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Matthew Gottula

Disneyland Recharges its Electrical Parade with Paint the Night

Published: May 22, 2015 at 1:12 AM

I was a wide-eyed 7-year-old when the Main Street Electrical Parade ended its run at Disneyland. I was enthralled by that parade: the music, the colors, the lights. Especially the lights. I love things that light up. It was also the first time I felt emotional attachment and loss when a Disneyland classic "glowed away." I was just a kid, but I wrote a strongly worded hand-written letter to Michael Eisner (I still have a copy) pleading him to not take it away, arguing that "Disneyland doesn't need new technology."

At last, almost 20 years later, a new nighttime parade has hit the streets of Disneyland, and as it turns out, it's pretty spectacular what new technology can do.

Paint the Night
Photos by Robert Niles

Paint the Night, one of three new nighttime spectaculars for Disneyland's 60th Anniversary, is jam-packed with visual splendor and is consistently entertaining from start to finish. It's BRIGHT - almost blinding at times, thanks to the more than 1.5 million LED lights, neon, strobes and other special effects.

Monsters Inc.


More Mack

I especially enjoyed Sorcerer Mickey's kinetic sculpture at the very end - I could stare at that thing for hours. Entertainers wear elaborate costumes that are themed to each float and light up in sync with the music and choreography. One of my favorites was the jellyfish following the Little Mermaid float, with long glowing tendrils that spin and twirl.

Little Mermaid

Ariel and friends

Fans like me who are nostalgic for the Main Street Electrical Parade will appreciate nods to the original, like the big drum at the beginning of the parade, and the infectious "Baroque Hoedown" song, mixed in with Owl City's tune "When Can I See You Again?" which you might remember from the end credits of Wreck-It Ralph.

Slinky Dog and Woody

If I have any criticism, it's that the characters and films represented in the parade are the obvious choices, but not necessarily the *best* choices. "Paint the Night" first debuted at Hong Kong Disneyland in 2014, and Disneyland got the same parade with the addition of a Frozen float. That probably worked out great for Hong Kong, but in Anaheim it's strange to see Mack the truck from Pixar's Cars rolling down Main Street USA when Cars Land is in the theme park next door. The Toy Story and Monsters, Inc. floats also feel somewhat redundant at this resort, considering that California Adventure has a daytime parade entirely dedicated to Pixar. Wouldn't it be more interesting to see the video game world of Wreck-It Ralph, or the San Fransokyo skyline of Big Hero 6, brought to life with snazzy electric lights, instead of the same characters from the same films used over and over again?




Nevertheless, I was mesmerized by "Paint the Night" and I enjoyed seeing an old friend made new again. It pays tribute to its predecessor while updating the tech considerably, with newer characters and films, and stunning lighting effects galore, all set to a toe-tapping pop beat that feels fresh but not out of place at Walt Disney's original Magic Kingdom.

Mickey Mouse

I'm thankful that the show stop was eliminated from Hong Kong's version - nothing kills the momentum of this parade and it's all high-energy goodness from start to finish. My childhood memories have returned, even brighter and shiner than I remember.

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Robert Niles

Vote of the Week: It's Party Time at Disney!

Published: May 22, 2015 at 12:46 AM

Disneyland hadn't even closed yesterday before crowds starting lining up outside the park for the start of today's 24-hour party to celebrate the start of the resort's 60th anniversary Diamond Celebration.

Sleeping Beauty Castle

It's become a Memorial Day weekend tradition, with the 24-hour parties at Disney's parks here in Southern California and at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Florida. While Disney World's celebrating the start of another "Frozen" Summer with its event, the bigger news is in California, where Disney executives from both coasts have gathered for the 60th birthday kick-off.

We reviewed the media premieres of the resort's three new shows this week — World of Color - Celebrate!, Paint the Night, and Disneyland Forever — and the public will get its first chance to see those shows tonight. But that's not all that's happening at the resort. Disney's programmed a slate of special events, including a Mary Poppins movie sing-along in the Main Street Opera House at 6pm, 10pm, 12:45am and 3:30am, showings of Guardians of the Galaxy in the Tomorrowland Theater at 10pm and 3:30am, and The Avengers in that theater at 12:15am.

If you are in any of the Disney parks today, please tag @ThemePark in your Twitter photos, and we'll embed the best of them in this post, which we will update throughout the 24 hours.

Please tell us in the comments about your theme park plans for the weekend. Thank you to everyone who's been following along as we've traveled all over the country to bring you coverage of all the attraction premieres over the past month and especially in the past week.

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Robert Niles

Celebrating 60 Years with 'Disneyland Forever'

Published: May 22, 2015 at 12:42 AM

The Disneyland Resort wrapped up its Diamond Celebration media event with the premiere of Disneyland Forever — the new fireworks show that includes projection mapping on Main Street, the castle, and other facades around the park.

We will have a full review and video report later, but first, this thought:

This is a truly immersive show, meant to be experienced fully, and not through a screen. You truly have to see it in person to appreciate it.

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Robert Niles

A New Yeti Moves in on Disneyland's Matterhorn

Published: May 21, 2015 at 6:21 PM

Not only is Disneyland rolling out three new shows for its 60th anniversary Diamond Celebration, it's plussing some of its classic attractions, too.


We already told you about the return of an improved Hatbox Ghost to the Haunted Mansion. And, starting tomorrow, Disneyland fans also will get to see a new and improved Yeti on the Matterhorn Bobsleds. (Cue the screams from frustrated Expedition Everest fans.)

New Yeti
Photo courtesy Disney

Disneyland let media reps go the ride a day early today, and here is a full on-ride POV video for you viewing enjoyment.

Yeah, it's a little shaky. That's because the ride is the same as it's been since the last major refurbishment, when Disneyland replaced the classic bobsleds with new sleds that fans have decried as rough and uncomfortable, with sharply reduced legroom.

Disney worked on the show this time, adding three encounters with the Yeti on the ride. While we hear the Yeti from the moment we enter the mountain, the first time we catch a glimpse of the legendary creature is behind ice on the ride's initial lift.

After passing the wreckage of a previous mountain exhibition (including one of those old, beloved sleds, wrecked), we see the new animatronic Yeti. Featuring a wide range of body motion and detailed facial movement, the Yeti swipes his arms toward your sled as you slide past.

We will see the Yeti one last time, toward the end of the ride, when he (she? it?) lunges toward the sled.

No, Disneyland's Yeti isn't as large as the one on Expedition Everest. Nor does he seem to move as much as the Walt Disney World abominable snowman once did. But this Yeti does move, and impressively so, giving west coast fans one more gift from Disneyland over which they can brag a little toward their east coast friends.

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Robert Niles

First Look at Wizarding World of Harry Potter Merchandise from Universal Studios Hollywood

Published: May 21, 2015 at 1:00 PM

Let's head to Hollywood to see what's new this week at the Wizarding World West!

Wizarding World construction

Universal Studios Hollywood has said that it will make an announcement on June 2 about its Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which debuts next year. But this week, the park is letting annual passholders get a first look at some of the Harry Potter merchandise that will sold in the new land.

Temporary Harry Potter store

Most of the items will be familiar to fans who have visited the two Wizarding World of Harry Potter lands at Universal Orlando. And some of it will be familiar to Southern Californians who have visited the Warner Bros. Studio Tour store down the street, which sells Potter-themed items. But let's climb aboard the hype train anyway, and enjoy a look around.

Inside the store

This store, which is located outside of the land, which remains under construction, includes a selection of house robes...

Hogwarts house robes

Hogwarts supplies and souvenirs...

Hogwarts souvenirs

Quidditch gear...

Quidditch gear

Owls, pets, and other animals...

Potter pets

Sweets, including Chocolate Frogs, Jelly Slugs, Peppermint Toads, and Every Flavor Beans...

Wizarding sweets

Souvenirs for those in Slytherin...

Dark magic souvenirs

A few higher-priced specialities, including house watches, collectibles, and jewelry...

Harry Potter collectibles

And, of course, wands.

Wizarding wands

Only the traditional (non-interactive) wands are available here, and they sell for $36.95 each — the same price currently posted on the Universal Orlando website.

Harry Potter character wands

No word yet on if the interactive wands will be part of the Hollywood Wizarding World experience. Perhaps a question to be answered next month?

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Matthew Gottula

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

Published: May 21, 2015 at 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.


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:

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Samantha Glavin

Wicked Cyclone Storms into Six Flags New England

Published: May 20, 2015 at 7:45 PM

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Russell Meyer

Laff Trakk Debuts at Hersheypark (*Updated)

Published: May 20, 2015 at 7:44 PM

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Robert Niles

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey: Now in 3D

Published: May 20, 2015 at 6:24 PM

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Robert Niles

Six Flags Magic Mountain Makes the Old New Again with Twisted Colossus

Published: May 20, 2015 at 2:19 PM

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Robert Niles

An Insider's Look at Disney's New World of Color - Celebrate

Published: May 19, 2015 at 10:28 PM

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Robert Niles

Universal Studios Hollywood Promises Wizarding World of Harry Potter News on June 2

Published: May 19, 2015 at 1:08 PM

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Robert Niles

Six Flags Challenges Disney, Universal at Their Own Game with Justice League: Battle for Metropolis

Published: May 19, 2015 at 11:01 AM

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Jacob Sundstrom

Where to Eat: Dinner at Epcot's Restaurant Marrakesh

Published: May 18, 2015 at 9:12 PM

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Robert Niles

An Insider's Look at Disneyland's New Parade - Paint the Night

Published: May 18, 2015 at 12:01 PM

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John Ramey

Weekly Top 10: The Things That Theme Park Employees Block Out While Working

Published: May 18, 2015 at 8:31 AM

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Robert Niles

An Insider's Look at Disneyland's New Fireworks Show - Disneyland Forever

Published: May 17, 2015 at 3:24 PM

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Rick Bridger

Attraction Spotlight: The San Diego Zoo

Published: May 17, 2015 at 10:58 AM

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Robert Niles

Getting Ready for Disneyland's Diamond Celebration

Published: May 16, 2015 at 11:36 AM

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Robert Niles

Vote of the Week: Do You Most Want Free Food, Time, or Money or Your Theme Park Vacation?

Published: May 15, 2015 at 12:00 PM

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Bobbie Butterfield

El Diablo Opens at Six Flags Great Adventure - But What Is It?

Published: May 15, 2015 at 11:32 AM

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James Koehl

What's New at Cedar Point for 2015

Published: May 15, 2015 at 8:38 AM

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