Disneyland Paris is gearing up to celebrate Mickey’s 90th anniversary in a big way. The Resort has planned some fun holiday events and activities including a Halloween celebration, Christmas festivities, a rockin’ New Year’s Eve bash and more. To kick off the end of year festivities, Halloween will officially start on Monday, October 1 and will feature the debut a new attraction for Park. For the first time ever, Mickey’s PhilharMagic is coming to Disneyland Paris. The 4D experience will be running daily at the Discoveryland Theater behind Space Mountain. As part of InsideEars’ “90 Years of Magic with Mickey” event, I was able to watch the 10 minute musical performance before its grand opening and it was quite a treat.
Now, it’s been a while since I’ve seen PhilharMagic and my only experience with the attraction is at Walt Disney World. I’m not sure what, if any changes have been made to the theater or 3D film in Magic Kingdom, however, here in Paris, the show is essentially the same with a few minor differences.
Theater, stage, and screen
The first thing I noticed was that the theater is bigger. A lot bigger. While the rows aren’t very long, they go further back than Magic Kingdom’s does and at a slope. Also, Discoveryland Theater was built for Captain EO when the Park opened in 1992 so of course the design and structure are much different. As for the stage, it’s much smaller than what I’m used to. This theater is also used for presentations in addition the attractions and I don’t believe that’s the case at Magic Kingdom.
Once the show started I noticed the lack of curtains. For this attraction, they were simply animated or projected. In Magic Kingdom, there are actual curtains that are raised during the show. Here it’s all digital. Also, there’s no physical arch that’s lifted away or additional screens that are revealed as the show goes on. Everything is right in front of the audience.
I noticed the difference in 3D animation right away. It was sharper, clearer, and more “layered.” There was a distinct separation between the characters and the background, and all of the images truly felt dimensional, reminding me of augmented reality. And while the animation definitely popped off the screen, it didn’t feel as in-your-face as some other shows I’ve watched. It’s no fun being the only person in the theater ducking to avoid the flying images so, for me, this subtler approach is a big win.
Being that this theater hosted Captain EO back in the day, it’s equipped with a moving floor so that during the show, the audience will bounce along with the action on the screen. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not constant or bothersome, there are just a few instances where it happens. Most noticeable is when the giant broom from Fantasia walks into the room. You can feel every single powerful step as it makes its presence known.
Another thing that stood out was the air/wind effects in this theater seemed stronger and more immersive than its WDW counterpart. When Donald gets sucked into the musical numbers at the beginning of the show, you can feel the power of what’s happening and I really like that. And of course, there’s also water misters that spritz guests several times throughout. I’m not a huge fan, but honestly, who likes getting sprayed in the face? If memory serves me correctly, WDW’s version used scents during “Be Our Guest” and that was not present in this iteration.
All songs and dialogue in Mickey’s PhilharMagic are performed in both French and English, changing between both as necessary.
When I heard that Disneyland Paris would be getting this show and that it was a “new 4D experience” with “new misadventures caused by the out-of-control Donald Duck,” I wondered if any scenes or songs would be replaced. I half expected to see Donald interacting with Anna, Elsa, and Moana, but much to my relief that didn’t happen. Mickey’s PhilharMagic features the same series of songs from the original just updated (I think) with better animation. While I have nothing against Frozen or Moana, I appreciate that Disney didn’t feel the need to incorporate new material into an already fantastic show.
Lastly, one major thing this version leaves out is Donald Duck getting stuck in the wall at the end of the show. Yes, he gets caught in the tuba, and yes he goes flying across the room, but there’s no physical Donald shaking his tail and kicking his feet. I kinda missed that.
Disney has a large catalog of shows, parades, and attractions that they can incorporate into their Parks all around the world. Bringing this show to Disneyland Paris for Mickey’s birthday is a smart move. PhilharMagic combines modern day 3D animation with nostalgic characters and places it in a fun setting. It might not be the most exciting attraction they have, but it’s a very enjoyable 10 minutes of entertainment. I wouldn’t make a special trip to Disneyland Paris Resort just for this show, but if you happen to be visiting the Park, then it’s definitely worth checking out.