Back in the Christmas holidays we went to see our first Disney on Ice show, and ever since then we'd been looking forward to the promised 'Ice Festival' complete with the cast from Frozen.
Well, last night the wait was over as we headed up to the Genting Arena at Birmingham. The excitement was palpable at the venue with thousands of mini Elsas and Annas excitedly waving their LED wands and chattering about when they'd get to see their heroines.
It turned out, the Frozen section wouldn't be right til the end, but throughout the promise was there, just like the giant illuminated snowflake high up in the riggings, waiting for it's moment.
Personally, I much preferred this show to the 100 years of Magic show. They spent longer on each film section, and reduced the amount of films featured and I think this worked much better. You got a much more detailed overview of the plots, and it didn't feel so rushed through. Somehow it just seemed to flow better.
The compares for the evening were, as ever Mickey and Minnie, joined by their friends, but they didn't need to do as much work stringing the performance together, as it just followed through more naturally.
First up was the tale of Ariel, the little mermaid. A fabulous pastiche featuring Sebastien and all the underwater creatures in a fast-paced, fluorescent skating version of 'Under the sea'. It's a truly spectacular opening to the show and the audience were joining in, singing and clapping along. There were over 20 characters on the ice at this point, with all manner of amazing sea creature costumes - rays, jellyfish, starfish to name a few - it was like a crazy underwater rave. Of course, there's Eric, and his shipwreck is portrayed cleverly, the pact Ariel makes with Ursula and her ascent up to the surface to become a human is cleverly produced with fabulous rope-work and acrobatics.
Next up was the scenes from Tangled and we're introduced to Princess Rapunzel and her mother Gothel. As per the story, Rapunzel dreams of leaving the tower, and after a chance meeting with fugitive Flyn/Eugene, they leave the tower together. It's of course only then that she discovers the beautiful lights she sees each year on her birthday are in fact lanterns sent from the royal castle in search of the long-lost princess. There's a great performance by Maximus the horse, and the rising lanterns and ultimately the flag-waving celebrations bring the first half of the performance to an end.
Cue mad interval scrambling for Disney-themed merchandise, massive lines for the toilets (tip, get Dad to take kids to the loo because the ladies loos are always rammed) and huge intake of sugar before rushing back to seats.
All settled back in our positions, the second half commences with Belle and Beauty and The Beast.
There's a spectacular performance of 'Be our guest' with Lumiere, Mrs Potts, Chip and the knives and forks, and it's clear from the reaction that Beauty and the Beast is a firm favourite with the audience. The spectacular demise of Gaston is met with cheers, before Belle can finally dance with her true love in the ballroom.
When Mickey returns to the stage and introduces a 'famous ice hunter' the crowd literally go wild, you can tell this is the moment they've been waiting for, and when Kristof and Sven glide on stage, it feels like the roof might come off. We have a rendition of 'reindeer and better than people', before another huge cheer as Anna enters the ice. We're treated to 'For the first time in forever' which clearly is about the millionth time for most of the audience as they all sing along word for word. We also have 'Do you wanna build a snowman' and the arrival of Princess Elsa. At this point Anna falls over and I'm not sure if this is scripted or not, but she recovers gracefully.
Prince Hans arrives so we can all enjoy 'Love is an open door', with a thousand youtube-wannabe mums and daughters belting it out in the audience.
Then suddenly there's screams from the crowd as somebody spots Olaf. Actually I think Olaf gets the biggest reception of all the characters of the evening. We're treated to a very retro and 70's styled 'In Summer' with bees and flowers and lots of Hawaiian shirts.
Elsa's ice palace is a little disappointing but the rendition of 'Let it go' and the actual snow makes up for it.
The production team cleverly deal with the frozen heart scenario with an illuminated cloak, and so ends the performance.
There's just time for a final encore and roll-call as all the characters come back on stage, and wave wildly at the audience.
It was fabulous show, we all really enjoyed it. I'm sure many many memories were made that night, and I think Disney on Ice performances will become an annual treat for us.
My only complaint was the timing. Our show started at 7pm which really is too late for such a young audience. It finished around 9:30 and even staying in a nearby hotel, Ruby wasn't in bed til 10:30. We can just about get away with that on a holiday evening, but some of the scheduled shows are on school nights. We had to squeeze past several crashed out littlies sprawled out across their parent's laps, so I'm sure we're not the only ones who felt it too late.
You can get details of all the upcoming performance venues and dates here.
Disclosure: We were sent family tickets for the purposes of this review. All opinions and photos are my own.