Review: “Mickey’s Mix Magic” Doesn’t Compare to Past Disneyland Nighttime Spectaculars, and That’s a Good Thing

Fair warning: This review is written from the perspective of someone with no real emotional attachment to the Disneyland nighttime fireworks spectaculars of yesteryear. And It’s not that I didn’t like them, they were just never a big part of why I visited the parks, and I would use the time other guests spent camping out for spots along Main Street or in the Hub to take advantage of shorter lines for other attractions. In fact, prior to my employment as a theme park journalist, I don’t think I ever actually sat through a full fireworks performance as an adult. It just hasn’t been my thing, and as a fan I have almost always preferred taking in the general park atmosphere and appreciating ride design to sitting and watching a show of any kind.

That said, since I started out in this field about three and a half years ago, I have come to appreciate the wonder and awe inspired by fireworks, especially when delivered with the choreography, grandeur, and perfectly-timed musical accompaniment that have become trademarks of Disney’s nighttime spectaculars. And that’s why I approach each new show with a cautiously optimistic attitude, expecting Imagineering’s entertainment department to deliver something at the very least worthy of staking out a spot on the pavement for hours on end.

Watch “Mickey’s Mix Magic” full first performance at Disneyland:

This past Friday (as part of the newly launched Get Your Ears On – A Mickey and Minnie Celebration seasonal event) Disneyland debuted the new “Mickey’s Mix Magic,” a self-described “high-energy projection show” that lights up the night along Main Street, U.S.A., in front of “it’s a small world” in Fantasyland, and on the Rivers of America in the west side of the park. It’s a decidedly different and irreverent take on nighttime entertainment in The Happiest Place On Earth, and reactions to it, like anything new or risk-taking that comes out of WDI, are of course going to vary from enthusiastic praise to finger-wagging disapproval.

During a media preview event last week, Disney Parks live entertainment creative director Steven Davison stated that “Mickey’s Mix Magic” is intended as a dance party first, and a fireworks show second. Which makes sense, as the pyrotechnic element of the show will only run on certain nights– right now those nights happen to be weekends between Friday and Monday. On weekdays or evenings when Anaheim weather conditions don’t permit fireworks (which sadly happens more often than Disneyland or its attendees would prefer), guests will have to settle for incredibly impressive projections, swirling snow, thrilling laser light effects, and a toe-tapping contemporary-style remix of some classic Disney music.

Indeed, “Mickey’s Mix Magic” does away with the soaring themes and wistful nostalgia of previous fireworks spectaculars like “Remember… Dreams Come True,” “Disneyland Forever,” and last year’s excellent Pixar Fest hit “Together Forever,” favoring EDM and dubstep-inspired takes on songs like “I Wanna Be Like You” from The Jungle Book, “Ev’rybody Want to Be A Cat” from The Aristocats,” “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin, and even my personal favorite “Grim Grinning Ghosts” from Disneyland’s own iconic attraction The Haunted Mansion. These reworked tunes may be jarring to fans initially, but once the emphasis on fun is accepted and embraced, I believe the offbeat approach will ultimately be a welcome one.

Listen to “It’s a Good Time” by The DeeKompressors:

Later segments involving the lively “Un Poco Loco” number from Pixar’s Coco and the ubiquitous ballad “Let It Go” from 2013’s Frozen are sure to be crowd-pleasers, with the combination of light, sound, and other effects almost overwhelming in their cumulative impact during these moments. And the new song “It’s a Good Time,” written and produced specifically for the “World’s Biggest Mouse Party,” underway at Disney Parks around the world in celebration of Mickey and Minnie Mouse’s 90th birthday, is a thumping, winsome way to begin and end the performance.

So much of being a theme park fan is the ability to adapt to change, and “Mickey’s Mix Magic” (along with some other big changes coming to Disneyland this year that will go unnamed here) is certainly going to put that ability to the test. But I firmly believe that if guests can surrender themselves to the groove, danceability, and sheer playfulness of this new show, it will rank among the most cheerful, carefree, and enjoyable nighttime entertainment options Disneyland has produced in recent years. Or at the very least it will be the top entry of a fresh new category created with “Mickey’s Mix Magic” in mind.

Watch “Mickey’s Mix Magic” highlights at Disneyland:

“Mickey’s Mix Magic” runs nightly at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. For more information and advance ticketing resources, be sure to visit Disneyland Resort’s official website.

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