Walt Disney World just announced during the Destination D23 event that several major live entertainment productions, including stage shows and parades will be coming to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios during the World’s Most Magical Celebration. Here are full details on the new additions, enhancements, and returning fan favorites.
First, we shared separately that a reimagined version of Finding Nemo: The Musical titled “Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond!” is coming to Theater in the Wild at Animal Kingdom in 2022. This new show is set in the timeline of the movie Finding Dory, and when you take a seat in the theater, you’ll find yourself at the Marine Life Institute.
As the show begins, guests catch up with the fish from Dr. P. Sherman’s office in Finding Nemo, who have made their way across the ocean to California. They tell the story of Nemo and how they all got there, incorporating many of the beloved songs and production numbers from the original show. Walt Disney World’s entertainment team is hard at work getting “Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!” ready to open in 2022, and promises to share more soon…
Following up on the earlier announcement by DPEP Chairman Josh D’Amaro, Fantasmic! will also be returning to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2022. When this incredible nighttime spectacular reopens next year, it will incorporate an all-new sequence featuring live performers, stunts, special effects and more.
Tom Vazzana, Show Director with Walt Disney World Creative Entertainment teased the work his team had been doing on Fantasmic. In a burst of excitement, he said: “This segment will bring hope and joy to your heart in a scene that you are not going to believe. I can’t wait to tell you more about it…but I can’t. So we’ll just move on.” (For those who are unfamiliar with these events, Vazzana is generally beloved by fans for his quirkiness, passion, and authenticity.)
We don’t want to read too much into a vague teaser poster (it’s not even technically concept art), but the inclusion of details from Aladdin, Moana, and Frozen seems deliberate and notable. With that said, it would be odd for a single scene featuring these disparate properties. But it’s probably not a single scene.
The part that’s being replaced is almost certainly the extended Pocahontas scene, which has a runtime of approximately 82 minutes (longer than the movie!). While that’s probably a slight exaggeration, the Pocahontas portion is lengthy–long enough for multiple replacement segments.
The Walt Disney World version of the nighttime spectacular has always felt inferior to Disneyland’s, and one big reason why is the Pocahontas part that drags and dates Florida’s Fantasmic. It would be like if this show debuted in the mid-aughts and still featured a lengthy scene based on Meet the Robinsons (sorry, fans of that–but it’s no classic) despite the promotional window for that film closing long ago.
One of my go-to “dad jokes” is calling the Disney’s Hollywood Studios version Pocahontasmic! I will happily retire that feeble attempt at humor now, especially if it means a better version of Fantasmic. (It’s not exactly a clever moniker, anyway.) Now, if DHS could just get an impressive dragon…
Moving along to Magic Kingdom, where the company is bringing live entertainment back to the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage early in 2022. There, you’ll find a show newly enhanced for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary celebration: “Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire.”
This will incorporate favorite scenes from the previous version of the show–Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire–with sequences inspired by “Frozen,” “Tangled,” and “The Princess and the Frog” – plus a new opening and a new finale with Mickey Mouse and all his friends in their sparkling, EARidescent fashions. The show will also include an all-new, original song entitled “Where the Magic Feels Like Home.”
Walt Disney World’s entertainment leadership noted that the cavalcades that debuted when Magic Kingdom have been incredibly popular with guests, and will continue to be part of the park entertainment experience into the future.
While statements like this are sometimes fluff, I’ve heard this sentiment expressed several times and it seems like the kind of thing they probably have survey data to corroborate. As much as I enjoy full parades, I have to admit that there’s something to be said for not spending an hour-plus in the Florida heat and humidity waiting for and watching them. I suspect that’s common guest sentiment.
Anyway, Walt Disney World’s entertainment team announced that later this winter, the Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade will debut in Magic Kingdom. This new cavalcade will feature an exciting roster of characters all embarking on a great journey through the park.
The Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade will present the most characters of any cavalcade to date, including Nick and Judy from “Zootopia,” Baloo and King Louie from “The Jungle Book,” José Carioca and Panchito from “The Three Caballeros,” Miguel from “Coco,” plus Merida, Moana, The Incredibles, and so many more.
In early 2022, these cavalcades will be joined by the return of the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade. This vibrant and high-energy celebration of Fantasyland brings dozens of beloved characters, lavish floats, and elaborately-costumed performers to the streets of Magic Kingdom.
Walt Disney World entertainment notes that all of this “and more!” is on the way, adding to new experiences that debuted with the launch of the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary celebration. Here’s hoping that Paint the Night Parade is included among the “and more” experiences, and that wasn’t just (yet another) rumor about that night parade that’s been sitting in a California warehouse, collecting dust, for the last three-plus years. We’ll keep you posted!
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What do you think about Walt Disney World’s entertainment announcements? Thoughts on the reimagined Fantasmic? Think our guess is right about it dropping Pocahontas? Excited for another cavalcade or the return of Festival of Fantasy Parade? What about the sorta new Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire? Disappointed that more entertainment hasn’t returned already despite the crowds and prices? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!