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by Fancy Free Diva

If you ask my just-turned-two-year-old what his favorite ride at Walt Disney World is, you might be surprised by his answer. It’s not a ride at all, in fact. I mean, sure, he loves Dumbo and gets a real kick out of climbing into a honey pot on the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, especially when it starts bouncing like Tigger. Fancy Free Son’s answer is even more surprising when you consider his personality: he is very active, loves climbing things, and, like most two-year-olds, he is very distractible. And yet, this attraction holds his attention – so much so that he is still talking about it and asking about it months after our last trip.


Fancy Free Son at WDW

If you’re a Disney fan, your mind is probably rushing through the other possibilities: is it TriCeratop Spin? Nope. Pirates of the Caribbean or the Haunted Mansion? Uh-uh. The Mad Tea Party teacups? Not even close. It’s Mickey’s PhilharMagic. Yep. This slightly-more-than-ten-minute show that requires guests to wear 3-D glasses (something that on any other attraction and under any other circumstances, my toddler absolutely abhors) captivates him. And, as a bonus for me (and, perhaps for all of the other parents out there, too): this attraction teaches an important lesson: the importance of using what we call our “listening ears.”

philharmagic sign

Mickey’s PhilharMagic, located in the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland

The story of the attraction is a familiar one. Mickey and the gang are getting ready for a philhar-magical concert. Mickey is going to conduct the magical orchestra using Yensid’s famous sorcerer’s hat, and the instruments will play themselves. Of course, Donald Duck is supposed to help set things up, but instead he lazily loafs around, shirking his duties by taking a nap. When Donald wakes up in a frenzy, he attempts to cut corners and grab a little bit of the glory that typically goes to Mickey for himself by putting on the sorcerer’s hat. This is where things start to get interesting.

The hat flies off Donald’s head in the chaos, and he has to search through famous scenes from Disney movie musicals in order to retrieve it. Over the course of his quest, Donald is Lumiere’s guest; he becomes part of Ariel’s world, and he empathizes with Simba, who just can’t wait to be king. Both he and the audience are splashed by water carrying brooms, a la Fantasia, and Donald even gets a pixie dusting from Tinker Bell herself before soaring over London and eventually ending up on a magic carpet ride with Aladdin and Jasmine.

Amid 4-D effects and fabulous music that makes you want to sing along, Donald’s quest is an epic one, and my toddler loves it. The end, however, is what has stuck with him, even months after our Disney trip. He’ll start the conversation asking, “Donald stuck wall?” Yes. One of the consequences of Donald’s actions is that he is blown out of an outraged tuba and into the back wall of the theatre, his webbed feet and tail-feathers flapping over the audience’s heads. And why does Donald get stuck in the wall? My son understands: “took Mickey’s hat…didn’t listen.” That’s the crux of the conflict. Mickey told Donald explicitly not to touch his hat, and Donald did anyway. The audience watches Donald’s frustration and ultimate punishment, as he does, indeed, get stuck in the wall at the end of the show.

Interestingly, it’s this part of the story that my son perseverates over: the fact that Donald gets stuck in the wall for not listening. Thus, not only does this attraction provide fun and entertainment, in the form of movies, music, and 4-D special effects, but it also has helped reinforce for my toddler the importance of listening. I think we can all agree that listening is a skill that most little kids (and some big kids) could use more practice with, and when little ones can learn about the importance of listening from Mickey and Donald (instead of their parents having to repeat themselves over and over), it’s best to take advantage of the opportunity.

Aside from the educational aspect of Mickey’s Philharmagic, there are other benefits, too. As I’ve said, the music is fantastic, and the show takes you through many of Disney’s great films in an air-conditioned theatre with cushioned seats. If you’re at the Magic Kingdom in the heat of summer or on a rainy day, Mickey’s Philharmagic could offer you a much-needed respite. In addition, in my experience, you never need a FastPass for this attraction; it almost always has walk-on availability. When you’re touring with small children, I find it helpful to alternate attractions that are outdoors or have lines with attractions that don’t. This strategy might work for your family, too.

If you need help planning your next Disney vacation, please contact contact Patricia with All for Dreams Travel, our favorite travel agent here at Tips From the Disney Divas and Devos. And remember, whatever you do: don’t skip Mickey’s Philharmagic. It’s entertaining, and there’s rarely a line. It’s educational, and it’s air-conditioned. Not only that, but if your little ones are anything like mine, they’ll be talking about this attraction long after your trip is over. What more could you ask for?


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