Happily Ever After was a much loved nighttime extravaganza. It opened in 2017, and immediately found its way into the hearts of most Walt Disney World Guests. It replaced the long-running Wishes, which was also a Guest favorite. Many people, myself included, were surprised when Walt Disney World announced that Happily Ever After was to be replaced by a new show named Disney Enchantment. Still, it had to take nighttime shows to a new level, right? After all, Disney Enchantment would officially debut for the Magic Kingdom’s Golden Anniversary. A milestone like that needed something even more special than what it was replacing.
I’ve seen Disney Enchantment twice in person. I was part of the invited media group who watched the premiere on September 30. I returned on October 1 for the official debut, this time as a regular fan. I have also watched the replay of the live show from Disney Parks Blog. I’m still not sure what I think of the show.
I’ll start with what confuses me. We’re supposed to be celebrating 50 years of Walt Disney World. Instead, Disney Enchantment celebrates Disney animated movies. There is nothing wrong with featuring projections from various movies, but that is all that we have for nighttime shows anymore. Wonderful World of Animation is a projections show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that takes you through 90 years of movies. Harmonious at EPCOT now takes you to different cultures across the globe; using projections from Disney movies. There are several movies with scenes in all three nighttime shows! In using projections, it would have been nice to have some tie-ins to the history of the Magic Kingdom. If they wanted to include films, they should have had projections from films like “WALL-E” and “Fantasia” run to “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”. It could have been a fun tie-in to the Magic Kingdom’s history.
I also don’t understand why Disney Enchantment doesn’t start with a clip of Roy Disney’s voice from opening day. You can hear Walt’s voice during Wonderful World of Animation, and that’s one of the things that I love about that show. Hearing “May Walt Disney World bring joy and inspiration and new knowledge to all who come to this happy place … a Magic Kingdom where the young at heart of all ages can laugh and play and learn together.” (Source Disney Parks Blog) would have been the perfect way to begin.
My final complaint is the song “You Are the Magic”. I find it uninspired. After the 2020 and 2021 that most people have had, being told to look within for magic isn’t the message that I want to hear. I want escapism, not self-reflection. The song is well performed, but not something that I want to listen to over and over again.
I am not saying that I don’t like Disney Enchantment. Far from it, it’s a beautiful show. The projections are sharper than ever. At some points the projections run down Main Street, U.S.A., which is a fun addition. I could not see them well from where I was standing for either show but I plan to stand back the next time I see it. The fireworks over Cinderella Castle are incredible, as always. I do like that some of the new movies have been worked into Disney Enchantment. It’s fun to see which clips have been added to represent songs from popular movies. Angela Basset also gave a commanding performance with her narration. Tinkerbell flies near the end, which makes everything feel right. She doesn’t make her appearance during “You Can Fly”, and that had some Guests worried earlier on. No need to be concerned, her flight is one tradition that continues on.
When I saw Harmonious at EPCOT the first time, I wasn’t so sure about what I saw. I fell in love with the beauty of it the second time I watched it. With Disney Enchantment, the opposite was true. I enjoyed it much more the first time that I saw it. That wasn’t just because I had a bad view the second time. It was more because I started to think about what could have happened, but didn’t. If Disney Enchantment was just a replacement fireworks show, I could live with that. It’s gorgeous, the music is mostly great, the projections look wonderful, and the effects are fantastic. However, it doesn’t scream “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” to me as I had hoped it would. If I didn’t know that there was an 18 month party going on, I’d think that Disney Enchantment was just another nighttime show.