Time Traveling: Mickey’s PhilharMagic

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For the second in the series we’ll be looking at the site of Mickey’s PhilharMagic and time traveling all the way to 1971 to see what has lived in this space over the ages. If you haven’t already read the history of Stitch’s Great Escape in part one of the series you can find it here. One housekeeping note: a lot of this is written from my memories. If you remember it differently please let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear from everyone.

If you hopped into the Wayback Machine and set it between 1994 and 2002 you’d emerge to find The Legend of the Lion King. This was one of my favorite shows, and I was really sad to see it close. This was one of the last few attractions to actually open WITH the movie. Can you imagine a big┬áRapunzel show opening at the Magic Kingdom just weeks after the movie hit theaters? This used to be common for Disney, but it seems like nowadays the company sits back and makes sure it has a hit first. (And sometimes after a mega hit…we get bathrooms!) I was a little old to buy into it completely, but for my younger sisters The Legend of the Lion King seemed “real” and was a way to visit the most recent Disney story. The fun started when you entered the pre-show area where a live actor dressed as Rafiki introduced the story before you were ushered into the theater. Inside the theater was a show like nothing before or since at Disney. The story of The Lion King was told with projection screens, puppets, and effects. I could go on about how great it was but there are several videos on YouTube┬áthat do it more justice. Not that I don’t think Mickey’s PhilharMagic is a great show, but I’ll always think Lion King was better!

If you went back to 1987 you’d find a 3D film called Magic Journeys. This was a recycled film from Epcot where it was removed to make room for Captain EO. I remember this film as boring and strange. I love writing these articles because if forces me to go back and look at things as an adult. Sometimes, something I thought was awful actually was just me being a kid. That isn’t the case on this one. I looked back at YouTube videos, and I’ll add to that list that it’s “trippy.” However, considering that it opened in 1982, maybe it is just the generation gap? I’ll be really curious to hear from folks that have memories of this attraction! The one silver lining was that the pre-show area was used to show an older Chip & Dale cartoon, Working for Peanuts. Now that is something that appeals to all ages! :)

Going back further you’d find some empty space. From everything I can find this building was vacant from late 1980 to 1987. Does anyone remember any differently? I was a just a little kid, but my parents also don’t remember anything here. If you skipped this blank period and went all the way back to the park opening date you’d find the Mickey Mouse Revue. This is a show that closed when I was still a baby, and I’m sorry that I missed it! When you look for documentation on older attractions in the park, it’s tough to find – but not for this much loved show! It is well documented on YouTube, which is a blessing and a curse because you know what you’re missing! Fair warning – if you click that YouTube link you’ll lose a minimum of 30 minutes and wish you could have seen it yourself! In 1983 this show found new life in Tokyo Disneyland, where it stayed open until 2009. The show looks like it was adorable, with many animatronics of beloved Disney characters performing in the style of Kitchen Kabaret.

But Kitchen Kabaret is a story itself, now isn’t it? So I will leave you there and hope that you will join me for the next installment. Do you remember any of these older attractions? I’d love to hear what your family thought of them and as always thanks for reading!

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Posted on November 28, 2013

6 Responses to “Time Traveling: Mickey’s PhilharMagic”

  • Fab article.
    Now I remember the lion king show and always thought it was a disappointment. Mickey’s PhilharMagic remains one of my all time favourite attractions!

  • Always loved Mickey Mouse Revue as a child!

  • That Lion King show was pretty silly. The puppets bouncing across the stage made it hard to take it seriously. I was in my late teens and early 20s during that time, so that might also explain my lack of excitement for it.

  • Loved the Lion King show & love Philharmagic. Senior class trip to Disney was in April 1987 – recall the theater being used to show old cartoons – guests would come and go as they please – not many people there. We used it as a place to get out of the sun and get some rest.

  • Hi Everyone! Sorry for the lack of response – you know I always read your comments but I ran off to Disneyland Paris so I missed these! :) I’m surprised that I liked the Lion King show so much and it doesn’t seem popular with others. Even looking back at YouTube I’m still excited about it. It must just be a taste thing. I got to see a little peek of the old puppets at Animagic in DLP. Thanks everyone for reading!