Disney’s beloved characters return to Payne Arena following pandemic hiatus

Disney on Ice is inviting Rio Grande Valley families to be their guest at their newest show, “Dream Big” this holiday season.

And it’s some of Disney’s most beloved characters making the request: Miguel from “Coco,” the genie from “Aladdin,” along with several princesses, including Moana, Jasmin, Ariel, Belle and Cinderella.

After a seven-month pause because of the pandemic, the “Dream Big” production is back on and will be spending the season performing at Payne Arena in Hidalgo.

“I think everybody is going through something different at this time, but us coming down here to Hidalgo, we really want to bring that Disney magic back — especially during Christmas time,” said Shanda DeWitt, who portrays Queen Elsa of Arendelle from “Frozen.”

“Dream Big” is currently the only show touring the world, according to DeWitt, and they will be in town until 2021.

Their first show was on Wednesday, and will run until Jan. 3, 2021. One show is slated at 11:30 a.m. on Christmas Eve, and two on Christmas Day, at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.

The dates and times for shows can be found on https://www.disneyonice.com/dream-big/hidalgo-tx-payne-arena/. To ensure the safety of attendees, tickets are being sold by pods; with seats starting in price at $30 each, and the max tickets for each pod is eight. Each pod will be several seats away from another.

Additionally, all guests older than 2 are required to wear a face covering throughout the show, unless they are actively eating or drinking.

“We put so many measures in place for safety and we are just really hoping everybody can come out and really just have fun at the show and experience the magic we always bring,” DeWitt said, who has been portraying Elsa for five years so far.

The “Dream Big” crew, consisting of around 45 skaters, arrived in the county on Monday. DeWitt said around nine Disney stories will be told on the rink, and children will have as many opportunities to sing along with their favorite characters as they could dream of.

Attendees will join Tinker Bell on an adventure filled with pixie dust and fairy wings, and follow Ariel as she fearlessly explores life above the waves. Through daring acrobatics, high-flying jumps and breathtaking skating, the audience will learn about the strength of kindness and the power of friendship from familiar Disney friends.

“There will literally be something for everyone,” DeWitt, a Michigan native, said. “It’s really just a fun mix of all different types of stories.”

She added one of her favorite parts of performing is hearing the kids sing along to “Let it Go” from “Frozen.”

“I really do just want to emphasize that we are really excited to be here, us and the cast and the crew, and everyone who is a part of our company,” DeWitt said. “Everything has been in sort of a standstill, but we are taking our leap and making it work, and I think it will really create some really great, fun memories for everyone in the family.”