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World of Color – Celebrate!: A [Somewhat Spoiler Containing] Review

May 21, 2015, 1:58 AM · Bragging rights time: I attended the premiere and first-ever showing of "World of Color – Celebrate!," one of three DAZZLING new nighttime shows for Disneyland's 60th Anniversary, with media and invited guests. My hair has still not completely dried even as I write this because I got in via the Disney Parks Blog, and we were herded into the section of the viewing area that's as close to the water as you can possibly get. Luckily we were all given ponchos, because the fountains rained on us constantly during the show, and at one point a wayward fountain doused us like a fire hose. My view of the show was far from perfect; I can't wait to see the show again from a more distant (and DRY) vantage point, where you can better take it all in. That said, here are my thoughts. I won't give a scene-by-scene recap in the interest of avoiding spoilers, but I will give you an overview of what to expect.

Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris appeared in person at the premiere. Photos by Robert Niles

A mouthful of a title, “World of Color – Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney” consists of a little Walt Disney, a little animation love, a little Disneyland, and a whole lot of Neil Patrick Harris singing. Whether any or all of those elements will resonate with "average" guests is likely to be hit or miss. Armed with nostalgic imagery, the show is counting on you to already have deep emotional connections to Disneyland and Disney's animated films so that it can remind you of them and make you feel THINGS. Many Disney characters make quick cameos in this show, in case seeing your favorite character will instantly give you "all the feels" like the show is designed to do. For me, most of them felt too contrived and fell flat, although I adored the vintage footage of Walt Disney, and the Disneyland elements were entertaining.

Walt on the water

Neil Patrick Harris, who also voiced California Screamin's safety spiel, does a commendable job as host along with Mickey Mouse, although he steals the show a little too much for my taste. Your opinion on this will probably have a lot to do with your preexisting feelings about NPH.

NPH at Disneyland

Let's talk about new show effects. The Mickey head on Mickey's Fun Wheel becomes another canvas on which imagery is projected. I liked this a lot, although Mickey's head, being three interconnected circles, isn't the most ideal shape to work with, and inevitably some of the visuals are awkwardly cropped. Next, I need to talk about fire. Oh my god, the fire. If you've seen World of Color before, you know there's fire. Well, you've never seen fire like this. "Gigantic ball of inferno" is a good way to put it. It will singe your eyebrows and blind your eyes. After the finale, the flame ball left the most incredibly huge smoke ring high in the sky for at least three minutes. Incredible. The last new effect was a complete surprise. It startled me so bad. It's the equivalent of being extinguished by a fire extinguisher.

Fire!

My favorite sequence was one I wasn't expecting to be there at all - STAR WARS. It's got some imagery from the upcoming "The Force Awakens" installment that should make the fanboys very, very happy.

Han and Chewie

I was also not expecting to see Elsa sing the entire "Let It Go" song from Frozen because we already saw this in the holiday version of the show, "World of Color – Winter Dreams." At least they chose a different instrumental accompaniment behind Adele Dazeem's voice this time, so it doesn't sound exactly the same as the song you've already heard a million times.

By far the weakest part of the show is a sappy sequence depicting "guests" (actually paid actors) hugging princesses, riding attractions and making memories whilst choking on turkey legs. It's trying hard to tug at your heartstrings, but it's just so darned cheesy. You might as well be watching a Disney Parks commercial, because that's exactly where the footage came from. Yawn.

It's a Small World

On a more positive note, there's a whole lot going on in this show at all times - with imagery to see on all the mist screens as well as Mickey's Fun Wheel and California Screamin', rest assured you won't be able to see everything the first time, opening the door for repeat viewings. I just wish those 1,200 dancing fountains were given something more interesting to do.

World of Color fountains

Near the end of the show, Neil Patrick Harris asks Walt, "If you had the chance to do it all over again, y'think you'd do it any differently?" I might ask the same question about "World of Color – Celebrate." It tries really hard, maybe too hard, to elicit emotion out of its audience by displaying as many familiar Disney images as possible in 30 minutes, but it misses more often than it hits. I really wanted to like this show, and perhaps with repeat viewings from a better vantage point, it will grow on me. For now, I really need to take a good cleansing shower and get this Paradise Bay water out of my pores.

Editor's Note: And here is the full show video, from our friends at the Orange County Register:

Replies (9)

May 21, 2015 at 10:51 AM · The rough singing was probably a live performance. The video no longer exists.

I thought the show was way way long (Orange County Video). It is mostly video montages and very little fountain effects. The video sequences seem like filler. Just waiting for the sequence to pass for something better and it doesn't happen. Let It Go segment was too long. Everything was too long. Oh well. I could only take Neil Patrick Harris so much and he gave too much.

May 21, 2015 at 8:20 AM · Not so, Anon Mouse! ??
May 21, 2015 at 8:36 AM · I like it more when Disney *shows* me why I love Disneyland than when it tries to *tell* me, instead.
May 21, 2015 at 9:25 AM · That's exactly it, Robert. Too much of this show is spent *telling* us what we already know, when it could be delivering a spectacle about the very thing we all love so much.
May 21, 2015 at 10:40 AM · I have not viewed the video yet, but it shows a run time of just over 22 minutes. I have to say that makes me happy. The last few times I viewed WOC, I swear the run time felt more like 35 - 40 minutes. It might not have been that long...but it felt like it. I don't want to say I have a shortened attention span...but my feet and back do after a day of fun at The Happiest Place on Earth.
May 21, 2015 at 11:08 AM · This show sounds very promising to me. I can understand why people wouldn't enjoy this as much, but I'm all for a Disney nostalgia fest! But if other people disagree, I'm not going to say anything (as long as it doesn't turn into one of those things where the Universal fans charge in and complain about Disney now being just shameless cash-grab or something like that).
May 21, 2015 at 12:12 PM · Thanks for the heads up Matt! :)
May 21, 2015 at 3:35 PM · I think your review hit it for me. I was there with the Parks Blog crowd as well and I felt and thought about many of the same things you did. My family with me liked the show (better than the winter one, sorry Matthew) but I am on the fence. And I will be standing all the way in the back so I won't get wet AND my neck won't get injured from looking left and right constantly.
May 22, 2015 at 4:19 PM · Thanks for this review. I havn't watched any videos yet, as to not be spoiled, but I think this review sums it up pretty well without to big of spoilers. This new WOC sounds underwhelming, which I kind of expected. I love love love the original world of color because of the Disney movie songs we all love. (I made it a point to see the original before Celebrate! was released.) And the best part of WOC is the colored fountains in my opinion. I could care less about the film projections honestly. And I don't have a problem with Neil, but what does he really have to do with Disney, you know? I wouldn't mind his voice over, but I dont understand the film of him being in the show. Anyways, as per your review, I think I'll stick to seeing Disneyland Forever and Fantasmic and go check out WOC after summer.

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