I haven’t been this happy experiencing a new attraction at Walt Disney World in years. I mean sure, I’ve been more emotional (Happily Ever After) and more awed (Rise of the Resistance), but it took a quick fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants kite show to get me to feel some good old-fashioned happy.
Kite Tails is a 10-ish minute performance that takes place six times per day (weather permitting) at Disney’s Animal Kingdom lagoon.
The first half of the show is loosely based on Finding Nemo. This section takes place on the lower levels of the amphitheater seating, with puppeteers (kiteteers?) moving colorful kites in swoops and bobs before and sometimes above the audience. The kites are lovely and hoisted joyfully by skilled performers.
My favorite aspect of the Nemo bit is when the performers grab bouquets of baby turtle kites and offer them to kids in the audience – allowing them to briefly become part of the show. Something about the pep of the music and riot of color made most kids comfortable enough to jump up to participate on their own. Very little parental goading was needed.
The second half of the show is guys on jet skis driving in circles holding character-themed kites. These kites have shape and volume. They’re not quite Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade gigantic, but if you picture that you’ll be in the minor league version of that ballpark.
I’ve seen two different versions of the show, one featuring Jungle Book music and characters and one featuring Lion King music and characters. Both employ the same types of props and style of performance and both will have you smiling throughout. It doesn’t much matter which you see, but if you have a particular preference for one set of songs over the other, you can ask cast members at the attraction which will be happening during each performance slot.
The thing about these kites is that there is no air of importance; there is no dark villain interlude; the music is not arranged into a ponderous minor key; and no there serious message about conservation or world peace. This is no after school special – it’s a giant floppy bear being dragged through the air by a dude on a tiny waterbound motorcycle thing. It’s gleeful and goofy (with a lower case g and a capital OOF).
Adding to the energy is the very real chance that something could go amiss. Kite in the water! Kite in a tree! The crowd wants the kites to fly high, but if they happen to smash headfirst into the lake, well that’s kinda cool too. That sense of “maybe we don’t know exactly what will happen” is something sorely missing from Disney entertainment, which is usually practiced and polished with unvarying precision.
Without a hint of irony, I profess my love.
KiteTails is silly and messy and wholesome. And I truly want it to stick around.
Would you like to see this show? Let us know in the comments.