Mickey's PhilharMagic: In-Depth Review - PassPorter - A Community of Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, and General Travel Forums
PassPorter.com
Award-winning travel guidebooks

   guidebooks   |   news   |   podcasts   |   boards   |   blog   |   worksheets   |   photos   |   articles   |   updates   |   register   |   follow us on


Forums Closed
As of January 1, 2019, we have closed our forums. This is a decision we did not come to lightly, but it is necessary. The software our forums run on is just too out-of-date and it poses a significant security risk. The server software itself must be updated, and it cannot be without removing the forums.

So it is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to our long-running forums. They came online in 2000 and brought together so many wonderful Disney fans. We had friendships form, careers launch, couples marry, children born ... all because of this amazing community.

Thank you to each of you who were a part of this community. You made it possible.

And a very special thank you to our Guides (moderators), past and present, who kept our forums a happy place to be. You are the glue that held everything together, and we are forever grateful to you. Thank you aliceinwdw, Caldercup, MrsM, WillCAD, Fortissimo, GingerJ, HiddenMickey, CRCrazy, Eeyoresmom, disneyknut, disneydani, Cam22, chezp, WDWfan, Luvsun, KMB733, rescuesk, OhToodles!, Colexis Mom, lfredsbo, HiddenMickey, DrDolphin, DopeyGirl, duck addict, Disneybine, PixieMichele, Sandra Bostwick, Eeyore Tattoo, DyanKJ130, Suzy Q'Disney, LilMarcieMouse, AllisonG, Belle*, Chrissi, Brant, DawnDenise, Crystalloubear, Disneymom9092, FanOfMickey, Goofy4Goofy, GoofyMom, Home4us123, iamgrumpy, ilovedisney247, Jennifer2003, Jenny Pooh, KrisLuvsDisney, Ladyt, Laughaholic88, LauraBelle Hime, Lilianna, LizardCop, Loobyoxlip, lukeandbrooksmom, marisag, michnash, MickeyMAC, OffKilter_Lynn, PamelaK, Poor_Eeyore, ripkensnana, RobDVC, SHEANA1226, Shell of the South, snoozin, Statelady01, Tara O'Hara, tigger22, Tink and Co., Tinkerbelz, WDWJAMBA, wdwlovers, Wendyismyname, whoSEZ, WildforWD, and WvuGrrrl. You made the magic.

We want to personally thank Sara Varney, who coordinated our community for many years (among so many other things she did for us), and Cheryl Pendry, our Message Board Manager who helped train our Guides, and Ginger Jabour, who helped us with the PassPorter-specific forums and Live! Guides. Thank you for your time, energy, and enthusiasm​. You made it all happen.

There are other changes as well.

Why? Well, the world has changed. And change with it, we must. The lyrics to "We Go On" for IllumiNations say it best:

We go on to the joy and through the tears
We go on to discover new frontiers
Moving on with the current of the years.
We go on
Moving forward now as one
Moving on with a spirit born to run
Ever on with each rising sun.
To a new day, we go on.

It's time to move on and move forward.

PassPorter is a small business, and for many years it supported our family. But the world changed, print books took a backseat to the Internet, and for a long time now it has been unable to make ends meet. We've had to find new ways to support our family, which means new careers and less and less time available to devote to our first baby, PassPorter.

But eventually, we must move on and move forward. It is the right thing to do.

So we are retiring this newsletter, as we simply cannot keep up with it. Many thanks to Mouse Fan Travel who supported it all these years, to All Ears and MousePlanet who helped us with news, to our many article contributors, and -- most importantly -- to Sara Varney who edited our newsletter so wonderfully for years and years.

And we are no longer charging for the Live Guides. If you have a subscription, it's yours to keep for the lifetime of the Live Guides at no additional cost. The Live Guides will stay online, barring server issues and technical problems, for all of 2019.

That said, PassPorter is not going away. Most of the resources will remain online for as long as we can support them, and after that we will find ways to make whatever we can available. PassPorter means a great deal to us, and to many of you, and we will do our best to keep it alive in whatever way we can. Our server costs are high, and they'll need to come out of our pockets, so in the future you can expect some changes so we can bring those costs down.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your amazing support over the years. Without you, there's no way us little guys could have made something like this happen and given the "big guys" a run for their money. PassPorter was consistently the #3 guidebook after the Unofficial and Official guides, which was really unheard of for such a small company to do. We ROCKED it thanks to you and your support and love!

If you miss us, you can still find some of us online. Sara started a new blog at DisneyParkPrincess.com -- I strongly urge you to visit and get on her mailing list. She IS the Disney park princess and knows Disney backward and forward. And I am blogging as well at JenniferMaker.com, which is a little craft blog I started a couple of years ago to make ends meet. You can see and hear me in my craft show at https://www.youtube.com/c/jennifermaker . Many PassPorter readers and fans are on Facebook, in groups they formed like the PassPorter Trip Reports and PassPorter Crafting Challenge (if you join, just let them know you read about it in the newsletter). And some of our most devoted community members started a forum of their own at Pixie Dust Lane and all are invited over.

So we encourage you to stay in touch with us and your fellow community members wherever works best for you!

Best wishes for a wonderful and magical new year!

Go Back   PassPorter - A Community of Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, and General Travel Forums > Welcome! > Using Your PassPorter: Tips and Answers > PassPorter News
Register


Welcome! We're happy you've found the PassPorter Community -- the friendliest place to plan your vacation to Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland, and the world in general! You are now viewing the PassPorter Message Board Community as a guest, which gives you limited access. As our guest, feel free to browse our messages by selecting the forum you want to visit from the list below.

To post messages and ask questions, join our FREE community today and you'll get access to tools and resources not available to guests, such as our vacation countown timers, "living" avatars, private messaging system, database searches, downloads, and a special PassPorter discount code. Registration is fast, simple, and completely free. Just click the Join Our Community link.

If you think you've already joined, log in below now. If you don't remember your member name or password, please visit our Member Name and Password Recovery page. You are also welcome to contact us.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 10-31-2003, 05:23 PM   #1
Dave Marx
PassPorter Guide Author

PassPorter Author


PassPorter's Club Passholder
What's this?

Community Rank: Explorer
 
Dave Marx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Ann Arbor, MI USA
Concierge Level: 6
Posts: 14,427

Post Thanks / Like
Mickey\'s PhilharMagic: In-Depth Review

Amid all the hoopla of October's grand media and travel industry event at Walt Disney World, the opening of Mickey's PhilharMagic was nearly a footnote to the festivities (at least, from our vantage point). Lost somewhere between the technological gee-whiz of Mission: Space and the explosive wonder of the Wishes nighttime fireworks spectacular, our introduction to Mickey's PhilharMagic was a good bit more sedate. Only a handful of select, "A list" media were present for the 3-D attraction's star-studded, red carpet premiere/photo op. We, on the other hand, were invited to a later, after-dinner viewing during the big Magic Kingdom press party on October 8. But we did land a 15-minute, personal interview with George Scribner, Animation Director of Mickey's Philharmagic the following day. Here is our in-depth review, sprinkled with interview quotes from George Scribner. (Warning: This article contains spoilers on the show!)



The article in continued in the next post.
Dave Marx is offline  
 
Reply With Quote
Old 10-31-2003, 05:47 PM   #2
Dave Marx
PassPorter Guide Author

PassPorter Author


PassPorter's Club Passholder
What's this?

Community Rank: Explorer
 
Dave Marx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Ann Arbor, MI USA
Concierge Level: 6
Posts: 14,427

Post Thanks / Like
Re: Mickey\'s PhilharMagic: In-Depth Review

Simply put, Mickey's PhilharMagic is an utter delight. And judging by the reactions of those around us (including several Disney executives, and audiences full of regular guests at subsequent viewings), we're not the only ones to feel that way. Of course, audience reaction has always been part of 3-D attractions. Startle a person, and he/she will certainly respond. This time, though, the reaction didn't come as screams, gasps, or bawling infants. What we heard was laughter, wonder, and delight. Not bad, eh?



"The Fantasyland Concert Hall" is the former home of "Legend of the Lion King" and from the outside, little besides the signs seems to have changed. The façade is still the familiar Fantasyland "stonework," and the queues seem unchanged, except for the addition of FASTPASS machines and a FASTPASS Return queue. To the right of the entrance is a large new merchandise shop, chock-full of PhilharMagical stuff. Lines in this outdoor, only partially-covered queue area can still be very long, and barely move most of the time, but about every 12 minutes the line moves dramatically, when a new group enters the theater.



Once you've passed the turnstiles at the front door you step into the familiar outer lobby. The décor here hasn't changed much, but the former, open-plan lobby where folks used to simply jostle and press towards the pre-show entrance has been turned into a zig-zaggy crowd control queue. While it's quite tedious to make your way through the queue, ultimately I think it beats the former "trampling herd" environment. While you're weaving your way through the queue, look at the framed posters that line the walls, commemorating great moments in the concert hall's history. As always, the wit of Disney's Imgineers shines in these little gems. From there, guests pass into a new, inner lobby that replaces the former pre-show area. Decorated in rich blues and gold with dramatic mood lighting, this inner lobby sets the perfect mood for the "classical" concert to come. Unfortunately, crowd control here is a good bit more chaotic than in the outer lobby. Guests make their way down a long ramp at the left-hand side of the wide lobby area, and tend to stop at the bottom of the ramp, near the left-most theater doors. There are plenty of additional theater doors and lots of empty space to the right, but cast members have to work hard to encourage folks to move along and make room for those behind them. Let's hope Disney comes up with a solution to this mayhem, as it's one of the few sour notes in the entire attraction. Eventually, though, the automatic doors open, and the crowd streams into the theater.



Once inside the theater, though, we learn just what Disney could (and should) have done in the inner lobby. Instead of a forlorn cast member with a microphone urging folks to move all the way to the right and to leave no empty seats, we hear Goofy's familiar voice moving about behind the wide curtain, cracking jokes and coaxing folks to move along. As a result, the entertainment begins as soon as folks enter the theater, and the crowd settles down quickly - a big improvement over 3D shows of the past. "We really wanted that to avoid having operations break the story that you're entering Mickey's concert hall, that this is his place," noted George. Mickey's concert hall is "like Seiji Ozawa at the Boston Symphony, it's Bernstein's, it's Barenboim's place."





<font color="blue">George Scribner speaks passionately about Mickey's PhilharMagic</font>



What's the best seat in the house? "We really try to design it for every seat," said George. "The center tends to be a little better. But as we tested it we sat all over and we would adjust some of the mix levels just to make sure some of the dialogue got out to the back seats."



Finally, the lights dim, and the curtain goes up on an empty concert stage. Mickey's voice floats in from backstage, to ask Donald if he can set up the orchestra. Donald opens a trunk, and a cascade of animated musical instruments pours out to take their places on stage. Then our ducky friend spies Mickey's sorcerer hat, perched on the conductor's podium. He can't resist temptation, of course, any more than Mickey could back when he was the apprentice. In a flash the hat is on Donald's head, the instruments are in rebellion, and a magical whirlpool tries to suck Donald, hat, and all into its swirling depths. We feel the air around us being pulled into the abyss as Donald tries to "swim" right at us against the current, but eventually he loses the battle, and everything goes dark.



In a few moments we see Donald's frightened eyes glowing in the dark, and the lights come up to reveal that the narrow concert stage has disappeared, and it its place is a huge, curving screen that extends to the limits of our peripheral vision. From now on, Mickey's hat leads Donald on a merry chase from one animated scene to another. We're splashed with water when the Fantasia brooms empty their buckets, our mouths water at the scent of cinnamon-heavy apple pie when Lumiere invites us to be his guest; and we splash about some more with Ariel as she sings, "Part of Your World." Simba just can't wait to be king, we swoop over London with Peter Pan and Tink in a breathtakingly enhanced recreation of the original flyover (when PhilharMagic's over, visit Peter Pan's Flight right next door), and we just keep flying, right into a whole new world where Jasmine's perfume wafts on the air and Donald's flying carpet takes us on a Star Wars-style chase through the alleys of Agrabah. Finally, Donald does catch up with the elusive hat and (naturally), all's well that ends well, at least for everyone but naughty Donald.



As a side note, that alley chase is a favorite scene of ours. When Jennifer asked George about it he revealed, "Even I get sorta queasy (on roller coasters), and I was hoping this would work okay. One of the animators turned to me and said, 'Hey, you storyboarded it. Get over it!'"



One goal of 3D films has always been to break down the barriers between the flat action on the movie screen and the guests out in the audience. Originally, that was a matter of creating in-your-face objects that seemed to pop off the screen. Naturally, these startling effects are still the bread-and-butter of 3D, and the quality of those images keeps improving. But over the years innovators have gone on to engage all the senses, with enhanced surround sound, lasers, strobes, theatrical lighting, evocative scents, smoke and mist, rumbling floors, flight simulator-based ride vehicles, "bug infested" seats, under-seat air jets to simulate stampeding mice, explosions, and sprays of water droplets that suggest everything from frothing floods to spattering human guts. And when the movie screen became too limiting, Disney added Audio-Animatronics figures throughout the theater.



Now, purists will note that not every effect that I've listed has been used as part of a 3D attraction, but the theater technologies (except the vibrating chairs) that provide these effects are all present at Mickey's PhilharMagic. What's more, they're used with greater subtlety and expertise than ever before. Objects still do pop off the screen, but their movement is less startling, and the effect more humorous. Fortunately, bugs and mice are nowhere to be felt, and when water is sprayed in our direction we know that it's water - it's not masquerading as something a lot more creepy. Some of the most dynamic effects come from strobes and other lights, placed throughout the theater to supplement the lighting effects that occur on screen. You probably won't even know they're there, but they really help pull us into the action. In our interview, George Scribner pointed out that "one of the biggest goals right from the start was to make something that you could bring anybody to without scaring them. It was a huge, huge push and it was probably one of the original ideas, 'Look, we've really got to create a 3D movie that just would appeal to everybody,' and one of the ways of doing this was less of the what we call flinch moments (things that startle you) and more of 'reach' where elements come out further in space and linger so kids have a chance to try to reach for them."



The 165-degree wide screen (nearly three times the width of a normal screen) helps immerse us completely in the action. Disney boasts that this is the widest (150 foot) seamless movie screen in the world (not a Stitch to be found?). According to George Scribner, "Four projectors, two in the center in stereo, and two on each side" are required - the middle two to create the central 3D effects, and one each for the extreme left and right of the screen. These outer images aren't in pop-off-the-screen 3D, as our eyes can't perceive depth at the outer edges of our vision, but the computer-generated scenes are still "modeled" in 3D, just as they are in Pixar's computer-animated features. George revealed that they tested stereo-3D images on the outer screens "early on, but we were not successful. In terms of the story, it starts to get pretty distracting. (It's) better to focus. We're dealing with a range of audiences. It has to be clear and simple and to the point."



In 3D animation, characters actually become computer-controlled actors. Unlike hand-drawn animation, where nearly no drawing can be reused, these computer programs can be reused and improved indefinitely. In short, by computerizing all these classic characters, Disney has laid the groundwork for films and attractions yet to come. Animation purists will be quite satisfied with some characters, and disappointed by others. Disney has made a virtue of how master animators Nik Ranieri (Lumiere) and Glen Keane (Ariel) were brought in to help translate their creations into 3D computer "models." The rumor mill suggested that they were only brought in to help the animation crew out of a jam, but George Scribner made it clear that these animators were an integral part of the process from the beginning. Nik Ranieri, who animated the Lumiere segment, "was amazing," says George, "When that first scene first came up we had no notes on it. What you saw was (Nik's) first iteration to us."



Even with the masters' help, we can see that 3D animators still haven't solved the problem of modeling realistic human characters. This is not only true on this project, but on every 3D film produced by Pixar and other studios. But humans have always been the hardest to animate. This was as true in the days of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as it is today. Our brains are "hard wired" to recognize our own species above all others, so it's very hard to fool us. So, Aladdin and Jasmine (and to a lesser extent, Ariel) don't move or look quite as good as we'd hope. Neither, of course, did Snow White and Prince Charming. Fortunately, this shortcoming is not enough to tear our minds from the film's fantasy world, and that's what's most important.



I have one other quibble, one that comes from my past life in the music-for-movies business. My eyes have become very sensitive to lip-sync, and both Ariel and Aladdin's lips don't quite move as they should. When animating to an existing piece of music, animators often use a "click track" (metronome) to help them match the musical beat. Indeed, the rest of the film matches the music beautifully. Why, then, is there a problem with the singers lips? A good singer is always singing either ahead of, or behind the instrumental beat, rarely right on it. What we're seeing is probably a result of the animators using a click track that follows the orchestra's beat, rather than the singer's.



I have to apologize to George Scribner, who led the story development and animation process for PhilharMagic. During the interview, I told him I thought the story seemed more like a musical revue rather than a formal plot, with a relatively thin story line. I wasn't fair at all. The story is very carefully developed, moving Donald from one misadventure to the next. George mentioned that "the story evolved concurrently with the development of the music. We were searching for something a little bit more, so there was a through line that was pretty clear, with (Donald) searching for the hat... without being too complicated. I'm a big believer in very simple stories and great characters. I think we're at our best when we know who we're talking to. We don't make long movies so we don't have a lot of exposition time." Unlike Disney's classic 3Ds like Honey I Shrunk the Audience, MuppetVision 3D and It's Tough to be a Bug, Mickey's PhilharMagic has very little dialog. Sometimes we writers confuse "words" with "story." My bad!



The vast majority of the communication in Mickey's PhilharMagic is visual and musical, like a silent movie, ballet, or that animation masterpiece, Fantasia. Mickey's PhilharMagic may "say" very little, but it tells a full and rich story. We see Donald overstepping his bounds (as Mickey himself did in the Sorcerer's Apprentice), unleashing unintended mayhem, trying desperately to correct his error, and finally paying the price for his misdeeds. According to George, "The whole idea is to get you in the middle of the movie. To really fold you in... as if you and Donald were in those movies (together)."



Donald's tale is told in a language that can be understood no matter what your age or heritage. All the right emotional strings are plucked by the beloved songs and even more-beloved characters, and this fantasy in Fantasyland leaves us all happier and more beguiled than we have any reason to expect. So, four thumbs up for Mickey's PhilharMagic! This attraction will be on my "must see" list for many years to come.





Have you seen Mickey's PhilharMagic yet? Post your review here for others to read!
Dave Marx is offline  
 
Reply With Quote
Old 11-05-2003, 09:46 AM   #3
markb
Community Rank: Traveler
 
markb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Kent, UK
Concierge Level: 6
Posts: 276

Post Thanks / Like
Re: Mickey\'s PhilharMagic: In-Depth Review

Not only did we see it, we saw it at the same time as Michael Eisner too We saw it the first time on an Annual Passholders preview over the weekend before. We were enchanted by it. It blew us completely away. It is by far the best 4D film I've ever seen. In my opinion it’s far better than Shrek 4D. We saw it another 3 or 4 times over the weekend and during the week. Eventually sitting in the same audience as Mr Eisner
markb is offline  
 
Reply With Quote
Old 07-30-2004, 11:41 AM   #4
mama2disneyfan
Community Rank: Trekker
 
mama2disneyfan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Michigan
Concierge Level: 1
Posts: 1,515

Post Thanks / Like
Re: Mickey\'s PhilharMagic: In-Depth Review

During our first WDW trip in March 04, we did get to see it. I loved it, however, my dd (2) was frightened at a couple of spots. I think it was mostly how loud it was in certain areas. Overall, she loved it as well. What a great addition to WDW!
mama2disneyfan is offline  
 
Reply With Quote
Old 07-30-2004, 12:27 PM   #5
pita
Community Rank: Adventurer
 
pita's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Connecticut
Posts: 761

Post Thanks / Like
Re: Mickey\'s PhilharMagic: In-Depth Review

We saw the Philharmagic in October last year. There was NO line and the show was GREAT!!! All of us loved it. It has been our favorite so far because everyone enjoyed it. The kids loved telling me which movies each section was from. Noone cried. Noone was scared. A+ from us!

-pita
pita is offline  
 
Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2004, 03:38 PM   #6
DrDolphin
Living Seas wannabe
PassPorter's Club Passholder


What's this?

PassPorter Guide

Community Rank:
Legend Extraordinaire
 
DrDolphin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Concierge Level: 6
Posts: 31,940

Post Thanks / Like
Re: Mickey\'s PhilharMagic: In-Depth Review

I've seen it at least 3 times - once with my 5 yr old niece - she LOVED it (unlike certain other 3D movies that will remain nameless). I found myself reaching out for Ariel's jewels..... great movie!!!
DrDolphin is offline  
 
Reply With Quote
Old 08-03-2004, 05:17 PM   #7
Cinderella072004
Community Rank: Adventurer
 
Cinderella072004's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 808

Post Thanks / Like
Re: Mickey\'s PhilharMagic: In-Depth Review

We loved it! We just saw it a few wekks ago, it was one of the e-ride nights attractions. I was so happy because I did not expect it to be on the e-ride list. We walked in twice-it was so cute!
Cinderella072004 is offline  
 
Reply With Quote
Old 08-04-2004, 07:56 AM   #8
MontiMouse
Community Rank: Scout
 
MontiMouse's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Lafayette, LA & BCV
Concierge Level: 7
Posts: 4,751

Post Thanks / Like
Re: Mickey\'s PhilharMagic: In-Depth Review

We saw this show four times during our last trip - which I might add was only five days long. We absolutely loved it!
MontiMouse is offline  
 
Reply With Quote
Old 08-05-2004, 12:06 PM   #9
Lyli
Community Rank: Sightseer
 
Lyli's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Florida
Posts: 50

Post Thanks / Like
Re: Mickey\'s PhilharMagic: In-Depth Review

We love this show and insist on seeing it everytime we do MK. Even my DS-9, who is officially only into cool, loves it.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 560195-108-0846_IMG.JPG (4.1 KB, 6 views)
Lyli is offline  
 
Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2004, 02:47 PM   #10
rjtravel
Community Rank: Traveler
 
rjtravel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Tampa, FL
Concierge Level: 6
Posts: 208

Post Thanks / Like
Re: Mickey\'s PhilharMagic: In-Depth Review

I saw Philharmagic last November and loved it. It was great to see some of the Disney characters up close
rjtravel is offline  
 
Reply With Quote
Reply



Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump














Please login or register to hide these ads -- it's free and easy!

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:55 PM.

-->

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Feedback Buttons provided by Advanced Post Thanks / Like v3.4.0 Patch Level 1 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2021 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
(c) 1998-2017 PassPorter Travel Press/MediaMarx, Inc.
Celebrating 19 Years of Making Dreams Come True
Ad Management plugin by RedTyger