Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ride Review - Mickey's Philharmagic

Sorry for the lack of updates but it's been a week long working vacation for me. You can follow my updates from Knoebels (including some live ride ratings!) on our Twitter page. If you're not already following us on Twitter then you're missing out on updates when we post as well as my random musings from life at Disney and beyond.

Anyway, to hold you over until the regular updates resume next week, here's a review of one of the most underrated Magic Kingdom attractions.

Mickey's Philharmagic

Intro: Replaced the Legend of the Lion King in Fantasyland in 2003, Philharmagic is Disney’s fourth 3-D movie and boasts one of the world’s largest 3-D screens.

Preshow: None

Queue: Nothing fancy, since there is not much room in these Fantasyland buildings. It runs through the auditorium of the “Concert Hall” and features some funny posters hyping “upcoming shows.” They are all little quips and jokes and are fairly amusing. But there is simply not enough going on here for the long waits that families with children are likely to endure, of course this line is partially inside AND has a waiting area, which makes it better than just about every other queue in Fantasyland.

Show: Starts up with Mickey getting ready to lead a concert. However, he gets called away on a mystery and leaves Donald in charge with instructions not to touch the sorcerer’s hat. Donald, of course, then puts it right on and ends up leading the symphony into a state of disarray (especially when they start playing the Mickey Mouse Club march). The instruments take on a life of their own and eventually they and Donald get sucked into the screen into a darkened room. The room is quickly illuminated by Lumiere who sings a rendition of “Be Our Guest” as food is carried past Donald. He ends up making a mess, however, and the buckets and mops from Sorcerer’s Apprentice douse Donald (and the audience) with water. This water is a perfect cue to take us to...

Ariel claims the hat as one of her human trinkets. She sings “Part of Your World” to Donald who is, of course, in love. Sadly an electric eel takes akin to Donald and he needs to swim away. Meanwhile, Ariel swims upwards towards the sun giving us a cue to head to...

Africa! (Who knows why?) Simba stops by to sing about his upcoming ascent to the throne of the pride lands. Donald gets tossed around by some stylized jungle creatures while chasing the hat. Did they need to save their budget and make one scene lack 3-D effects? Cause all the jungle animals here are two dimensional folk art style, while Donald and Simba are in 3-D. I would guess that this is to rest your eyes from the effects, but there are tons of colors twirling around in every direction, so if that is the intention, it is not very well executed.

Then, for no real reason, Tinkerbell stops by and we are in London. Don’t even try to get this all to make sense. This ride is about the music and fantasy, so just run with it, cause the London scene is AWESOME. The 3-D effects go all out here as Donald, Tink, and Peter fly by. You ARE soaring through London, up into the clouds where....Aladdin and Jasmine fly by on their magic carpet. Awesome! They sing “A Whole New World” and Jasmine finally returns the hat to Donald, who ends up back in the concert hall where Mickey claims the hat and leads the orchestra in the Mickey Mouse Club march. Donald, who fell in a tuba, is blown clear across the crowd to the back of the room, where he gets stuck in the wall.

Thoughts: Well, that was a fun time, incoherency and all. It is really Disney’s best job at 3-D, an art that I did not think they could perfect any more than in “It’s Tough to Be a Bug.” Great music, fun 3-D scenes, and all the elements that make a great 3-D show. Plus, there are no scary scenes and it is fun for the whole family. I can’t go the full Monty here because of the odd transitions and the Lion King scene, plus the bad queue line, but this movie is pretty darn good.

Rating: **** 1/4

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