Saturday, June 18, 2016

Today at Disney California Adventure: Frozen and Soarin'

I had a really wonderful time today seeing two of the newest attractions at Disney California Adventure!

We arrived at park opening and got Fast Passes for the day's first show of FROZEN - LIVE AT THE HYPERION.

We returned to the theater an hour before showtime, which I highly recommend for those who'd like to pick the best seats. We sat 10th row center in Orchestra which was absolutely perfect in terms of sight lines, including seeing the icy chandelier and snow which are part of the show's special effects.

This screened backdrop before the show began had terrific water effects!

I'm delighted to say that FROZEN - LIVE AT THE HYPERION exceeded my expectations. It is a 64-minute Broadway-style show of the highest caliber.

Over the years I saw ALADDIN a few times, but while it was very good it still felt a bit like "theme park entertainment" at times, in terms of both its abridged storytelling and the Genie's irreverent playing to the audience with topical humor.

Official Disney photo:

FROZEN is given the time to tell the complete story, with singing, performances, and creative staging to do it justice. I teared up more than once from sheer pleasure at the outstanding music.

Official Disney photo:

An official Disney photo of the finale:

"Let It Go" may be the most overexposed Disney song of many years, but its performance was thrilling; as the Los Angeles Times review said, it's a "real-deal showstopper." The climax, including a costume change for Elsa, elicited gasps from the audience. This is a superb show which is quite likely to match or exceed the 13-year run of ALADDIN.

Alas, I wish I could say the same for the new attraction Soarin' Around the World, which replaced Soarin' Over California beginning yesterday, June 17th.

While the original ride gave the feel of "dropping in" on actual locations, Soarin' Around the World could be termed Soarin' Over CGI!

Although there are pretty shots of locations such as the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Majal, and Monument Valley, there is way too much CGI fakery. I was impressed with the first shot of a polar bear, but was dubious they could have gotten even more perfectly placed polar bears in the same shot. When the orca jumped out of the water at the perfect moment to end the shot, I knew I was in make-believe land. It happens again in multiple places; for instance, it seems highly unlikely they could have flown so close to a herd of elephants without startling them.

I don't know how much CGI was used in the original film, other than fireworks at the end, but any that was used was unobtrusive. The obvious phoniness of the new version takes away some of the fun; surely they could have found impressive shots which were real, or at least seemed closer to the real deal?

Though I believe they could have done a better job, it's still fun and I'll go on it again. And I'll definitely be revisiting FROZEN!

Have a great weekend!


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