group photo of stars and performers at Dancing with the Stars Disney Night

Dancing with the Stars . . . of Disney Animation!

Music . . .  dancing . . .  spectacular animation. These are things Disney fans have long loved and celebrated, both on the big screen and at Disney parks. But tonight on ABC (8–10:01 p.m. ET), Disney fans will be able to celebrate some of their favorite films from Walt Disney Animation Studios in a new way as the hit series Dancing with the Stars presents “Disney Night.”

Tonight’s episode marks the competition’s halfway point. And Dancing with the Stars’ executive producer Rob Wade told D23, “It’s going to be the very best of Disney music and animation, and it’s going to be a huge night.”

“Disney Night” will kickoff with an opening number—“The toughest we’ve ever done,” according to Wade—set to iconic Disney songs. And the couples won’t just be dancing with each other; they’ll be dancing and interacting with animated Disney characters. Disney animation will be incorporated into dance numbers throughout the night, making it appear to fans that a dancing couple is dancing with a Disney character.

Pulling off this ambitious feat on a live show has required a tremendous amount of rehearsal and technical planning. “We’re relying on camera shots being in exactly the right place and the dancers being in the right place,” Wade explains. Otherwise, he adds, “We could get into a situation where one of the celebrities is dancing on top of Pinocchio’s nose!” And because the show airs live, there’s no correcting this in post.

The dancers will be in costumes that reflect the characters they’re going to be, as they dance to the songs and sounds that Disney fans have heard and loved. Disney fans can look forward to Riker Lynch and Allison Holker dancing to “He’s a Pirate” from Pirates of the Caribbean, Patti LaBelle and Artem Chigvintsev dancing to “When You Wish Upon a Star” from Pinocchio, and Suzanne Somers and Tony Dovolani providing fancy footwork to the tune of “He’s a Tramp” from Lady and the Tramp.

It’s no surprise that this episode has been nine months in the planning. The celebrities and dancers are as excited as we are. Wade says, “Everyone is taken back to their childhood. It’s the sort of thing that appeals to both young and old—it embodies the whole spirit of our show. Everyone is a Disney fan, aren’t they?”

Wade also offered a hint at something Disney fans can keep an eye out for during the show. “You should hope that the judges pull out a ‘10’ Paddle—there’s a nice twist on those!”

Beloved characters, Disney magic, and the promise of surprise—sounds like a perfect “10” to us!