Mickey’s Nutcracker – 30 Years Ago at Disneyland

In 1991, the former Videopolis stage in Fantasyland offered a holiday entertainment that could have easily become a long-running seasonal tradition at Disneyland. Mickey’s Nutcracker promised to be a contemporary version of the well-known Christmas entertainment but proved to be a quirky retelling of the beloved ballet with some dancing, some singing, and some other stuff that was just plain odd. And it was brought back only one more year, in 1992, before fading away into some happy (and rather confused) memories.

The stage itself (here seen from the Disneyland Railroad tracks, and from inside the seating area), certainly looked like any other holiday offering. The snowflake and candy cane motifs blended somewhat uneasily with the existing Videopolis dance club decor. At night, lighting erased the purple and teal of the contemporary architecture, leaving only the jolly colors of the holidays.

As in the classic ballet, the story begins at a Christmas party in a festively decorated home. Minnie Mouse has invited many of her friends, including Goofy, Tigger, Chip ’n Dale, Roger Rabbit, and a lot of… humans. Among them are lonely Conrad, socially awkward Tina, and “life of the party” Ethel. Oddly, not present is Mickey Mouse himself. 

Keeping things moving along is the genial Narrator, who is himself an invited guest to Minnie’s party. He brings her a gift that turns out to be… a Nutcracker Mickey Mouse. After all the guests have departed, the clock strikes midnight and to Minnie’s astonishment, her handsome Nutcracker Mickey is transformed into a life-sized Mickey Nutcracker Prince.

Mickey introduces his “troops,” a quartet of leggy chorines led by a Captain of the Guard who Minnie notes bears a striking resemblance to socially awkward Tina. They perform a snappy tap dance to a souped-up version of the March of the Toy Soldiers.

As the applause dies down, Minnie’s midnight fantasy is interrupted by the appearance of the Rat King and his three Hench Rats. Since it is 1991, this is a Rappin’ Rat King, who is actually a cursed prince whose spell can only be broken by… sugar. So of course, he hates sugar ’n spice, Christmas, and most of all… cheery nutcracker mice.

There follows an epic dance battle, set against a background of a deliriously synthesized Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Despite some well-placed high kicks from the soldiers, the rats prevail, but Minnie saves the day and banishes the rappin’ rat and his henchmen. Or Hench Rats.

To show his appreciation, Nutcracker Mickey offers to take Minnie to his kingdom, which he calls Candyland. As they travel via enchanted coach, they hear the familiar strains of the Waltz of the Flowers, which heralds the arrival of… snowflake ballerinas. And the arrival of the Queen of the Snowflake Forest, herself. The Queen, sailing above the stage in her special snowflake-mobile bears a striking resemblance to Minnie’s friend Ethel.

The Queen and her snowflakes serenade Minnie and her handsome prince with song and dance, before bidding them farewell as they continue on to Candyland. Little do they know that the Rat King is hot on their trail!

After a greeting from the Mayor, who bears a striking resemblance to Goofy, Minnie is acclaimed the heroine of Candyland and is serenaded by a series of songs and dances based on the Chinese Dance, Dance of the Reed Flutes, and the Russian Dance. These are performed by characters who bear a striking resemblance to… everybody else that was at Minnie’s party.

As Minnie prepares to depart Candyland, the narration takes an odd and ominous turn. We quickly discover that the Rat King has tied up the Narrator, stolen his storybook, and is literally tearing up Minnie’s happy ending. His evil plot is to simply end the show, thereby keeping Christmas from arriving in Candyland.

Before he can bring up the house lights and send the audience home, however, Nutcracker Mickey bops him with a sack of sugar, and the sweetness breaks the Rat King’s evil curse. Lo and behold, the Rat King is actually a handsome prince, who bears a striking resemblance to Minnie’s lonely friend Conrad.

Before you can say “Tchaikovsky is rolling in his grave,” Tina is matched up with Conrad and Nutcracker Mickey declares Minnie the Princess of Candyland. With a fanfare and finale based on the Miniature Overture, the cast happily takes their bows and brings another performance of Mickey’s Nutcracker to a properly jolly farewell. Curtain!

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