With our sad last farewell to the beautiful Disney Dreams (you can see the final performance in a great video here) just behind us, it seemed a good time to reflect back on the show and pick my five favourite scenes.
Note: I’m not including Disney Dreams of Christmas here. I like Frozen but even I think that show had too much Frozen in it!
Brave still feels like an underrated Disney Pixar film to me. Pre-Moana, Pre-Frozen, Merida was a Disney princess rejecting the ‘happily ever after’ concept. And doing it with a bow and arrow.
Apart from my own bias and the stunning music (Fate and Destiny/Touch The Sky/Remember to Smile – a perfect combo of beauty and energy), the Brave scene is here because it represents the best use of the fountains in the show. Jets of water dancing in time to the bagpipes with stunning precision, the brilliantly choreographed break as Fergus whacks his sword down and then the building crescendo as the music soars and Peter dances… Whilst I enjoyed the Jungle Book scene this one replaced, Brave felt like a step up when it came to effects beyond the projection mapping.
A stunning, joyful sequence and it was a real pity we lost it for a while to the inferior ‘Let It Go’ scene.
4. Friends on the Other Side
Whilst it isn’t my favourite song and it certainly doesn’t have the emotional impact of some of the other scenes on this list, this one has to be here purely for the visuals alone. Who knew that making the castle into a steampunk mechanical monster complete with creepy evil eyes could be so effective?
Okay, aside from the subtle and oft forgotten shimmering effect at the start of the sequence, admittedly this is a one trick pony but that doesn’t matter when the trick is so clever. Gears, pistons, chimneys, flame blasts and a plasma ball all turn the loveliest castle in the world into an industrialised nightmare. There’s a harshness to this scene, it’s hard and pulsing and mechanical and everything that’s not Disney, but the quality of the projection mapping makes it work. That and the fact it stays just long enough to impress without becoming boring.
There’s not much to it in comparison to some other segments but, boy, is it a show-off spectacle for the technology.
I’m horribly biased here (again) because Tangled is my favourite of the new Disney films and this song (I See The Light) is one of my go to sing-along really loud in the car tracks. Not to mention that the lantern scene from Tangled is one of the most beautiful visuals Disney has ever produced. The impressive thing here is that they’ve recreated that feeling with a deft touch.
The first two scenes on this list are there for their cleverness but this one? I like its simplicity. Yes, Rapunzel’s tower rising from the vines and the numerous butterfly effects are impressive, but it’s when the scene comes down to just the lanterns rising from the towers and Rapunzel and Flynn singing that it truly finds its perfect moment. Disney’s most charismatic couple (I dare you to argue with me on that one) melt us all to a gooey puddle of ‘aww’ as two single lanterns gently dance up the castle’s tallest spire. There’s no more beautiful moment in the show.
2. Out There
Confession time: I’ve only seen Hunchback once. I thought it was decent. I haven’t gone back and watched it again. Even so, Out There is one of my favourite parts of Disney Dreams and that tells you just how good the scene is.
The visuals are really nice, capturing the beauty of notre dame’s famous rose window and making Quasimodo leap between the castle towers as though he really is there, but it’s the music that’s the star here. The song – somehow better and more meaningful in French – soars like a truly great musical moment of triumph and hope. How can you not feel it right down to your gut? How can you not punch the air and feel that swell of triumph? Yeah, Quasi, you have your day out there!
I was always concerned that, what with this not being Disney’s most popular production, it might have to make way for something else. Something more ‘commercially viable’. Thankfully those behind the show saw sense and this truly epic moment has remained for the entire run.
Could it be anything else? If you’re not an emotional wreck by the time of the last pyro explosion then you need to hand in your Disney fan badge asap and we’ll escort you straight off the premises.
The normally simple ‘Second Star To The Right’ is turned into a sweeping orchestral masterpiece, fitting for the ‘everything and the kitchen sink approach’ to the effects. Chief amongst which involve the castle itself. The leaping towers were one of the most impressive, talked about sights when the show first began and it has never lost it’s magic. The castle – our castle – jumps for joy during this finale, showing off and taking a well deserved bow right before the end just like the star of the show (and of Disneyland Paris) she is.
Part of the reason Dreams worked so well was because of the theme chosen. The main song encourages us do exactly what we go to Disneyland for; to leave the world behind and bid our cares goodbye. It tells us we can fly. Bids us to thank that little star every time we say goodnight, knowing we’ll come back again. That we never truly leave. That it’ll always be there to lead us home.
Is it any wonder Dreams has touched so many Disney fans?
I’m looking forward to seeing Disney Illuminations, I don’t worry about the change and have total faith in the Imagineers. But boy does it have a lot to live up to. Thank you Dreams. And goodnight.