Music Behind the Ride: Mickey Mouse Revue

As Walt Disney World celebrates its 50th anniversary, I wanted to take a look at an opening day attraction that featured some of the company's most popular songs and characters.  In this edition of Music Behind the Ride, I'll be taking a look back at the stage show Mickey Mouse Revue.  

Walt Disney himself mentioned wanting an Audio-Animatronic show with all the Disney characters, but it would take several years after his passing for it to become a reality.  The theater with the Mickey Mouse Revue was located right beyond Cinderella Castle in Walt Disney World's Fantasyland.

The 8 minute preshow film showcased clips of original Mickey shorts, including Steamboat Willie, Mickey's Follies, The Band Concert, Thru the Mirror, Mickey and the Beanstalk and Fantasia, among others.  At the end, we see lots of clips of characters playing instruments and eventually live action characters dancing with kids around Disneyland to "The Mickey Mouse Club March". 

In the main theater, the large ensemble of animatronic characters holding instruments rose up from the center floor section.  The group is made of Minnie (violin), Goofy (string bass), Gus and Jaq (trombone), Mad Hatter (bass clarinet), Scrooge McDuck (guitar), Piglet (harmonica), Winnie the Pooh (kazoo), Rabbit (slide whistle), King Louie (xylophone and bass drum), Pluto (hi-hat cymbal), Huey/Dewey/Louie (trumpet), Abner Countrymouse (saxophone), Monty Citymouse (clarinet), Daisy Duck (cello), Kaa (playing his tail), Dumbo and Timothy Q. Mouse (tuba).  And of course in the center is our conductor - Mickey Mouse in tux and tails.  

The large character ensemble starts up a newly arranged medley of Disney classic songs: "Heigh Ho", "Whistle While You Work", "When You Wish Upon a Star" and "Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee".  As the instruments are featured, spotlights hit the characters and hoisted up and down.  

On a separate part of the stage, we see a silhouette of the Big Bad Wolf and the curtain rises to uncover animatronics of the Three Little Pigs.  They sing and play "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf".  Next we focus on another part of the stage showing Snow White, crouched down with her animal friends singing "I'm Wishing".  Nearby is the Seven Dwarfs playing "The Silly Song".    

We switch to another section and see Alice surrounded by the large flowers singing "All in the Golden Afternoon".  Next up is The Three Caballeros singing "The Three Caballeros" - their characters appear separately in various sections of the auditorium.  Next, The Fairy Godmother sings "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" and during the song, Cinderella transforms into her dress gown.  After that we see a silhouette of Cinderella and Prince Charming dancing to "So This Is Love".

We see Br'er Fox, Br'er Rabbit and Br'er Fox sing "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" and they are joined by the full ensemble and eventually all the past characters scenes are shown.  We see the characters from Cinderella, Snow White, Three Caballeros and Alice in Wonderland all sing and move together.  As Mickey turns to the audience to bow, they sing the end of the "Mickey Mouse Club Alma Mater".

The Mickey Mouse Revue was a Walt Disney World opening day attraction in October, 1971.  A few years later in 1973, the attraction was downgraded from an E-ticket attraction to D-ticket.  The show ran in the Magic Kingdom until 1980.  Instead of traditionally copying the ride's parts, the entire attraction was sent to Tokyo Disneyland.  It appeared in Tokyo Disneyland's 1983 opening day in Fantasyland where it (shockingly) stayed until 2009.  There were slight song adjustments in Japan, but there were no updated scenes or characters.    

The Walt Disney World theater sat empty for several years before becoming host to Magic Journeys  the 3D film (1987-1993) and then puppet stage show Legend of the Lion King (1994-2002).  Since 2003, the theater has been home to the 3D musical film Mickey's PhilharMagic - bringing it all full circle.  

The music for the revue was done by Disney World music director Buddy Baker - the show had different arrangements and singers from the film soundtracks.  A 1971 book & LP titled Mickey Mouse "This Is My Life" was released to promote the ride.  It featured music from some Mickey shorts and the original songs from the films featured in the attraction.  The opening number "Mickey Mouse Revue Overture" was featured on the 1978 compilation The Magical Music of Walt Disney.  The entire Japanese-translated show was featured on a Tokyo Disneyland Music Album in 2001. 

So that's the story behind one of Walt Disney World's opening day attractions that's generally forgotten.  It featured the park's first Mickey Mouse animatronic, and also animatronics used later in the Gran Fiesta Tour and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  Of course, it also has some of their best known songs at the time.  Where else can you see Dumbo play a tuba?!    

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  1. Maybe "Mickey Mouse Revue" is a beautiful Disney park ride. I love Disney.