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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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