Adventures of a Lost Boy in Disneyland (Part 5): Magical and Fantasmic

Nights at Disneyland always need to end with fireworks. The only problem with this statement is that Disney has already created the best fireworks show that they will probably ever make (Remember… Dreams Come True), but decided to replace it seasonally with a different show. Magical: Disney’s New Nighttime Spectacular of Magical Celebrations (which I’m pretty sure has to be the longest name ever to grace an attraction or show at a Disney park) is a new fireworks spectacular that started in 2009 and runs during the summer, alternating with the seasonal fireworks (Halloween Screams: A Villainous Surprise in the Skies) and Remember… Dreams Come True.

The show is very much a hodge-podge of different Disney films that are combined in a way that doesn’t really make that much sense. It’s supposed to be divided up into a number of different kinds of wishes, but it really doesn’t have any sort of rhyme or reason to it. The show has songs or clips from Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Mary Poppins, Dumbo, Enchanted, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. I very much enjoyed the focus on the older Disney films, but there isn’t a lot of cohesion in the show. What makes shows like Remember… Dreams Come True and IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth so amazing is that there is a central theme. IllumiNations is all about the chaotic birth of the world, the world achieving some form of order, and then unity and harmony. It’s all very moving and makes thematic sense. Remember… Dreams Come True is about Disneyland. Each segment is related to a land or attraction, everything flows well into each other and is very cohesive. Magical is none of this.

What Magical does have over these other shows is that Dumbo flies over the crowd along with the usual Tinker Bell. Seeing Dumbo up there was easily the most magical moment in the entire show and made me so excited when he took flight.

The third nighttime spectacular is something that I have definitely talked about in this blog before: Fantasmic. I’m not going to talk about the show in depth in this post (as that is a topic for another day), but what I do want to touch upon is what was changed and added to the show at Disneyland. The show started getting improvements in 2007 with some new Princess/Jungle barges, and over the years a number of technological enhancements happened such as new HD projectors for the water screens, new lighting and pyrotechnics, and new lasers. The largest improvement happened during the summer of 2009 when new characters like Flotsam and Jetsam being added by creating giant puppets that are attached to jet skis and a brand new Maleficent dragon.

The dragon is really what I wanted to talk about. When it works, it is one of the most impressive things in a show that consistently impresses. The old dragon was just a fire breathing puppet head that had a body made of glittery streamers. It was exceptionally silly and not very intimidating, but that changed when Disney created a 45 foot tall, inflatable, fire breathing puppet that looks exactly like Maleficent does in the film. The new dragon moves realistically and actually manages to be quite scary when you realize it’s size. Maleficent now even has electricity effects that course through her reptilian body when she is defeated. The problem is that the dragon does not always work. It has been lovingly nicknamed Murphy by fans due to Murphy’s Law. The dragon was originally set to premier with the beginning of the then new Summer Nightasmic, in fact, it was one of the centerpieces of the entire promotion. Unfortunately for the Disney marketing army, the dragon suffered from almost every conceivable problem it possibly could that summer. It ended up finally showing up late in the summer to the delight of many fans of Fantasmic.

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