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Disney's 'Once Upon a Time' castle show doesn't disappoint

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Walt Disney World has added a good-night story to its lineup at Magic Kingdom.

"Once Upon a Time" is the latest in the lineup of projection shows in the theme parks, and it essentially replaces the retired "Celebrate the Magic" show on the exterior walls of Cinderella Castle. It's a fresh coat of paint.

The new production, not to be confused with the TV show of the same name that airs on Disney-owned ABC, features "Beauty and the Beast" character Mrs. Potts telling stories to her son Chip before bed.

A version of the "Once Upon a Time" castle projection show, which is at Tokyo Disneyland, is coming to Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom starting Nov. 4, 2016.

What unfolds are special effects digitally thrown on the castle, visually representing Mrs. Potts' tales and sometimes playing mind games with its theme-park audience.

My favorite parts of these shows actually are those moments when I can get lost in the graphic appeal — the trippier the better. "Once Upon a Time" does not disappoint. The arrival of "Alice in Wonderland" can usually guarantee that, but even the Winnie the Pooh segment strays far (and briefly psychedelically) from Hundred Acre Wood.

I'm not bothered, though. Pooh has more screen time than I would have guessed beforehand.

The range of looks is fascinating. During Peter Pan's flight above London, the screen/castle appears flat. Later, during the fight scene between (spoiler alert) Gaston and Beast, the texture of the building enhances the three-dimensional aspect of the production. And Disney has maintained the many ways it can reimagine the castle visually, including a maneuver we'll call "tumbling turrets."

"Once Upon a Time," like any good story, is loaded with characters. Among those seen are Pinocchio, Tinker Bell, Ariel, Aladdin with Genie (and later with Jasmine), some "Lion King" types, Cinderella with her prince and the Fairy Godmother, who sets off the initial sequence of special effects.

Unless I'm forgetting something, there are no Pixar pals — and no Mickey Mouse.

Of course, the heroines of "Frozen" are on hand, and Anna gets a starring role with "For the First Time in Forever." On the night I attended, this could have been retitled "Frozen Singalong: Main Street USA Edition." The people of Arendelle are still speaking.

Mrs. Potts' last story is "Beauty and the Beast," and the stained-glass retelling looks mighty rich and maybe even more high-def than in the past.

Disney is no stranger to projection techniques. Aside from earlier productions at Magic Kingdom, it has put imagery onto the Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom as well as "Star Wars" scenes on the Chinese Theater at Disney's Hollywood Studios. A holiday projection show called "Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam" debuts at the Studios on Nov. 14.

The "Once Upon a Time" finale reprises some of the more special effects, basically in reverse order — I really liked the honeycomb and bees part — building up to more turret turns, a pinch of pyro, then fade to black ... and then slowly back to the holiday lighting currently dangling from Cinderella Castle.

Show time is a moving target. In the next few weeks, it's listed as early as 6:45 p.m. and as late as 10:45 p.m. — that would be after the "Wishes" fireworks. Plus, there are several nights when the park is closed for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party celebrations. It pays to double-check using the My Disney Experience app or at before heading out. or 407-420-5477

This is from by What's on tap at the theme parks for November

It is from

Return to Orlando Sentinel Travel News.

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