Just over 31 years ago (November 28, 1981 to be exact), my parents took me to the Chicago Stadium for something special. The "World Premiere Edition" of WALT DISNEY PRODUCTIONS' WORLD ON ICE promised "a whole new concept in live and in person entertainment for every member of the family." It delivered on that promise, becoming forever a part of my most cherished childhood memories.
I don't have a lot of artifacts from my childhood, but I still have the original program ($2.50 cover price), a small pennant, and the original ticket stub. In the decades that followed, DISNEY'S WORLD ON ICE would change with the times, eventually becoming DISNEY ON ICE, and under the production of Feld Entertainment, a powerhouse maintaining multiple touring productions simultaneously around the Globe. Today, my wife and I took our oldest daughter to see DISNEY ON ICE for the very first time. At the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, we caught the 3:30 performance of a new production entitled ROCKIN' EVER AFTER.
We told Addie that we were taking her for "a surprise." Excited, we all piled into the car while baby Finley stayed here at Rock Father HQ with Auntie Jill for the afternoon. A short while later, and we were approaching the arena doors.
When we got inside, Addie was experiencing sensory overload. We've seen this with her before. She tries taking it all in and you can just see her trying to figure out every little detail at once. Instead of looking "happy," she looks very pensive as she scans every corner of the venue. I do that, too. We snagged a program so that she can tuck her's away forever just as I have. Check out a comparison of 1981 vs. 2013...
Surprisingly, the dimensions are nearly identical on the programs. Content-wise they're a tad similar as well, but we did get a coloring book and silk rose this time around. I guess that 1000% inflation over 30 years should bring you a little something extra. After entering the arena itself, Addie lightened up due to the excitement in the air. She quickly bonded with the girl behind us, swapping stories about their favorite Disney Princess adventures. That little girl was decked out in an Ariel dress and Rapunzel hair, and as I scanned the arena and saw countless little princesses running around, I sorta felt bad that I didn't have Addie pick one of her fancy outfits to wear. Unlike some Dads, I'm pro-Princess (See: "In Defense of The Princess. In Defense of The King. I Am The Anti-Anti Princess."), so maybe next time we'll do the full-on Princess thing. A snowcone/slushy thing later, and the show was ready to begin.
Living up to it's name, this production is pretty rockin'. As the show opens, Mickey and Minnie Mouse emerge surrounded by skaters performing to Radio Disney-style rocked-up versions of songs like Tony Basil's very-appropriate "Mickey." Later joined by Goofy and Donald Duck, the set-up becomes a talent show of sorts akin to popular progams like AMERICAN IDOL. Mickey and the gang are the glue that holds it all together as the audience is treated to elaborate numbers pulled from THE LITTLE MERMAID, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, TANGLED, and BRAVE.
There was a bit with Pinocchio that didn't really resonate since we haven't watched the movie yet, but Addie made an immediate connection with the characters inhabiting the underwater world from THE LITTLE MERMAID. I was impressed with a little aerial display from Ariel (yes, pun intended) as she did a circus-style rope act that took her high above the ice.
The bits with Rapunzel and Belle were big hits as well, along with the first-ever Disney on Ice appearance by Merida from Disney•Pixar's BRAVE - another film that we really need to see soon. With some pyrotechnic assistance, Merida shows off her archery skills with explosive results. Sidenote: I've always found that Lumiere from BEAUTY AND THE BEAST seems a little bit shady. I can't put my finger on it, but when he's around, I've got my eye on him. In the end, everyone comes together for the grand finale.
Photo: Feld Entertainment
Overall, Addie had a great time and we hope that today will become one of her lifelong memories. If I had one criticism, it's on the merchandising side of things. There are six different shirts available for sale, and they're just not cute. Extremely basic images with "Disney on Ice" printed very small and in a kind of cursive font, they're not a good representation of the show... and certainly not worth $24. We really wanted to buy a t-shirt, but the designs were that disappointing. The folks from Feld need to get some new swag with the proper DISNEY ON ICE logo displayed boldy. Other than that, we made record time for getting out of there and beating traffic.
Photo: Feld Entertainment
ROCKIN' EVER AFTER is in Chicagoland for a little bit longer, as it wraps-up in Rosemont today and then moves into the city proper until February 10th at United Center (on the site of the old Chicago Stadium where I first saw Disney on Ice!). For details and tickets, check out http://disney.go.com/disneyonice/
So what did it cost us?
Ticket Price: $26.00 x 3
Total Ticket Price: $113 for three people.
At the event:
Parking: Shockingly FREE
Program + Coloring Book and Rose: $25.00
Snowcone in Rapunzel Cup: $10.00
Bucket of Popcorn: $12.00
Rapunzel Flag: $8.00
TOTAL PRICE: $64.00
GRAND TOTAL: $177.00
Do you take your family to see DISNEY ON ICE? Share your experiences below...
About James: A work-from-home Dad with a pair of daughters (Released in 2009 and 2012) - James Zahn is THE ROCK FATHER™.
Bringing over two decades of experience in the entertainment industry into the family realm, Zahn is an Illinois-based Entertainment Writer, Media Personality and Commentator.
He serves as a PBS KIDS VIP (Very Involved Parent), has made guest appearances as a member of the Sprout Kindness Crew, was featured in the Father's Day issue of Lake County Magazine, and is a former contributor to Chicago Parent.
Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for the likes of FEAR FACTORY, DIRGE WITHIN, PRODUCT OF HATE, ARCANIUM and others, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands.
James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Blogcritics, Fangoria, Starlog, The River Cities' Reader. Slowfish, Oil, and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360, and in 2013 he's been quoted on CNN, Babble, The Huffington Post, and The Good Men Project, in addition to making appearances on ABC News and WGN.
Learn more here.