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Theatre / Disney on Ice

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Wait, wasn't Elsa already on ice in her movie?

Disney on Ice (formerly Walt Disney's World on Ice until 1996) is an ongoing series of touring ice-skating shows produced by Feld Entertainment, a company most famous as the 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:

  1. 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.
  2. A full retelling of a Disney Animated Canon or Pixar film (usually with cameos by other characters in Bookends).
  3. Condensed retellings of various films, with Mickey and Co. presenting linking material. This became the most popular format in The New '10s due to being easily Retooled to rotate different movies and characters in and out, to the point that actual all-new shows are relatively rare; retooled shows usually get a title change to reflect the altered focus.

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.

    Franchises adapted into the shows 

Disney on Ice provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: In The '80s, 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.
  • Adapted Out: Of the major Encanto characters (ironically given the film's "family is everything" theme), Frozen & Encanto leaves out Camilo, Antonio, Julieta, and Agustin, presumably due to time and lack of performers, with Antonio's gift ceremony changed to a generic celebration. Camilo’s segment of "We Don’t Talk About Bruno" is kept intact, though.
  • 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.
    • The Frozen show involves singing along to the songs, including a finale involving a short but epic remix of Let It Go with Demi Lovato's lyrics, but with Idina Menzel singing it instead. Given the insane popularity of the songs and the sing-along release, that's not surprising.
  • Artifact Title: The 100 Years of Magic tour was named in celebration of Walt Disney's centennial anniversary back in 2001 and the show would be referred to as such for nearly two decades, long after the anniversary celebration had ended. This is averted in some countries, which instead opt for more timeless titles such as Everyone's Story (in Asia) or All Stars Parade (in some European countries). The US version would eventually drop the name in 2021 in favor of Let's Celebrate. That said, it continues to be referred to as 100 years of Magic in some countries. invoked
  • Big Entrance: 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. Also, during Let's Celebrate!, Jessie emerges from a present and sneaks up on Mickey and the gang before letting out a "YEE-HAWWWWWWW!"
  • The Cameo: Many shows open and/or close with a sequence that parades out characters from Disney/Pixar movies not otherwise represented in them. As an example, the "You Are the Magic" finale of Frozen & Encanto features cameos by Mulan, Jasmine, Ariel, Belle, and their respective beaus, plus Miguel and Moana.
  • Christmas Episode: Let's Celebrate! wraps up with one of these, guest starring Woody and the gang.
  • 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.
  • Confetti Drop: "Flower petals" go flying during "What Else Can I Do?" in Frozen & Encanto.
  • Costume Porn: In order to live up to how the characters appear in the movies, the costumes are by necessity elaborate.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: Especially on princesses and pixies, but even Mickey and Minnie break out the sequined duds on occasion.
  • Holiday Episode: Let's Celebrate! has Mickey and the gang traveling around the world, encountering various characters during holidays such as Tiana and Naveen for Mardi Gras, Mulan and Shang for Chinese New Year and the Mad Hatter for an Unbirthday.
  • 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 ran from 1995 to 2018 and 100 Years of Magic ran from 1999 to 2023. The show Dream Big has similarly been running since 2006, while Mickey & Friends, Into The Magic, and Find Your Hero have been running since 2009, 2011, and 2012 respectively. The Frozen adaptation managed to run from 2014 to 2020, before getting repurposed into Frozen & Encanto in 2022.
  • 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.
  • Mickey Mousing: The Christmas segment of Let's Celebrate! has Mickey and the gang do this when trying to find who caused the loud roar. Justified as Mickey tells the gang that they'd better be real quiet as they never know who's sneaking around.
  • 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 '80s, a frustrated Stromboli announced the intermission and even asked for the house lights to be brought up. One common way for the show to start is with the zamboni breaking down, prompting Mickey and friends to come out to check it. They find the Genie's lamp inside, kicking off the first segment.
  • On Ice: Famous Disney stories, scenes, and songs done to ice skating.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: One segment in Worlds of Fantasy. Tinker Bell always turns up in a show if Peter Pan is represented.
  • Pantomime Animal: Maximus (Tangled) in Rockin' Ever After is a pantomime horse on ice. A pantomime camel turned up in Aladdin. Bullseye from Toy Story comes up as this when used in a segment or show that manages to feature both Woody and Jessie in some way.
  • 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 '90s.
  • Screen-to-Stage Adaptation: The shows usually adapt the stories of some of Disney's more popular films for a compressed live retelling.
  • Spectacular Spinning: The skaters' choreography always includes plenty of spins.
  • Title: The Adaptation: Disney's High School Musical: The Ice Tour, which actually adapted the first two films, one for each act.
  • 2-for-1 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.