Review: Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic

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Disney and dancing is a guaranteed hit. Throw in some ice, twinkling lights and a few dramatic lifts and my five-year-old is starstruck. And, even for an adult, it is a pretty impressive show.

We’ve been before, twice in fact. She loves it. The first time it was Frozen which blew her away, last year it was a stunt from Goofy which left him flat on the floor. We’ve been before, but there’s still something special about a night at Disney on Ice.

This ‘skating spectacular’ comes once a year, taking over Leeds First Direct Arena for a few short days. You always know when the show’s in town as the surrounding squares are taken over with excited gaggles of young schoolchildren, gleeful mini princes and princesses, all dressed up in full costume in anticipation of an evening’s entertainment with their favourite characters.

There are Brownie groups on a trip, school friends and small families, grandparents and aunties and babies in tow, even quite a few adults without a child in sight, still twirling in full princess garb.

I passed on the gown myself, but I did concede to letting my little girl dress up and I’m glad I did. As we hurry to the stadium there’s a sparkle in her eyes which tells me she’s already having fun. As we settle in for the show, the joy on her face is apparent.

The opening, of course, is spectacular. This is Disney, with all the bells and whistles. There are the bright lights, dramatic music, and beautiful dresses, all backlit by the waving wands of a thousand excited children twinkling from across the darkened arena.

Family favourites Mickey and Minnie Mouse are hosting the show, introducing each scene in turn as they apparently search for a story to tell. There are all the princes and princesses, gliding gracefully onto the ice as if in flight, the ease with which they skate belying the skill and training which must go into it. I’m almost watching for a stumble but it doesn’t come, they are flawless.

First on stage is what ends up being one of the highlights, the characters from Finding Nemo. While they aren’t as graceful perhaps as the princes and princesses which follow, this is hilarious and, for anyone who’s had to watch the films as many times as I, their act is impeccable.

There follows all the favourites. There are scenes from Pinocchio, Toy Story, and Mulan. Frozen, of course, draws great cheers from the crowd, the pyrotechnics here prompting a whisper of “maybe it really is magic” from my awe-struck daughter.

The scenes from Beauty and the Beast are an absolute highlight, with some spectacularly skilful lifts and daring dancing. But it is the Lion King, grand finale of the night and again with the most dramatic skating lifts, which leaves the crowd with a lasting impression. I’m not the only one singing along to The Circle of Life as we leave the arena.

This is billed as the “celebration of the century, with unforgettable appearances from more than 50 characters, intricate sets and stunning choreography”. Disney on Ice, celebrating 100 Years of Magic, does not disappoint.

Costs quickly add up - as well as ticket prices, there are stalls selling everything from popcorn to themed binoculars, and I came away £11 lighter after buying a cup of hard ice.

But this cup, Frozen themed and complete with an Olaf straw, is now pride of place in my daughter’s room, alongside all the others from previous years. And I don’t doubt it’s not the end of the collection. She’s already talking about next year.

Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic visited Leeds March 22 - 26. The full tour takes in Glasgow, Leeds, London, Cardiff and Birmingham until April 16th. For more visit www.disneyonice.co.uk.