On Tuesday, June 1, I had the esteemed pleasure and honor to be among the first to see World of Color (WOC) at Disney’s California Adventure. Less than 100 people assembled that night to see the show’s “dress rehearsal” after a Q and A session and reception at the Blue Sky Cellar. Up until now, I have not been able to give my review of the show and I’m so happy and relieved to be able to tell you all about it.
WOC is a show that takes place in Paradise Bay at Disney’s California Adventure. The show uses an elaborately choreographed system of fountains, projection, lasers, lights, and music to bring to life iconic scenes from Disney and Disney/Pixar films. (I will be reporting more on the mechanics of the show in the days to come.) Disney began designing the show in 2004. They began with the idea of a show on water and used the music of the show as an anchor by considering which classic Disney songs lend themselves to water (i.e. Just Around the River Bend) and from there went on to consider iconic scenes lend themselves to the fluidity of water and fountains (i.e. the stampede in Lion King). During testing, show creators said that the water “spoke to them.” Some original concepts for the show shared last year are no longer included in the show. In fact, changes were still being made–including entire scenes–as of four weeks ago! Most noteably, Alice (in Wonderland) was going to be a big part of the show but was pulled and more of the genie from “Aladdin” was added. The genie just seemed to be a better ft.
It is also very interesting to note that much of the animation in the show may look like it was pulled straight from your favorite Disney movies, but in fact, it was not. Most of the art was reanimated just for WOC. Pixar reanimated its pieces that are in the show with John Lasseter even acting out Woody at times to make sure his team got him just right. Sebastian was redrawn from scratch using sketches of him pulled from the Disney archives.
The journey of WOC takes guests through a roller coaster of emotion. The show focuses on imagination, fantasy, fear, and then, as with all Disney shows, comes back to hit guests in their hearts with odes to family and friendship. I loved seeing the characters–new and classic–become larger than life. The art of the show is beautiful and at times breathtaking. The sound track is moving and delicately takes the show’s images by the hand and at times leads the them and at other times takes a backseat to what guests see on the waters before them.
Of course, I must address the issue of whether or not it is suitable for young children. Like most Disney movies and shows (i.e. Fantastmic!), there’s a dark side–a vehicle for the Disney villians to show their stuff. I think that the show might be a bit intense for some young children. I, however, don’t have a problem showing it to my kids, but would probably have a little talk ahead of time about what they might see in regards to the “bad guys.” I also wasn’t crazy about the inclusion of the nonanimated characters from the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise. I know that part would probably freak my kids out a bit. Not to mention the fact that it just didn’t “fit” the rest of the show. So much beautiful animation and then…WHAM…Johnny Depp. Huh?
I have had more than a week to figure out what I was going to write for this review and I’m still not quite sure if I LOVE the show. I think I was too preoccupied trying to take pictures to just sit and take it all in. Because of that, I am thankful that I will get to see it again tonight and this time I will sit with my flip cam on the action and my eyes on the show. I’m sure I will have so much more to say after tomorrow night’s performance.
I am a Fantastmic! fan(atic) and I’m sure that the question on everyone’s mind is, “Will WOC be the next Fantasmic! and the shot in the arm California Adventure needs?” I think it will be a great shot in the arm for California Adventure, but Fantasmic! has pretty big shoes to fill, so we’ll have to see on that one. The difference between Fantasmic! and World of Color is that WOC is a multi-layered piece of art that has so going on that guests will find new things each time they watch it. Furthermore, because of the media used to create WOC, it can be changed so that it can remain fresh and incorporate new characters as needed. There are even plans to adapt it for holiday shows (i.e. Halloween or the Christmas season) as time moves on. I think holiday versions of this show would be amazing–especially a Christmas version. The mere ability to keep the show fresh will definitely be a draw for the hard core fans and those just looking for a fun theme park experience.
In all, Disney management hopes WOC will be a sweet “kiss goodnight” for its California Adventure guests, much like fireworks are over at Disneyland. With an ending like this, it is sure to be just that.