The show must go on: 'Disney Live!' returns to Egypt after hiatus

After a four-year break, performances of 'Disney Live!' are returning to the land of the pharaohs with a show celebrating Mickey Mouse’s 90th birthday.

al-monitor The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism is working to develop new program of entertainment options for visitors and residents. Illustration by Ed Woodhouse/Al-Monitor.

Sep 11, 2018

Mickey Mouse will celebrate his 90th birthday in Egypt this year, and other Walt Disney characters, including Aladdin, Rapunzel from “Tangled” and Sheriff Woody from “Toy Story,” will be busy entertaining Egyptian fans in Cairo Sept. 26-Oct. 6.

After shows in Egypt in 2014, “Disney Live!” is returning to the land of the pharaohs, where the multitudes are fond of the performances by Disney characters. The Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation are co-sponsoring the shows.

“Disney, in particular, is a commercial brand known to everyone,” Minister of Tourism Rania el-Mashat remarked Aug. 28 at a news conference in Cairo to announce the revue's run in the Egyptian capital. “The decision by Walt Disney to revive its shows in Egypt represents a certificate of confidence in Egypt and evidence that the country enjoys the security necessary to attract tourists.” 

Mashat added that her ministry plans to create an entertainment agenda that generates a variety of options for tourists and will present it in 2019. “One of the themes of the promotional campaign that will soon be launched by the ministry is ‘People for People,’ as others are interested in knowing what Egyptian culture offers humanity and how Egypt and its culture is open to the world,” Mashat said at the conference.

Steve Armstrong, regional marketing director at Feld Entertainment, the production company for “Disney Live!,” also spoke at the Aug. 28 press conference, remarking, “We are bringing everything to the show. It is very exciting. Every family will love it.” The revue features Mickey’s Magic Show and includes 20 characters from Disney's most popular stories, movies and programs, according to Armstrong.

“Disney Live!” will feature three shows daily — the venue is still to be announced — with ticket prices ranging from 120 to 1,500 Egyptian pounds ($6.70 to $83.60). Observers from the tourism and investment sectors have voiced optimism about the shows, believing they will have a positive effect on the country’s tourism and investment climate.

“Having a Disney show in Egypt at this time sends a positive message to the world and foreign investors, saying that security measures in Egypt are up to the mark,” Ahmed el-Shami, an economist and a professor of feasibility studies at Ain Shams University, told Al-Monitor. “Egypt is in dire need of these kinds of events at the moment, especially as it is seeking to improve its investment climate and show investors evidence that Egypt is safe and stable for investments.”

Hossam Akawy, owner of a tourism company and a member of the Association of Tourism Investors in the Red Sea, said the shows represent a big boost to entertainment tourism in Egypt. He remarked, “[It] is not given much attention by the government although other countries rely on this kind of tourism to produce revenue in the billions of dollars.”

Akawy told Al-Monitor, “Entertainment is a huge industry and attracts many people of different ages. The Egyptian government is not, however, capitalizing much on it although Egypt is considered the beacon of art in the Arab world.”

Adel Nagi, a member of the General Assembly of the Association of Tourism Investors in the Red Sea, said that he is upbeat about the Disney shows' effect on tourism. “It is enough that they reflect a good image of the country and its security,” he said to Al-Monitor. “The return of the ‘Disney Live!’ shows is a promising sign of a recovering tourism industry.”

After a record 2010, Egypt’s tourism industry declined rapidly in the wake of the Arab Spring in 2011 and was further hit by two terrorist attacks and a plane crash in 2015. The signs of a recovery are now, however, visible. A recent Reuters report quoted a government official as saying that the country’s tourism revenue jumped 77% in the first half of 2018, to around $4.8 billion, compared with the same period last year.

 In February, Egypt signed a contract with Entertainment World Company to build and operate a Disneyland-style amusement park in Alamein, in the Matrouh governorate. The project, with an estimated cost of $3.3 billion, will be funded by US and Saudi investors.

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