Is the New Show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios REALLY Worth Seeing?

The new shows introduced in 2016 at Walt Disney World’s have best been characterized a mixed bag. Though we liked Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, many have criticized this projection-heavy show as feeling more like like a highlight reel than a nighttime spectacular, and failing to focus in on any particular theme or story. Conversely, the new Once Upon a Time castle projection show at the Magic Kingdom has been a huge success, with fans praising its cohesive story and impressive projection effects.

Interestingly, the new Christmas show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the truly unfortunately-named Jingle Bells, Jingle BAM, is an interesting hybrid of both of these shows. When this show works, it really works, but when it doesn’t, Jingle Bells, Jingle BAM falls pretty flat. However, we still think this show is worth seeing if you are planning to visit Walt Disney World this holiday season. And here’s why:

SPOILER WARNING: From here on we’ll be discussing specific show elements of Jingle Bells, Jingle BAM in depth. If you want to experience this attraction completely unspoiled, turn back now! Otherwise, scroll on…

1. Have you ever heard of Prep & Landing?

If you’ve never heard of the Disney characters Prep and Landing….you’re probably not alone. These elves starred in two made-for-TV specials and were also featured on the Disney Short Films collection DVD released last year. However, it looks like these often-forgotten characters have gotten an upgrade, as they are now the stars of the newest show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. And unfortunately if you’re not immediately familiar with them, prepare to be a little bit confused at first.

The show makes it very clear at the beginning that Santa is missing, but doesn’t really do a very good job of explaining how these elves (who, for the record, are adorably outfitted with spy gear) really fit into the show’s narrative, other than saying that these elves are going to find Santa. And after the show sets up its basic plot, things get even weirder….

2. Get ready for a Disney movie montage…and then another Disney movie montage!

Perhaps somewhat inexplicably, on their quest to find Santa, Prep and Landing head into the world of Disney movies, which means that clips from some of Disney’s greatest hits are projected onto the Great Movie Ride while Christmas Carols play in the background. Interestingly, the vast majority of the film clips displayed are not from Christmas movies, as guests will see Aurora and Prince Phillip dancing around, Joy and Sadness watching over Headquarters, and even Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps goofing around during montage segments.

However, even though some of these scenes don’t make total sense for a Christmas show, there are some fun little surprises in these montages that will please longtime Disney fans as well. One of our favorites was the completely unexpected appearance of Mr. Toad halfway through one of the montages!

Though the various film clip scenes are a little weird (and one of the elves seems to enter a hallucinatory state during one of them), not all is lost for Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM, as this show’s final act really pulls everything together in an ingenious way

3. The Nightmare Before Christmas saves the final act

Though the montage sequence is a little weird, the aforementioned hallucinatory elf sees Santa during this segment in a setting that he describes as “like a nightmare!” to which the other elf asks “Before Christmas?” And after that silly line, guests are plunged into the world of the Nightmare Before Christmas, where Santa has indeed been kidnapped by Lock, Shock, and Barrel, and is being held hostage by none other than Oogie Boogie himself.

During this sequence, this show takes a break from the montages of film clips set to holiday music, and switches gears a little, using songs from the Nightmare Before Christmas to truly transport guests inside not only Christmas Town, but Halloween Town as well.

The basic plot of The Nightmare Before Christmas then plays out on the walls of the Great Movie Ride before the Oogie Boogie Song takes over. And in a show that featured a saccharine version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas just two minutes earlier, the decision to play the Oogie Boogie song almost in its entirety seems like a bold choice. But even though the tonal shift is a little weird, this gamble really pays off, and creates a sense of urgency for the show, bringing some much-needed narrative focus to the show before its grand finale kicks off….

4. Fireworks are still very much so a one-sided affair…

After Santa has been saved (and Prep, Landing, and Santa all remark about how great the city of Orlando is), it is finally time for the show’s big finale, which features a jammin’ version of Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree that plays while lasers, strobes and pyrotechnics go off in the distance.

However, much like the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular show that preceded it, Jingle Bell Jingle BAM is using the same Fireworks launch site, which means that all of the fireworks will appear on the right side of the Great Movie Ride. While this isn’t all bad, it still makes the show’s finale feel a little uneven, and if you aren’t used to this setup by now, you might find the one-sided fireworks a little jarring at first.

Though Jingle Bells, Jingle BAM isn’t the most revolutionary show to be performed at Walt Disney World, this projection-based show is a lot of fun, and we actually found ourselves enjoying it even more than the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular show, which saw its final performance of 2016 last week, but is confirmed to be retuning in early 2017.

Are you planning on checking out the new Jingle Bells, Jingle BAM show this holiday season at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Let us know what you think!

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Don Korta

Tina & Don Korta are parents to 7 children and 4 grandchildren along with being the Owners of "Destinations with Character Travel".

Along with their Family of Agents, they are in the business of “Making Dream Vacations Come True”. At their travel agency, Destinations with Character Travel, Quality, Service, and Customer Satisfaction are the Priority. They offer premiere travel services for clients interested in Disney Destinations, Cruises, All-Inclusive Resorts, Southwest, Funjet & Apple Vacations, Sandals Resorts, Beaches Resorts and RIU Resorts, Universal, Orlando Area, Las Vegas, Branson, Graceland & Memphis Area, National Parks, Tours to over 250 destinations around the world through our partnership with; Adventures by Disney, Globus Tours, Tauck Tours and Kensington Tours. In addition, we have fabulous vacation packages through our partnerships with; Apple Vacations, Funjet Vacations, Pleasant Holidays and United Vacations, and many other travel experiences.
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