My 8 year old daughter was very excited when we surprised her and a close friend (a 5 year old girl) with tickets to “Disney On Ice, Let’s Celebrate!”
This was our first trip to the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. The bail bond places and homeless shelters along the road to the arena make the area feel a bit shady. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon though, so we parked a short walk from the stadium for $5. We felt very safe on the short walk, in the sunshine, to the arena. The arena does have an attached parking garage, and it was $10 for parking there for this event. If we had gone to a night time event, I would not hesitate to pay the extra money to have shorter and more secure walk to the arena entrance.
Once at the arena, we were very impressed by the facilities and the staff. Lots of very friendly folks with directions and assistance for finding our seats. The arena is clean, comfortable, and easy to navigate. The arena runs snackbar that was also nice – a bit pricey, but within reason for this type of thing.
The Disney product vendors were another story though. The pricing was through the roof. $10 for a small bag of cotton candy, $7 for a box of popcorn. $20 for a little light up toy. On the way out of the event, $5 Mikey Mouse shaped balloons (not helium) were being bought up by tired looking parents. On the short walk back to our car, we heard three of them pop. Apparently, $5 balloons have a very short shelf life.
But on to the show. It was great. My daughter and her friend loved it. Big smiles all around. I wasn’t sure the two girls would sit through a two hour skating show at their age, but they did.
I was a bit concerned early on, as the show started a bit slow. There was some skating and talk of an un-birthday party (as none of the characters happened to have a birthday that day). The Mad Hatter and other characters from Alice In Wonderland skated about – but that was lost on many of the children in the audience, as they are to young to have seen that particular Disney movie.
Next, if I am keeping the order straight, came a Fantasia themed skit. The Fantasia reference was also lost on our kids – but the adults enjoyed it. The choreography was very impressive. The skating and colorful lighting and somewhat bizarre and beautiful appearance of it all really brought back memories of Fantasia. If the kids didn’t quite get it, well, that’s ok. Who really understands Fantasia? It’s just fun to watch.
Then there was the villain revue. All the evil characters skating together. It was a bit odd. After the show, we heard many people asking the same thing we were… who was that skeleton character. He played the main role in that segment, but no one around us had a clue as to who he was.
After getting home, I was able to figure it out. “Jack Skellington is the protagonist in the Disney film Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. Jack is the “Pumpkin King” of Halloween Town,” according to Wikipedia.
At this point in the show, it began to really shine. The show went from being a little slow, odd, different – to being upbeat and fun. It became the Disney show we were hoping for. Princes and princesses, fairy godmothers, Tinkerbell, and other characters from the shows our children (and their parents) know and love. Here is the romance and beauty that is so artfully displayed through ice skating.
My daughter beamed when Arial showed up. She beamed again when Mulan appeared, saying “Daddy – look, it’s your favorite!” Indeed, I have to admit that as a father who wants smart and strong role-models for my daughter, I’m glad the show included Mulan. They also included a very nice nod to both Japanese and Chinese cultures.
I also enjoyed the New Orleans segment, and my daughter and wife both enjoyed the Lilo and Stitch segment. A surprise to me, since neither are really Lilo and Stitch fans. But that particular performance and a surprise within the performance was loads of fun.
We left with very happy kids. It was great fun. The only unhappiness we heard on the way out were kids crying due to not getting an overpriced toy, and those who got overpriced balloons – only to have them pop before they even got to their cars.