it’s okay for us to be sad when shows and attractions we love close. To many, they represent a piece of childhood and it’s okay to mourn the loss. But we also have to be realistic and know that these changes will continue to come as long as the parks are open. And while we can be upset, and complain, and rant on Twitter, we can’t change the facts: Disney is a business and they will continue to do what they can to make as much money as they can. And unfortunately, if we really don’t like that fact, the only thing we can do is stop giving them ours. While I understand the sadness of the loss of Aladdin, it is certainly not enough to keep me out of the parks, and I imagine most of the diehards will (eventually) feel the same way.
What are your thoughts on the closing of Aladdin and the forthcoming Frozen musical show? I’m interested to hear your opinions!