If your kids (or let’s be real — you) are a sucker for Disney, jump right into all the classic animated movies while experiencing rooms of projected clips, music and wonderment. The new Disney Animation Immersive Experience, presented by Lighthouse Immersive Studios, comes to Cleveland Jan. 19 through May 29, 2023.
Surround Yourself in the Music & Stories of Disney Animation
You can finally step into the Casita with Mirabel from "Encanto," witness Rafiki present Simba at Pride Rock surrounded by the animal kingdom as the sun rises, “hop on a train” with Judy Hopps to Zootopia or even (a 90s kid’s fave) take a magic carpet ride with Aladdin and Jasmine.
This magical, innovative collaboration between Walt Disney Animation Studios and Lighthouse Immersive Studios is a one-of-a-kind experience. Families and friends of all ages can walk around the studio to surround themselves in 500,000 cubic feet of projections that make you feel like you’re in the animated films, from the earliest faves to groundbreaking new hits.
If this experience sounds a bit like it’s channeling the recent popular Immersive Van Gogh exhibit, that’s because it’s created by the same production team. It’s even housed at the same venue. Other Disney immersions are opening at Lighthouse ArtSpace venues across North America.
The location: Lighthouse Artspace, 850 E. 72nd St., Cleveland
Tickets: Start at $39.99. For more info, visit disneyimmersive.com.
Make a Day of it and Choose Your Own Adventure
Pick an Activity:
Museums and Galleries at University Circle
After the innovative experience, hop over to the University Circle to visit a world-class museum less than a 10-minute drive away in gorgeous University City. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Cleveland Museum of Art are must-sees.
This lesser-known gem is perfect for exploring shops and authentic eats in a neighborhood with stunning views of Downtown and Lake Erie. Try out one of many authentic Asian eateries such as Li Wah and immerse yourself in the classic ornate Chinese decor at this tasty staple. Clevelanders love the steamed BBQ pork buns and the daily dim sum carts. Yes, you read that right—dim sum carts. Then stroll around the neighborhood at the trendy boutiques or art shops. The vibrant Asia Town Center mixed-use space has it all under one roof, from shopping to a grocery market, restaurants and a beauty supply store to other small businesses.
The Children’s Museum of Cleveland
If you’re heading to this experimental pop-up, chances are there may be a kid in your crew. Spend a few hours at the Children’s Museum. It’s modern, fun and has tons of themed rooms. The Adventure City section is my personal favorite: kids can shop at a market, work at a construction site and explore the "city." Reservations required.
Pick a Restaurant:
If you’re this close to Cleveland’s Little Italy, a meal at Mia Bella is basically a Clevelander requirement. Devour the cheese tortellini (its' got a kick) with tomato cream sauce, peas and prosciutto (definitely the must-try menu item).
Empress Taytu Ethiopian Restaurant
Clevelanders love the casual vibes and original African eats at Empress Taytu Ethiopian Restaurant. The interior explodes with African art and decor, including a thatched straw roof hut. With tons of authentic African food options, including terrific choices for vegetarians, you can't go wrong.
Hit up the iconic Cleveland classic Slyman’s deli and order up a traditional corned or roast beef. The reuben on rye is our go-to. (These are big sandwiches—so you may need a sharing buddy).
L'Albatros Brassiere and Bar
If you’re feeling fancy, head over to the elevated L’Alberto’s for some onion soup gratinée or hanger steak frites of your Parisian dreams. The stunning intimate modern French eatery near University Circle is situated on Case Western Reserve University’s campus.
The Diner on 55th
Step back in time to this 50s diner complete with red counter stools, checkered flooring and red checkered tablecloths. We dig the all-day breakfast, and nothing beats home fries. (Bonus points: There’s no way your kid won’t find something they like on the menu.)