Saturday, May 11, 2013

Disneyland Review: Aladdin at the Hyperion Theatre

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Broadway worthy stage entertainment
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
Truly great stage show
Best ever in Disney park
Do not pass it by

Don't Miss Disney's Aladdin - A Musical Spectacular at the Hyperion Theatre

Now I am as big a Disney fan as they come.  I love the parks.  But I must admit I don't expect Broadway caliber entertainment from the shows in their theme parks.  Yet that's exactly what you get when you visit the Hyperion Theater.

Located at the end of Hollywood Pictures Backlot of California Adventure, it looks like a cross between a movie theater and an average building from the outside.  In fact, I still don't know who they cram all those seats and the stage into the building.

The actual lines and entrance are off to the right of the building.  People start lining up 40 minutes to an hour in advance of performances.  You'll want to check out the entertainment guide you can pick up at the park's entrance to find out when show times are and if the show is even playing that day.  When it is showing, they usually only do four shows a day.

The theater itself looks enormous inside.  There are three levels of seats.  You'll want to move fast and keep your party together since everyone is jockeying for a good seat in your section.  How early you show up determines if you get into the section right on the floor, the middle section, or the balcony.  Honestly, you can enjoy the show no matter where you are.

The theater has been showing a live stage version of Aladdin called Disney's Aladdin - A Musical Spectacular for several years now.  I'm not sure exactly when it opened, but it's been over 5 years.  Obviously, the parts about this show are subject to change, but considering every performance is packed, I don't see it changing any time soon.

The play follows the movie pretty closely, especially considering they do it all in 40 minutes.  They do leave out the animals Raja and Abu.  Iago the Parrot, on the other hand, is a complicated parrot played by its own actor.  But the songs of the movie are present and accounted for.  They even give Jasmine a solo at one point.

As the play progresses, my jaw drops at all the stage elements they have.  People drop into holes and rise out of the floor in smoke.  Backdrops come and go, giving us different settings.  Carpet is played most of the time by a person in a costume, and he gets plenty of laughs.

Just like in the movie, Genie steals the show and "Friend Like Me" is the show stopper.  They actually bring out plenty of extras in blue makeup for the ending of that song.  Genie's jokes are sometimes topic and often contemporary.  I've heard jokes about MySpace various times when I've seen it.

During the "Prince Ali" number, the parade actually circles the lowest level of the audience before the prop elephant take Aladdin to the stage.  And for "A Whole New World," Jasmine and Aladdin actually fly above the lowest level of the audience.  They are at eye level with the balcony, so everyone gets to see them.

Really, there isn't a bad seat in the house.  Yes, it is fun to be on the lowest level, but I think you see more on other levels.

The sing, dancing, and choreography are always top notch.  The acting is a tad campy at times, but it's always fun.

And did I mention the best part?  You get to sit down and relax in air conditioning for the run of the show plus a little bit more since they seat you before the show starts.

Normally, I try to avoid the shows and parades at Disney, but seeing Disney's Aladdin - A Musical Spectacular at the Hyperion Theater is an exception.  I will be very disappointed if they ever take it out.

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