Wondrous Journeys Fireworks at Disneyland

Wondrous Journeys is Disneyland’s new fireworks show debuting for the Disney100 celebration on January 27, 2023. This post shares a sneak peek at photos & video of the nighttime spectacular, details about the many movies and characters included, and some quick commentary.

These new fireworks are in honor of the Walt Disney Company’s 100th Anniversary, which will be celebrated throughout 2023 at Disneyland Resort. The California parks will be the heart of the celebration, with the 100 Years of Wonder Celebration beginning on January 27, 2023.

The Disney100 festivities at Disneyland Resort will include many special limited-time offerings taking place in both parks all year long, and will kick off with two new nighttime spectaculars, World of Color – ONE at Disney California Adventure and the aforementioned Wondrous Journeys at Disneyland, both of which are created by Disney Live Entertainment.

According to Disneyland, the Wondrous Journeys fireworks celebrate 100 years of Walt Disney Animation Studios in an experience that ignites the dreamer in all of us. The Wondrous Journeys nighttime spectacular features nods to every film released by the iconic studio over the past century.

Wondrous Journeys will feature music, characters, and iconic moments from movies including “Encanto,” “Hercules,” “The Princess and the Frog,” “Peter Pan,” “Frozen,” “Treasure Planet,” “Big Hero 6,” “Moana,” and many more.

After three decades in the motion picture business, Walt Disney created a whole new form of family entertainment in 1955 with the opening of Disneyland. According to the company, this is why Disneyland–Walt Disney’s original magic kingdom–is the perfect place to debut the Wondrous Journeys fireworks.

The Wondrous Journeys nighttime spectacular will also feature an original new song, “It’s Wondrous.” This catchy tune promises to capture your heart and spark your imagination. Check out this behind-the-scenes look at the recording session for this song, and hear from some of the creative minds behind this new spectacular:

Throughout Wondrous Journeys, guests embark on an adventure filled with artistry, music, storytelling, and heart while celebrating the dreamers at Walt Disney Animation Studio who have shared their imagination and talents with the world for one hundred years.

State-of-the-art projection effects will surround you with blank pieces of paper, pencil sketches, and splashes of color, as the artistry of animators breathe life into beloved characters from Mickey Mouse and Bambi to Ariel and Mirabel. In a thrilling moment of heroism, Baymax soars high above Sleeping Beauty Castle inspiring us all to fight for our dreams. (That’s Buzz Lightyear in my photo below illustrating how this works. Obviously, Baymax will look slightly different!)

Special lighting effects, projections, and more carry us on an adventure full of possibilities, excitement, heartache, and determination that help us realize we all face trials and triumphs along the way to making our dreams come true.

Main Street, U.S.A., Sleeping Beauty Castle, the facade of “it’s a small world” and the Rivers of America will turn into an artist’s canvas and bring stories to life all around you. On select nights, Wondrous Journeys will go even bigger with the addition of pyro in the sky above Disneyland.

In terms of commentary, I’m much more optimistic about Wondrous Journeys at Disneyland than World of Color – One. Although the scars from Disney Enchantment are still fresh and it would make sense to worry that this will be more of the same, I think some lessons have been learned from how poorly that was received by Walt Disney World guests.

The fact that Happily Ever After is returning to Magic Kingdom after being “permanently retired” indicates that Disney management is cognizant of the fact that Enchantment did not deliver on what an anniversary nighttime spectacular in a castle park should be. That alone bodes well for Wondrous Journeys. The newer Momentous Fireworks at Hong Kong Disneyland and their incredibly positive reception among fans is another positive sign.

Then there’s also the fact that Wondrous Journeys is coming to Disneyland. There’s usually a certain reverence within the company for anything in Disneyland, and locals hold anything at Walt Disney’s park to a higher standard. It’s one thing to shove a Disney+ sizzle reel into the upstart second gate, but another entirely to pull those kind of shenanigans at Disneyland.

On top of that, Wondrous Journeys featuring nods to all 60 WDAS films is a smart move and suggests better balance. (That is, unless the 10 most recent ones are the bulk of the show while the first two-dozen are all part of a single projection.) This would seem to set Wondrous Journeys up as “Disneyland Forever 2.0.” If we can just get a brief nod to Walt Disney to bookend the opening and closing, it’ll likely hit all of the right notes needed for an exceptional Disneyland fireworks show.

Speaking of which, “fireworks show” may not be the most apt term since Wondrous Journeys won’t have pyro on some nights. This has been par for the course with recent nighttime spectaculars at Disneyland, which have been running without fireworks on many weeknights.

It should go without saying, but fireworks shows are better with…fireworks. I know Disneyland is calling Wondrous Journeys a nighttime spectacular, and that’s the official vernacular for all castle park fireworks shows. But c’mon. It’s a show built around pyro exploding over Sleeping Beauty Castle. It’s a fireworks show, even with the added bells and whistles.

Yet, Disneyland has had problems for fireworks shows for years due to the cursed Santa Ana winds. If there’s a light breeze or someone even coughs in the wrong direction, the dreaded pyro balloon comes out to see whether it’s safe to run the show with fireworks.

This is not a problem that Walt Disney World has, but even if weather isn’t cooperating, the Florida parks can wait it out. That’s also not an option in California, because the fireworks have to be finished before local noise ordinances take effect. The downsides of being sandwiched into one of the most densely-populated areas of the country versus the ‘blessing of size’ at Walt Disney World.

As a result of this, Disneyland started creating B-modes for the fireworks shows (sorry, nighttime spectaculars) several years ago. To the best of my recollection, this began with Disneyland Forever in a more rudimentary and truncated form. Since then, all of the fireworks shows–new and old–have had projections show alternatives created for windy and weeknights.

While I don’t love this as an excuse to not schedule pyro at all for slow dates (do those really even exist anymore?!), it’s a far superior alternative to cancelling the fireworks completely. That was always met with disappointment, as guests who waited for 30+ minutes ended their day on a note of disappointment. The pyro-less fireworks shows definitely don’t pack the same punch, but they’re definitely better than nothing!

Planning a Southern California vacation? For park admission deals, read Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets. Learn about on-site and off-site hotels in our Anaheim Hotel Reviews & Rankings. For where to eat, check out our Disneyland Restaurant Reviews. For unique ideas of things that’ll improve your trip, check out What to Pack for Disney. For comprehensive advice, consult our Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide. Finally, for guides beyond Disney, check out our Southern California Itineraries for day trips to Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, and tons of other places!

Your Thoughts

Are you excited for the Wondrous Journeys Fireworks at Disneyland for Disney100? Disappointed that it’ll run in B-mode on some/many less busy dates? Optimistic that this will be better than Disney Enchantment? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

8 Responses to “Wondrous Journeys Fireworks at Disneyland”
  1. Jenny August 2, 2023
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