The 36 skaters in “Disney on Ice presents Worlds of Fantasy” come from eight different countries and range in age from 17 to 41, making for plenty of cultural and generational diversity.
One cast member, Chris Anders, grew up in Coeur d’Alene. The 24-year-old former competitive skater loves the mix.
“We’ve got people from Finland, Japan, Canada, Australia, Russia, the United States, and someone from New Zealand will join soon,” Anders said in a recent phone interview.
“Even though we speak different languages and have different beliefs, we all share one thing in common – skating.”
The show arrives Wednesday for a five-day run at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.
It stars an amalgamation of Disney characters. Elders of the Disney community – Mickey and Minnie Mouse – act as road-trip emcees, journeying to four different worlds where familiar characters bounce in and out of the action.
“From the contemporary feels of ‘Cars’ and ‘Tinker Bell’ to the timeless quality of ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘The Lion King,’ audiences will see four completely different Disney worlds brought to life,” Kenneth Feld, the show’s producer, said in a press release.
Anders, who competed in pairs in the 2005 and 2006 U.S Figure Skating Championships, tried out for the 2007 nationals, held in Spokane.
“We just missed,” he said. “After that I decided it was time to move on and get a real job.
“I heard Disney was a great company. I could travel and see the world and still get to skate.”
The cast performs 300 times a year and will have traveled 14,500 miles when the 2008-2009 season winds down. The tour has taken Anders to Japan, Europe and New York City, but he’s happy to be “home” for a stretch here.
“My parents still live in Coeur d’Alene,” he said. “My sister goes to the U of I. I have plenty of family members, extended family members and friends coming to see the show.”
Cast members do their share of community service in cities where they perform. In Spokane, for instance, they’ll skate with Special Olympic skaters at Riverfront Park and visit hospitalized children.
Anders’ “Worlds of Fantasy” character is named Terence.
“I’m a keeper of the pixie dust,” he said. “I pick (Tinker Bell) up when she’s down.”
What keeps Anders’ spirits up in the relentless touring schedule is his passion for skating, a passion that seems ageless in this cast.
“We see the kids out of high school continuing to do what they love to do, and it’s great to see the older cast members who are still going strong,” he said. “It shows that there’s really no age limit to this.”