Review: ‘Disney Enchantment’ fails as a successor to ‘Happily Ever After’ at the Magic Kingdom

It’s time for us to talk about Disney Enchantment, the Magic Kingdom’s current fireworks show. The nighttime spectacular first debuted to guests about a month ago to mixed reactions. So, now that the show has been running for a bit, what do we think of Disney Enchantment?

Let’s first be clear about what Disney Enchantment isn’t.

It’s not a show for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary despite debuting on the anniversary. If you’re hoping for nods to Disney’s past, or Walt Disney World’s past, or attractions, or Walt Disney, or even Mickey Mouse, you’ll be disappointed. We’re not going to argue about the show’s content as that would deserve its own article.

Unfortunately, it’s also not a good replacement for Happily Ever After, the Magic Kingdom’s previous nighttime show.

Disney Enchantment is a tribute to animated Disney films with an emphasis on recent releases. It uses fireworks, lasers, and projections on Cinderella Castle and Main Street USA to bring its story to life. Angela Bassett lends her voice to narrate portions of the show.

Fireworks in Disney Enchantment

We don’t want to be too negative here – it’s fireworks behind Cinderella Castle and that’s always awesome – but the show feels like it was rushed. The result is sloppy. The story, and that’s using the term loosely, is a clip show that jumps from movie to movie without any real connecting themes.

The real sore spot with Disney Enchantment lies with its projections and music.

Disney Enchantment‘s projections are a step down compared to Happily Ever After. Where Happily Ever After‘s scenes were created specifically for the show, Disney Enchantment simply projects existing scenes using Cinderella Castle as a screen.

Here’s an example where both shows feature Moana.

Disney Enchantment:

Moana in Disney Enchantment

The Moana scene is difficult to decipher. Everything is thrown on top of Cinderella Castle.

Happily Ever After:

Moana in Happily Ever After

Note how different the scene is here. The torches, sail and even Moana herself are placed with the castle’s architecture in mind.

Perhaps the best example comes at the end of each show.

Disney Enchantment:

Ending of Disney Enchantment

The closing scenes of Disney Enchantment cycles through a few animated characters. Hercules is shown above thrown on top the 50th medallion. The characters appear in spots where it’s difficult to make out what’s going on. The projections are sporadic and confusing.

Happily Ever After:

Ending of Happily Ever After

Meanwhile, Happily Ever After‘s ending transforms Cinderella Castle into a stained glass work of art where each character has a dedicated spot.

Remember when legendary Disney animators created new scenes just for Happily Ever After?

You can tell the same amount of time and effort wasn’t used for Disney Enchantment.

So, what about the new projections on Main Street USA? This is undeniably a fun new feature, but it has a lot of room for improvement. The Main Street USA projections are extremely basic. Some guests have described them as looking like an old computer screensaver.

Disney Enchantment‘s music is also a mixed bag. Disney decided to use a mix of covers rather than the actual songs themselves. Some are good. Others … well, we’d rather hear the original singers.

Finally, Tinker Bell. We love Tinker Bell’s flight and we’re thrilled it’s still in the new show. We do think the build up to her flight is better in Happily Ever After, but that’s debatable.

Overall, Disney Enchantment feels like a step back from the achievements that made Happily Ever After so enjoyable. In many ways it feels like the prequel and Happily Ever After feels like the upgraded sequel despite debuting in 2017. The goosebumps meter greatly favors the older show.

New Walt Disney World visitors may love Disney Enchantment as it stands fairly well in isolation. If you’ve never seen any of the old shows you don’t know what you’re missing. But, for guests who are familiar, Disney Enchantment is mostly forgettable.

Happily Ever After only ran for four short years. Is it bad we hope this version of Disney Enchantment has a similar – or shorter – fate?

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David is a Disney travel expert who created Notes from Neverland in 2018 after visiting Disney theme parks countless times. Previously, David spent way too much time writing about sports, and was featured in Sports Illustrated, MSN, Yahoo!, and in many other publications. Learn more or contact us.

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