Disneyland Resort’s World of Color (in Disney California Adventure Park) nighttime water spectacular combines water, vibrant colors, fire and light into a jaw-dropping delight for the senses. More than 1,000 jets of water form incredible shapes in time to the music as Disney characters come to life on a shimmering veil of mist. Disney California Adventure also launched the “Glow with the Show” ears line in 2012, so now the audience is a part of the experience, too!
To describe it as a nighttime water spectacular is a bit of an understatement. Built as part of the $1.1 billion dollar extreme makeover of Disney California Adventure, part of the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, the show cost an estimated $75,000,000 to create. It premiered on Friday June 11, 2010 as part of “Summer Nightastic!” to huge crowds, and demand far exceeded predictions its first summer, and Team Disney Anaheim quickly added additional shows to meet this demand. On many summer nights, three showings of World of Color were offered. Now most nights have two shows.
Designed by Walt Disney Creative Entertainment and Walt Disney Imagineering, the show has more than 1,200 fountains, and includes lights, water, fire, fog, lasers, and high-definition projections on mist screens. Mark Hammond and Dave Hamilton arranged the music, with the score being performed by the London Symphony Orchestra.
The show is performed nightly in Paradise Pier Bay and combines original music and score with music and dialogue from Disney films. During peak seasons and during the summer months, two performances of World of Color are scheduled nightly at 9:00 p.m. and 10:15 p.m.. In off-peak seasons, two performances of World of Color are scheduled at 9:00 and 10:15 p.m. Friday through Sunday nights. Monday through Thursday nights, one 8:15 p.m. performance is scheduled. In order, the movies featured (with some brief interludes from Fantasia 2000, and films in the “So Close” Enchanted sequence omitted) are:
- Little Mermaid
- Finding Nemo
- Toy Story & Toy Story 2
- A Bug’s Life
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- The Lion King
Due to the show’s incredible popularity, FastPasses for the shows are available on a first-come, first-serve basis at the FastPass machines located at Grizzly River Run. Dining and picnic packages are also available for purchase that include FastPasses to the show. FastPasses are distributed for three sections, labeled Blue, Red, and Yellow.
Modifications and special “tags” have been added to the show since it has premiered, including a tag to promote Tron: Legacy in Fall 2010, and an expanded Pirates of the Caribbean section. It is strongly rumored that there will be a special 4th of July tag starting in 2011, and Halloween and Christmas tags for the show are also rumored.
On our first trip, we also didn’t know the ropes, and didn’t get a FastPass as early as we should have, and didn’t have a great view of the show. Learn from our mistakes: get to the park early and get a FastPass immediately. If you don’t get a FastPass immediately, don’t fret, as later FastPasses don’t put you at that much of a disadvantage. You can still “game” the system by monitoring the show and color sections later in the day. As soon FastPasses are being distributed for the very last show, get your FastPasses. Honestly, this puts you at an advantage, as this will get you in the best color section at the latest show, with the latest showing being the least crowded. It thus stands to reason that this show is the best for avoiding crowds and seeing the show.
You can also get a dining or picnic package (they aren’t that expensive, but they aren’t that great, either) if you want to be guaranteed a spot to see World of Color. Not all of the reserved dining locations are that great, so keep this in mind. Overall, we wouldn’t recommend the dining package.
Most importantly, get to the FastPass return line as early as possible for a spot as close to the front and center of the Pier as possible. If you aren’t in the FastPass line early, all of the previous planning is out the window. Spots at the front of the return line are more likely to assure you centered locations on the Pier, and you want to be as close to the center and the front as possible. You will get wet, but it is well worth it!
For additional World of Color viewing tips, view this incredibly thorough guide to braving the World of Color crowds!
In somewhat ironic fashion, on our first trip to Disneyland, last August, we were overwhelmed by California Adventure as a whole, the park that many locals trash, but underwhelmed by World of Color, the nighttime spectacular that many have anointed as the park’s redeeming attraction. My initial impression of the show was that, while technically impressive, it was little more than a quick Disney montage show. When describing it to Walt Disney World fans, the most apt comparison I could previously make was to PhilharMagic. By contrast, however, I thought PhilharMagic works really well because the montages (if you can even call them that since they’re basically new “footage” in PhilharMagic) are entwined with one another with a central storyline. World of Color’s montages are not new, although they are entwined pretty well.
That said, seeing it again totally changed both of our opinions of the show. Without a doubt, this was because of the front-row viewing area. It was well-worth getting wet to have this vantage. While the show still is a bit montage-ish in nature, the opening and conclusion tie the show together pretty nicely and I’ve come to really love the soundtrack from the show. Plus, from the front, the grandeur of the show really does compensate for any storytelling shortcomings.
It’s difficult to articulate why our opinions of the show changed so much, but I guess I would now compare the show to Wishes! Both are truly emotive. Standing alone, Wishes! would be a mediocre show, as it’s just simple montages of characters wishing. However, taken as a whole, with the montages, Cinderella Castle, and fireworks exploding overhead, it’s something magical. Not nearly as magical as Remember…Dreams Come True, but still excellent in its own right. World of Color is similarly an excellent show, and a great addition to Disney California Adventure.
Are you a World or Color fan? Share your thoughts in the comments!