It was inevitable that we would get there at some point.
I was invited to attend opening night with the family at the Webster Bank arena in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.
We've been putting off the visiting Disney thing for a while. Not that we don't think it would be great, but it's a big expense, a big undertaking, and we really want both girls to be able to enjoy it and remember it. But it's creeping up.
It's no secret that we have two Disney obsessed girls. It's not just the princess thing. Sure, those are always popular in our house, but both girls are equally enamored with Toy Story, Jungle Book, Peter Pan, and even some of the real classics, like Dumbo and Fox and Hound (which, incidentally, seem wildly inappropriate by today's standards). They're huge Disney Jr. fans, with Sophia and Jake leading the charge. And Reagan, especially, is obsessed with Mickey. Madison and I have a running joke that Reagan has a "good eye for Mickey". We'll be picking up something totally random at Target, and she'll spot her favorite guy on a box of Craisins, or an ice pack, or somewhere else you wouldn't expect to have to fend off character fueled desire.
Anyway, so far, the Disney lust has been confined to our house. They watch it, they have a good amount of toys and books, as well as Band Aids and cups and anything else with a favorite on it, but it's home.
Then someone planted the idea of "Mickey's House" in Madison's head. Adam was in Florida on a business trip, and Madison, making the kind of conversation she makes with absolutely everyone, said that Daddy had taken a big airplane to Florida. Well meaning adult replied with "Oh, did he go visit Mickey?"
Madison looked at me with an expression that said Mickey has a house???? And it's where Daddy is???? WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME????
Later we told her that, yes, Mickey did live in Florida. But of course Daddy wasn't at Mickey's house. That lady was just being silly. And she let it go. To our kids, the Disney Store is as real as it gets. We go about twice a year and they are happy as anything.
Then she found out that Mickey's house was much more than just a house. She had seen a commercial and was blown away by the characters and castles. We told her that we would visit "someday" but that it was really for boys and girls a little bit bigger than she was. She accepted that.
Then she watched a Disney Jr ad featuring a little girl, dressed as Belle, visiting the Beast's castle. Madison eyed her shrewdly before telling me that, judging by that little girl, she was big enough. Because that little girl said she was four.
I don't think I've totally escaped that one. But I got a reprieve. We did go to Disney on Ice, and the girls got to meet Mickey and Minnie. When I was invited to opening night of their Treasure Trove show - a compilation of all the great animated hits, it was a no brainer. We were there. A perfect test run for both a live show and lots of costumed characters.
When I told Madison that we'd be going to see all her favorite Disney characters, and that they wouldn't only be there, they'd be ice skating, she was excited. To her, that was amazing. We were a little nervous about Reagan. The show didn't start until 7:00, and that's bedtime. She can also get a little overwhelmed in crowded, noisy situations.
We didn't need to worry. Reagan loved it. She did get a little itchy before the show started, and asked to go home several times because she wanted her bed. But when the first skaters appeared, she was hooked. She sat on my lap for the entire show to get the best view, and was too enraptured to eat her cotton candy. It slowly melted into her hand and she squealed in delight over all her favorites skating, and even jumping onto platforms about twelve feet from us. Mickey and Minnie (along with Donald and Goofy) were out periodically to introduce the stories and she screamed hello to Mickey every time. By the end, when not only Mickey and Minnie were out, but nine princesses and their princes, she completely lost it and clambered off my lap so she could properly jump up and down.
I should point out that having a two year old in my lap made taking pictures unbelievably difficult. So excuse the blurriness.
Madison was equally impressed. I may have mentioned once or twice or seventeen times that this kid loves to dance. The fact that these characters were dancing on ice was not lost on her. She sang along with every song and was mesmerized by the show. She and Adam shared the cotton candy and pointed out all the finer points of the skating and story.
It was a huge hit. It wasn't too long, it was entertaining the entire time, and the production value was high. Our seats were amazing, parking was easy (and actually ended up being free, although I'm not sure that it was supposed to be) and despite my challenges with both directions and driving into cities, it was easy to get to. The girls left excited and happy and talking about their favorite parts (which, spoiler alert, was the entire thing). I really loved the glow in the dark Little Mermaid segment, where everything was done under a black light with day-glo costumes.
Remember - pictures are blurry. Every time I tried to take one, Reagan would get excited and jostle my arm. I also felt bad for the poor woman sitting next to us. Thankfully, she had three year old twins.
|Woody and Jessie taught a Yee-Haw dance to start the show! And no, this is not a zoomed in picture. We were THAT close to the platforms.|
|Mickey and friends introduced the stories from the treasure chest.|
|Alice in Wonderland|
|Tinkerbell was right in front of us!|
|This guy was skating on his hands and feet. Amazing.|
|Rafiki. He turned around and showed us his blue butt, which the girls thought was hilarious.|
|Seven dwarfs. Reagan kept yelling hello to Dopey.|
|Snow White contemplating the apple.|
|Sebastian. This is all day-glo with blacklight to simulate "Under the Sea". Very cool.|
|Rapunzel threatening Flynn with a frying pan. They did the lantern release, which was VERY cool.|
|Mickey and Minnie changed for Mardi Gras to celebrate with the Princess and the Frog|
|Princesses, princes, Mickey, Minnie, Floating Lights and fireworks. What an ending!|
There were a few things to watch out for. I expect concessions to be expensive, but I wasn't prepared for Disney pricing to completely take over. Because we'd gotten there early to take pictures with Mickey, we had to eat dinner there. Hot dogs were about what you'd expect to pay. However, we had decided that each girl could get a "treat" during the actual show, and that's where we ran into issues. The concession stand at the venue wasn't selling what Disney was selling. Popcorn was $12. Snow cones were $12. Cotton candy was $10. Lemonade was $7. Adam and I had some major sticker shock.
|Sticky, but worth it. And it lasted the entire show.|
To be fair, all of these treats came in, or with, a reusable, take home, Disney souvenir. Popcorn came in a Disney tote bag. Snow cones came in elaborate Disney cups and goblets. Cotton candy was topped with a crown or mouse ears. Lemonade was in a fancy tumbler. But the idea of paying up to $24 for two kids under five to enjoy a snack seemed crazy to us. We knew that a majority of the snack would go uneaten, and no special bag would make paying $12 for popcorn, of which we'd be taking three quarters of home, was worth it. We ended up letting them split a bag of cotton candy. That's one of those really special treats that isn't available often, and it was plenty big enough to split. The only issue was the mouse ears - one toy + two kids = plenty of reason for a fight. I stashed them in my bag, and they'll find their way into our dress up bin later.
Speaking of souvenirs, they are there and they are plentiful. And really pricey. With Christmas being a fresh memory, we didn't have to work too hard to say no, but even if you avoid the concourse, the vendors are everywhere hawking everything from light up wands to plush toys to coloring books.
The other thing was some of the subject manner. We all know that there's a dark side to the Disney movies. Our first tricky question came during the Peter Pan portion, when Hook is eaten by the giant crocodile. Reagan, who knows Hook not only from the movie, where he's the villain, but from Jake, where he's the bad guy buffoon who actually is more of a whiner than truly evil, was concerned. Really concerned. She asked where he was a lot.
The other issue came in the Lion King segment. Mufasa gets trampled by the wildebeests. Right there, on the ice. And the dialogue that follows doesn't leave you wondering about his well-being. This one went over Reagan's head (all she really got was that he fell down and wondered if he was ok) but Madison had some questions.
Tricky, more challenging to see "live", and definitely inviting questions, but for any kid who knows the movies, nothing unexpected. And forgotten fairly quickly once the next act was on. Still, worth noting when you bring kids to anything live, where pausing to have a conversation isn't really an option.
Would we go again? Absolutely. We'll make sure to eat ahead of time, set a budget for snacks, and check out the stories so we can prep ahead of time, but now that we know that they can not only handle, but really enjoy, a live performance like this, I know we'll do it again.
Disney World....that we'll put off for another few years.
If you're local, Disney on Ice: Treasure Trove is at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT through January 11, and opens at the XL Center in Hartford on January 14, running through January 18th. Tickets are available from either venue or by visiting the Disney on Ice website.