Manchester Arena’s Disney On Ice got kids dancing ‘under the sea’ and taught adults how to ‘let it go’

You don’t need me to tell you how tough the grown-up world is – the job, the bills, the rent, the cleaning, the daily grind. 

No excitement, no wonder, just the cold hard reality of life.

And how do we try to escape this monotony? Night out on the lash that leaves us feeling grim the next day?

Or how about a trip to that over-priced restaurant that piles so much on a burger it’s not a burger anymore.

And you’re so full you can’t walk when you leave to the cinema where they’re showing a ‘gritty reality’ drama just to lighten the mood.

Well, what if I told you I know a place where all your troubles will turn to glitter – a place filled with people you’ve grown up with and who never fail to make you smile?

It’s Disney On Ice and, as the fellow adult who came along with me (we weren’t totally out of place at all) pointed out, it is the campest thing you will ever see in your life.

It’s great, in fact, this is a bit of a journalistic ‘no no’ but I’d go so far as to say it’s MAGICAL.

We probably weren’t the only two people there without kids but it definitely felt like it.

Manchester Arena was packed with parents and their mini Queen Elsas… and more mini Queen Elsas. 

Basically a sea of blue sparkles and taffeta dotted with a couple of Sheriff Woodys and I’m sure I saw one Snow White – that littl’un knows it’s all about the classics. 

But as outnumbered as the grown-ups were, you can be certain the decision to go on this Disney adventure was entirely theirs without any persuasion needed. 

And when the lights went out and a spotlight on the ice revealed Mini and Mickey gliding out onto the stage, everybody’s eyes lit up with joy and excitement.

The legendary mouse duo were joined by Goofy and Donald Duck for a journey which took them and the audience through scenes from Toy Story 3, Little Mermaid, Cars, and Frozen.

Colourful lights, brilliant special effects, fabulous costumes, songs we all love to sing along to, and sparkles were abundant in every visually stunning performance.

But there were two things that really made the night.

The first was the skill, athleticism and elegance of every single one of the skaters. There were bold moves, pirouettes, daring lifts and graceful jumps aplenty.

Dancing on ice has always been a sport that astounds me. I’ve got two left feet on the dance floor and spend most my time on my bum or clutching the rail for dear life when I try to skate.

The fact these men and women can move so beautifully, perfectly in time with the music and executing challenging choreography while on blades on ice is astounding.

And the second greatest thing about the two-hour extravaganza was the unbelievable level of pure happiness in the arena.

Kids waved around their LED fairy wands and light sabres, everybody joined in with the songs, and there was loud and hearty laughter throughout.

It is hard, maybe even impossible, to worry about work or your stressful life when surrounded by hundreds of kids, beaming with joy and singing their hearts out, while their mums and dads try to act cool and pretend their not as filled with glee as their little ones.

They’re are a few truths this whole experience confirmed for me – laughter is the best medicine, everything is better with glitter, you’re never too old for Disney (especially not Disney On Ice), and kids these days really REALLY love Frozen.

So how does it feel to be a part of this wonder every day? After the show, I spoke to 28-year-old skater Leah Rogers, who has been with the show for four years and hopefully ‘many more to come’.

She said: “I love my job because there’s always a different and exciting audience to perform to, and every show is just as exciting as the first. 

“Each show is like a new burst of energy, every audience is different and exciting!

“And every show is rewarding. Seeing all the audience all dressed up in so many different Disney costumes is amazing!”

The skater, who is from Reading, was actually inspired to join Disney On Ice after going to a show when she was younger and hopes she inspires kids today.

“I always wanted to perform with Disney On Ice. I went to go watch them when I was younger and loved the combination of my favourite hobby and sport – iceskating – and the magic of Disney,” she said.

“I always hope we inspire both skater and non-skaters. And I love seeing all the kids and adults smiling in the audience.”

It is no surprise then that Lead is an avid fan of Disney, but like all true children at heart she still has her favourite and it is her favourite bit of the show too.

She said: “I love all the Disney films but my favourite is the Little Mermaid. I love being a part of the Under The Sea number every day.”

“Being a salsa fish for Under The Sea is my favourite part of the show –  the audience join in and there’s loads of special effects. It is such a fun number!”

But it’s not just performing Disney that makes Leah love her job so much, she also enjoys being part of a team who are constantly learning new things and exploring new places.

“We all warm-up and train together. We skate in our spare time and always want to learn new elements,” she said.

“We also travel all over the world and get to enjoy new experience – and food – all the time. Smoothies are my favourite!”

Disney On Ice performed for its final time in Manchester this evening but will continue its tour across the UK, finishing up in London on January 3 2016.

To find out more or get your tickets for one of the upcoming shows, click here.

Main image courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, via YouTube, with thanks.

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