But not without a delay. Disney positions a screen in front of the Mickey Mouse face on Mickey's Fun Wheel to provide an additional "canvas" for projections during the show. But the screen snagged on the wheel as it was rising into position, forcing Disney to send up tech workers to climb onto the wheel (!) to dislodge the screen. They did — after a 20-minute delay — but Disney ultimately ditched the screen for this performance, using an alternate option where the Mickey screen elements are instead projected onto the sun face inside the California Screamin' loop.
No matter. The stars of World of Color are its fountains, lights and water screens, anyway. And they are put to much better use in this production. The show begins with a strange sight in Southern California, falling leaves in autumn as a snowy winter approaches. (Okay, maybe not so strange if you live in Big Bear, but for the rest of us valley dwellers....) Mickey and friends are decorating their homes for the holidays to the tune of “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole, as we segue into a collection greatest hits from the holiday song repertoire.
World of Color works best when it embraces impressionism. No one wants to see Neil Patrick Harris narrating real-life video on a water screen. In Season of Light, World of Color returns to what made the original show so beloved — iconic moments from Disney's animated films. Yes, they're projected on those water screens, but not to tell their stories. They're up there to remind us of their moments — the emotions we feel whenever we see them, amplified by the fountains, the lights, and the experience of being together with thousands of other Disney fans, all reliving this collective memory.
The holiday shows — this, with its predecessor "Winter Dreams" — also manage to tap into deeper cultural tradition with their collections of holiday songs. Sometimes we get the enduring versions — Nat King Cole and José Feliciano's “Feliz Navidad” — and sometimes we don't, for better (“Baby It’s Cold Outside” by Michael Bublé and Idina Menzel) or worse (“Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies” by Pentatonix).
A few moments stand out:
- After “Feliz Navidad,” as the center fountains spray into the shape of a massive, three-dimensional Christmas tree, bathed in green light and topped with a golden "star," one of the most impressive technical feats in any version of World of Color.
- The scene in which Goofy attempts to create a holiday light display, which lights up the California Screamin' track and Fun Wheel with virtual strings of holiday lights. Eventually, the display grows across the entire Paradise Bay before a few wisps of flame from the water signal that all's not well. Which we should have known the moment Goofy showed up on the water screens. A moment later, and the lagoon is completely aflame, to the delight of the crowd... and the chagrin of the ever-hapless Goofy.
- With the crowd warmed up (sorry...), we hear the first notes of Elvis' “Blue Christmas”... as Sadness from Inside Out walks across the water screens, pretty much killing the crowd. There's another great technical moment here, too, a blue fountains work with the projected image to create tears flowing from Sadness' eyes.
The show wraps with “Let There Be Peace on Earth” by Heather Hedley... but awkwardly. After coming to an amazing climax, with water soaring as high as the notes and the crowd cheering, the soundtrack brings it down a notch and slides into another verse, prolonging the show and priming the crowd for an even higher, louder finish... but what we get doesn't quite rise to the level the show had hit just moments before. It's still a wonderful finish, just not the emotional knockout that Season of Light had been poised to deliver.
Here's the full show video:
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