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A Theme Park Fan's Guide to the Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship

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It's Showtime
Shows on the Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship

Each show in the Walt Disney Theatre, such as "Aladdin," has its own set of elaborate backdrops and props.

© Arthur Levine, 2012. Licensed to About.com.
Shows are an important part of the Disney theme park experience. The shows aboard the Fantasy share a lot with their park counterparts. They both mine Disney's rich animation history and aspire to Broadway-caliber production values.

The shows are presented in The Walt Disney Theatre, which is an elegant venue that recalls performance halls of an earlier time, but is tricked out with all kinds of Imagineering techno-wizardry. At its launch in 2012, the Fantasy featured three original musical productions: "Disney's Aladdin," "Wishes," and "Disney's Believe." "Aladdin" is a condensed staging of Disney's animated film. "Believe," which is also presented on the Disney Dream, is a somewhat schmaltzy story about a father who is too wrapped up in his work to spend quality time with his daughter. Disney characters allow him to engage in some Ebenezer Scrooge-like introspection and reexamine his priorities. "Wishes," a Disney Fantasy original, focuses on Disney's theme parks (yay!) as a way for its characters to remain forever young at heart. The shows don't offer much in the way of sophistication or nuance, but they work well as big rousing presentations designed for the whole family.

It was fascinating to see how the theater could readily morph to accommodate the entirely different productions. Each performance had its own set of elaborate backdrops and riggings, for example, and presented some show-stopping effects. I was especially impressed by the flying carpet scene in "Aladdin," which made clever use of rear projection and hydraulic set elements. With the ship gently swaying, the entire theater felt like a giant motion simulator ride during the scene.

I was equally impressed by the cast. Kevin Eid, VP of Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment, says that the ensemble represents "true repertory theater." The same actors have to learn multiple roles for different shows and perform them on a rotating basis. It's quite a feat, and one that the cast members, many of whom have wonderful singing voices, perform with aplomb.

Next up: Crush is a castaway.

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