The big blue world beckons once again as “Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!” debuted in June 2022 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. The freshly reimagined return of this popular stage show invites guests into the undersea setting that charmed audiences around the world in the Disney and Pixar smash-hit animated film, “Finding Nemo.” Learn more about the updated show below.
1 – A Reimagined Retelling of Finding Nemo: The Musical
Fans of Disney and Pixar’s “Finding Nemo: The Musical,” which debuted at the theme park in 2007 and ran for more than 13 years, can breathe a sigh of relief as the show isn’t exactly new; it’s just a “reimagined retelling.” That means that the show still immerses audiences in the story of Marlin and Nemo – an overprotective clownfish father and his curious son – through a dazzling production that combines music, puppets, dancers, and animated backdrops.
As in the original production, Marlin and Nemo each go on a separate journey that ultimately teaches them how to love and understand each other better. Except in this adaptation of that beloved tale, the storytellers are a group of fish living at the Marine Life Institute. “This show incorporates many of the songs from the original musical, as well as amazing puppetry and live performers that fill the stage,” said show director James Silson, Disney Live Entertainment.
2 – Visually Inventive Storytelling
The 1,500-seat Theater in the Wild transports guests to an undersea world through innovative special effects, sound, and lighting. The theatrical puppetry of Michael Curry, who co-designed the richly detailed character puppets seen in the Broadway version of Disney’s “The Lion King.” Live performers operating animated puppets represent main characters such as Marlin, Nemo, and Dory. Some puppets are larger-than-life – such as Crush, the cool sea turtle nearly the size of a car.
Fans of the original show will see many familiar faces and some new ones. As always, the performers are outstanding, bringing enthusiasm and a whole lot of talent to their roles. Since the show has been on hiatus for over two years, I’m sure the performers are thrilled to be back on stage!
3 – New LED Video Wall is a Huge Upgrade
In addition to a new script, the show features new set pieces and a custom LED video wall that visually extends the physical sets on stage – including a 32-foot-long sunken submarine. “We’ve taken a new approach to the set for ‘Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!’,” said art director Matt Fiuza, Disney Live Entertainment. “We were inspired by 3D cut paper art and sculptures as we developed the scenic in the show. Our team had such an exciting time looking at our tank set through this brand-new lens of this watercolor sculpture aesthetic.”
The new video wall does add a lot to the overall look of the stage and visually adds a lot to the story. The colors are rich and vibrant. One negative, though, is that some set pieces from the original show have been removed, such as the scuba diver’s boat when Nemo is captured. In the original, it was an actual boat, and now the boat is just on the screen. Overall though, most guests may not remember the original show well enough and will likely be dazzled by the new screen. Be sure to look for some fun items on the screen, such as a Hidden Mickey, during the show!
4 – Shortened Show
The updated show clocks in at about twenty-five minutes. The original show ran just over forty minutes. Some scenes were cut, the story abbreviated, and some ariel stunts were also cut from the show. Even with the cuts, I felt the show flowed well, and we really didn’t miss anything. The story is much more streamlined, and sitting there for a twenty-five-minute show was much easier on the back and backside (the seats are still very uncomfortable) than sitting there for over forty. It will also be easier for younger children to enjoy the show. Forty minutes is a long time, and since you really need to get there at least thirty minutes before showtime, the shortened length is a bonus.
5 – Showtimes & Disney Genie+
“Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!” is performed multiple times daily at Theater in the Wild at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Currently, there are six performances a day. Performances are at 11:00 am, 12:00 am, 1:00, 2:30 pm, 3:30 pm, and 4:30 pm. Previously only five shows were offered during the day, so the shortened shows allow for an additional show. As always, be sure to check the My Disney Experience app for up-to-date showtimes.
“Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!” is also now included in Disney Genie+. Disney Genie+ is a paid upgrade that includes access to Lightning Lane (formerly the Fast Pass line) on select attractions, allowing guests to (theoretically) save time by skipping the standby line. Unless you are visiting during an especially busy time, such as Christmas week or Easter week, you won’t need to use one of your Genie+ selections for the show. There is usually plenty of seating for all guests.
Cast Members will open the standby queue for the show about thirty minutes before showtime and then let guests enter the theater about fifteen minutes before showtime. You’ll get a lovely 45-minute break from outdoor weather along with some fantastic entertainment!
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