Dancing Mushrooms And Volcanoes: Disney's Fantasia Comes To Life

Sounds and Sorcery, The Vaults ★★★☆☆

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 48 months ago

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Dancing Mushrooms And Volcanoes: Disney's Fantasia Comes To Life Sounds and Sorcery, The Vaults 3
We won't spoil how the experience ends, but it's an impressive reveal. Copyright Lawrence Howe.

Remember that scene from Disney's Fantasia when Mickey Mouse enchants a broom to do his work for him? He falls asleep and then the room floods. It's been recreated with live actors in the Vaults in Waterloo, where a bubbling well churns out water as actors whirl about the stage with manic energy, occasionally splashing the audience.

Add in music from the film and we can picture the Sorcerer's Apprentice scene perfectly. The immersive theatre experience, Sounds & Sorcery, is designed to appeal to fans of the 1940 film whose trippy scenes were way ahead of their time.

Copyright Lawrence Howe.

It works using locational audio. The headphones use WiFi to determine where we are in the exhibition and play the relevant soundtrack. We've seen this used to great effect at V&A exhibitions in the past. Here it's a great idea but the signal drops in and out a lot so there's quite a bit of interference that won't clear up unless we're right in the middle of the relevant area — which is not always possible when it's a busy night.

When the music does work, the quality is excellent. The Nutcracker suite is a highlight; mushrooms light up, flowers glow and lights move under an icy surface, all in perfect sync to the music. We can't shake the smiles from our faces as we have flashbacks of the film and its wonderful soundtrack.

The volcanoes are impressive, though the set design often feels quite cheap. Copyright Jason Yeoman.

It's worth noting that all the scenes reference the film so those who've never seen it may be a little lost. Fans of classical music may be able to overlook this fact but others new to it all may struggle to fully enjoy the experience.

There are several impressive set pieces including a comical ballet and a final film with a clever reveal that leads us to the exit. The set pieces look good from afar, but getting up close is a bit of a letdown. The illusion is often broken with lights within the glowing volcano clearly visible and the sets often feeling a tad flimsy.

The ballet is one of the more impressive set pieces. Copyright Hanson Leatherby.

Even with a few notable flaws we still enjoyed our time in the experience and spent a good two hours exploring it all, plus the kinetic art that awaits us after we exit. Right, time to find a copy of Fantasia on demand and re-watch it — it's been too long.

Sounds and Sorcery celebrating Disney's Fantasia is on at The Vaults, Waterloo until 30 September 2018. Tickets are £38 for adults.

Last Updated 09 August 2018