Hallelujah! Just when you’re faced with the prospect of a miserably wet Bank Holiday weekend with your adorable munchkins driving you batty begging to be entertained indoors, those nice peeps at Disney come to the rescue by bringing their modern animated classic Beauty and the Beast back into cinemas in glorious 3D.

Now, given that Disney have a huge black hole to plug after the box-office disaster that was John Carter, their decision to start re-releasing the best of their back catalogue (The Lion King got the same treatment last year) may not be entirely altruistic – but when you’re a Mum (or Dad) on a mission to entertain  housebound hellions (and give yourself a treat into the bargain), it’s still a godsend.

And boy, what a godsend! This movie is seriously magical. The 3D is a nice touch, adding extra wow-factor to some stunningly beautiful drawn animation — the opening sequence, when you approach the Beast’s castle through a forest glade, Alan Menken and Howard Ashman‘s musical score swelling to a crescendo, is quite simply breathtaking — but to be perfectly honest the 3D is only the cherry on top of an already delicious cake.

It’s all here folks: the expertly penned and performed songs – from the joyous plate-spinning sing-a-long spectacular ‘Be Our Guest’, to Angela Lansbury‘s heartfelt title ballad; the touching fairytale romance between small-town girl Belle (Paige O’Hara) whose courage leads her to fall in love with a Beast (Robby Benson) whose grotesque exterior hides a tortured soul; the rib-tickling character comedy supplied by the Castle’s staff (keen to get their temperamental master married off so they can all be human again!); the unreconstructed villainy of the film’s real monster Gaston (Richard White); and all that lush, lovingly detailed drawn animation.

It’s really no surprise when watching it again on the big screen that this was the first ever animated movie to get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. What’s perhaps more of a surprise now is that it was bested by the so much less enchanting Silence of the Lambs!

And to add to the joy of this cinema experience, Disney have thrown in a delightful short called Tangled Ever After which catches up with the Tangled couple on their wedding day – and the laugh-out-loud slapstick chaos that ensues when Flynn’s horse and Rapunzel’s pet iguana are left in charge of the rings!

I dragged my teenage son along to the preview screening and he fell in love with Beauty and the Beast all over again just like I did – so much so that he blogged about it too!

Our only regret when we left the cinema was that Disney have no plans at the moment to return to drawn animation (after the disappointing returns of The Princess and the Frog, apparently), to which we both say: ‘Come on guys, get back to the drawing board, it’s what you’re best at.’

On general release from Friday 4th May.

Do you fancy a waltz at Claridge’s with Strictly Come Dancing stars Natalie Lowe and Ian Waite?

To celebrate the release of Beauty & The Beast 3D we’re offering three readers, each with a guest, the opportunity to chat and dance with Natalie and Ian at Claridge’s at a special tea party on Friday 4th May at 11.30am. Just head to our Facebook page for a chance to win.