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"Celebrate the Magic" is a worthy follow-up to WDW's first castle projection show

"Celebrate the Magic" is a worthy follow-up to WDW's first castle projection show

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I have to admit that I'm kind of a sucker for all of these castle shows that Disney has begun doing in the Magic Kingdom. Whether it's draping this iconic structure with over 200,000 lights to turn it into a wintery wonder for the "Cinderella's Holiday Wish / Castle Dream Lights" show ...


Photo by Jim Hill

... or turning the entire front side of this building into a massive projection screen for last year's "The Magic, the Memories and You!" show.

Speaking of which ... After given Guests at Monday's Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party a sneak preview of this brand-new nighttime show, the Magic Kingdom officially unveiled "The Magic, the Memories and You!" 's follow-up, "Celebrate the Magic" to the public last night.


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Now what's kind of interesting about this iteration of the Magic Kingdom's castle projection show is that it drops the gimmick that previously provided "The Magic, The Memories and You!" with its very compelling hook. In that that earlier version of this castle projection show actually incorporated 500 photos of Guests which had been taken earlier during the day as these people wandered around that theme park.

This time around, snapshots of WDW visitors take a back seat to the Walt Disney Company's own history. In kind of a neat touch, "Celebrate the Magic" actually starts out with a rough pencil sketch of Walt Disney being projected on Cinderella Castle.  Which then comes to life as a piece of flip book / hand-drawn animation.


Photo by Jim Hill

From there, "Celebrate the Magic" marches with considerable wit & style through Disney's rich library of characters. As a magic paintbrush (which serves as the host / glue which holds this show together) briefly turns Cinderella Castle into a huge, three dimensional version of  "The Wonderful World of Color" TV show's kaleidoscope-inspired title sequence ...


Photo by Jim Hill

... before then turning the Magic Kingdom's signature building into an immense screen for a super-sized Cheshire Cat from Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" and a Jumbo-sized Dumbo.

Mind you, it's not just Disney characters of the past who appear in "Celebrate the Magic." One of the biggest reactions of the night came when Cinderella Castle suddenly transformed into that red-brick structure where the Nicelanders live in "Wreck-It Ralph." And when Ralph appeared and said "I'm gonna wreck it!," the crowd around the Hub roared with delight.


Photo by Jim Hill

Speaking of which: There seem to be two school of thought when it comes to these castle projection shows. With some Disney World visitors insisting that the only way to watch them  is by standing dead center in the Hub with Cinderella Castle directly in front of you ...


Photo by Jim Hill

... while still others will insist that you actually get a far better show if you stand on that bridge which takes Guests from the Hub to where the "Mad Tea Party" is located. That -- when you watch "The Magic, The Memories and You!" / "Celebrate the Magic" from this spot / this angle -- you're seeing this show projected on a far bigger surface. Which then makes it a lot easier to pick out individual pieces of animation / clever bits of business that have been inserted in the show.


Photo by Jim Hill

Speaking of which: During the special "Holidays" sequence which was been inserted into "Celebrate the Magic," keep a sharp eye out for that blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment when Cinderella Castle once again transforms into WDW's 25th anniversary birthday cake.


Photo by Jim Hill

So is "Celebrate the Magic" better than "The Magic, The Memories and You!" ? Well, that castle projection show was widely criticized for being overly sentimental. But me? I'm a big believer in that Walt Disney quote that John Lasseter regularly trots out whenever he's talking about story structure (i.e. "For every laugh, there should be a tear"). So while I was continually dazzled by the way all of this digitally-mapped footage moved up & around itself around Cinderella Castle, I have to admit that I just wasn't as moved by watching "Celebrate the Magic" as I was by "The Magic, The Memories and You!"  


Photo by Jim Hill

Don't get me wrong, folks. I admire the craft and the thought that obviously went into creating "Celebrate the Magic." I especially love how they book-ended this particular castle projection show. Starting out with that flipbook version of Walt seeming to create Mickey Mouse and then ending with the voice of Walt Disney reminding everyone in the Magic Kingdom that "... it all started with a mouse."
I just wish that this new nighttime show had a wee bit more heart.

Anyway ... If  you're down at Walt Disney World over the coming year and find yourself at the Magic Kingdom after dark, be sure to hang on at this theme park long enough to catch a showing of "Celebrate the Magic." Which is a worthy follow-up to WDW's first castle projection show, "The Magic, The Memories and You!"

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  • I prefer "Celebrate the Magic," actually. Watching "The Magic, The Memories and You!" was a bit like watching someone else's home movie, or paging through a stranger's photo album. It's nice, but, who are these people? "Celebrate the Magic" removes the false sense of participation, and allows you to enjoy the visuals alone.

  • I like it better this way.  It's no longer a commercial for photo pass.  Plus, I love the castle cake cameo...which was in the previous show too.

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