Disney On Ice returns to the Valley on Thursday, bringing four Disney favorites — and a focus on fitness — to the Selland Arena for eight performances.
Worlds of Enchantment will feature the stories of Disney/Pixar’s “Cars” and “Toy Story 3” along with the Disney classic “The Little Mermaid” and Academy Award-winning “Frozen.” But first, the the mouse who started it all will host Mickey’s Dance-Along Pre-Show Party, encouraging audiences to get out of their seats and show off their moves.
Staying active and fit is a priority for the skating athletes who perform in at least five shows per week on top of hours-long rehearsals, said 25-year-old Benita Williams, who has skated for two years in the ensemble.
The Sylmar native graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in physiological science and auditioned for Disney On Ice in Bakersfield.
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“There’s a few of us on the show who are extra into fitness,” she said, “We lead warm ups and, as professional athletes it's important to maintain a routine on the road, so we do bodyweight exercises using yoga mats and resistance bands. We are traveling all the time so you have to work with what you have.”
Williams has a passion for video editing and will often create workout videos to share within the company. “It’s a lot of work,” she said. “We put in a lot of time during rehearsals on and off the ice.”
Keeping in shape is the key to skaters pulling off the high-speed stunts that thrill crowds of all ages. There is plenty of action as Buzz, Woody and friends try to escape from Sunnyside Daycare in Disney On Ice’s take on “Toy Story 3.”
“I play a green army soldier and there is a lot of very precise choreography in that segment,” Williams said.
After the toys’ daring adventure, the audience gets to explore Ariel’s undersea kingdom and watch the crew’s favorite number: “Under The Sea,” said Williams, who plays a salsa fish among sea horses, Sebastian, Ariel and Flounder.
“It’s a big production number with really high energy,” she said. “It’s really exciting and bubbles get blown out toward the audience, so kids get really excited about that.”
After intermission, Lightning McQueen, Mater and the crew speed onto the ice for high-octane fun. “The Cars are actually driving on the ice; we’re the only Disney show that does that,” Williams said. “It’s always a big seller for the boys, too.”
To close the show, the highest-grossing animated film of all time — “Frozen” — comes to life in the wintery world of Arendelle, where sisters Anna and Elsa learn that true love comes from within.
The entire act seems to be the crowd favorite in every stop on the tour, Williams said.
“We always get really big reaction when Olaf comes out. That’s really fun,” she said. “It’s really cool to hear the kids sing along with “Let it Go.” Actually, a lot of the biggest reactions are in “Frozen,” like when Elsa comes out for the first time, the kids are like ‘Aaah!’”
The high-energy show put on by very talented skaters is sure to delight all audiences, Williams said.
“There’s definitely something for everyone in the family,” she said. “Boys, girls — no one will be disappointed with this ice skating spectacular.”
What: Disney on Ice presents World of Enchantment
Where: Selland Arena, 700 M St., Fresno
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2 and Friday, Feb. 3; 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4; 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5 and 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6
How much: Tickets start at $18 each for most shows. Opening night tickets are available at a discounted price of $14. Tickets can be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or at the Selland Arena Box Office.