Capturing the Magic: A Night with Disney Animation at The Hollywood Bowl

The Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Concert at the renowned Hollywood Bowl unfolded like a dream sequence from the first strains of familiar melodies to the climactic performances. This wasn’t just a night celebrating the splendor of Disney’s animated history but also a testament to its far-reaching impact on fans and enthusiasts.

Saturday, August 5, 2023, marked a magical evening I’ll forever cherish. Joined by three of my closest friends, our quartet, true to the spirit of Disney, wore Disneybound, each taking inspiration from iconic Disney characters. Draped in a dress with a green skirt and a scalloped purple top, I channeled the spirit of Ariel, the Disney princess whose name I proudly share. Beside me, Stefanie, my best friend, and cohost of Happiest Pod On Earth, paid homage to Mulan’s warrior disguise, Ping, with her olive button-up and sleek black pants. Liz shimmered in her turquoise flowy romper, embodying the free spirit of Jasmine, while Dawn’s wine-colored skirt, blue top, and pink cardigan perfectly mirrored Mulan.

The journey to the Hollywood Bowl was made convenient by the dedicated Hollywood Bowl bus. While I’m no stranger to the allure of the Bowl, each visit feels as enthralling as the first. We packed a delightful picnic basket per the venue’s tradition for non-lease events. Red wine flowed (which I tactfully sidestepped owing to an allergy), complemented by ginger ale, sparkling water, assorted cheeses, crackers, dried and fresh fruits, chocolates, and a generous serving of prosciutto. And as a nod to Stefanie and my Filipina heritage, we indulged in homemade turon, a crispy, sweet testament to our roots.

As the evening commenced, it dawned on us that we were not just celebrating an ordinary showcase. The Walt Disney Company will soon mark its 100th anniversary on October 16, 2023. Founded by the visionary brothers Walt and Roy Disney in 1923, this event was a musical tapestry weaving together a century of animated dreams.

The concert was a harmonious journey through the most iconic songs and film moments of Walt Disney Animation Studios, spanning from the timeless Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to the recent sensation Encanto. Under the baton of the talented conductor Thomas Wilkins, the LA Phil brought to life the magic of Disney’s musical legacy. The evening was even more special, with magical film clips projected on the big screen, allowing the audience to relive their favorite animated moments.

Two remarkable hosts, Susan Egan, and Adassa, graced the evening. With her sultry and powerful voice, Egan is best known as the voice behind Megara in Hercules. It was a real treat to watch her perform Megara’s song “I Won’t Say I’m in Love,”, especially with the animation of her character playing alongside on the big screen. Her performance not only captivated us, transporting us back to ancient Greece but also charmed us with her witty banter, adding a light-hearted touch to the emotional weight of the music. Adassa, celebrated for her role as Dolores in Encanto, brought her unique charm, complementing Egan’s presence perfectly. Together, they guided us through this musical odyssey. The Hollywood Bowl’s screens were masterfully utilized, displaying beloved imagery and animation accompanying each performance, further immersing the audience in the Disney universe.

One of the standout performances of the evening was the Disney Heroes Medley, which included hits like “One Jump Ahead” from Aladdin, “Go the Distance” from Hercules, “Out There” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and “Lost in the Woods” from Frozen 2. This medley was beautifully rendered by Adam J. Levy, whose voice resonated with the spirit of these iconic heroes.

Another unforgettable moment was when a chorus of five voices (Egan, Adassa, Shoba Narayan, Anneliese van der Pol, and Syndee Winters) sang the anthem “Into the Unknown” from Frozen 2. The multi-layered harmonies added a fresh dimension to this familiar tune, making it feel nostalgic and novel. And for those with a penchant for Disney’s darker side, the villain’s medley was a treat. Songs like “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” “Be Prepared,” and “Mother Knows Best” were masterfully performed by van der Pol and Levy, creating an atmosphere of delightful mischief. creating an atmosphere of delightful mischief.

Yet, the show’s standout moment was a rendition of “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” from The Lion King. What set it apart was the choir of students from the Orange County School of the Arts, who took on Simba’s verses. Contrasted by a solo act for Zazu’s lines, this choice added depth and a fresh twist to a classic.

As the harmonies swirled around, I felt an overwhelming rush of nostalgia. Some melodies triggered tears, not of sadness but of profound appreciation for the artistry and memories associated with them.

While the Hollywood Bowl has seen countless performances, this Disney Animation showcase was unparalleled. For a lifelong fan like me, it seamlessly bridged the world of cinematic nostalgia with the tangible euphoria of live music. The evening, rich in its tapestry of performances, stood as a testament to the enduring legacy of Disney’s animated stories. As the performers aptly put it, even though they could only touch upon a handful of films, the universal theme among all these Disney tales is their lasting impact. Disney’s vision of bringing people together was palpably felt that night. Whether you’re a seasoned “Bowler” or a first-timer, I wholeheartedly recommend experiencing such a magical event at least once in your lifetime.

Share your story if you’ve ever had a magical experience at The Hollywood Bowl or with Disney’s timeless animations. Let’s keep the magic alive.

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