The children sat, mesmerised by Captain Hook and his pirate ship gliding across the ice. Jolly pirates danced a jig to a well-known song and Tinkerbell flew through the air overhead. After last year’s Frozen show, they weren’t expecting such a vast array of colourful characters. Here’s what we learnt from watching the wonderful Disney On Ice Passport to Adventure.
1. Arrive early
The atmosphere was electric outside the arena. Crowds of people milled around, looking for their entry gate. Excited children stood by posters of the cast to have their photograph taken, whilst adults queued to buy sparkly props.
We saw the show in Birmingham and the queue to get in was long. Security guards searched every bag and scanned all the adults. Whilst entirely necessary, this did make the entry process a little more time consuming.
2. Manage expectations
I don’t know about you, but I’m not one for buying merchandise or sweets at a show. We had lunch immediately before going in, complete with an enormous pudding. With hindsight, I should have made it clear to the girls that I wouldn’t be buying them anything. Vendors were everywhere both inside and outside the venue.
This did result in an endless stream of requests from the girls. They neeeeeeded flashing Mickey Mouse ears. They reeeeeeaaally love candy floss and of course, they were starrrrrving.
3. Fit to dance
Arriving early to avoid the queues doesn’t mean sitting in a dull arena for hours on end. Just before the show started, some of the cast came out onto the ice to run through a short fit to dance workshop.
Despite the best effort of the cast, few of the audience got up to dance. I saw one child really going for it, whereas the rest seemed happy to watch. That said, it was a great warmup act and made the wait for the show pass in no time.
4. The Passport to Adventure story
The story follows Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and Daisy on their journey around the world to four different Disney stories. These main characters aren’t actually in the show as much as you might expect. Instead, they are used to link together the four Disney stories.
I personally loved the way this was done, as did my girls. The audience experience the action-packed parts of several Disney stories. For young children, it’s a great way to find a new favourite film to watch when they get home. For Mickey and Minnie fans, it’s worth explaining before you go that these characters aren’t in the whole show.
5. The Lion King
The first stop on Mickey and friends’ whistle-stop adventure was Africa, where they met Simba. The Lion King wouldn’t be complete without upbeat, feel-good songs and of course, those cheeky characters Timon and Pumbaa.
There really was no better way to start the show, with the whole audience tapping their feet and dancing along. Nothing too scary happened and the little sub-plot captured the essence of the movie in a snapshot.
6. The Little Mermaid
Next stop on Mickey’s journey was the underwater world of Ariel and her sisters. We join Ariel as she visits Ursula the witch and gives up her voice for the chance to be human and woo her prince. Yes, I did just use the word woo. No, I’m not in my 80’s. I don’t think I’ve heard anybody use that word since my gran died.
Towards the end of this section, Ursula is transformed into an enormous, evil looking inflatable. I glanced over at my three year old at this point, slightly concerned that she’d be quaking under her seat. She wasn’t – apparently it’s not that scary.
7. Peter Pan
From deep under the sea, the characters head to London. Here, we meet briefly with Wendy and her family, before Peter Pan and Tinkerbell arrive to transport us to Neverland.
The set is cleverly used during this piece, with a bedroom high above the rink and members of the cast flying around on wires. Of course, no visit to Neverland would be complete without Captain Hook and the pesky ticking crocodile. For the duration of the performance, the crocodile was the only thing that scared the girls. I personally thought it was notably less intimidating than the inflatable witch in the Little Mermaid.
After last year’s epic Disney on Ice Frozen show, this made the perfect ending to the Passport to Adventure. We join Anna and Elsa as they prepare to open the castle doors for Elsa’s coronation. When Elsa accidentally causes Winter to descend on the Kingdom and disappears, Anna sets out to find her. We meet Olaf and other friends before finishing with the traditional happily ever after.
9. Making a sharp exit
See that subtitle about a sharp exit? Forget it. Disney on Ice is quite rightly an incredibly popular show. There are children everywhere and none of them are in a hurry. I’m pretty sure everyone went to the toilet when the show ended, and we ended up queuing for so long that staff were trying to get everyone out by the time the girls had finished.
I found the best approach was just to accept that we were going nowhere fast. The crowds are part of the experience of a show like this so you might as well embrace it.
10. The verdict
Disney on Ice Passport to Adventure was as fabulous as its name suggests. It was full of music, dancing, action and adventure throughout. Would I recommend it? Absolutely. I took my girls to Disney on Ice for the first time when the youngest was two years old. However, I see no reason not to take younger children. The ‘scary’ scenes are very tame and even babies can enjoy the music, colours and atmosphere of this incredible spectacle.