Show Review

World of Color Dessert Party

This past weekend my Disney bestie Brianna and I headed down for a day at the parks to experience all the holiday time offerings. We spent most of the day eating and drinking (all the makings of a great day at Disneyland!) but we had to pace ourselves throughout the day to save room for the main event, the World of Color Dessert Party. The WOC party debuted about six months ago, likely to replace the Fantasmic Dessert Party (which will hopefully be back when the show returns since I never got to do it!). It was by far the best view I have ever had for WOC and the food was pretty good too! I would definitely consider doing it again when the original WOC returns (right now is the holiday special, Season of Light) and I really wish I would have done it during the 60th version because the view can’t be beat! Here are some of the highlights of the World of Color Dessert Party:

This is the menu that is on the table when you arrive at your seats. When you are checked in you are given the choice of a low table in the front row or a high top, cocktail table in the back row. I recommend choosing the high top table because there is a section of people in front of the dessert party area so you could have your view blocked if you are sitting at a low table (especially if you have kids). The high tops also come with super comfy director’s chairs.

world of color

As soon as you are seated, a server brings over a bread basket and your dessert plate. It took a few minutes to get our drinks, but it was pretty good champagne, so I was happy! There is also a WOC specialty cocktail and plenty of non-alcoholic drink options.

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world of color

world of color

By the time the show started I was super full! My advice if you have plans for the dessert party is to eat a really light dinner because there is a lot of yummy treats! Brianna and I actually ended up getting a to go box for about half of what we were given on our plates because we just couldn’t finish.

Right now, World of Color is running a new holiday themed show called Season of Light. It was cute and had lots of fun moments, but it definitely isn’t as good as the regular version.

world of color

One of the coolest holiday parts of the show was this Christmas tree, made totally of water and colored lights.

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But as cool as the tree was, the princess section of the show was my favorite (duh).

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Overall, the World of Color Dessert Party was a really cool experience, and definitely one that I would do again. It’s pricey (shocker) at $75 per person, but considering the amount of food you get, and the free booze, plus the amazing view, I actually think it’s worth it. This would be a great thing to do for a date night or special occasion.

Have you done a Disneyland or Disney World dessert party before? What did you think?

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Spotlight On: Red Car Trolley News Boys

When you think of entertainment at the Disneyland Resort, you probably think of the plethora of nighttime spectaculars, everything from Fantasmic! to World of Color to Paint the Night to the fireworks. And there is no denying the awesomeness of those shows, I love them all. But there are tons of amazing daytime entertainment options available at the Disneyland Resort as well, and sometimes they get lost in the shuffle. Today I want to share one of my favorites: the Red Car Trolley News Boys. That is obviously way too long for me to continue to type over and over, so from now on, they are the News Boys. The News Boys take their inspiration from the Disney film and Broadway show Newsies, both of which I love, and their 1920’s garb and peppy songs fit right in with the vibe of Buena Vista Street at California Adventure, which is where the show is staged. You can catch multiple performances of the show throughout the day, so make sure you check the current entertainment schedule when you get to the park. Here are just some of the reasons the News Boys are the coolest:


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Frozen Live at the Hyperion Theater: An Honest Review

So, if you haven’t heard the latest Disneyland buzz, Frozen Live at the Hyperion Theater has officially opened. A few months ago there was lots of sadness and tears as the Aladdin live musical closed after thirteen years. The salt in the open wound of losing Aladdin was that it was to be replaced with, what else, Frozen. I have to say, when it comes to the Frozen debate, I am kind of like Switzerland. I don’t love Frozen with the same zeal as an eight year old girl, but I also don’t hate it like many of the Disney diehards. I don’t love that it is everywhere in the parks right now, but I get why it is–the people who visit Disneyland once a year (you know, the ones who make Disney the most money) want to see Frozen.

The new Frozen musical has been being hyped for the past couple of weeks now, and tons of Disney bloggers and social media peeps were invited to the premiere about two weeks ago. They, of course, all gave the show stellar reviews (from what I saw). But I decided to reserve judgement until I could see the show for myself. As you probably know, I have a background in professional theater, so I am a tough critic when it comes to live performances. And I really, really wish I could sit here and write a scathing review of Frozen Live at the Hyperion Theater….but I can’t. Were there issues? Yes. Were there parts of the show that were eh? Yes. But overall, it is a phenomenal experience. The tech and sets alone make it a worthwhile watch. So let’s break it down.


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Show Review: Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway

If you follow me on Instagram (and if you don’t, get on that!) you know that I spent a few days in New York at the beginning of the month. I was there with a group of students and our goal was to tour as much of the city and see as many shows as possible. It was an exhausting few days, but we had an amazing time (trip report will be coming soon). On our last night we got to see the Broadway production of Aladdin, which I was so excited about. The Aladdin/Lion King/Beauty and the Beast/Little Mermaid years were probably my favorite (possibly because of my age at the time, but also just because they are awesome movies) and Aladdin holds a special place in my heart since I put on the production with my students last year.

The Broadway show follows the same basic storyline as the movie, but has new added music and some new plotlines which really help deepen the characters. We learn that Aladdin has recently lost his mother and is trying to clean up his act by not stealing anymore (unless it’s food, since that’s a necessity and all). Jasmine is as fiery as she is in the movie, which is something I have always loved about her. Jafar is still evil, Iago is still hilarious, and it is of course, the Genie who steals the show.

I loved so many things about this show, and many of them are what we have come to expect from Disney Theatricals. The sets and costumes were absolutely stunning. Given my background in tech theater, I always pay attention to costume changes and set/lighting changes during a show, and this one had a lot and they were flawless.  I loved the new songs that were added to the show, along with the new characters (mostly Aladdin’s three friends). The magic carpet ride was just that, pure magic. It is such a beautiful moment to watch (and seems like basically the best job ever, riding on a magic carpet each night). Courtney Reed was a beautiful Jasmine; I loved her voice (even though she seemed like she was recovering from a cold, she still nailed the high notes).

Adam Jacobs was an amazing Aladdin. His voice is truly gorgeous (as are his abs). Plus, he was super sweet after the show, posing with all the fans and signing lots of autographs.

The true star of the show was Tony winner James Monroe Iglehart, who is the Genie. “Friend Like Me” was the indisputable highlight of the show (though “Whole New World” is a very close second). The stamina of this guy (and the ensemble) was pretty impressive. The cheers at the end of the song went on for a loooong time, it was so good (I always try to applaud for a long time after those kinds of numbers so the actors can catch their breath!). I told him I saw him at D23 and he thought that was cool (at least, in my mind that’s what he thought). He was silly and fun in his interactions with the fans.

Because I tend to be a bit of a critic when it comes to theater, I of course found some things I didn’t love during the show. We had the understudy for Jafar and his performance was lackluster in my book. And since this is a show designed for the whole family, some of the comedy is a bit cheesy and doesn’t necessarily work for the adults in the audience. However, the show is so visually and vocally stunning that these small flaws did not take away from my enjoyment at all. Director Casey Nicholaw is quite the talent (he also directed Something Rotten, which we saw and loved, and is about to have four shows running concurrently on Broadway–not an easy feat). I am really hoping that Squirt is old enough for the theater when the show tours here in California because I think it is the perfect choice for a first Broadway show. The kids in the audience loved it (it was one of my student’s favorites and we also saw Hamilton!), and the adults did too!

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My Thoughts on the Closing of Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular

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!

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Show Review: World of Color Celebrate!

Alright, so if you read my recap of the 24 hour Diamond Celebration kickoff event, you know that despite my goal of seeing all three new shows in one day, the only one I actually got to see was World of Color.  And if you are a frequent reader of A Disney Mom, you may remember that I am not a huge fan of World of Color (the past editions).  While the technology and effects are absolutely breathtaking, WOC was always lacking something that keeps a show relevant and magical: a story.  I have watched Fantasmic! a million times.  I could act out and recite the whole thing for you, and yet, when I am in the parks at night, I choose to watch it over WOC.  Why?  Because it has a story, and that story resonates with me.

I was hoping this 60th WOC overlay would bring that element of story to the spectacular visuals and effects, and it did.  I think this is exactly what needed to happen to WOC in order to make it a show that will last twenty years like Fantasmic! has.  As I’m sure you have heard, Neil Patrick Harris hosts the show, alongside none other than Mickey himself.  (Also, sorry for the blurry pics, it was a bit breezy while we were watching which made a difficult photo op even harder.)

The duo share a little bit about Walt and his dream of creating Disneyland.

We take a journey through some interviews with Walt and then explore the creation of Mickey and how he has evolved over time.

We then see some clips from some of the most famous animated Disney movies, starting with Snow White, leading to…

Okay, okay, we get.  Frozen is the most popular Disney movie ev-har.  The only moment that left me a little bleh in the show was this section dedicated to “Let it Go”.  I wouldn’t have minded it so much if they showed other movie clips during the song, but they didn’t.  It was the only song played in its entirety and they showed the whole scene from the movie.

Then we move on to focus on Disneyland itself.  This was definitely my favorite part of the show as it highlighted some of the best parts of Disneyland.

The end of the show is a serious tear jerker.  They incorporate home videos from real guests throughout the sixty years of Disneyland’s history.  If that doesn’t get you right in the feels, I don’t know what will.

And this is one of my absolute favorite quotes from Walt and it is one I repeat to myself often.  Every time I’m feeling like this little blog is going to remain little, nothing more than a hobby, I remind myself of this quote.   I need to keep the courage and keep plugging away and someday this big dream for my little blog will become a reality.

But I digress.  I’m sure if you are planning on attending Disneyland during the 60th that World of Color is already on your must see list.  And it should stay there!  I’m so glad that I love this new version of the show because I feel like it completes the immense love I have for California Adventure.  Do not miss out on your chance to see Celebrate!

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Frozen at the Royal Theatre

For the first time in forever, I have a Frozen post for you!  Sorry, sorry, no more Frozen puns.  Maybe.  So I got the chance to catch the Frozen storytelling show over at the Royal Theatre (located at Disneyland’s Princess Fantasy Faire).  I had seen Tangled there previously and loved it and I was hoping for the same experience with Frozen.  If you actually want to sit in the audience during the show, you should get a Fastpass (distribution is located in the main hub, near the Partners Statue).  We were there during the week, so we walked up to the standing area ten minutes before show time and snagged a great spot.  Inside the theater, children are invited to sit on the floor in front of the stage.  Here’s my take on the show!  Warning: spoilers ahead!

The premise behind the storytelling shows is just that: they tell the (condensed) stories of your favorite princesses.  You have Mr. Smyth and Mr. Jones leading the audience along in the chosen story.

They use puppets, props, and their fair maiden helpers to set the scene and take the audience through the tale of Frozen.  There are lots of clever gags and several Shakespeare references (which I obviously loved as a theater teacher), and in true Disney fashion, tons of cute puns.

And of course, it wouldn’t be Frozen without a visit from Anna and Elsa.  They play themselves and Mr. Smyth and Mr. Jones play all of the other characters.

Here is one of our storytellers (I don’t know which is Smyth and which is Jones) as Kristoff with his Sven puppet.

And the other storyteller as Olaf…

The use of silly props makes the storytelling entertaining for both the kids and adults.  I loved this “frozen” Anna prop.

And of course, like every good story, there is a happy ending.

One thing Disney does better than anyone else is their live shows.  They are always entertaining for both kids and adults, which as a sort of new momma, is becoming more and more important to me.  I would have enjoyed this show just as much before I had a kid, but it is even more awesome when I can watch and be entertained, and my kid can be too.  Plus, the storytelling shows in particular do a great job of getting the audience involved.  The Frozen show at the Royal Theatre was funny and fun for the entire audience.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is going to be visiting Disneyland!

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