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Farewell to the Best Show in Theme Park History

January 9, 2016, 1:45 PM · The Aladdin musical closes at Disney California Adventure tomorrow night, marking the final performance of the best live show in theme park history.

Disney's Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular

Theme Park Insider readers selected Aladdin as their pick for "Best Live Show" in last year's Theme Park Insider Awards, and the attraction continues to rank as our readers' favorite Disney theme park attraction in the United States.

I saw the show yesterday afternoon for what likely will be my final time. Aladdin is the only live show I've ever seen that got better with year performance. When "Disney's Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular," (its official title) opened in December 2002, it was a good show — by far the best attraction in the then-struggling Disney's California Adventure theme park. But Aladdin improved consistently over the years, growing from an entertaining show to a wildly hilarious must-see attraction.

Aladdin and the Cave of Wonders

If you are in Southern California and for whatever reason have not seen Aladdin, do yourself a favor and buy a ticket to California Adventure tomorrow (Sunday), the show's final day. Get there when the park opens at 9 am and go directly to the Hyperion Theater in Hollywood Land to get a Fastpass for one of the day's shows. The energy inside that theater on its final day will make you fall in love with live theater... if you haven't fallen in love with it already. Though I must warn that you will feel a twinge of regret for not having seen this show before now, when you could have had the opportunity to enjoy it many more times.

Aladdin is closing to make way for a new live musical production based on Disney's Frozen. It will be unfair to judge that new production against Aladdin, for the simple reason that even Aladdin, when it opened, wasn't anywhere near as good as it is now.

The Genie

The key to Aladdin's long-running success has been Disney's willingness to keep changing the show. Recognizing that one of the best parts about the 1992 animated musical was the late Robin Williams' inspired riffs on pop culture, Aladdin's production team supplied the DCA show's Genie with an ever-changing supply of fresh jokes — an arsenal that's grown even more powerful over the years.

Aladdin in trouble with Jafar

Here's what might have been the best joke from yesterday. When the evil Jafar demands that the Genie make him sultan (c'mon people, we're over considering anything a spoiler at this point, aren't we?), the Genie complied... then paused for a loooong moment. As the theater grew restless at what seemed like a flaw in the production, the Genie took on a pained expression, then said, "there's been a mistake — Miss Philippines is actually the sultan."

I though that Disney was going to have to call in paramedics, because people in the audience were dying. I'm sure that Anna and Elsa's legions of fans will adore the new Frozen show, but there's no way that franchise has the potential to deliver the my-stomach-is-cramping-and-tears-are-coating-my-face laughter that Aladdin is delivering in its final weekend.

And that Steve Harvey joke wasn't even my favorite gag in the show. That would be the Genie's final dismissal of Iago as "a Tiki Room reject," a quip that flies over the heads of many California fans, who aren't aware that, at Walt Disney World, Iago literally was a Tiki Room reject.

Aladdin and Jasmine

So, farewell, Aladdin, and congratulations to everyone involved in its production. You have earned every honor you've been given over the years, including those from us. We hope that Aladdin's success will continue to inspire the theme park industry to create even more wildly entertaining live productions in the years to come.

Replies (24)

January 9, 2016 at 2:48 PM · Best theme park show ever. And maybe the best attraction in DCA. I don't think there's even a runner up.
January 9, 2016 at 3:51 PM · Frozen claims another one.
January 9, 2016 at 4:06 PM · I saw the show this past September and it was too good to only see it once. The production was truly amazing! It was the perfect way to take a break from the walking in the park and just sit down and enjoy a hilarious show. So sad it is leaving tomorrow. I hope the new Frozen show is as good as Aladdin or otherwise DCA will have lost one of its best attractions.
January 9, 2016 at 4:51 PM · The first time I saw it, my mom required handicapped assistance. We sat in the last row of level 1 right by the doors. The entrance of the elephants almost made me cry. They were that magnificent! Aladdin has always been my favorite movie so it is with deep sadness I say goodbye.
January 9, 2016 at 5:30 PM · I'm not really a show person when it comes to theme park productions, but Aladdin is one of the few shows I really enjoy. I probably watched it 2-3 times per year (depending on how many visits I made) and every performance ranged from very good to outstanding. The show is essentially a 45 minute Broadway production and until the ticket price got to $60+ it was worth the cost of admission. I went to see the show one final time last month and I'm still sad that it is leaving. While Aladdin has played for 13 years and was arguably getting a bit dated, the fact that the theater was always at least 3/4 full except on the least crowded days said something about the quality of the performance. Farewell, Aladdin...you will be missed.
January 9, 2016 at 5:35 PM · I love Finding Nemo at Animal Kingdom even more, but there's no doubt that Aladdin is a truly magnificent show. The Genie lifts it to another level. It will be sorely missed.
January 9, 2016 at 5:49 PM · Buy the 2 or 3 day SoCal residents deal. It's a better deal than the one day pass. I seen this show so many times that it's a habit. May Frozen be just as loved, but it will be different. Some interesting tidbits. The magic carpet rig failed at one time and they put the sequence on the stage instead for "A Whole New World." The major complaint in the beginning was it was a long show that clocked at 45 minutes thus taking lots of guests time. They improved the show, but didn't shorten it. Anyways, the original complaint never made sense since the park was a half day park then. Now, it is a gem and well worth the length.

The photo showing Aladdin and Jasmine at their wedding originally didn't have a formal gown for Jasmine. She previously wore her two piece greenish outfit at the finale. It took a few years for them to finally give her a decent wedding gown.

January 9, 2016 at 6:33 PM · The Aladdin show IS the Fantasmic of DCA, not World of Color, which is not even close. Frozen might be new for a while, but no way will it have the staying power of Aladdin. I don't understand the rationale of replacing it, maybe they expect Aladdin to be a traveling Broadway show, or maybe they think that shows should only have a certain run time, but they are making a big mistake here. If they want to have a Frozen show, replace the anemic Mickey and the Magical Map show.
January 10, 2016 at 12:09 AM · Is this the same show as on DCL? Great show!
January 10, 2016 at 6:27 AM · The DCL show is a very close version, but due to the size constraints, its a bit abridged on the special effects.

I am surprised that Disney is getting rid of this show. I have seen it and it is one of the best shows in ANY Disney park. The closest show to come to it is Festival of the Lion King which is a very different show.

Maybe it will get another life in DHS?

January 10, 2016 at 7:22 AM · I love Disney but I wish the people running Disney parks had more brains. I read an article about how it took a Disney exec going to a Disney on Ice show years ago and seeing moms who homemade their daughters' princess costumes for the exec to ask why the moms didn't buy official Disney costumes. At the time, Disney did not bother to make such costumes. The moms said they would happily buy them if they made them. And thus the exec stumbled into a billion dollar Princess Line of products that Disney had refused to make up to that point. I think Disney really has a problem with its executives in that they don't ever understand what people really like and hunger for. The Aladdin show is an example of how people enjoy comedy and jokes with some bite to them. Yes, keep it family friendly, but give it a fun edge. Most Disney shows are sugary-sweet and the songs are mostly about "wishes" or "dreams" or other generic Disney flotsam. The Aladdin show was so good because it was creative and a little edgy and had something grownups could enjoy with their brains, even if some jokes went over the heads of little kids. People don't want to sit through only "wishes" and "dreams" saccharine singing all day. Disney should buy a clue and understand this.
January 10, 2016 at 10:48 AM · So infuriated about Frozen replacing Aladdin. Aladdin was one of the best shows that I've ever seen. Last year I saw it 12 times. Honestly, TDA really dropped the ball with this one. There's no way that Frozen will ever be a adequate replacement for Aladdin. No matter how well they execute the shoe, the storyline of Forzen is just no match for Aladdin. Honestly Iger needs to go ASAP.
January 10, 2016 at 2:21 PM · Hey, Iger, since you seem to have picked up the habit of closing down shows lately (Captain EO, Aladdin...) can the next 2 shows please be Epcot's Lion King show and Country Bears? That Lion King show is a disgrace to the movie it's representing and Country Bears is the most overrated theme park attraction ever.
January 10, 2016 at 4:42 PM · RIP Aladdin (show). I don't know how they can tweak Frozen into an interesting show, but I'm interested in finding out.
January 10, 2016 at 6:23 PM · Frozen is in a no-win situation out of the gate. If they don't have a character that improvs, there's no reason to rewatch the show. If they have someone like Olaf improvise his lines, then people will say it's a rip-off of Frozen.

Personally, I wish Aladdin would stay. I like Frozen as a movie, but not as a stage show. Yes, it hasn't even come out yet as a show, but Frozen the movie just doesn't have the same charm as Aladdin the movie does.

Hopefully we are all wrong and Frozen at DCA will be a home run.

January 10, 2016 at 6:39 PM · I was fortunate to see it one more time! It was HILARIOUS as ever!!! So sad to see it go!!!! Why would Disney replace something so wonderful!?! It doesnt make sense. Very frustrating & makes me sad :(. I will truly miss the show!
January 10, 2016 at 8:40 PM · Caught it back in 2003, was already pretty fun back then and such, love the videos of the jokes since. A damn fun show that deserved a longer run.
January 11, 2016 at 12:20 AM · So sad to see it go. Every performance was amazing. The genie always had different shows and kept up with current events. I've been going for years and could see it everyday if I could.
January 11, 2016 at 8:59 AM · I loved the Aladdin show. I think Frozen is a bit too much right now as it seems to be everywhere. Even so, it's a great story as well, and should make a pretty spectacular stage performance. My biggest hope for the show is that they allow Olaf to do for Frozen what Genie did for Aladdin. Keep the pop culture jokes coming!
January 11, 2016 at 10:24 AM · Was lucky enough to watch the 2.20 show and the final show at 6.20 yesterday... so many emotions during both shows. The final show had some amazing one of a kind moments, fitting for the final show ever. At this point I'm resigned to the fact that Disney will be shoving Frozen down our throats for the next several years, I'm just more and more saddened that many classic Disney properties are losing their place at Disneyland. This show will forever be remembered as one of the best things to ever happen at either park. Thankfully it will live on via several youtube videos, of course it can't compare to actually being there. Visiting the parks won't ever be the same.
January 12, 2016 at 12:27 AM · Replacing Aladdin with Frozen shows immense contempt for theme park visitors. It's blatantly obvious that Disney cares about nothing except flogging their big franchise movies to the hilt. Who cares if Aladdin is still wildly popular and beloved? Hey, we gotta make sure that Frozen 2 is as big as Frozen 1! If the fans don't like it...they can lump it.
98.206.145.153 (the anonymous poster above) said it well. Disney execs have no clue what guests want because they never set foot in the parks. It's a miracle that the company does anything right, given the abundance of hopelessly out-of-touch suits getting grossly overpaid to do nothing useful except read spreadsheets.
Thanks for nothing, Disney, and I hope that the new show gets booed off the stage. I'm so sick of Frozen everything!
January 12, 2016 at 9:13 AM · So Disney doesn't care about their fans, hmmm? You know what? I totally agree! After all, it's not like there's any other theme park company out there who replaces attractions based on classic movies with attractions based on newer IPs that were a lot more popular at the time in order to make more money despite the fact that the former was still a very popular ride when it was closed. Oh, wait, there is, and it's called Universal. And they do this all the time. Whereas Disney only does this every once in a while. So why do we rag on Disney while Universal gets away with it? Simple: everyone wants to hate on every single thing that Disney does because they've become so obsessed with Universal that they're willing to come up with any excuses for any mistake Universal makes whereas even the tiniest slip-up that Disney makes is suddenly the end of all humanity. Want further proof? How about this: Universal is building a motion simulator, in a park already overcrowded with motion simulators, based on a late-night talk show host. Yet everyone keeps saying "Oh, you shouldn't judge it till it comes out!" Disney is building a Broadway-style musical based on a very successful film with an epic story and award-winning soundtrack. Yet everyone is already saying that this was a horrible mistake. Hypocrisy at it's finest, Ladies and Gentlemen. Moreover, what you all fail to realize is that Iger is listening to you. You're always complaining that Disney doesn't build enough attractions. Well guess what! Now they are!!!! They're doing this because you said that this is what you wanted, and now you're getting it. So don't blame Iger or anyone else at Disney: blame yourself.
January 12, 2016 at 11:02 AM · "I don't know how they can tweak Frozen into an interesting show, but I'm interested in finding out."

If you watched the Frozen show at Disneyland's Royal Theater and the Sing Along Show at California Adventure, there are plenty of ways to make Frozen equally beloved.

Olaf will be the Genie equivalent with opportunities to ad-lib his lines.

Hans and Wisselton will be the villians.

Anna will be the kind and gentle one like Jasmine.

Elsa will have powers like the genie and cause a snow storm in every show no different than the high energy elephant parade in Aladdin.

There will be romance between Anna and Kristoff no different than Aladdin and Jasmine. Both reluctant at first and flourishing in the end.

Of course, there will be trickery from Hans similar to Jafar.

The adaption of Aladdin to the stage changed the animated movie's approach. Frozen will have the same issues. It won't be the animated movie that you're sick of. I hope they add a new song.

January 12, 2016 at 1:44 PM · Not-so-fearless prediction: compared to Aladdin, Frozen will suck.

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