Welcome to Theme Park Insider! Join the community or log in
Theme Park Insider
Facebook Twitter YouTube Email Newsletter

2010 Best Theme Park Attraction nominee: Mickey's PhilharMagic at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Written by
Published: March 11, 2010 at 7:56 AM

Theme Park Insider readers have voted Mickey's PhilharMagic at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom into the 2010 Best Theme Park Attraction Tournament as the top seed in the Best Movie or Animated Show bracket.

Mickey's PhilharMagic at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Even though the title is "Mickey's" PhilharMagic, Donald Duck's the star of this 12-minute 3-D musical review, which plays in the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland Theater. As the show begins, Donald's unpacking the instruments for Mickey's orchestra when he decides to try on the Big Cheese's famous sorcerer's hat from Fantasia.

And then, everyone say it with me now, things go horribly wrong.

The instruments spring to life, Donald loses control and soon we're flying through a musical medley of famous songs and scenes from top Disney animated films. Eventually, of course, Mickey returns to retrieve his hat and save the day. And Donald? Well, he gets his with a tuba blast into the theater's back wall.

Donald Duck in Mickey's PhilharMagic

Directed by "Oliver and Company" and "The Prince and the Pauper" director George Scribner, Mickey's PhilharMagic debuted in 2003. The portrayed for the first time on screen computer-animated versions of many Disney characters. Disney's Imagineers used archival recordings for much of the dialogue in the film, with character's original voice actors returning to supply much of the remaining dialogue.

Mickey's PhilharMagic also plays at Hong Kong Disneyland, with plans for the show to arrive in Tokyo Disneyland next year. Rumors are flying that once Captain EO finishes its run at Disneyland that the show might finally make its way to California, too.

So... is Mickey's PhilarMagic the best theme park movie in America? We'll soon find out. Voting begins in the 2010 Best Theme Park Attraction Tournament one week from today.

Readers' Opinions

From Don Neal on March 11, 2010 at 7:58 AM
It has my vote! :) This is a multiple visit attraction for us whenever we are at MK. My whole family loves it.
From Anthony Murphy on March 11, 2010 at 8:42 AM
It has my vote too!

I think it has the most effects too!

From Phil B. on March 11, 2010 at 9:10 AM
This is a great show that does just about everything right. The screen is huge! The 3D is fantastic and the in theater effects are excellent. The Donald is at his classic best, throwing temper tantrums, finding himself a fish out of water (and in water at times) and being subdued by pretty girls. I laugh out loud every time I see this show. Throw in scenes from classic Disney movies with a "Donald showing up" twist, as well as their award winning songs into the mix and this attraction is a MUST SEE top attraction for any Disney Theme Park fan. Way too much fun to pass up! One of the true classics WDI has produced this last decade.
From Robert Niles on March 11, 2010 at 10:04 AM
Okay, it's a fun show.

But allow me to play Devil's Advocate: It's not exactly fresh, is it? Mickey's PhilhaMargic provides a nice overview of Disney's roster of characters, in a fun review, but it doesn't bring anything new to the table. It's a greatest hits package.

Shouldn't the "best" movie or animated show by one that did something fresh or outstanding - not just a greatest hits piece?

As much as I enjoy Mickey's PhilharMagic and would like to see it find a place out here in California, too, I can't buy it as the best in this bracket. I don't think it should surprise anyone that I'm pulling for this bracket to come down to a match-up between Impressions de France (which I've argued is the best theme park movie) and Disneyland's Enchanted Tiki Room (which I've argued is the best animated show).

Of course, that's just my opinion. Obviously, many others value Mickey's PhilharMagic over those shows. But I wanted to make my case here, too.

The whole bracket's published now, so you can see the match-ups and how they might play out. So let's hear how you hope it plays out.

From Joshua Counsil on March 11, 2010 at 10:19 AM
I completely agree, Robert, and was just starting to post a "greatest hits"-esque comparison of the attraction but you've beaten me to it.

There is very little original content in this production. It's sentimental, sappy, and completely Disney-fied in the wrong way. Frankly, the animation really isn't all that impressive - the movie characters feel cheap, not at all like they looked in their respective films. The screen is enormous, the theater is very comfortable, and some of the effects are great, but it's lacking any real punch. It's pure formula, which is why so many Disney fanboys love it and consider it "classic". I think Terminator 2: 3D, One Man's Dream, It's Tough to be a Bug, and various other attractions on this list are much more deserving for the lead seed.

Regardless, the film is very enjoyable, namely because of the wise choice of Donald as the lead, so it gets an 8-Commendable on my list.

From Joshua Counsil on March 11, 2010 at 11:08 AM
Here are my predictions:

Quarterfinals
1. Mickey's PhilharMagic at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
2. Epcot's Impressions de France
3. Universal Studios Hollywood's Terminator 2: 3D
4. Epcot's American Adventure
6. MuppetVision 3D at Disney's Hollywood Studios
8. Mystery Lodge at Knott's Berry Farm
10. Carousel of Progress at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
12. Disneyland's Enchanted Tiki Room

Semifinals
1. Mickey's PhilharMagic at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
3. Universal Studios Hollywood's Terminator 2: 3D
6. MuppetVision 3D at Disney's Hollywood Studios
10. Carousel of Progress at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Finals
3. Universal Studios Hollywood's Terminator 2: 3D
10. Carousel of Progress at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Winner
3. Universal Studios Hollywood's Terminator 2: 3D

From 64.139.224.202 on March 11, 2010 at 11:22 AM
Anyone know of anywhere to download/purchase the sound track?
From Phil B. on March 11, 2010 at 11:26 AM
Philharmagic plays like a huge love letter to Disney fans, which isn't such a bad thing considering it is in Disney World, at The Magic Kingdom, right in the middle of Fantasyland. The show doesn't really raise the bar technically, but what it does do is takes many successful elements of 4D attractions and executes them flawlessly into a nostalgic, fun, all around enjoyable attraction that the whole family can experience.

Do I consider it a number one seed. Nope, but I do consider it a highly ranked attraction. I consider "It's Tough to be a Bug" far more ambitious, immersive and comlpete as far as these types of attractions go.

I'm far more shocked that "Impressions De France" ranks so high to be honest. What's so new and innovative about an expanded movie screen showing sweeping panoramic views of landscapes and architecture set to classical music. If anything plays like a greatest hits it's this turkey, showing off all of the obligatory sights to behold in France, and then ending with a uninspired, "boy I didn't see that coming", slooowwwwww crawl up the Eiffel Tower elevator. Naaa, no thanks, I'm going back to the Lagoon to have another Grand Marnier Slushie bar keep. I'm just saying :)

From James Rao on March 11, 2010 at 12:11 PM
Disney has made a living off of taking existing ideas and making them better. And with Philharmagic, Disney has developed arguably the best 3D feature in the business. It is breezy, whimsical, fast, fun, entertaining, and completely accessible to all ages. It may not be the most innovative, or most original, but when you are evaluating "The Best", it is certainly a bona fide contender.
From Anthony Murphy on March 11, 2010 at 12:15 PM
Now seeing the whole roster, I do not think that this can go the distance!

While I can always be seen running to this attraction, you can not beat Carosel of Progress or the Tiki Room!

From Sylvain Comeau on March 11, 2010 at 12:25 PM
Mickey's PhilharMagic is easily the best 3D/4D movie around. Yes it is essentially a greatest hits package, but personally, I love seeing a history of Disney animation presented in such dazzling 3D. And seeing Donald right in front of you in the theatre is an unforgettable experience.
From Kevin Smith on March 11, 2010 at 1:15 PM
From the smell of the banquet during the Beauty and the Beast scene, to the air blowing on your face as you "chase" the magic carpet through the streets, to the mist spraying in your face during the Sorcerer's Apprentice scene... the entire time you are fully engulfed within, what I believe, is the the best Theme Park Movie ever made. This is why it gets my vote
From 76.172.237.107 on March 11, 2010 at 2:11 PM
I don't see where the rumors that this will replace Captain EO are coming from. Disneyland's Magic Eye Theater is far too small to fit this show and its massive screens. I'd rather Disney produce more original attractions rather than cloning attractions from other parks anyway. They should make us want to visit both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Anyway, this is my favorite theme park 3D/4D movie. The 3D effects aren't too cheesy-in-your-face, the in-theater effects are pretty entertaining, the massive screens are impressive, and the movie is fun, highlighting some of the best Disney songs. Sure it can go stale after a few viewings, but that is the limitation of all of these 3D/4D movies. It is the best of the bunch. I don't think it will the show faceoff, much less the overall win, but it is no doubt the best 3D/4D theme park show out there.

From Manny Barron on March 11, 2010 at 6:08 PM
Mickey's PhilharMagic is a power house and deserving of its number 1 seed. I'm a huge Terminator 2 fan and that 3-D show gives an overall better package than PhilharMagic, with the pre-show and live actors. The final should be this show and T2:3-D, both are great and whoever wins will be deserving. Carousel of Progress and Tike Room are good but I think their age will cost them the title.
From Don Neal on March 12, 2010 at 6:38 AM
This is a tough bracket. Its Tough to be a Bug and Carousel of Progress are two of my favorites as well.

I agree that the content isn't all that original but I think that the fact that the show ranks so high for so many is a credit to it despite the classic content. This category is one of my favorites. Considering the big parks, I can't think of a single instance of this ride type that I don't enjoy. But Philharmagic sucked me in the first time I saw it and has not let go. It's just so smooth and seamless. And I am no where near a Disney fan-boy as someone pointed out. It's not the most thrilling, cutting edge attraction on the planet but it delivers.

From Randy Scott on March 12, 2010 at 3:56 PM
Mickey's PhilharMagic is like an old friend. Sure it's dated but it is a classic and we always make a point of going to it once or twice per visit. Disney could do an update and include scenes and smells from the newest princess movie. Just a thought though. It's unique and truly Disney as is.
From Randy Scott on March 12, 2010 at 4:36 PM
BTW,

We don't live anywhere near WDW. So, we don't get to go there as often as you folks. We have been to WDW 7 times over the past 8 years. We usually spend at least 5 days on site every time we visit. I think that that makes a difference in our perception of WDW. It always seems fresh when we visit and we can't hit everything every time. I think that if we lived closer and had season tickets the whole experience might get kind of stale.

We are huge Disney fans and we occasionally debate the pro's and con's of living close and being able to visit on a weekly/monthly basis. I think that we have decided that it is better to live where we do and visit occasionally. Someone once said that familiarity breeds contempt. I think that may be true based on what I've read. Contempt is too strong of a word but I'm open to a lesser one.

From Joshua Counsil on March 15, 2010 at 10:08 PM
I have reseeded my bracket because I did it incorrectly the first time through. Also, I changed one of my choices.

Round 1

1. Mickey's PhilharMagic at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
16. Epcot's Circle of Life

8. Mystery Lodge at Knott's Berry Farm
9. Epcot's Reflections of China

4. Epcot's American Adventure
13. Hall of Presidents at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

5. Walt Disney: One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios
12. Disneyland's Enchanted Tiki Room

2. Epcot's Impressions de France
15. Epcot's O Canada!

7. It's Tough to be a Bug! at Disney's Animal Kingdom
10. Carousel of Progress at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

3. Universal Studios Hollywood's Terminator 2: 3D
14. Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

6. MuppetVision 3D at Disney's Hollywood Studios
11. Universal Studios Florida's Shrek 4-D

Quarterfinals

1. Mickey's PhilharMagic at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
9. Epcot's Reflections of China

4. Epcot's American Adventure
5. Walt Disney: One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios

2. Epcot's Impressions de France
7. It's Tough to be a Bug! at Disney's Animal Kingdom

3. Universal Studios Hollywood's Terminator 2: 3D
6. MuppetVision 3D at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Semifinals

1. Mickey's PhilharMagic at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
4. Epcot's American Adventure

7. It's Tough to be a Bug! at Disney's Animal Kingdom
3. Universal Studios Hollywood's Terminator 2: 3D

Finals

1. Mickey's PhilharMagic at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
3. Universal Studios Hollywood's Terminator 2: 3D

Winner: 3. Universal Studios Hollywood's Terminator 2: 3D

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Previous article: Disney to sell annual pass good for all its U.S. theme parks



How to save money on a Disney World trip

Saving money at Disney World

Insider's Pick: You can afford that Walt Disney World family vacation of your dreams. Get started with 102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World, a great guide to planning an affordable trip to the Vacation Capital of the World. Why wait? The sooner you start saving, the sooner you and your family will be enjoying your vacation!

Get it! In paperback | For Kindle | For iBooks