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 Massive Multiplayer Crossover with Mickey Mouse and other Classic Disney Shorts characters introducing (and often interacting with) other characters in a variety of segments grouped around a loose theme or storyline.
- 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.
- Compressed Adaptation: Most of the shows since the Turn of the Millennium feature condensed versions of several different films, to maximize the number of popular characters who can appear. (As one example, Dare to Dream presents condensed versions of Cinderella, Tangled, and The Princess and the Frog.) The more movies represented, the more compressed the adaptations are.
- 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.
- Everything's Better With Motorcycles: The emcee rode out onto the ice on a flashy motorcycle at the start of the 10th anniversary show for no reason other than this trope.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Indeed!
- Everything's Better with Sparkles: Especially on princesses and pixies, but even Mickey and Minnie break out the sequined duds on occasion.
- Everything's Better with Spinning: The skaters' choreography always includes plenty of spins.
- Incredible Shrinking Man: Don Karnage does this to Mickey and the gang in the Double Feature... Live! show.
- Long Runners: Via periodic updates, Mickey & Minnie's Magical Journey has been running since 1995 and 100 Years of Magic since 1999.
- Massive Multiplayer Crossover: As one of the wilder examples, the 10th anniversary show in 1990 brought Mickey and the gang, DuckTales, Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Jungle Book, and The Little Mermaid together in one time-and-space traveling plot.
- 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.
- Screen-to-Stage Adaptation
- Spiritual Successor: The ice show is this towards an earlier traveling show, Disney On Parade, a series of shows from the 1970s, each with different units themed to different Disney movies. Just imagine that show without ice and you've got a basic idea for the ice show. Here's an hour-long Disney TV show from 1971 and commercial from one run of the show in 1974.
- Title: The Adaptation: Disney's High School Musical: The Ice Tour, which actually adapted the first two films, one for each act.
- 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 Jones Expy, and the second half had Roger Rabbit presenting short vignettes starring Chip 'n Dale and Darkwing Duck.