Orlando Attractions Update – Prior to the scheduled debut of “The Jungle Book: Alive With Magic” our friends at the Orlando Sentinel were able to preview a soft-opening performance at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. According to those in attendance “The surprise wore off — and word spread — quickly as the new 5,000-seat open-air theater on the park’s Discovery River was filled with visitors, some armed with FastPass+ reservations.
The end-of-night show is part of the new lineup of after-dark attractions at Animal Kingdom. “The Jungle Book” show, though, is a limited-time engagement. Disney has not yet announced an end date.
Here are observations in the wake of the first performance:
There’s a lot to look at. There are four stages along the shore, then three larger, floating stages a distance back, plus water screens in the background. Other floats delivered performers to these areas. There are dancers, drummers, lit-up contraptions, floral parasols, sticks with streamers and fire twirlers in action aboard moving floats. It does not look like something quickly assembled.
The production is polished, and the live cast appears prepared and confident. It did not have those rough-around-the-edges feel you might see on opening night. “Alive With Magic” starts off a bit ritualistic but eventually becomes upbeat and borderline Bollywood. The crowd started responding more when the more familiar songs, given inventive Indian twists, were performed. “I Wanna Be Like You” (and its singer) was a crowd favorite.
A minus: The images on the water screens appeared muddy and confusing. If you don’t already know the story of “The Jungle Book,” you could be lost.
It’s a different sort of cherry-on-top than we are accustomed to at Disney World parks. There is only a spritz of pyro at the end. Familiar characters are not in the forefront. The wow factors aren’t necessarily the kind that would appeal to tired kids.
Disney is making FastPass+ available for the shows (typically set for twice a night). If you can’t secure one, there’s a standby line. Ask a cast member where those folks are gathering — the FastPassers were on one side of the park, while standby hopefuls were on another on Friday. This, of course, could change, so ask. There was a large backup for standbys for the first show, and it is my hope that this doesn’t become a “Fantasmic” situation that requires visitors to get there way before showtime.