The "Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade," which aired Wednesday on ABC, is always more than just a promenade down two sets of Main Streets. The company uses that two hours of airtime to sprinkle its newest attributes amid princesses and musical numbers. Think infomercial -- but with outside commercials too.
It's best just to relax and see what passes by. And yet, I couldn't resist making a list of the best and, well, not-so-best of the 2013 production. See if you agree or disagree.
1. Neil Patrick Harris. The opening number, the style of which he has begun to perfect with hosting duties of the Oscar and Emmy telecasts, did not disappoint. It was swift and smart, although I worried for NPH as he frolicked down Main Street in dress shoes dangerously close to those trolley tracks. During the broadcast, he showed respect to the company but managed to make mild fun of Merida's hair, his twins' obsession with Peter Pan's Flight, pirouetting "Newsies" dancers and Horace Horsecollar. Meanwhile, I liked Nick Cannon, who handled hosting duties from Disneyland, more than before.
2. The singing. This may be the most subjective part of this subjective list, but I liked Mary J. Blige and David Foster doing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." And I was surprised by liking the Wanted's performance of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" (skinny jeans alert!).
3. The resistence. Disney showed self-control by not going totally ape for its latest releases, "Frozen" and "Saving Mr. Banks." The films were acknowledged -- Tom Hanks made a pre-pre-recorded appearance -- but not overblown.
4. Some of the editing. It can't be easy to coordinate a coast-to-coast production and keep the flow going. The parade is taped on completely different weekends in California and Florida. Someone makes a plan, and they stick to it.
5. The attempt to explain MagicBands. Travel expert Samantha Brown included them in her roundup of what's new and what's next, and while you couldn't call it a how-to guide, keep in mind that millions of folks had never heard of the bracelets and their magic powers. Now they're at least aware they exist, and that Neil Patrick Harris wears one. (Brown's report also include a short simulated piece on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train coaster, which she said would open in Magic Kingdom in spring 2014.)
1. That crowd "noise." The enhanced crowd reaction added to the performances, ebbing and flowing as necessary, sounds unnatural -- worse than a laugh track, really. And it implies that the real folks there weren't reacting as enthusiastically as desired. (Maybe it's because they must endure each segment multiple times during the tapings. I can't believe how tirelessly perky people in the crowd appear.)
2. Some of the editing. Wait, there was a parade? Floats generally are blink and miss.
3. Curious song selection of the day. Most of the numbers were appropriately seasonal. But I scratched my head during the Ne-Yo medley: "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree" and his hit "Let Me Love You."
4. Twasn't the season. I didn't need a reminder of "Teen Beach Movie" from Disney Channel. But I did like the mass beach ball choreography.
5. Tour de Force. I'm on the fence when it comes to the incorporation of "Star Wars" characters into festive Disney occasions. A little Darth Vader goes a long way. Having him sitting in for Santa was one step too far for me, yet I laughed with him and NPH on the Jungle Cruise for the closing credits. What do you guys think?
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