World of Color marks a new generation in theme park entertainment
By Robert NilesRemember that Best Theme Park Attraction tournament we had earlier this spring? The one where you voted Fantasmic! and Mickey's PhilharMagic as the best theme park shows in America?
Published: June 11, 2010 at 1:54 AM
You want to take those votes back now. Trust me.
Disney's World of Color marks the next generation in theme park entertainment, a visually stunning and musically engaging 25-minute celebration of animation art. The show reviews the best of the past 20 years in Disney animation, but in doing so delivers animation from the film screen into the elemental media of water, fire and light.
World of Color extends one concept from Fantasmic! - film clips projected onto "screens" of water mist - and fully realizes it. World of Color is Blu-Ray to Fantasmic's VHS. Images fill the Paradise Pier lagoon, bursting from the mist in coordination with fountains of water that alter the canvas upon which the scenes unfold. John Lasseter meets Marshall McLuhan: The medium becomes another part of the message.
Watch "Act II" of World of Color, as a passage of the Fantasia 2000 treatment of Stravinsky's Firebird melts into Disney's Pocahontas. Keep your eyes open for what might be the most impressive screen wipe I've ever witnessed: [*Updated with higher quality video.]
In World of Color, water whip fountains coordinate perfectly with mist and light to create an illusion that columns of water are painting brush-strokes of color that float in the sky. From these broad strokes build the images within each section of World of Color, starting with The Little Mermaid and continuing with scenes from Finding Nemo, Wall-E, Toy Story, Up, Aladdin, Pocahontas, a bug's life, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Lion King.
The show opens with an upbeat and engaging original theme from Disney Legend Robert Sherman. But Steve Davison and the team at Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment wisely have chosen to build the second half of the show around a Firebird motif. Stravinsky's classic delivers an emotional and melodic gravitas that powers the narrative of the show, delivering it to a classic Disney finale. Heroes and heroines kiss as water, light and flame swell, immersing the audience in visual delights.
Take care while watching, though, for a stray gust of wind can immerse the audience in a wall of water, as it did near the end of the premiere performance. Disney cast members scurried to provide soaked celebrities and executives with complimentary beach towels. You won't be so lucky.
As much as I adored this performance, I hesitate to recommend it too vigorously. Hundreds of thousands of Disney annual passholders will be cramming into the park to see this show over the next few months, and prime viewing areas won't accommodate them all. Disney's distributing FastPasses for World of Color at Grizzly River Run each morning, but those will go early in the day, with no guarantee of getting one of the better viewing spots.
I'd recommend simply reserving one of the World of Color picnic dinners or dining packages, which come with a reserved spot for the show, if you want to see it this summer with minimal fuss. (You can call 714-781-DINE in advance for the dining package at Ariel's Grotto or the Wine Country Trattoria. Picnics may be ordered online at Disneyland.com or the day of the show in the park at the Golden Vine Winery.)
To make room for World of Color, Disney shipped its Electrical Parade back to Walt Disney World. I hope that the tourists in Orlando are enjoying the nostalgia. But if they want to see the future of nighttime theme park entertainment, they should have booked a trip to the west coast instead. We'd already had the better version of Fantasmic!, and now we've got an even better new show to go with it.
Update: If anyone's interested, I've uploaded some photos I took during the "blue carpet" celebrity arrivals to Theme Park Insider's Facebook page.
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