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Disney On Ice: Discover The Magic (Wembley Arena) and touring

(seen at the performance on 9th March 2023)

Third visit to a “Disney On Ice” show for the monkey, and one which proves to it how different they attempt to make each production under that banner.

This time the through story (hosted by a relentlessly perky pair of American College Student types), is that Captain Hook has imprisoned Tinkerbell – who is reduced to a spot of light in a cage at the top corner of the rink’s projected backdrop.

By solving clues we can find her missing wand and release her – the magic meter dial filling as the evening progresses.

Audience participation is big in this show, our cheerleading pair venturing among those seated rinkside and many of the characters also getting in on the act (the monkey got a high-five from Sebastian the Crab at one point, and not every Thursday night ends that way, it can tell you).

Having set up the tale with the arrival of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, the pirates and the rest, our first clue involved an enchanted flower. What else but Belle from “Beauty and the Beast”? A little fooling with Cogsworth and Lumiere and the dining room presented our dinner on skates. Transforming the centre rink into a maypole-like affair, a wonderful revolving lifting sequence delighted all.

Next to the same “Moana” routine as seen in previous editions of the show. Nothing wrong with the beautiful radio-controlled boat gliding over the ice, the youngsters in the audience responding to both the song and sentiment equally.

On to finding a guitar for a lengthy and colourful “Coco” interlude. With an audience member selected to play the guitar the Dead were summoned in a colourful display of black light judged perfectly to disturb none of the youngest present. 

The absolute brilliance of the two cast members on swinging poles looming far above the audience was a notable staging enchanting all, particularly the small person sitting next to the monkey. The novelty had everybody waiting after the first half ended to see how they would climb down. 

Opening the second half with Aladdin’s genie is always a crowd-pleaser, and another chance to enjoy Aladdin and Jasmine’s spectacular lifts – even sharper than at a previous incarnation of the show – was welcome on the slightly more intimate scale Wembley offers over the O2 for ice dance events.

A jump to the fantasy realms of under the sea for “The Little Mermaid” as Ariel and friends filled the stage with laughter and a pleasing swimming ray effect.

Pause for some spectacular stunt-skating with jumps over blocks of ice set up the “Frozen” final sequence. The delight of seeing Hans, Anna and of course Olaf had the little ones cheering, and “Let It Go” remains the ultimate skate for the lucky lead ice dancer selected to perform.

If regulars at these shows do recognise a little too much, it is down to the huge back archive becoming a little obscure for the new generations. Perhaps too the relentlessly perky hosts were a little much for British sensibilities; but the children adored them and it was impossible not to feel both sympathy and anger when the girl got her tights caught on a nail which should have been safely secured well before the performance. Top marks to the crew who sorted that issue out once the monkey pointed it out to them at the interval.

The show remains high-class Disney, a happy ending with pirates banished and Tinkerbell flying over the arena spreading her magic. Proof that when quality family entertainment is available, we need nothing more to discover those special feelings all too easily overlooked in our otherwise hectic lives.

Two hours of relaxed fun, worth seeing.

4 stars.

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