Meet the Artists Extending the ‘Happily Ever After’ Story Beyond the Castle Walls

Joey McElroy

by , Communications Manager, Disney Live Entertainment

The words “the story comes alive” will soon be heard echoing through Magic Kingdom Park once again when ‘Happily Ever After’ returns beginning April 3. For the team of Disney Live Entertainment artists working to bring the story to life in a whole new way, those words are more than just lyrics. They are an assignment.

For months, over 50 digital artists and animators have been hard at work behind the scenes creating stunning new projections that will surround guests on Main Street, U.S.A.

'Happily Ever After' creative team watches fireworks

“Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would work on a show as iconic and beloved as ‘Happily Ever After.’ It was so exciting to look at the show with fresh eyes and take advantage of technology that we didn’t have available when it first opened,” said Katrina Mena Rick, Creative Producer for the nighttime spectacular.

“Each of the 25 buildings we’re projecting on is so unique and special, with their own individual paint colors, textures, trims, windows, and doors. Our goal was to celebrate that uniqueness as we transformed the buildings, immersing you in these beautiful character worlds while ensuring that Cinderella Castle remains the main storyteller throughout the show.”

'Happily Ever After' projections on Main Street, U.S.A.

Moments after the show begins you’ll see this expertly choreographed dance play out, as if the stories are radiating from the castle and then drawing you back in – all building to a shimmering finale where Tinker Bell takes flight. The team used this final hero moment to introduce some fresh faces to the show, with new characters adorning the street in stylized stained-glass portraits.

'Happily Ever After' creative team on Main Street, U.S.A.

“My favorite character to create was Meilin from Pixar’s ‘Turning Red.’” said J.P. Perez, the artist tasked with illustrating all 32 of the characters featured on the building’s facades. “Beyond red pandas being my favorite animal, her character is very relatable. Seeing her story take place in my generation at that age really makes me connect with her.”

With the addition of Miguel, Mirabel, Raya, Luca, Rapunzel, Elena and more, the goal is that everyone watching can find a connection with a character or story.

Ana and her father watch 'Happily Ever After'

Each of the artists working on the show also brought with them their own stories as well, like Lead Animator Ana Beltran, who had the unique experience of animating the new projections alongside her father.

“I grew up seeing how much love and passion my dad had for animation, and how hard he worked when we moved to the United States. That’s what ultimately inspired me to pursue a career in the arts.” said Ana. “We often joked how great it would be for us to say one day that ‘Making magic is the family business.’ Now, just like in the show, we’ve followed that dream and made it a reality. To borrow a term from “Inside Out,” working on this show with my dad will always be a core memory for me.”

@disneyparks We’re giving you a BTS look at Happily Ever After with Katrina, Creative Director from Disney Live Entertainment! 🎇🎆🏰#AllTheDisneyThrills #DisneyCastLife #DisneyParks #Disney #Fireworks #DisneyWorld #Show #Castle #Emotional ♬ original sound – Disney Parks

Check out the video above to see Katrina, J.P., and Ana’s reactions to watching the full show for the first time, and visit Magic Kingdom Park beginning April 3 to find your own happily ever after.