Disney World is celebrating the 18th anniversary of a phenomenal Fantasyland attraction! Mickey’s PhilharMagic first premiered on October 8th, 2003. The show adds character to Magic Kingdom by putting a spotlight on memorable Disney songs. Donald Duck helps take guests on a whirlwind adventure through Disney films while enjoying fan-favorite musical scores. But how much do you know about the attraction or the musical shows held there in the past?
There’s quite a record of various attractions that once took place at the sight of Mickey’s PhilharMagic. The original attraction to open on Magic Kingdom’s opening day in this location was The Mickey Mouse Revue. It featured animatronic Disney characters on a stage inside the theater, plus the show was created by Walt Disney himself.
Mickey Mouse Revue
As the show began, Mickey rose from the center stage along with his “orchestra” of Disney characters which played a medley of Disney songs from films like Snow White and Pinocchio followed by a myriad of smaller sideshows from other characters that included songs from a wide range of Disney productions. The show ended with the Mickey Mouse Club theme being sung by the characters on stage. Fun fact: The Mickey Mouse Revue featured 86 animatronic Disney characters!
Sadly, The Mickey Mouse Revue was closed in September 1980 and moved to Disneyland Tokyo. Here the show continued on for another 26 years before closing again. Shockingly, the theater remained empty for 7 years before Imagineers opened the theater again to a show once at Epcot, called Magic Journeys.
The show was once an opening day attraction located in Epcot in the theater attached to the Imagination pavilion. Magic Journeys was a 3-D film that featured the world through the eyes of a child. The film was special as it moved from scene to scene as a child would see themselves playing in a myriad of settings. As the film moved from scene to scene, the film featured a theme song composed by the Sherman Brothers. In February of 1986, Magic Journeys was closed in Epcot to make way for Captain EO. Magic Journeys went to Magic Kingdom in December 1987. Here’s a fun fact, Magic Journeys is the only attraction to have lived in more than one park on property.
Legend of the Lion King
The Legend of the Lion King officially opened in July of 1994 at the previous theater of The Mickey Mouse Revue and Magic Journeys. The new show featured a new show that was unlike the two previous shows. Guests entering the show would meet a live actor as Rafiki. As the narration began, his mouth would move along to the words! At the time of this attraction, this costume was the first to do this! After the pre-show, guests moved into the large main show theater where they were to watch a puppeteered version of key moments from The Lion King film, similar to the Voyage of the Little Mermaid Show at Disney currently at Hollywood Studios. Sounds fun, but The Legend of the Lion King closed in February of 2002 to make way for its replacement, Mickey’s Philharmagic.
Mickey’s Philharmagic soon opened in 2003 as another unique show that comes to life before your eyes! This new 4-D magic show features many different Disney film characters as we travel with Donald through each of the scenes. the making of Mickey’s PhilharMagic involved collaboration between the Imagineers and The Walt Disney Feature Animation department of The Walt Disney Company, in fact some of the original animators from the Disney films featured on the attraction returned to animate for Mickey’s PhilharMagic film, such as Glen Keane, who animated Ariel in “The Little Mermaid,” and Nik Ranieri, supervising animator of Lumiere in “Beauty and the Beast.”
Throughout the attraction, guests will recognize many characters and scenes include those from “Aladdin,” “The Lion King,” “Peter Pan,” “Fantasia,” “Beauty and the Beast” and many more! Fun Fact: most of Donald Duck’s voice you hear on the attraction is actually taken from original recordings by the original voice actor, Clarence Nash.
Because the production of Mickey’s PhilarMagic was going to be so large with the featured films included in the attraction, Imagineers upgraded the screen in the theater as well! The screen is 150 feet long and 28 feet high to accommodate over 450 guests. That’s a huge theater! Wouldn’t you say?!
The musical number “Un Poco Loco” of Pixar’s Coco is joining the Magic Kingdom show in November 2021!
The film’s fun, upbeat music and characters combined with the humor of Donald Duck marks the first time Disney and Pixar animators have worked on a creative endeavor where characters from both animation studios will be seen together on screen.
Whats your favorite part of Mickey’s PhilarMagic? Seeing Donald Duck making a dramatic exit through the wall is always a popular favorite upon exiting! We hope you watch the show the next time you visit Magic Kingdom.
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- Fun facts to celebrate the Anniversary of the Magic Kingdom & Epcot - September 27, 2021