The long running Aladdin show at Disney California Adventure will be heading off on a permanent magic carpet ride this January. The show, which was scheduled to close several years ago and be replaced by a Toy Story musical from one of the Disney Cruise Lines, has had a long and happy history, with over 14,000 performances since it opened in 2003.
But even the Genie can’t keep granting wishes, and he and the rest of the Agrabah crew will be heading into a whole new world as Disney presents a new musical show inspired by the smash hit film Frozen, which continues to be a huge success for Disney long after parents have grown weary of its songs, however much they enjoyed them the first time.
Aladdin was originally released in 1992 and won acclaim for Robin Williams’ inspired performance as the Genie and an Oscar for it’s love song, “A Whole New World.” Disney Theatrical had wanted to create a musical version for awhile, and the Hyperion Theatre at California Adventure was the perfect venue to test out what worked, what didn’t and create a show that all ages would enjoy. Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular wasn’t perfect, regardless of what many might tell you, and the show was only as good as its Genie. However, it was the success of this production that eventually led to the hit show currently playing on Broadway.
Disney has made no bones about the fact that it wants to create another Broadway show out of Frozen, and the Hyperion is once again a perfect testing ground. Frozen boasts the talents of a Tony Award-winning composer, something that Aladdin did not (Alan Menken wouldn’t be a Tony winner until 2012, with Newsies), and continues to generate a lot of money for the Mouse House (nearly 7% increase in consumer products in 2014). Whether the internet likes it or not, Frozen is still a phenomenon and Disney would be stupid not to capitalize on it.
So what does this mean? Aladdin closes on January 10, so you still have time to experience a well-loved show that has been playing daily for 12 years. Frozen is set to have a real-life singalong experience that will inevitably lead to the closure of the “Sing Along” that took over the Muppet Theatre last year. (Disney’s new “The Muppets” TV show is generating a lot of buzz and if it’s the hit that Disney hopes it is, you can bet an upgraded and all-new Muppets experience will finally open.) It will most likely mean that Tangled and Beauty and the Beast will finally be told again in Fantasy Faire in Disneyland, as well.
As Walt himself said, “Disneyland will never be complete…” This gave him–and his successors today–freedom to rethink and reimagine and even get rid of things. Change is never easy, especially at a place where so many people have shared memories and experiences, but Aladdin has a wonderful new home in a much better show on Broadway (expect a touring company soon). I’m excited to give the new Frozen musical a chance, in the hopes that it will remind me of how I felt about the film (and its music) before it become such a huge “thing.” And no matter how much I may gripe about it (and the fact that Disney put it into “Paint the Night,” “Disneyland Forever,” and “World of Color: Celebrate), “Let It Go” is a fantastic song.
I’d like to hear it sung well in a real theatre with all the theatre magic Disney can throw at it.