Friday, February 12, 2010

Ride Review - Tiana's Showboat Jubilee

The Saints won the Super Bowl, it's Mardi Gras in a few days, so what else do you think I should be reviewing this week? Who Dat?!?!

Intro: Opened at the Magic Kingdom this past October to correspond to the Disney animated feature “The Princess & The Frog,” this is sort of a parade, show, and meet & greet hybrid. I never got the chance to see it live but thanks to the magic of YouTube, it lives on forever. I also have never seen the movie it’s based on…so this review is certainly going to be an adventure. But no doubt a jubilant one (if not, I’m calling false advertising!)

Show: An inviting southern voice welcomes us “down by the river” for a production of Tiana’s Showboat Jubilee. I’m already jubilant. Dancers march through Frontierland into Liberty Square, alongside a jazz band complete with an alligator who plays the trumpet and is more likely than not a character from this film that I’ve never seen.

Princess Tiana is not far behind, alongside her prince, who until this time I honestly believed was a frog. Also, the cast member playing him appears to be an Indian man. I hope this is the case in the movie. Disney’s first black princess AND their first half Indian, half frog prince! The diversity!

Anyway, they all pile onto the Liberty Belle Riverboat because, well, this show obviously needs every wacky gimmick possible. And that’s not even the only wacky gimmick! Because a bunch of people from the park get picked to wave streamers from aboard the boat. I have no idea how you get picked to do this but I’m glad they never picked me. Not because I wouldn’t want to do it, in fact just the opposite. I would never be able to say “no.” But then when I got home and told people “I got to be part of a show at Disney!” and they ask which one and I tell them “Tiana’s Showboat Jubilee,” well I just don’t want to deal with the looks of confusion and/or disappointment that would follow.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah. Some kind of show about a frog and a boat.

Tiana complements the band on their performance and then delivers a line that sounds a lot like “that’s enough to make you want to reach out for a drink.” I’m pretty sure it was supposed to be “reach out for a dream,” which is unfortunate because I actually would like to reach out for a drink. So they all sing a song and do some dancing and smart money is that a similar scene plays out in animated form during the film.

The alligator shares his dream with us: it’s do be human. Apparently he wants to go to New Orleans and, I assume, play his trumpet somewhere in the general vicinity of the French Quarter. If this alligator character is as much of an obvious take on Louis Armstrong as this show suggests, it’s really a shame Louis Prima couldn’t have played the role.

The song concludes to AN EXPLOSION on top of the ship. I’m betting this is the evil villain of the film. He seems to be some kind of weird cross between a pimp and a voodoo master. Once again, I really hope that’s what he is in the movie. He asks the prince to pick some tarot cards. As best I can tell he picked the “transformation central” card. I say this because pimpmaster Cleo yells it over and over again.

Tiana wants to make sure “folks like that don’t steal away our dreams.” I wonder how many poor young girls have said the same. Apparently their way to chase him away is with DANCING. Well, of course it is.

They sing some more. “Let’s wish upon a wishing star, ‘cause when we do our dreams come true.” No, that sounds NOTHING like the words to another (better) Disney song. The boat starts moving down the Rivers of America and the show is over.

Thoughts: As much as I made fun, this show is by no means bad and it’s not a knock on the talented performers who are in it. It’s just one of those things where you can tell it was thrown together in, like, two weeks with no budget whatsoever. My problems with it are more the philosophical kind, where I’d rather things the old way when Disney would base rides and shows on beloved movies, not throw together rides and shows to try to convince people to go the movies to see whatever new thing they’re trying to push.

It’s fine and it serves it’s purpose but, well, so does the Ferris wheel at Six Flags, ya know?

Overall Rating: ** ½


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