When Joel Farris skated off a ramp and flew through the air for the first time during Disney On Ice presents Mickey’s Search Party, he knew there was something special about this show.
From aerial silk performers to hoverboards to tumbling, the new performance coming to Stockton and Sacramento in February showcases ice skating combined with acrobatics.
“We have followed the trend of adding in these acrobatic elements but our show blends it with a story as well, which I think is something unique,” he said. “Audiences love it; we’ll hear kids screaming, and even the parents enjoy it.”
In the show, Mickey Mouse and his friends use a treasure map to try and find Tinkerbell, who is in trouble after Captain Hook tries to capture her magic. The crew travels through different stories — from crossing the Marigold Bridge with Miguel from “Coco” to the snow-covered Arendelle to sing with Elsa to sailing away with Moana across the ocean. The show includes other scenes from classics like “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “Toy Story” and “The Little Mermaid.”
As they travel through the different worlds, Farris said it is fun to see the different scenes play out, especially during “Be Our Guest,” where aerial performers are spinning all at once from fabric.
The show will be at Stockton Arena through Sunday, and at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento next week. While the tour is in town, Farris said he typically starts work around 10 a.m. and finishes around 9 p.m.
“I get up, get some breakfast and then I go into some wonderful Disney worlds, participating in these stories. ... Around 9, Mickey and Minnie finally go home,” he said.
Farris grew up in Colorado Springs, Colo. and spent a lot of time at an ice rink, where his mom was a skating coach. He started as a figure skater and remembers with pride the first time he landed a double axel. Skating runs in his family; his sister and cousin also work for Disney on Ice.
“My grandfather started the (family) trend of ice skating in the early ’50s,” he said. “My mom, my aunt and my uncle all grew up ice skating. It is quite a big thing in our family.”
As he looked for a career, he wanted something where he could travel. Farris has performed with Disney on Ice since 2014 and spends about six to nine months on the road when a show is touring the U.S. He has traveled to every U.S. state and even went abroad on an international tour to Japan, Europe and Australia. International tours tend to run longer and can last for 14 months.
“It’s a lot of travel and hours but it’s really worth it when you get to see those audiences and those smiling faces every day,” he said.
When starting on a new show, Farris said the cast spends six weeks working to create an exciting experience.
“It’s a process that is quite fun and it’s really exciting, being in something new, especially when you are seeing all of the stuff they have planned,” he said.
One of the highlights of the show for him is all of the music from Disney classics, including “You’re Welcome” from “Moana” and “Un Poco Loco” from “Coco.”
In the future, there are many different Disney roles he hopes to play, but his main focus right now is on learning more acrobatics. For anyone who has an interest in skating, he recommends they focus on always improving.
“It’s really all about dedication and time and being able to skate every day,” he said. “Join an ice show. If you want to learn skating or any of these non-skating acrobatics, put the work in and you can do it.”
For those who have never experienced a Disney on Ice show, he recommends they come in February.
“It’s just an incredible experience,” he said. “I can’t even describe it. It’s super fun and they’ll have a great time.