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Disney From The Twenty-Something: “Mickey’s PhilharMagic”

Caitlin CorselloOne of the most entertaining attractions in the Magic Kingdom® Park’s Fantasyland® takes guests on a whirlwind musical tour of classic Disney animated films. Mickey’s PhilharMagic® follows Donald’s search for a very special hat, and along the way he gets into a few mishaps with some recognizable characters. Presented in a larger than life 3D format, this show is sure to leave guests laughing and singing.

Mickey’s PhilharMagic® resides in a building rich with Disney history. The Mickey Mouse Review was the first attraction to be housed in that location and it was open from October 1, 1971 through September 14, 180. It featured over eighty audio animatronics of well-known Disney characters who performed a concert under the direction of conductor Mickey. When the attraction closed, it moved to Tokyo Disneyland® where it operated from April 1983, until 2009. When the Mickey Mouse Review closed in the Magic Kingdom® Park it was replaced with the 3D film Magic Journeys which had previously screened in Epcot® from October 1, 1982, to February 9, 1986. Once moved to the Magic Kingdom® Park, Magic Journeys played from December 15, 1987, through its closing on December 1, 1993. The theater was then home to the Legend of the Lion King which ran from July 8, 1994, through February 23, 2002. On October 8, 2003, Mickey’s PhilharMagic® finally opened its doors to guests and has been playing ever since. The attraction can also be found in other Disney Parks around the world. It opened in Hong Kong Disneyland® on September 12, 2005, and in Tokyo Disneyland® on January 24, 2011.

Mickey’s PhilharMagic® is a twelve minute 3D film directed by George Scribner who also directed the 1988 Disney animated film Oliver and Company. It marks the first time that Mickey and several other Disney characters were created using CGI technology. The film plays on one of the largest projections screens ever fabricated – measuring one hundred and fifty feet by twenty eight feet and utilizes addition effects such as wind, scents, and splashes of water to further immerse the audience. While the title suggests that it is Mickey’s show, the attraction is mainly focused around Donald Duck whose voice in the film is mostly comprised of old recordings of Clarence “Ducky” Nash, the original voice of the character. Gaps in Donald’s speech are filled in by his current voice actor, Tony Anselmo.

Immediately upon entering into the lobby of the attraction, guests are greeted by posters of previous performances by some of the most beloved Disney characters. Look for posters featuring the Three Caballeros, Genie, Hades, and Wheezy. After picking up a pair of 3D opera glasses and passing through sets of doors that open “automagically” guests find themselves in the grand 486 seat theater. Once seated, Minnie reads off the safety instructions but quickly realizes that Donald hasn’t set up the orchestra, and the show isn’t ready. Goofy raises the curtain anyway, and guests see Donald napping amid the deconstructed orchestra. Mickey wakes him up, tells him to get moving, and ominously warns Donald not to touch his hat.

Well, of course Donald goes ahead and grabs the hat anyway! After some hijinks with the instruments, Donald loses him temper, and they turn on him, creating a giant cloud, which whisks him up and lands him in the pitch dark. Soon guests hear the familiar voice of Beauty and the Beast’s Lumiere as he lights a candle and launches into “Be Our Guest” while Donald begins his search to capture the hat. Next up is the beloved Sorcerer’s Apprentice scene from the animated Disney classic Fantasia where Donald finds himself swept away by a larger than life bucket of water. Donald and guests soon find themselves under the sea with the little mermaid, Ariel, as she sings “Part of Your World.” After a shocking run in with an eel, Donald enters into the world of The Lion King where Simba is performing “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King.” Suddenly finding himself in the skies above London, Donald meets the characters of Peter Pan and soars to “You Can Fly.” Finally Aladdin and Jasmine appear while singing “A Whole New World”, and Donald finally is able to reunite with Mickey’s hat…until Iago knocks it off his head!

As Donald dives for the magical hat, a sweeping wind kicks in, and clouds appear as guests see orchestra instruments, and Mickey appears in the background. Mickey dons his hat and frantically tames the orchestra into their rightful places. He then proceeds to end the show with a great rendition of the “Mickey Mouse Club March.” Donald gets caught up in the rendition and finds himself launched by a tuba over guests’ heads and into the wall in the back of the theater. Guests then see him attempt to wiggle himself free until he ends up falling forward. One of the best small details about Mickey’s PhilharMagic® can be found in the Fantasy Faire shop after exiting – be sure to look for Donald still stuck in the wall above!

From the misadventures of Donald to some of the most beloved Disney songs, Mickey’s PhilharMagic® has something to offer every guest, and it will leave you singing and smiling long after leaving. Next time you find yourself in the Magic Kingdom® Park, be sure to stop by Fantasyland®, and enjoy the show!

(Photos from the author’s personal collection.)

What is your favorite part of Mickey’s PhilharMagic®? Is your favorite Disney song featured in the show? Be sure to let me know by leaving a comment below, I would love to hear from you!

Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.