Thursday, July 16, 2009

'World of Color': Sneak Peek at the New Night Show for Disney's California Adventure

I'm in Anaheim this week reporting on the makeover of Disney's California Adventure. This morning I attended a behind-the-scenes media preview of the park's new nighttime spectacular, "World of Color," set to debut in spring 2010.

"World of Color" will be a 25-minute water-based show staged on DCA's lagoon. If the Disney Imagineers are truly able to turn the plans they shared today into reality, "World of Color" is going to make the fountains at Bellagio look like splashes in a baby pool.

The show will launch from a 400-foot-long platform sunk into the lagoon—the entire structure covers nearly a full acre. The water's drained right now so the Disney crews can work on it, so if you look at the photo above (courtesy of The Walt Disney Company) you can see what the setup looks like. That massive structure will actually reside completely submerged beneath the water during the day, then float to the surface for showtime (it'll only take about 10 minutes to do so).

Disney's building an entirely new terrace on the edge of the lagoon (facing newly refurbished Paradise Pier) to create capacity for 9,000 guests to see the spectacular. What will they be looking at?

"World of Color" will take the video-on-mist-screen technology used in "Fantasmic!" to a phenomenal next level through new digital projection technology. Twenty-nine high-definition projectors will splash images up on a mist screen 380 feet long and 50 feet high—or 19,000 square feet. The screen will interact with approximately 1,200 fountains—some with capacity to shoot water 200 feet into the air—throughout the lagoon to provide a show Disney creatives are saying is of a scale never seen before in their parks.

"This is the biggest entertainment undertaking we've ever done," Imagineer Steve Davison, creative director for "World of Color," told me. "It's bigger than Epcot, bigger than Tokyo, bigger than any fireworks show we've ever done."

That. Is. Saying. Something. Characters, scenes, and music from several Disney films will be included in the production; the renderings below (also courtesy of Disney) provide an idea of what the "Alice in Wonderland" and "Pocahontas" sections will look like.

"World of Color" hearkens back to Walt Disney's television program of the same name, and is demonstrative of the thematic shift DCA will make over the next three years as it transitions away from the kitschy modern-day vibe it expresses now into a vision of Los Angeles as Disney experienced it nearly a century ago.

"The tone [of the show] is perfect because it combines everything we're trying to do [at DCA]," Bob Weiss, executive vice president for Walt Disney Imagineering, told me today. "We're bringing more Walt, more inspiration, more storytelling, we're trying do everything in state-of-the-art technologies people have not seen before. It epitomizes and symbolizes for us what's going to be transformative about everything we're adding."

The size, scope, and sheer amount of information I learned today is overwhelming, as I'm sure this show will be when it leaps into the sky next year. I could blog about this for a week and still not get through it all. But look for my full, in-depth coverage of the DCA expansion/makeover in the Nov./Dec. 2009 issue of FUNWORLD. In the meantime, check out the new site Disney launched today,, for more info and a look at more of the artistic renderings for additions to the park.

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