Mickey’s PhilharMagic: The Previous History of This Attraction

Mickey's PhilharMagic: The Previous History of This Attraction

Mickey’s PhilharMagic…or The Mickey Mouse Revue… or Magic Journey….or The Legend of the Lion King.  Wait, which is it?!  Guests currently visiting Fantasyland in Walt Disney World know the current attraction, which is also a great place to cool off on a hot day, called Mickey’s Philhar Magic.  However, did you know that this attraction has changed many times!

The original attraction to open on Magic Kingdom’s opening day in this location was The Mickey Mouse Revue which featured animatronic Disney characters on a stage inside the theater.  One of a few of the original ideas created by Walt Disney himself, guests entered into the theater to view a short preshow film before entering into the main theater showplace.  As guests entered into the main theater they were greeted by an 86-foot stage broken into three parts; the main stage and two side stages.    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 spotlight being placed on Mickey and the Mickey Mouse Club theme being sung by the characters on stage. Fun fact: The Mickey Mouse Revue featured 86 animatronic Disney characters.  73 of them were original animatronics characters, while 8 of them were duplicates of characters featured in the show.

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.

Magic Journeys 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 the highly anticipated replacement, Captain EO and was moved to the Magic Kingdom in December of 1987.  Fun Fact: Magic Journeys is one of the only attractions to ever have a home in multiple locations of Walt Disney World property and the only attraction to have lived in more than one park on property.  Magic Journeys was soon closed in 1993 to make room for the new attraction, 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.  As guests entered into the preshow holding area, they were greeted by Rafiki himself, meaning, they were greeted by 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 was enlarged for this production to 150 feet long and 28 feet high!  I would say that is plenty big enough for the 486 seats featured in the attraction.  Wouldn’t you say?!

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Jessica Jones