2012 Best Attraction Tournament: Best Nighttime Spectacular?

February 16, 2012, 10:13 AM · We're now at the end of the first round of the 2012 Theme Park Insider Tournament. And what better way to end the first round than the same way so many of us end a day at a theme park - with a nighttime spectacular?

The top three nominees in this category are the obvious candidates - Fantasmic!, World or Color and IllumiNations. For the remaining two slots, I've included Wishes and Remember, the fireworks shows at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and Disneyland, respectively. But rather than split the votes of fireworks fans for two shows that most casual observers would consider relatively similar (fireworks coordinated with a castle light show), I decided to present them as a single entry. That opened the final space for Disney's Electrical Parade.

Why no entrants from non-Disney theme parks? Timing, alas. Universal's closed its CineSphere show, but not yet opened its replacement. Running this tournament in the winter and spring, when many of the regional parks are between shows, kept them out of the running, too.

But what we have here are some awesome shows, each one worthy of the title of Best Nighttime Spectacular. It's up to you now to choose which one will win. Voting will be open for 24 hours.

Fantasmic! - at Disneyland, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Tokyo DisneySea


IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth - at Epcot

IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth

Main Street Electrical Parade - at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Main Street Electrical Parade

Wishes/Remember - Fireworks at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and Disneyland


World of Color - at Disney California Adventure [with video]

World of Color

Tomorrow: I'll announce the match-ups and brackets for Round Two and beyond.

Replies (26)

February 16, 2012 at 10:19 AM · I'm shocked that Wishes is doing so poorly! (ok so I can't really complain becasue I voted for Illuminations but still....) I haven't seen in since 2010- has it gone down hill?
February 16, 2012 at 10:23 AM · I think Wishes is just too complacent. It's okay, sappy and sentimental but after watching the Summer Nightastic fireworks, Wishes looks more than lackluster, it looks lame. It's an old show and now what comes off as simple. It's time to ramp of the fireworks over Cinderella Castle.

It was a tie between Illuminations and World of Color. Illuminations won out because Illuminations is...I don't have a reason.

February 16, 2012 at 10:31 AM · I've never seen Fantasmic or World of Color (though that one sounds very cool...) and the sappy, creepy-kid voices that accompany Wishes totally ruin it for me.

I have a soft-spot for the Main Street Electrical Parade of my childhood, and I still smile whenever I hear the theme music pop up on one of my Disney mixes. But I don't think its current version would live up to my memories.

So I voted for Illuminations. The fireworks are great and I love the laser imagery over the Earth sphere.

February 16, 2012 at 10:32 AM · Not so much a comment, but is it possible to change the polls so the responses don't appear in the current results order? i.e. each option appears in the exact same order as in the results. This has been the case for every poll as best I have seen. I would think it showing up like that might influence the results, as in I actually think now whether I agree with the option that is currently in first place rather than just voting what I truly think is the best without that additional influence. I assume the software does that automatically somehow, but again, I believe it could influence the results.
February 16, 2012 at 10:39 AM · Lemme work on that. I could make that change as part of adding an option to see the results without voting, which also has been requested. (Unless others feel strongly that I should leave it as is.) /threadjack
February 16, 2012 at 10:53 AM · OK, I chose Wishes over Illuminations but there is an * to my choice:

I do not feel the "regular" version of Illuminations is the best "Nighttime Spectacular", however, the holiday version of Illuminations with the second finale narrated by Walter Cronkite is the best "Nighttime Spectacular" at any theme park in Orlando anyway. It starts the Friday after Thanksgiving and runs through the first week of the new year (approx dates).

I am very surprised as well that Wishes is not scoring better on the vote. The big caveat to Wishes is I personally feel you don't get nearly the same show from direct stage right, left, or obviously behind the castle. For some readers that may not know, Wishes pyro is let loose from two areas with the second being outside the rear of the park. The other layer is at the castle. I know what you are thinking...."they're up in the sky! Why would it matter?" but I swear it makes a difference.

February 16, 2012 at 10:59 AM · I haven't seen the current (Wishes) version of the MK fireworks show, but the Remember version at Disneyland is a vastly different experience watching it in the limited space at the front of the castle versus elsewhere in the park. I think that hurts its popularity a bit.

But let's face it, the Big Three here are a Murderer's Row. It'd be hard for any fireworks show to compete with them. FWIW, I went with World of Color, with Fantasmic! a close second for me (pretty much just due to age). I haven't liked IllumiNations since they dumped the national-themed classical music years ago.

February 16, 2012 at 11:00 AM · Illuminations is beautiful. I haven't been able to see Fantasmic yet due to crowds, but I will during SWW. Wishes is still good, and the MSEP is ok, can't judge WOC though.
February 16, 2012 at 11:24 AM · I had to go with Fantasmic! I like WoC, but to me it's like watching Wicked on an IMAX screen. Fantasmic! is like watching Wicked live from Orchestra Seating. I'll take the live stuff anyday.

As for the voting, personally I wouldn't want to see the results before I vote. Sometimes people vote for what's popular. Or they vote AGAINST something that's popular. I'd rather have everyone place a vote for something after they've thought about why they're choosing something and not influenced by who's winning or losing.

February 16, 2012 at 11:37 AM · The Magic, The Memories, and You! should have been included. When I read about it in the Disney map, I thought it sounded silly. When I saw it that night I was blown away!!! Apologies if it was included in another vote and I am forgetting seeing it.
February 16, 2012 at 11:38 AM · Went for Fantasmic! (and it's for the Disneyland original, which they improve upon year after year). You get so many more elements in this show than the others: water effects, lasers, fireworks, huge moving sets, and live actors. And the original Imagination theme is great (and missed in Tokyo).

While I love the music of Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, that lull in the middle where you may or may not see video on the globe needs a World of Color-style injection. If WDW added more fountains to the middle of this show, it would be amazing. And while I love World of Color, there are a couple of passages where it doesn't quite work as well as it could (I'm talking to you, POTC 4 segment). And it doesn't have the mix of elements of the other two shows.

February 16, 2012 at 11:40 AM · Did you have to give me such a tough choice for my birthday? ;-) I love all these, but finally went with Fantasmic! because I REALLY love that one (especially at Disneyland with the VIP package!) and Sorcerer Mickey is my favorite!! (Though I, too, hold a special fondness for the Electrical Parade! Gotta love that electronic-voiced intro and synthesizer theme music!)
February 16, 2012 at 11:50 AM · @Skipper Adam

I'd certainly imagine that a new fireworks show will be on the way by next year when the new Fantasyland is running.

February 16, 2012 at 11:52 AM · This is where Disney really shines. Their shows, both evening & stage, are way above anything the competition has to offer. I love Wishes/Remember. Maybe its a little sappy, but it's the Disney I remember as a child. I remember seeing the first ABC Disney Wide World of color TV show with the castle fireworks and Jimminy Cricket singing Wish Upon a Star. Illuminations & Main St. Electrical Parade are also excellent. I've only seen California's World of Color on the tube, but it also appears to be of Disney's high entertainment quality....But Brandon's analogy sums it up best. I saw Wicked on Broadway third row center, and his comparison echoes well. My vote goes for Fantasmic. We went to see it three times during our vacation last May & we'll probably see it three or four times again in May 2012. It's just great entertainment in a "fantastic" setting.
February 16, 2012 at 12:50 PM · With regards to the upcoming bracket, is it going to be seeded via margin of victory in the opening round. Or can there be some regard to Disney versus non Disney in the first round.
February 16, 2012 at 12:54 PM · Brackets will be seeded by vote counts.

And I thought about Magic, Memories & You for the fifth spot, but it seems as Disney's treating it like a preshow for Wishes rather than its own thing, so I went with MSEP. (MMY isn't even listed on the daily online show sked for the MK.)

February 16, 2012 at 1:04 PM · Went with Illuminations just over Fantasmic, but have a different reason than I've seen yet in the comments.

As long as you are remotely close to the lagoon during Illuminations, it is an extremely visceral experience. In addition to it looking and sounding awesome, and the music really fitting the ebb and flow of the visuals, you can pretty much "feel" every firework.

The only other experience I've had like that in a Disney park was on the main street of The Studios during their New Year's Eve firework show, which was amazing as well.

Anyway, I've probably seen Illuminations 10 times over the years, and have definitely experienced this "visceral" feeling about it at least 8 times. The only times it wasn't true were when the park was so mobbed that we had to stand way back near the Canada pavilion or similar.

February 16, 2012 at 2:03 PM · Happy Birthday, Beth!

And I didn't vote here. I haven't seen these (except for the Disney Electrical Parade..I think..when I was a kid) On the rare occasions I'm at a park when a night-time show is on, I'm trying to get my last coaster rides.

February 16, 2012 at 2:24 PM · I haven't seen it live yet, but World of Color looks absolutely amazing. It gets my vote today.
February 17, 2012 at 12:20 AM · I've seen most of these at one point or another.

Fantasmic: This one gets my vote. It really is an excellent show, incorporating many different elements (live action, animatronics, pyrotechnics, water screens...even a few of the park's rides in the Disneyland version). I will always stop to watch this if it is playing, especially the last portion of the show (from when the villians appear onward). This is my second favorite Theme Park show in general.

World of Color: I saw it once, and I won't see it again until they get rid of the silly Showpass system. It really seemed like an overly long fountain show mixed with trailers for Pixar movies. There is only so much you can do with water, and I really think this would be a much better show if it was 10-12 minutes and a best of versus 27 minutes with way too much of a focus on the water screen.

Remember...Dreams Come True: Although my favorite firework show, it is still just a firework show. There is no way this can compete with the other competitors.

Main Street Electrical Parade: The original version of this would have gotten my vote, but the current version is condensed with several missing floats and a couple alternate ones. Plus, they replaced the old electronic soundtrack with a more orchestral one, which does not fit the parade at all.

February 17, 2012 at 2:30 AM · I voted for Fantasmic!, but only if we consider the Disneyland edition. I have seen the Disney's Hollywood Studios versions twice now, and it is inferior to the original in so many ways, including the venue. There is something immediate and immersive about being on the shore of the Rivers of America, looking at Tom Sawyer's Island, and seeing the complete transformation of this site to the battle for Mickey's imagination. The show is practically in your lap, as opposed to the distances one experiences in Florida. Plus, let's face it, Maleficent is the superior villainess by far, and her dragon persona is certifiably bad-ass.
The show incorporates so many elements that are done so much more spectacularly in other shows, but it does ALL of them. Yes, it has fountains, yes, it has pyro, yes, it has projections. It hits them all beautifully.
February 17, 2012 at 4:09 AM · Illuminations has been a juggernaut for well over a decade and continues to be my favorite. None of these other shows has anything close to the inferno barge. Bar none the coolest piece of pyrotechnic technology I have ever seen. The only issue I take with it is the water fountains could be improved. Compared to was the capabilities are these days, those fountains look puny. I also wish they would bring back the old school laser image of earth on Spaceship Earth from back when AT&T sponsored it. I just remember walking towards spaceship earth as a kid with the rotating image of the continents on it and thinking how cool it was.
February 17, 2012 at 7:57 AM · I went with wishes. It's the one my kids enjoy the most.

The world of color show itself is really nice but the whole world of color "experience" with the cattle call and people stepping over each other and pushing people out of the way is horrible. No show is worth how some people act getting into the viewing area.

We even had dinner at Ariel's grotto so we wouldn't have to deal with the FP bull(which is another pet peeve of mine) but it didn't matter, you still had to wait with everyone else and then you just got corralled into your proper colored viewing area.

It's a shame that they created such a nice show then dropped the ball with crowd control. A show that nice and %75 of the viewing area is off target.

Sorry, I'll get off of my soapbox now .

February 17, 2012 at 6:30 PM · I totally agree with the outcome here. I have seen all of the shows and Fantasmic is by far the best, especially the Disneyland version. And I also agree that World of Color and IllumiNations are so similar that it would be hard to chose between them.
February 18, 2012 at 12:39 AM · Thanks, Mike! I celebrated my birthday two weeks early with a Disney Cruise (my first ever)! Not quite the same as visiting the parks, but definitely a lot of fun! :-)
February 19, 2012 at 11:16 AM · Electrical Parade came in last??? Behind some fireworks shows?

Seriously, I have to wonder what you guys are thinking...

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