Monday, June 7, 2010

World of Color - Preview

On Friday, June 11th, Disney California Adventure (formally Disney’s California Adventure) will officially open the Silly Symphony Swings and The World of Color. The World of Color is a nighttime water show, like the one in Vegas, which is DCA’s new “kiss goodnight”, much like the Electrical Parade was and the fireworks and Fantasmic are for Disneyland. I’ve now seen it twice and have decided with the opening so close to give my opinion and talk a little bit about what to expect. Now if you want you can go online and check out YouTube where some people have recorded the show from their hotel rooms but you won’t get the full effect. Like watching fireworks online you, firstly, don’t have the experience of being there seeing it with your own two eyes and trust me that’s the way you have to see it.

Growing up in Southern California, I have been able to grow up with Disneyland. One of my first memories is The Main Street Electrical Parade. It will always hold a special place in my heart and will always to me be apart of the Disneyland nostalgia. Apparently this was true for many others because after it’s departure from Disneyland in 1996 it was moved to DCA and stayed there for years. They even revamped it and had it as part of what Disney calls their summers, Summer Nightastic.

Another part of Nightastic is Fantasmic, hence the name. This show I didn’t see until a couple years ago and was mildly impressed. The show has been at the park since 1992 but for some reason never got around to seeing it. Maybe because it was always around the time of the fireworks and I would always choose them over it but during one of the viewings I saw a mom getting really into the show. So much so she was moving her arms like she was conducting the water herself and embarrassing her kids. She wasn’t that much older than me and I realized she must hold the same nostalgia for this as I do with the Electrical Parade.

There is a reason these shows have been at the park for so long. Fantasmic has been there for 18 years, the Parade, off and on, for almost 40 years and the Fireworks have been there for almost 55 years. So here’s the big question, my point for talking about these shows when I’m here to talk about World of Color, does the World of Color belong on the list of classic Disney/Disneyland shows that a kid who will visit the park next week for the first time in his life look back 20+ years from now and say I love Disneyland because when I was a kid I saw The World of Color and fell in love? Well obviously we will have to wait 20 years for that but it is in my opinion that this show has a strong chance.

Disney California Adventure has always had the running joke of it being a less than adequate sister park to the original. Well it’s not really a joke. Disneyland USA is unlike any other park in the world and I’m including the other “Magic Kingdoms”. While other parks are bigger and some have cooler rides, Disneyland has a history and warmness that cannot be replicated. Like the decade it came out of, it’s a huge piece of American Pie.

I have a few friends who don’t get it. They say Magic Mountain is a better park…well it’s not. And whenever I say well the rides might be cooler, they reply what else is there. Well everything. Would Six Flags worry what could we do to give a greater guest experience? Do people from out of state or even country dream of one day visiting Knott’s Berry Farm? Does Make-a-Wish hear people say I want to go to Universal Studios? Probably not.

Now taking all that into consideration. 15 years ago when Eisner and the imagineers decided to turn Disneyland into a multiday resort, they did it kind of “half assed”. The original idea was for a west coast EPCOT (WESTCOT). When that fell through, someone suggested California as a theme but forgot to realize that with the park being in California it wasn’t something new. When Disneyland was built you couldn’t go to a castle in California or take a rocket to the moon. You can drive another 30 miles and see the real Hollywood or just down the street and see the beach.

So with DCA being a flop and while under new management, ideas were once again thrown around. One idea I heard was a Pixar park and with how many Pixar references there are already it would have been an easy transition. Instead they went with a $1.1 Billion renovation. Paradise Peer is almost finished but there is still 2 years of changes to come.

As someone who has seen some of the things they are doing for World of Color, like food, beverages and merchandise, it makes me wonder why they couldn’t use that amount of creativity originally when building the park. Then maybe they could have avoided spending more than the park’s original price tag.
So why am I talking about all that? Because with World of Color I believe Disney California Adventure is finally on its way to being a decent sequel to Disneyland.

So here’s what I think of the show. Firstly I’m not going to say too much. Why? For one I can’t legally. I’ve signed a piece of paper saying I can’t. Second, I don’t want to spoil it. It’s like giving a movie review and not saying too much about the plot. But World of Color is amazing. It’s not just a water show. Its got video, lasers, fire and fog. I would say about half of this video is Pixar and the other half Disney Animation with a couple other things, but the transition between the scenes are perfect and you really get the sense that these characters belong together under one roof. The way light and water are used together are unlike anything you will every see.

If you’ve seen the firework show “Remember, Dreams Come True” then you know it’s a look at Disneyland through fireworks. That’s what WoC is but with Disney films and all the techniques I’ve mentioned.

Now for the bad news, I actually saw this show a couple months back too and they changed things. For one there was a this “structure” that looked like a squid or something that formed the chest of the Chernabog from the Night on Bald Mountain scene from Fantasia and water created a “screen” for his head to be projected on top while fire was spit from the whole thing. Sadly it rusted too easily and was taken out. Also there was a whole scene of Under the Sea, which is still there, but Sebastian used to be a paper animation. Now he’s traditional animation. I wonder why they changed that. In fact I heard there was a whole Alice in Wonderland scene in paper animation that I’ve never seen. They used to speak proudly of this animator they got to do all the paper animations. Don’t get me wrong I like the traditional stuff but I felt a little cheated by its loss. Also, a couple scenes were added to my delight. With some changes I’m glad that the last few scenes never changed. This is good.

I mentioned before that the Silly Symphony Swings officially open Friday too, but it has been open to the public for a week or so now. I do have to say I like everything about it better than the Orange Stinger.

Keep up the good work, Disney!

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