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'Disneyland Forever' Takes Fireworks to Dazzling New Heights

May 22, 2015, 7:15 AM · Over the past two days I’ve been fortunate enough to attend the premieres of all three new nighttime spectaculars for Disneyland’s Diamond Celebration, but the one I’m about to describe for you is the crown jewel of them all.

Disneyland Forever
Photos by Robert Niles

“Disneyland Forever” isn’t just a fireworks show – it’s a full-fledged multi-media extravaganza using multiple park landmarks as its canvas. It’s fireworks on steroids, and it left me in complete sensory overload. There’s just far too many things to focus on at once, and I can’t wait to see it again from different areas of the park, as the show is designed to offer something different to see depending on where you’re located. For this show, I was standing in the northern half of Main Street USA, adjacent to Candy Kitchen.

The show opens with a bang when over 50 hidden spotlights from all over the park join together to form a magnificent multi-faceted diamond high in the sky. Then, the really good stuff begins. Projected imagery on the Main Street buildings allow orange trees to magically grow, and narration explains that over 60 years ago in this very spot, you would’ve been walking through an orange grove, just like Walt did when he first visited the site that would later become Disneyland. This was very moving for me, and a perfect way to start the show.

Orange groves

When I heard that projected imagery would be used heavily in “Disneyland Forever,” I was concerned it might come off as a cheesy gimmick, as it was for some of the park’s previous offerings using similar tech (the lackluster “The Magic, The Memories and You!” comes to mind). I needn’t have worried – in fact it stole the show, and anything from dancing monkeys to pink elephants to psychedelic beehives dance along in perfect sync to the music, without the slightest hiccup or distortion. The imagery itself is bright, beautifully rendered and is seamlessly integrated with the shapes of the buildings. At times it isn’t clear where you’re supposed to be looking, and more than once I had to consciously reorient myself to the fireworks exploding overhead, but it’s so clever and fun, I didn’t care.

More Disneyland Forever

“Disneyland Forever” explores several classic and contemporary Disney stories by taking us to their environment in new and imaginative ways, and always with a song. Inflatable seaweed rises up on top of the Main Street buildings during “Under the Sea”; chimney sweeps dance on rooftops and sing “Step In Time”; Nemo swims above Sleeping Beauty Castle towards the Matterhorn, reimagined as Mount Wannahockaloogie, complete with an erupting top; snow that smells like cinnamon falls overhead as Elsa belts out “Let It Go”.

Under the Sea

The music is magnificent, and each scene transitions perfectly to the next. I couldn’t help but sing and dance along in spite of myself, even while rubbing shoulders with a crowd of rather stiff reporters, not to mention show creator Steve Davison, Disneyland President Michael Colglazier, Disney COO Tom Staggs and other important people were in attendance that evening. Hey, what’s the point if I can’t have a little fun?

“Disneyland Forever” is feast for the eyes and the senses. It left me stunned and in awe, it gave me goosebumps and feels, but best of all, it’s insanely fun. It’s far more than a fireworks show has any right to be. When Walt created his park, he knew you have to give the paying public more than they expect, and that’s 100 percent true for this show. It’s the perfect kiss good-night to a fun-filled day at Disneyland.

Editor's note: Video to come!

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Replies (8)

May 22, 2015 at 11:36 AM · As I mentioned on Twitter after the show, this is a spectacle that defies an attempt to record it. For people who seem to live through the screens, constantly engaging in social media, Disneyland Forever challenges them to put down their phones, look around, and physically be present within its immersive moment. It really must be seen in person to be appreciated.
May 22, 2015 at 11:53 AM · That's exactly it, Robert. I made a conscious decision to put my electronics down for this show, and I'm so glad I did. It's a spectacle that envelops you on all sides. It's really something else.
May 22, 2015 at 12:04 PM · I'm curious to hear what the experience is in other areas of the park. Main Street sounds spectacular. Hopefully Disney has figured out how to replicate this experience - at least to some degree - elsewhere.
May 22, 2015 at 12:36 PM · I'm so glad to hear you guys raving about how great this is after the lack luster reviews of the new World of Color.
May 22, 2015 at 12:55 PM · Yeah, Rob, I was expecting World of Color - Celebrate to be the fan favorite, but now that I've seen all three new shows, "Disneyland Forever" is the clear winner, in my opinion.
May 22, 2015 at 3:09 PM · I believe it was Robert who said that he wanted Disney to be *shown* and not *told* why he loves Disneyland? Well, congratulations, you wished upon a star, and what your heart desired came to you!
May 22, 2015 at 5:30 PM · Nice write up and spot on. This is the best followed close by Paint... and then WoC.We were in front of 20th Century store. I can't wait to go back and see Matterhorn transformed and other parts of the park - Oleg
May 22, 2015 at 10:24 PM · THIS is how you solve a guest problem... too many people cramming the hub? OK, make a show guests *want* to watch from different places. Too many people on phones? Create an experience that demands you put that mobile down lest you miss something. Such a different mentality from the thinking that created magicbands. It solves something instead of merely replacing old problems (lines/lack of capacity) with new ones (crowded walkways, inflated standby waits, etc.)

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