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Review: The Magic, the Memories, and You at the Magic Kingdom

By Dave Shute

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When Walt Disney World announced it would have a new show at the Magic Kingdom that would include projection of guest photos onto Cinderella’s Castle, I was underwhelmed.

The tie to Disney’s current ad campaign made me think this would be an uninteresting marketing stunt, and was the castle forecourt so un-crowded before Wishes that more people needed to be enticed to it?

I suffered from a failure of the imagination. Disney World did not. The Magic, the Memories, and You is spectacular.


While not giving away any specifics, even though each showing does include 500 photos of guests in the Magic Kingdom that day, The Magic, the Memories, and You is really about the magic and the memories, not about the photos.

The transformations to Cinderella’s Castle that happen during the show are spectacular and jaw-dropping.

This show may be even more impressive to returning visitors than to first time visitors. First timers may think “Of course they can do that,” while returning visitors, used to a different role for the castle, are more likely to think “how did they do that?!”

If this is an example of Disney’s NextGen work, then I can’t wait to see what’s next!


When I first heard about The Magic, The Memories, and You, one of my questions was why Disney World was trying to entice even more people into the castle forecourt—the hub of the Magic Kingdom—in the evenings.

The current intention seems to be to have the show play nightly, and twice on nights with two runs of the evening parade.

Crowds waiting for the fireworks or the second parade already make this space unbelievably packed. Why entice even more?

I now have a different thought. The intent was not to draw more people–it was to improve the experience of those already there.

One of the principles believed to be behind Disney’s NextGen project is to reduce the negatives of waiting in line.

Well, there’s no “line” for Wishes or for the evening parade…but there’s plenty of waiting! And this new show adds tremendous value to the experience of waiting for Wishes, or waiting for the second parade on nights that have one.

Moreover, unrelated to NextGen, it also provides the possibility of a neat new park-closing show for the low season nights when not even Wishes is scheduled to show.

One of the reasons for the less-frequent showing of Wishes during the less crowded times of the year is the tremendous variable cost of expending all those fireworks–I’d estimate that it’s in excess of $50,000 a show…

The Magic, The Memories, and You has a different cost structure—it’s basically a fixed cost show. That is, most of the costs associated with it were incurred in its design and installation.

Actually showing it is much less expensive than showing Wishes, as the variable costs are really just some time associated with picking and categorizing the photos to be shown, and of course some electricity.

As a result, if it chooses to do so, Disney can add value to more evenings that have no showing of Wishes without incurring a large incremental expense.

It remains to be seen whether this is how they will treat the show…but it’s encouraging to see that the economics are aligned with a higher quality visitor experience.

I also can’t wait to see if the technology associated with the show is also eventually incorporated into the evening fireworks themselves…!


Disney World suggests watching the show from the Castle forecourt, or from the bridges linking this hub to Tomorrowland and to Liberty Square.

This is basically right. While you can see many of the most interesting effects from further down Main Street, the best view comes from directly in front of the Castle.  The views from the bridges are ok.

Check the Times Guide for showtimes.



1 Sylvia { 07.30.12 at 12:33 pm }

Where’s the best place to be; to look the Mickey’s Once Upon a XMas time Parade? Should we buy tickets for December 20th or 21st. Which one is the best oneI should buy? Thanks 🙂

2 Dave { 07.30.12 at 1:26 pm }

Hi Sylvia, of the two nights I’d pick 20th…and see this on where to see it from,

3 Sylvia { 07.30.12 at 6:17 pm }

Thank you Dave. 🙂

4 Dave { 07.30.12 at 6:53 pm }


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