Cool world of pure enchantment

The hugely impressive Aladdin sequence from The Wonderful World of Disney on Ice.
The rink at the Durban ICC before the start of The Wonderful World of Disney on Ice.

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ICE SHOW: The Wonderful World of Disney on Ice – Durban ICC Arena
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
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IT IS on its sixth tour to South Africa, but this year marks the first time the Disney on Ice show is visiting Durban. And what a joy to see such great local support for a lavish production that matches the high standard and spectacle of the wonderful, touring Holiday on Ice shows of the late 1980s.

Sold out for the Durban season, the current touring show, The Wonderful World of Disney on Ice, is a slick and sparkling, two-hour outpouring of condensed versions of some of Disney’s most popular animated movie successes.

Minnie Mouse, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy get the crowd excited in the show’s fun opening routine.

Ten to 14 hours are spent putting up the six-ton, 7.5m-tall set; which comprises 420 lighting fixtures. A castle set in the show alone weighs in at 1.8 tons.

A large group of talented and versatile skaters from all over the world – including two from Johannesburg – have been gathered, and perform with skill and gusto. They are enchanting, one or two small, brief tumbles notwithstanding.

It makes for a show guaranteed to keep a smile on your face throughout.

This is a technically brilliant production that boasts superb costumes; 300 of them in total, including 200 000 Swarovski crystals. Lighting, too, is fab and surprise special effects include fireworks, four dozen cylindrical floating lanterns, falling snow, gushing fountains and a large, floaty curtain that drops, billowing, from the ceiling and is later sucked up again to vanish completely.

The spectacle opens with four of Disney’s most iconic characters – Goofy, Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse – arriving on the ice with a welcome wave, and discovering a treasure chest filled with assorted items pertinent to Disney tales.

That leads into a deft series of sequences devoted to classic movies, set to recorded music, songs and narration; and the colourful quartet return between scenes for more fun.

Jessie, Buzz and Woody in the Toy Story sequence.

The show opens with a bang, with a salute to The Lion King, complete with a 4,5m Pride Rock , 2,7m sun and a finale of giraffes, wildebeest and, of course, the meerkat, the warthog and Simba and sidekicks.

We then get an endless parade of characters everyone knows and loves, the programme including nods to Tangled and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, as well as a dance by assorted Disney princesses and their handsome sidekicks.

Also here are Toy Story (slightly disappointing, although the plastic soldiers’ entrance, singing The Toys Are Back in Town, is a delight) and Finding Dory (also a tad disappointing, with too much narration and too little skating, although the costumes are genius).

Highlights include sequences devoted to The Little Mermaid (a fun fantasy in fluorescence with Ariel, Sebastian the crab and assorted seaweed and fishy folk) and Aladdin – complete with giant genie lamp, lifesize elephant and a carpet-like sleigh which allows a few lucky children from the audience to be driven around the rink.

Baby Dory in the Finding Dory sequence.

The best, however, is kept for last with an extended, elaborate salute to the fabulous Frozen, Disney’s 53rd animated film, reported by Wikipedia to be the most profitable animated film in history.

The Disney on Ice tribute to Frozen features some great skating, that large falling curtain, snow and fireworks, whacky snowman Olaf…and , of course, hit songs including Let It Go, In Summer, Love is an Open Door and For the First Time in Forever.

Presented by Feld Entertainment Inc and leading local promoter, Showtime Management, The Wonderful World of Disney on Ice is in Durban only until Sunday. It then moves to the Grand Arena, GrandWest in Cape Town, from July 19 to 23.

NOTE: Be warned that souvenirs and food at the venue are not cheap – an outrageous R100 for a popcorn or candyfloss in a packet bearing the Disney logo, and R200 for a photo opportunity alongside a cardboard cutout. Daylight robbery!

A highlight of the Frozen sequence from The Wonderful World of Disney on Ice.

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