Well ladies and gentlemen, the announcement that many have feared has finally come. No The Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios is not getting a make over…and no Stitch is not staying (we think) but something else is closing down: Wishes, A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams, will wow guests for the last time on May 11th 2017.
That’s right Wishes is retiring , joining the likes of Celebrate the Magic and SpectroMagic in the category of ‘Lost Disney’. Is it a choice that I’m happy with? For the most part no; seeing Wishes for the first time is one of my strongest Disney memories. For me, and many others, this is the end of a Disney Era. That said, Disney has been preparing for this change for a while now. The first sign of change was the result of an accident on the back lot of the Magic Kingdom.
The Magic Kingdom’s lost parade SpectroMagic, and Wishes complimented each other perfectly, with Jiminy Cricket ending the one and hosting the other. Rumor has it that when Spectro was left out in the rain during one of the summer showings of the Main Street Electrical Parade the damage to the show was so severe that the parade had to be retired. It was even made into a limited edition pin series, and parts were recycled for the ‘Festival of Fantasy’ parade. So when the Main Street Electrical Parade had to fill in for Spectro on a more permanent basis the transition between the parade and the fireworks was jarring. Magic Kingdom doesn’t have a parade at the moment, and if they were to roll a new one out it would make sense to try to match it to the fireworks show. It would make sense to roll them both out together.
The second sign most of us missed was the rebuilding of the hub. The goal with the rebuild was to make the area more like the hub in Disneyland Paris, and to make it more projection show ready, something they’ve slowly been adding to the Magic Kingdom in the last few years.
The final sign is something I wrote about a few years ago on DisneyKate.com. I like to keep up with Disney Patent releases and they filed two a few years back that signaled a change. The first were the ‘Flixels’ or flying pixels, drones that can be lit up and arranged to make images in the sky. They’ve already done their first test run in Disney Springs, and while they don’t have the same ‘wow’ factor of true fireworks, they do have some major advantages. First of all they won’t cause small fires to break out in the back end of Fantasy Land (This has happened more than once at this point!). Second they are much less expensive than a traditional firework. Think about it, each burst of light in a show is a firework that was made on the back lots of Disney. Each cartridge has three main components, the chemicals that make the colors, the gunpowder to make the explosion, and a special computer chip that is preprogramed to control exactly when the firework will burst. The combination isn’t cheap. In fact, the estimations for a nightly showing of Wishes is somewhere between $19,000 and $50,000 (Disney does not disclose the actual cost anywhere hence the large cost range). So imagine the larger, background fireworks being replaced by programmable, reusable, drones? It’s a logical choice. Based off of the photographs, it seems that the new show will still use the foreground fireworks that run off of the water canons (They’re why Fantasyland is wet in places after the show, no it wasn’t a freak rain storm, just a safer way to launch fireworks sky high with guests all around! The second patent set was for drone controlled puppet characters for a new parade, something that hasn’t been used yet, but that ties back to what I was saying before about their chance to release a new parade to match a new firework show. You can read more about the patents here.
This is also a chance for the Magic Kingdom to update the list of IP’s used in the nighttime shows. Wishes had music from films up through Hercules with no songs from powerhouses like Tangled, Frozen and even the Lion King. So here is the updated list.
- Big Hero Six
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame
- The Incredibles
- The Lion King
- The Little Mermaid
- The Princess and the Frog
- Toy Story
- Wreck-It Ralph
I would like to point out that all of the films on that list are from the last 20 years. That means that as of right now there are no Golden Age Films, no Silver Age Films…and no Beauty and the Beast. That’s a whole lot of modern Disney but not a whole lot of Walt. My hope is that this isn’t the full list and the 18 minute long show will feature the classics like Snow White, Cinderella and maybe even a splash of Walt in the style of Celebrate the Magic.
The new show does look beautiful. Concept art show clear crisp projections that seem more elaborate than Celebrate the Magic, and I am interested to see what Disney can do with the Flixel/Projection/Lazer/Fireworks combination. The short music clips from the video (which I’ve included below) sounds fantastic as well. And they promised that Tinkerbell will still fly across the Magic Kingdom, so there is that. Maybe the show will incorporate park wide projection mapping similar to what was seen in Disneyland Forever last year. That would be very awesome.
So here’s to the hope that Happily Ever After is the best nighttime show in the history of the Disney Company because it’s replacing something magical. And Wishes, thanks for the memories!