Welcome to the next post of Disney Extinct Attractions! My name is Cole Geryak, and I’ll be your Genie today in today’s unofficial journey on a magic carpet.
Thanks for all the great feedback to last week’s post, and I look forward to hearing what you think about this one because its closure led to a lot of backlash.
This Friday marks the opening of “Frozen-Live at the Hyperion” at Disney California Adventure in the Disneyland Resort!
I get excited for any new attractions that open at the Disney Parks, but this is one that I am especially excited for because I love Frozen as much as I love open doors! I am really hoping that it is soft opening when I visit the park on Thursday because I won’t be able to go opening day! However, Frozen has huge shoes to fill as it replaces one of California Adventure’s most beloved attractions.
Aladdin debuted on November 25, 1992 during the middle of the Disney Renaissance, with very big shoes to fill following the enormous success of Beauty and the Beast. While not quite living up to the success of its predecessor, Aladdin was no slouch itself, earning five Academy Award nominations and winning two of them, as well as earning a 94% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes! The film also made $504 million worldwide on a budget of $28 million, so to say that it was a commercial success is an understatement!
Naturally, this success meant that Aladdin would have an impact in the theme parks as soon as the company could add attractions based upon it! In 1993, a dinner show and then storytelling experience were added to Disneyland, as well as an Aladdin-themed parade joining Disneyland and Hollywood Studios. The Magic Carpets of Aladdin (a Dumbo-style ride) was added to the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney Studios Park, and Tokyo DisneySea (with each having a different name to confuse me!). All of these attractions had mild success, but none of them truly captured audiences the way that the movie had.
The Disney Parks finally received the attraction that fans of the movie had yearned for with the opening of Disney’s Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular (which I’m going to refer to as Aladdin for simplicity’s sake) on January 16, 2003! The show premiered at the nearly 2,000 seat Hyperion Theater in Hollywood Land at Disney California Adventure, replacing a show called Blast to the Past that only lasted for one year.
What truly set Aladdin apart is the entire scope of the show as it was a full Broadway-style show, albeit a 45-minute version of one! The average Disney show is around 20 minutes because guests are constantly moving from attraction to attraction and don’t generally want to dedicate 45 minutes to a show when there were “more” exciting rides to conquer. But the creators of Aladdin clearly did not receive that memo, though the length of the show never hurt its popularity as Aladdin was one of the longest running stage shows in Disney Park history!
As you can see above (at an Elton John concert I believe), the Hyperion Theater in Disney California Adventure is a gigantic theater, matching the scope and length of each performance of Aladdin. The main reason that guests would consistently show up time after time is because they were able to experience a Broadway-caliber show that was included in the price of admission! The show combined the great music and story from the movie with the seamless set changes and superb vocal performances that you expect from a Broadway musical to truly create something that had not been seen before in the Disney parks!
But would you believe me if I said that I haven’t even talked about the best part yet?
Just as in the film Aladdin, the Genie is what helped the stage show transcend from a great attraction to a truly classic one. Most people would agree that Robin Williams is the heart of the film because without his performance, it almost definitely would not have left the same mark that it did. The performers behind the Genie in the stage show leave that same legacy behind.
The beauty of Aladdin is that Disney allowed the Genie a lot of freedom in what he chose to say, leading to a different (but strangely familiar) type of humor than what you would normally see in a Disney production! A lot of stand-up comedians were hired to portray the Genie because the character had to be quick on his feet and improvise a lot of his own dialogue, much like Robin Williams in the film. This freedom for the Genie helped the show stay fresh over the years and made each performance that guests saw truly unique.
As we saw with the Genie, the show did have many similarities to the movie (as it should!), but it also had to change some things around due to trying to tell the same story in half the time! The most noticeable difference is that Abu is absent in the show, and there are some other smaller story changes that don’t serve to truly change anything. Maybe because I saw it so many times, I actually grew to prefer the stage show’s version of the story!
Not all of the changes were subtractions, however! In the show, Jasmine gets her own song called “To Be Free,” which I originally never really enjoyed. As I got over my youthful naïvety though, I realized how beautiful the song was and how much it helped progress Jasmine’s own character development. The song adds just one more layer to the amazing show that was Disney’s Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular.
I’m going to do something a little bit different this time and talk about my own personal experience with the attraction because believe it or not, this is the first attraction I’ve written about that I actually got to experience in person!
I went to go see this show almost every time that I went to the Disneyland Resort, and it definitely grew on me as I kept experiencing it. Eventually, the only attraction that I would insist on doing when I visited Disney California Adventure was Aladdin because I needed my fix of the Genie’s jokes (mainly to find out what is going on in the pop culture world!).
Rumors had been going around for years that Aladdin would be replaced by a musical based on a more recent Disney property (Toy Story and Tangled being two of them), but the fans of the show managed to keep it around until the behemoth that is Frozen finally brought Aladdin’s 13 year run to an end.
I was lucky enough to see the show on the very last day (January 10, 2016), and it was an experience that I will never forget. I waited in line for a Fastpass to the show for nearly two hours, but it was well worth the wait to simply be a part of the energy of the show on that final day! I saw the penultimate showing, and I have to say that it was one of the best shows that I ever had the privilege of seeing. You could really feel the emotion of the actors as they performed for all their fans one final time, and I could really feel the Disney magic in that performance.
I definitely miss Aladdin, but its run of 13 years is pretty remarkable, and it stands as one of the longest running live Disney shows on record. The show at Disney California Adventure has ended, but the show still lives on the Disney Fantasy, a cruise ship that currently sails primarily in the Gulf of Mexico. I am actually blessed enough to have seen the show onboard that ship, as well, and while still a fun carpet ride, it ultimately led to me just wanting to see the show at Disney California Adventure!
If you are interested in watching the show, you can find a normal performance of the show right here, but if you want to see the heartfelt final performance ever, then you can find that right here! I included the ones above because they have particularly superb performances by the Genies, but any ones that you can find are sure to be entertaining, so don’t limit yourself to having to watch one that I chose! As I said early, each Genie’s performance is completely different and someone was actually awesome enough to put up a best of the Genie, so you can find that right here. If you don’t have time for the full show, definitely check out that video because it is sure to make you laugh!
And with that, it is time for this post to take a final bow. But not without the promise of an encore performance next week that follows these clues three.
1. These performances were based upon Disney Animated Classics, two of which have been talked about previously.
2. These performances did not occur in only one land of the park.
3. All of the classics had an Oscar-nominated song.
I hope that you enjoyed this post, and I want to thank you for reading! As always, if you want to contact me you send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love hearing what you guys have to think about the attractions and the posts, as well as future things that you would want to see me write about! You can also join the Facebook Group for more updates on when posts will come out, but if you found this on a Facebook group, you’ll almost definitely be able to find future posts there, as well!
And as always, have a magical day!