The magic of the new "Immersive Disney Animation" in northeast Minneapolis begins the moment you enter the darkened gallery space. Stars projected on the floor scatter in response to each step, as if controlled by a fairy godmother's wand.
Suddenly, the large room transforms into an African veldt, via images projected on all four walls and "Circle of Life" starts blaring.
True to its name, the experience is more "immersive" than the typical big screen, similar to Imax. Surrounded by rocky walls, you do feel like you've been dropped into the den of "Lion King" baby Simba.
The latest exhibit from Lighthouse Immersive, the creators of 2021's controversial "Immersive Van Gogh," returns to Lighthouse Artspace with a fresh take on another familiar favorite. In collaboration with Walt Disney Animation Studios, they've assembled an hourlong medley spanning nearly a century's worth of films.
The clips skim the surface of Disney's extensive canon — from early classics such as "Bambi" to modern ones like "Encanto." There are scenes from several megahits, including "Frozen," but also deep tracks. (I thought I had average Disney awareness, but had never even heard of 2009's "The Princess and the Frog" or 2016's "Zootopia.")
The show's best moments involve airborne or subterranean worlds: flying on Aladdin's magic carpet or submerging undersea with Ariel, as a bubble machine replicates what's onscreen.
At the preview screening I attended, kids delighted in popping the bubbles as well as hopping, jumping and twirling to scatter the flowers or leaves or lava being projected on the floor.
Adult Disney enthusiasts may get more out of the waiting-area exhibit explaining animation techniques from the pre-digital days, complete with figure models and hand-painted celluloid sheets.
My kids and I generally enjoyed the show, but several scary villains moved my 5-year-old to tears and after a couple of schmoopy ballads from "Tangled" and "Moana," my 7-year-old was asking to leave. With ticket prices starting at $28, Disney diehards — including the girl wearing a princess dress and gloves who exclaimed, "This is super magical" — will get the most value.
If you go
What: "Immersive Disney Animation" is a multimedia medley from the Disney canon.
Where: Lighthouse ArtSpace, 1515 Central Av. NE., Mpls.
When: Wed.-Sat. through June 18.
Cost: $28-46, depending on day and time.