Cirque du Soleil returns to breathe life into a forgotten section of Disney Springs


  • Image via Mathieu Poirier | Cirque du Soleil
  • The Old Mill double wheel
One would be hard-pressed to find any signs of the pandemic-induced recession at Disney Springs. Crowds fill nearly every inch of the outdoor retail complex, but the hubbub is far from evenly spread.

Disney Springs' West Side feels like a bit of an afterthought, especially after the pandemic put development on hold and the NBA Experience failed. That interactive museum attraction was the last major opening within the West Side ahead of the longest closure in Disney Parks history.

Empty spots have made the West Side noticeably less vibrant than the other four neighborhoods of Disney Springs. But after more than 18 months from its initially scheduled debut, Disney Springs will soon welcome back Cirque du Soleil with a brand-new show. This is just the second show to grace the custom-built Cirque theater that anchors the furthest corner of the West End corridor.

With performances five nights a week, the new show will reactivate this corridor while also breathing new life into a theater that previously held one of the longest-running Cirque du Soleil shows in the company’s history.

Much has changed since Cirque du Soleil debuted La Nouba in the theater in 1998. At that time, Cirque was still an unfamiliar brand for many, and the show featured the French-inspired costumes that defined the early days of Cirque. Since then, the company has branched out with numerous collaborations and has become known for their fusion of the latest technology within the spectacle-filled shows. From Avatar to Michael Jackson, Cirque du Soleil has ventured far from its early days of a traditional French-style acrobatic heavy circus.

That breadth of new inspirations via collaborations can be seen within the new Disney Springs show, Drawn to Life. Inspired by Disney’s rich history of hand-drawn animation, the new show is a celebration of Disney's intellectual properties.

While pulling from its more recent productions, Drawn to Life is also a return of what made Cirque so successful in those early years.

  • Image via Cirque du Soleil
Drawn to Life will have nearly a dozen distinct acts, almost all adaptations from traditional circus acts. This evolution of conventional feats can be seen in two recent acts confirmed for the upcoming Disney Springs show.

The classic dual acrobatic spinning Space Wheel will be kicked up a notch by having two of the wheels, with a total of four circular rings for performers to stand in. The act draws inspiration from the classic 1937 Disney animated short "The Old Mill." The double wheel structure will tower over the audience with the acrobats within it rising multiple stories into the air.

  • Image via Matt Beard | Cirque du Soleil
Unicycles will also be featured prominently in the new show. The “Garden of Lines” act features five unicyclists performing stunts in a scene inspired by the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio. The two acts are joined by eight others in Drawn to Life. The new show will also include multiple acrobats and aerialists, Russian Swing style see-saws, and jugglers. An adaptation of the suspended pole act that debuted in Cirque’s Corteo in 2018 features prominently in the new show. For Drawn to Life, this high-flying pole dance routine will see its pole replaced by a larger-than-life pencil.

  • Image via Cirque du Soleil
As Cirque du Soleil slowly proceeds from its bankruptcy forced restructuring that took most of last year, the return of the Orlando residency is a major step forward for the company, both in terms of its recovery and as an indication that it can still produce crowd-pleasing content. Its success is also paramount for Disney Springs as the retail complex continues to push toward normalcy.

Drawn to Life will debut at Disney Springs on Thursday, Nov. 18. Tickets are on sale now.  

  • Image via Mathieu Poirier | Cirque du Soleil

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