Disney On Ice is an ongoing series of touring ice-skating shows produced by Feld Entertainment, a company most famous as the current producer of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus tours. As with Ringling Bros., the shows perform in arenas; unlike Ringling Bros. the shows tour far beyond the United States.Launched in 1981, each show features a variety of classic and modern Disney (and, since the late 1990s, Pixar) characters played by costumed skaters who mime to a recorded soundtrack. Formats vary from show to show, but boil down to one of the following three:
A full retelling of a Disney Animated Canon or Pixar film, in which case other Disney/Pixar characters may appear at the beginning and closing of the show.
Condensed retellings of various films, with Mickey and Co. presenting linking material; as of The New Tens, the most popular setup.
The Other Wiki's entry includes a list of most of the shows over the years, as well as more detailed info about the currently running productions. At the Turn of the Millennium Feld Entertainment launched a sister franchise, Disney Live!, whose shows offer similar fare but tour proscenium theaters.
These theatrical shows provide examples of:
Adaptation Expansion: In The Eighties, the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs show ran a full three hours with intermission, which is twice the length of the original film. Some of the added material was solely to work in specialty acts (three servants making like The Three Stooges while cleaning up in the Queen's lab/dungeon, etc.) but this version also had Snow White, a few years before the film's events begin, attempt to run away from home. She meets Doc in the forest, and after he convinces her to go back, he meets each of the other six dwarfs for the first time and they all become friends.
Audience Participation: Varies from show to show. There's usually one or two segments where the audience is encouraged to clap along to the music. Some shows allow families (or at least the kids) in the front row to ride out onto the ice on "boats", "mine carts", etc. during one segment. In Dare to Dream and Treasure Trove a child is picked to help send up the first floating lantern for the "I See the Light" sequence in the Tangled retelling. Verges on From Beyond The Fourth Wall in the Aladdin show: Instead of Aladdin being magically exiled, Jafar traps him in chains...while the other characters are occupied, the hero quietly enlists some kids in the front row to free him.
It's been implied that the forthcoming Frozen show is going to involve singing along to the songs. Given the insane popularity of the songs and the sing-along release that was in theaters for a while, that's not surprising.
Costume Porn: In order to live up to how the characters appear in the movies, the costumes are by neccessity elaborate.
Cut Song: At least two shows each used one from the films they were adapting — "Human Again" as an instrumental for a pairs skating routine in Gaston's tavern at the start of Act Two of Beauty and the Beast, and "Master of the Lamp" as a brief comic piece for Jafar in Aladdin.
Disney Fairies: One segment in Worlds of Fantasy. Tinkerbell, of course, always turns up in a show if Peter Pan is represented in some way.
Disney Princess: One or more appear in most of the shows. In fact, the ice shows actually inspired the franchise. A marketing head attended a show in the late 1990s and noticed many girls Cosplaying as the princesses, but with unofficial items, as Disney didn't offer Official Cosplay Gear at the time (except at Halloween; even then it was limited to Disney Stores and there was not a huge selection). The line started soon after that!
Disney Theme Parks: The setting of the second and third tours, as well as the more recent Disneyland Adventure. This is only fitting, as these shows are along the same lines as live entertainment at the parks.
The Merch: T-shirts, light-up wands, dolls, programs, reusable snowcone mugs, etc.
Milestone Celebration: In The Eighties there were shows themed around Donald Duck's 50th birthday (1984) and Mickey Mouse's 60th (1988). The franchise itself mounted a 10th anniversary show, and 100 Years of Magic marked Walt Disney's centennial, as well as Disneyland Adventure for Disneyland's 50th anniversary in 2005.
No Fourth Wall: Mickey and co. are emcees presenting the shows to the audience, and are thus well aware of it; other characters often acknowledge the audience as well (see Audience Participation above). In the Pinocchio adaptation from The Eighties, a frustrated Stromboli announced the intermission and even asked for the house lights to be brought up.
On Ice: One of the best-known real life examples of this trope.
Pantomime Animal: Maximus (Tangled) in Rockin' Ever After is a pantomime horse on ice. A pantomime camel turned up in Aladdin.
The Rival: The Ice Capades, which started in 1940. Their revue format usually meant a segment or two based around a popular kid-friendly franchise (Disney characters appeared in the shows well into the 1960s); Disney On Ice came out on top when Ice Capades went bust in The Nineties.
Two For One Show: The Double Feature... Live! show in 1991. The first half of the show focused on Mickey and friends visiting Cape Suzette and getting shrunk alongside an Indiana JonesExpy, and the second half had Roger Rabbit presenting short vignettes starring Chip 'n Dale and Darkwing Duck.