A special 10-minute preview of Alice Through the Looking Glass in 3-D is currently screening at Disney California Adventure. Special in-theater effects and a fun interactive kiosk found in the theater’s lobby add to the experience during this presentation's run from May 6 – June 12, 2016 you can enjoy at the Sunset Showcase Theater (the old MuppetVision theater that recently housed a Frozen Sing-Along).
The fun begins with oddly shaped oversized teapots, oversized playing cards left over from the park's Mad T Party events as well as supersized movie posters for the film that hits theaters May 27, 2016. Don’t worry — when you make the turn after the entrance much of the décor still remains from the Frozen Sing-Along, but continuing along the path the familiar one-sheet featuring Mad Hatter and others bring you into the main theater queue and reassured me I was in the right place.
While waiting for the next presentation, which occur continuously throughout the day, you can queue up for the interactive kiosks where you are transformed into a resident of Underland. During my visit there were very few people in the theater so I was able to easily access a kiosk. However, there were only two of them so I can foresee days where you may find yourself waiting through several theater rotations if you want to enjoy them.
Once inside, the purple kiosk you will gaze into the looking glass and select from various roles in the film. With a puff of smoke your appearance is transformed into the character of your choice whether it’s the Cheshire Cat, the White Queen, the Mad Hatter or others. Your reflection will still move with you. You can blink your eyes, wiggle your nose, smile, frown and the characture blend of you and the Underland resident will reflect those actions. It was a bit unreal. If you present your email address you will be able to save out a brief video and still from one of the select characters. Your kiosk fun is presented on the wall (not your private info) and it's fun to watch others transform and explore their Underworld self. But, if you can’t make it to DCA in the next few weeks or you find the line too long during your visit, the experience is not exclusive to the venue in fact you can have the same fun at home without an audience.
The theater presentation begins with some audio cues from Alice and her friends and the 3D preview itself is introduced by director James Bobin. It then opens with Alice aboard a tall sailing ship being pursued by a group of ships from Asia. She must direct her crew to do the impossible in order to escape. As the winds howl on screen my hair began to stir in a breeze (you may recall MuppetVision’s vacuum sequence), as lightning flashed so too did theater effects and as cannon blasts filled the screen ahead warm hues illuminated the room around me (remniscent of the lighting for MuppetVision’s tremendous finale sequence minus the wall damage).
I was enthralled. Then we move to a sequence featuring Alice attending a formal event and her selection of formal attire is too garish for its upper crust attendees. She follows an exquisitely blue butterfly away from the main gathering down an ornate corridor and into a room with many beautiful paintings, ornate rugs, a large mirror aka looking glass and chess set.
Alice notices the butterfly in the reflection yet seems surprised when she turns to find it fluttering behind her. The butterfly named Absolem speaks, the voice rattles me and takes me out of the preview for a brief moment. Having not seen the original film I was unprepared for the unmistakable voice of Alan Rickman. He will be deeply missed. Onscreen Alice follows the butterfly through the looking glass and back into Underland. The dazzling visuals capture my attention again as Alice is asked by her friends — the March Hare, the White Queen, the Tweedles — to help the Mad Hatter who has become dark.
This special preview’s tone is lighter than those of the theatrical and online trailers currently appearing. It offers more of the Humpty Dumpty sequence in which the king’s horses and men work to put the egg back together while sharing numerous puns and a delightful portion of the sequence previously released where Alice tries to explain to a younger Hatter the odd circumstance that led for them to meet the first time while she was younger and he was older.
Very little is seen of the villainous Red Queen and even Time himself (Sascha Baron Cohen) is not featured with the same intensity as appears in current movie trailers which is a good choice given the wider variety of ages that may check out this offering in the theme park. In fact most of the screen time for Time here features him suffering as the target of a nearly insufferable series of time jokes and puns including, “It is true you heal all wounds?” during a Mad Tea Party.
The preview and its interactive fun successfully whetted my appetite for the upcoming film. So if you’re at Disney California Adventure now through June 12th consider taking a glance through the looking glass at this special preview.