Media from the cast member preview of Happily Ever After’s return to Magic Kingdom popped up online giving us our first complete look of the show. Disney announced that the show would be tweaked when it returned, but the castle show itself seems unchanged. Instead the tweak came in extending the show, not in length but in scope. Continuing the trend of Disneyland’s shows and using the components from Enchantment, Happily now has projection all along Main Street. Happily these Main Street projections address most of the issues that were present in the Enchantment version.
The most notable and best change is that the Main Street projections start along with the show. Enchantment’s started 5 minutes into the show, missing nearly a third of the show before being utilized. Enchantment’s use of projections made being on Main Street feel second-string, that they were giving scraps to those who couldn’t fit into the hub. Now they start a minute in, just after the intro narration. Right from the start it envelops everyone and makes it so those on Main Street are on more equal footing with those in the hub.
The projections themselves have also improved, the images are more complete and more clear. It was obvious in Enchantment that vibrant colors and high contrast help make the projections more identifiable. The use of vibrant colors is shown best in the Friendship segment, the use of strong color allows everything to stand out, it is impressive how well the cave of wonders visualizes. One of my favorite sections was the villain’s attack. From the volley of arrows raining down to a perfect extension of the effects on the castle. High contrast is used a lot to make everything stand out and feel impactful.
Occasionally the images still have some fuzziness to them. Parts such as Merida’s forest look a little muddled since the mass of green lacks contrast or vibrancy. The lack of sharpness seems to stand out in the final segment also where the stain glass seems more like a watercolor or a chalk drawing. This may be a stylistic choice but it seems odd that they would go from stained glass on the castle to something else on Main Street. Mirabel particularly looks off. I still need to see it in person but it looks a bit like the work of Homer’s makeup gun.
The thing that stood out to me was that with how well Happily Ever After’s new Main Street projections turned out it seems to imply that the choice to get rid of Enchantment happened early on. There didn’t seem to be any adjustments or additions made to the Enchantments show which I was expecting after I first saw it. Instead of trying to improve Enchantment, which they could have done, they instead just got to work on Happily Ever After and waited for Enchantment to end. Now that Happily Ever After is here, it is nice to see that the Magic Kingdom finally has a Main Street extension that compares to Disneyland’s.
Happily Ever After will return to the Magic Kingdom full time on April 3, 2023.