Walt Disney Imagineering has announced that a new song and animated scene based on Disney and Pixar’s Coco will soon debut at Mickey’s PhilharMagic in Magic Kingdom, Disney California Adventure, and Disneyland Paris. In this post, we’ll share details, concept art, and some thoughts. (Updated September 21, 2021.)
For context, Mickey’s PhilharMagic debuted at Walt Disney World in the Fantasyland Concert Hall back in 2003, replacing Legend of the Lion King. To my knowledge, the newest film represented in PhilharMagic up until now was Toy Story 2, thanks to a brief cameo by Wheezy. The main scenes were all Disney Renaissance or earlier era films.
A couple of years after Mickey’s PhilharMagic opened in Magic Kingdom, the 3D film debuted with Hong Kong Disneyland in 2005. Following that, it opened at Tokyo Disneyland in 2011, replacing Mickey Mouse Revue. Then for reasons still unclear to me, Mickey’s PhilharMagic opened at Disneyland Paris and Disney California Adventure in 2018-2019, when you otherwise might’ve assumed the film was nearing the end of its lifecycle…
The decision to add PhilharMagic to Disneyland Resort and Paris now makes a little more sense today, as the film is being refreshed with a new scene from Coco. Per Imagineering, the musical number “Un Poco Loco” will anchor the new scene.
Walt Disney Imagineering was able to tap one of the film’s original composers–the world-renowned Germaine Franco–to produce a Coco score unique to Mickey’s PhilharMagic. Per Disney, “guests will enjoy this new scene alongside all of the show’s current fan-favorite musical numbers.”
The enhanced version of Mickey’s PhilharMagic debuted to guests at Disney California Adventure and Disneyland Paris over the summer, and will be coming at the start of Christmas 2021 at Walt Disney World…
September 21, 2021 Update: Magic Kingdom’s version of Mickey’s PhilharMagic will close for refurbishment on October 11, 2021 and reopen with the new scene on November 12, 2021.
During the closure, the Fantasyland Concert Hall will receive an upgraded new digital projection system for improved visuals. (Other attractions around Walt Disney World have had their projectors upgraded in recent years and it has made a huge difference in crispness and quality.)
This new Coco scene was originally expected to be added to Mickey’s PhilharMagic at Magic Kingdom in time for the Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary on October 1, 2021. Instead, it’s debuting a little over a month later for Hispanic Latinx Heritage Month, the kickoff of Christmas, and/or Disney+ Day.
In terms of commentary, I’m not sure what needs to be said–this is unequivocally great news. A Coco scene is being added and nothing else is being removed?
Even without seeing the above concept art, my reaction would’ve been positive. Coco is a colorful and fantastical film, with the type of vivid scenery that lends it perfectly to an immersive 3D movie. Beyond that, the music is beautiful and a great change of pace from the other films in PhilharMagic.
Now, after seeing the concept art, I’m even more sold on the idea.
I also like the above art, which appears like it could be a fun “scene with a scene” theater gag. But honestly? I just want to fly through the vivid land of the dead with Pepita and Miguel. (On a tangentially related note, I’d be totally on board with a Flight of Passage style attraction that put guests on the back of Pepita or other spiritual guides.)
Personally, I think adding more scenes (and it might be heresy–but swapping out some older ones) is just what Mickey’s PhilharMagic needs. In our Rankings of All 94 Attractions at Walt Disney World, we specifically called out how our opinion of PhilharMagic had declined over the years, which is why the one-time 10/10 attraction only ranked #47.
There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with PhilharMagic–it’s a strong story conceit and even though 3D films have fallen out of favor with guests, it’s still a great attraction. However, some of the early aughts CGI is showing its age, and the attraction could use some new scenes.
In addition to that, Mickey’s PhilharMagic could be a great showcase for movies that aren’t otherwise featured at Walt Disney World. We’ve found that a common question among parents of kids obsessed with whatever movie is “where can I find characters from ____ movie at Walt Disney World?”
If that blank is Toy Story, we have great news. If it’s a newer film, the best case scenario is usually a cavalcade character or bus wrap. As Disney and Pixar have enjoyed a decade-plus run of excellent and critically-acclaimed films, but not always ones that do sufficient box office or toy sales numbers to justify standalone attractions, a scene in Mickey’s PhilharMagic might be a great middle ground solution.
Ultimately, this is some great news for Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris fans. It has been a busy week for Disney news, and every single story up until now has felt like “good news with a catch.” Maybe I’m just being overly cynical or skeptical, but part of me wonders what that is here.
Hopefully that’s not the case here. Updating, plussing, and swapping out scenes in 3D films and screen based attractions is something I’d love to see happen more often in the parks. It’s a great way to keep things refresh, incorporate underutilized characters and movies, and encourage repeat visits. We’ve seen this a couple of times with Toy Story Mania and even more with Star Tours–let’s hope this is the start of that trend with other attractions. Next up, Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run?! (Wishful thinking, I know.)
What do you think of Coco being added to Mickey’s PhilharMagic at Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Disneyland Paris? Other movies you’d like to see Donald Duck “visit” in the 3D film? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? 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!