Disney On Ice shows marry the magic of Mickey Mouse and his mates with the beauty and skill of ice skating to bring joy to children – and big kids – and spark wonder in the sport/art form. This year’s Disney On Ice show, “Find Your Hero” is currently touring the UK so I naturally had to skate along to it in Manchester and watch it.
This was my second Disney On Ice show after my first in 2019, which was entitled “100 Years of Magic”. “Find Your Hero” enticed those going to “discover the hero inside us all”, which is quite a broad tagline. Unfortunately though, it appeared to be misnamed and should have been “Find your favourite Disney Princess among the half a dozen we feature in this show”. A visually spectacular feast for the eyes, as you’d no doubt expect, the show was split into five main parts that each focused on a different Disney “hero”, but was actually a Disney Princess story – Ariel from The Little Mermaid, Moana, Rapunzel from Tangled, Belle from Beauty and the Beast, and of course last but not least, Anna and Elsa from Frozen. To fit the theme they could have easily chosen many other characters, such as The Incredibles, Toy Story or Hercules (all of which would have helped appeal to those not as or just interested in Disney Princesses).
Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy presented the show together, coming out in between the segments to chat and wave incessantly at the audience – I bet their arms ache after every show, especially in those outfits. Each segment of the show was basically a condensed version of the film, only highlighting select important parts of them, squishing a 90 minute film into no more than 15 or 20 minutes. This was similar to 2019, although the sections then were perhaps slightly shorter and allowed for far more characters and films to get their own skate time (Finding Nemo/Dory, The Lion King, Mulan, Toy Story, and Aladdin, to name a few – Beauty and the Beast and Frozen were also included then too). Of course, when you shorten these iconic films to a certain length, some bits need to be cut out. For example, The Little Mermaid‘s story edited out key moments and poor Ursula – arguably the greatest Disney villain of all time – barely got a tentacle in.
Misgivings on the roster of characters in the show aside, it was truly a marvellous one to watch if just for the talented cast of ice skaters in it as they glided around the rink and embodied their characters to their fullest – especially the Beast and Sebastian, and even Maximus the horse and Sven the reindeer. Ariel’s “transformation” to a human featuring aerobatics and rope swinging was a highlight to behold. And of course, Disney have the budget and the manpower to create beautiful costumes and West End/Broadway theatre size and style sets. This is showcased most in the opening act for The Little Mermaid with intricately and colourfully designed costumes for the mermaids and other sea life, the flowing of large blue sheets to represent the thrashing waves, and of course Ursula’s legendary look, even if she was only in it for about a minute. Sadly and strangely though, Frozen had a much more elaborate set two years ago for Elsa’s ice castle that was reduced to a small bridge this time.
“Find Your Hero” was admittedly not as exciting or as character-packed as “100 Years of Magic”, but it’s hard to think how they could have topped that show as that aimed to feature as many classic and newer Disney characters and films for the milestone celebration. Hopefully the next show will be a return to more extravagance and diversity – both in characters and skaters. I spotted one Black skater, who I assumed would feature as Tiana from The Princess and the Frog but she was no more than part of the ensemble, and I saw no-one who was meant to resemble any of the other non-White Disney Princess such as Mulan or Pocahontas – even Moana looked as pale as Snow White, but that could have been the bright lighting. However, it is still an enjoyable show that will satisfy Disney lovers and surely features at least one favourite character or song for everybody, both young and old. And leave audiences in awe of the skaters’ grace and finesse that make some of the celebrities on Dancing On Ice look like Bambi falling through the lake.