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Thursday Treasures

June 30, 2011 by Pedro Hernandez

Thursday Treasures: My First Disney on Ice Experience

Growing up as a big Disney fan, I’ve always dreamed of visiting Walt Disney World. But there was something else I wanted to see become a reality as well: see a Disney on Ice show. What’s even worse is that while I knew that going to Walt Disney World would be hard to accomplish, Disney on Ice ALWAYS came to Puerto Rico, especially to the city an hour away from my hometown. So every year that the show came I knew that I could easily go, but for one reason or the other it wouldn’t happen in that moment in time.

On New Year’s Eve 2010, I promised myself that I would try to accomplish as many dreams as possible, no matter what it took. A few months ago I saw that Disney on Ice was in town, this year’s show being Toy Story 3. I decided that I would go and make this my first show ever. A few weeks prior to the show, I bought tickets that were very close to the skating rink!

On June 18, 2011, my nephew and I woke up very early in the morning to make the trip to the Pachin Vicens Auditorium in Ponce, Puerto Rico. We arrived just a few hours before the show started. Luckily, the wait for it wasn’t boring as outside there were lots of kiosks and tents selling Toy Story merchandise! There were DVDs, action figures, Buzz Lightyear masks, Green Army Men helmets, Disney on Ice coloring books and programs and many other things. For a Disney nerd like me, I died at the sight of all the merchandise. There was also Disney on Ice themed snacks, like popcorn buckets and even Little Green Men cotton candy bags! My favorite, though, was a Buzz Lightyear mug which had snow balls on top of it. I told my nephew “Look! We can eat Buzz’s brain! And it will be cherry flavored.”

But easily the most interesting thing we saw were the kids that were waiting in line. As expected, they were extremely eager to see their favorite characters live. Some even dressed up as Woody and Jessie! To say they were adorable would be the understatement of the century. I kind of regretted leaving my cowboy hat at home as I think it would have been very appropriate for what we were about to witness! There were A LOT of people at the show, so me and my nephew just relaxed as we watched them all come in, all while listening to a medley of Toy Story songs. Shortly before the show began something was said that made my inner Disney nerd and child jump in excitement…

“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS, WELCOME TO DISNEY ON ICE! THE SHOW WILL BEGIN IN FIVE MINUTES!”

I was grinning like an idiot, nearly jumping in my seat in joy. I was a kid again. I could feel the Disney magic starting at any minute. Then, the clock struck noon, and the show began…

Act I serves as a remembrance of the previous Toy Story films. Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang reminisce about their best moments together before they are sent to the attic while Andy goes to college. Scenes include Buzz and Woody’s escape from the claw machine (featuring the Little Green Men), Buzz’s epic battle with Zurg and even Woody’s Roundup!

And just like that, Act I was over. My expression was worth a million dollars. I was in awe; I was completely stunned at what I just saw. I started talking to my nephew (who was just as impressed as I was) about how amazingly well put the show was. God bless these performer’s abilities and skills. Not once did they show fatigue or signs of physical stress. They kept skating without missing a beat. What was even impressive was the technology they used to bring the Toy Story mythos to the skating ring. Neon lights, pyrotechnics, projection screens and fog were used to bring the audience into the delightful world of Andy’s toys. The costumes the performers wore were very authentic and true to the look and feel of the movies.

Soon after, Act II began. This is where the Toy Story 3 part begins. Much like in the movie, the toys are sent by mistake to Sunnyside Daycare where they are greeted by Lots-O-Huggin’ Bear, Stretch and Ken. At first, the toys believe that this is paradise, but shortly thereafter it turns into a nightmare. The kids play too roughly with them, and Lotso treats the whole place like a prison. Now it is up to Woody to escape the daycare and return to Andy before he leaves to college.

As I told my nephew just as we were heading out once the show was over, it was very hard for me to pick just one segment as my favorite. I felt that with every segment, the bar was raised in terms of music, design and presentation. This is why I love Disney. Regardless if what you are watching is a movie in theaters, or at home, or experiencing a live show, you are bound to be entertained and enchanted by it all.

Once again, I was left extremely impressed by the skills of the performers. I am a very clumsy guy, so I kept imagining me trying to do one of those routines, and quickly landing on my butt. You could tell that this was endlessly rehearsed as nothing felt out of place or awkwardly staged.

As it tends to be the case with Disney, the best moments are usually the smallest ones. Sometimes the characters would skate to the edge of the rink and say hi to the audience. This filled my heart with a lot of warmth and joy. The kids would get up, smile, wave and sometimes even shake the character’s hand! Hamm clearly enjoyed this the most. He was always saying “hi “and waving his snout to the kids. From afar, I was able to spot a kid in his Woody costume waving “hi“ to Woody, obviously trying to catch his attention. It looked as if he were saying “Look Woody! I am dressed just like you!” My favorite moment involving the audience, though, was when Lotso and Ken capture Buzz. While Ken was apprehending Buzz, Lotso was skating around the edge of the rink. He would often stop, do nothing, and then go “BOO!” Surprisingly, this created far more laughs than scares. Even the adults were enjoying this a great deal!

Needless to say, my first Disney on Ice show was without a shadow of a doubt, amazing. A lifelong dream has finally been made a reality, and it surpassed all my expectations. Even with a few small flaws here and there, the whole show was exceptional. With this done, only two experiences are left to accomplish: go to a Disney show on Broadway and, the biggest one of all, go to Walt Disney World! I will be writing about those when their respective time come. But for now, I will fondly remember the magic of my first Disney on Ice show in hopes of catching another show in the future.  

 

 

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