Show Review: Disney's New World of Color - One

January 26, 2023, 1:34 AM · The Disneyland Resort officially kicked off The Walt Disney Company's 100th birthday celebration with a media and cast preview of World of Color - One at Disney California Adventure.

This latest version of DCA's nighttime spectacular starts with the conceit that anyone can "Start a Wave" that changes the world around them, starting with Walter Elias Disney, who, with his brother, Roy, 100 years ago this October founded the company that now bears his name.

World of Color - One, which is actually World of Color 7 (or 8, or 10, or 11, depending upon how you count the versions), starts and ends with Walt, but then completely forgets about him in between. As soon as the Cody Fry theme song begins, the show advances swiftly to The Walt Disney Company's modern era, where "Pocahontas" and "The Lion King" are the oldest "classics" featured in this World of Color's medley of hits.

We get "Colors of the Wind" to start the hit parade, though I didn't think the song's presentation nearly as visually impressive as the Pocahontas sequence in the original version of World of Color. Act 1's theme is inspiration, taking us from "Encanto" to "Ratatouille" to "Soul" to "Coco" in showing us Disney protagonists who challenged and inspired others around them.

Act 2 takes us from spiritual, emotional, and intellectual inspiration to inspiring action, showing us characters who stood up to fight for what they believed. John Williams' ever-thrilling Star Wars theme elicited a cheer from the crowd as two fountains sprung from the Paradise Park lagoon as lightsabers piercing the Southern California night sky.

Star Wars leads into The Lion King (oh, what a missed opportunity to have Darth Vader transition to Mufasa), which leads to Mulan and Moana, before delivering the Avengers. The Pixar and Disney clips get the animation from those films, but Disney went with more stylized looks for its Star Wars and Marvel sequences in World of Color - One. Star Wars gets a "painterly" look, like in The Mandalorian post-show credits on Disney+, while Marvel gets a more graphic design, a la the Disney+ Hawkeye post-show credits.

Thor's blast with Mjolnir brings us back to a reprise of our opening number, "Start a Wave," as Disney hammers home its message that anyone in the audience can help make Disney content go viral, er, change the world around them.

To be fair, strong winds battered Southern California this evening. Wind is not the friend of water screens used for digital projections, so this show wasn't at its best under these conditions. But fuzzy projections don't change the selection of content and music used in the show.

World of Color - One could use a dose of Storytelling 101 - "show, don't tell." My favorite change-ups from the original version - Villainous and Hurry Home - created protagonists who served as audience surrogates, allowing us to feel the character's journey. That World of Color - One needs narration explaining its theme - at its beginning, climax, and exit, no less - betrays its narrative shortcomings.

The original World of Color succeeded by not trying to sell a message. The medium was the message. Stand and enjoy the visual spectacle of Disney entertainment delivered in a new way, through a water-splashed world of color. A montage of 100 years of Disney hits, starting with Walt's own works, would have sent all the message that World of Color - One needed. Drop the Harmonious-style lessons and allow Disney's powerful images and music to speak for themselves.

More from Disneyland

For our coverage of this morning's media preview of Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway, please see Take Two's a Keeper for Mickey & Minnie's Runway Railway. And stay tuned tomorrow for our coverage of Disneyland's new nighttime spectacular, Wondrous Journeys.

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Replies (1)

January 26, 2023 at 2:05 PM

100 years of Disney that cuts out the golden era?

Chapek was probably planning on making you pay extra for that.

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