Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire is the new Cinderella Castle daytime stage show in Magic Kingdom, debuting during Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. This post features photos, showtime info, viewing tips, and my review, plus commentary about its significance to the return to normalcy and shoulder kid etiquette–something for everyone.
For starters, Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire is more a reimagining of Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire than it is a “new” stage show. I’d say it’s about one-quarter new, with sequences from Princess and the Frog, Tangled, and Frozen all being reprised from the original.
Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire has a new opening and a new finale with Mickey Mouse and friends in their sparkling, EARidescent fashions. The updated Cinderella Castle Forecourt stage show also includes an all-new, original song entitled “Where the Magic Feels Like Home.”
Currently, Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire has showtimes at 12:15 pm, 1:30 pm, 2:45 pm, 4:35 pm, and 6:10 pm.
You should be able to catch the Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade, Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade, and one other cavalcade shortly before the stage show. If you’re inclined to hang around Magic Kingdom’s Central Plaza for an hour or so, it can be a good way to knock out several character experiences in quick succession. At least, for now. (Check My Disney Experience for showtimes during your visit.)
From my perspective, Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire is a solid update to what was already the best Magic Kingdom daytime castle stage show in the last decade-pus. I was never a huge fan of Dream Along with Mickey or even Cinderellabration before that, which collectively ran for the first decade-plus of our adult visits to Walt Disney World.
Mickey’s ___ Friendship Faire is fundamentally similar to Dream Along with Mickey, but also improving on that formula to a significant degree. Friendship Faire (mostly) drops the pretense of a plot, and lets the show exist just for the sake of existing, as a fun gathering with Mickey and various characters dancing and singing.
The costuming during Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire is great, with a mix of the EARidescent outfits and styles from the films represented in each of the major musical numbers.
It also features a more a diverse assortment of characters, both in terms of films represented, and types of characters. It’s a good balance among the Fab Five, princesses, and comedic relief characters.
Seeing an articulated Louis the Alligator is awesome–as is Goofy attempting to tap dance.
Personally, I would’ve liked to see the Frozen number switched out for something new. When the original incarnation debuted ~6 years ago, Frozen was fresher and Walt Disney World was still scrambling to meet demand among families to see those characters. That’s no longer the case.
Plus, the Frozen number is the weakest of the bunch.
That’s obviously just my opinion, but I don’t know how you can watch all three and think its ambition level is on par with the Princess and the Frog and Tangled scenes. Those are much more elaborate, engaging, and…better.
This was in development before Encanto became a smash hit, but that would’ve been the obvious choice for replacing Frozen.
Unfortunately, Walt Disney World isn’t nearly nimble enough to produce a simple Encanto scene in a few months. They’re probably still two-dozen roundtable meetings away from working out the logistics of “how” to add Mirabel to one of the cavalcades. Then, of course, that’ll need to go through 13 different divisions for approval.
Fortunately, Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire is really good, regardless.
Princess and the Frog is perfect for this kind of thing (its scenes are show-stealers in everything like this Disney has done in the last decade) as is Tangled. (Even Frozen isn’t bad–it’s just not as good as the others.) In the case of the latter two, Disney has already demonstrated it can do great full-scale Broadway-style stage shows with them, as demonstrated at Disney California Adventure and Disney Cruise Line.
Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire comes together really well from beginning to end, with the new opening and finale acts melding with the show well.
“Where the Magic Feels Like Home” is a fantastic song and a great way to end the show. I am not the least bit musically inclined, so I’m not exactly sure how to articulate this, but it has a more old-school vibe to it. A lot of what Disney has been doing lately with in-park original music is pop–and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s nice to have something different.
It’s also so, so good to have daily performances back on the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage. It had been almost two years! Long overdue, but nevertheless great to see.
Catching this after a couple of cavalcades (or parade, once Festival of Fantasy returns) is a lot of fun. Main Street and the front of the park really feel alive. (I also caught the last show and left shortly thereafter, catching the Fab Five waving at guests leaving Magic Kingdom.) It’s really nice to see normalcy returning.
Speaking of which, this also marks the return of normal, non-physically distanced stage shows at Walt Disney World.
Given the recent end of the indoor face mask rule, plus this and the entirety of the new/upcoming Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser experience being normal, it’s likely we’ll soon see other awkwardly-modified entertainment (looking at you, Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage!) return to normal.
Turning to tips, one of the biggest challenges in viewing Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire is that there is absolutely no shade in the prime viewing area. For this reason, we recommend doing the first or last showings.
Crowds will be heavier for the final showing, but I favor that one because the sun is less intense–or down–and lines elsewhere are at or close to their peaks. This is especially true in the fall and winter months, once the sun sets earlier. From October through March, the sun sets at or before 7 pm, meaning that last show could be a good 10 degrees cooler than the midday shows.
Unlike the parades and fireworks, you don’t have to arrive far in advance to secure a good view for Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire. To the contrary, I’d advise showing up as close to the show as possible to minimize your time in the sun. Every minute counts, and one too many could be the tipping point for a meltdown. (Just ask Sarah…I threw a temper tantrum afterwards that only 3 consecutive rides on the PeopleMover could fix.)
When it comes to best viewing spots for Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire, I’d recommend either getting as close to the stage as possible, or drifting back by the Partners statue.
If you opt for close to the stage, you will have to arrive earlier. You’ll also likely end up with a shoulder-kid or two in front of you blocking your view, because the angle is harsh and it can actually be difficult for shorter people to see up there.
Back by Partners you’ll have clearer sight-lines thanks to the decline of the pavement in front of you. I’ve come to prefer this area back by Partners (all photos in this post were shot from back there), as this area doesn’t really fill up until the show starts. By contrast, “the pit” up front is often full well before showtime. It’s just a hassle, more densely-congested, and arguably not worth it.
For the none of you who care, viewing these daytime stage shows is one scenario in which I’m lax on my anti-shoulder kid philosophy. Given the number of showings per day plus the lack of shade and crowds for each showing of Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire, shoulder children are hereby deemed “socially acceptable” and not subject to the highly-official Disney Parks Pet Peeves.
If other guests want to see around a shoulder kid, it’s pretty easy to accomplish simply by moving around. When viewing these shows from beyond the curb or back by Partners, there’s typically a ton of wiggle-room for adjusting and obtaining a better view in the case of obstructions with minimal inconvenience. It annoys me a bit when people in the front row do it, but whatever, still not a huge deal.
If you’re in the ‘no man’s land’ between Partners and the parade route (beyond the compass rose right in front of Cinderella Castle), hoisting your kid up on your shoulders before the show starts should be no issue.
Proper etiquette should call for doing this a few minutes before the show starts, so those filing in after you can position themselves accordingly. Don’t Trojan Horse the people behind you with a surprise shoulder kid 2 seconds into the show.
Of course, exercise judgment when doing this. If it’s New Year’s Eve and the crowds are elbow-to-elbow, shoulder-kidding remains impolite. Consider holding them at eye-level, instead.
Otherwise, stage shows like this are pretty low stakes. Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire is certainly not the same as fireworks, where people stake out prime spots an hour in advance.
Now, I realize some of you don’t see an issue with shoulder-kidding anytime, ever. It should go without saying, but park etiquette doesn’t apply to you.
Your child is the center of the universe and the people whose views you block behind you will totally understand given that. After all, you paid a lot of money for this vacation. Presumably, that’s not true of anyone else in Magic Kingdom. (If you really want to show those commoners who’s boss, have your shoulder kid fly a balloon overhead, too.)
Ultimately, if you’re a parent with small children, you’d be remiss if you didn’t watch Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire. If you’re Walt Disney World regulars without kids like us, you should still probably check it out–it’s good to support entertainment and demonstrate to Disney that this kind of thing is crucial to the park experience.
Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire is a cute and energetic show, with some good musical numbers, costuming, and characters you don’t otherwise see much at Walt Disney World. It’s great to have a stage show back in front of Cinderella Castle–this is a strong start to entertainment returning to, and debuting at, Walt Disney World in 2022!
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