Review: Disney’s “World of Color” dazzles viewers with a captivating experience across California Adventure’s night sky

in Disney, Disneyland Resort, Theme Parks

Credit: Disney

After having brought you the “World of Color” premiere event live blog, celebrity arrivals, opening presentation featuring talking Mickey Mouse, video and audio of the full show itself, and an Imagineer interview, I’d like to round out our coverage of Disney’s new nighttime show with a review of the experience.

As I’ve repeated many times since standing through two showings of “World of Color,” there is just one word that can most-succinctly summarize what Disney’s new show is: wow – and a whole lot of it.

“World of Color” is a tough show to describe. How do you put into words a show that is all about sights, sounds, and feelings?

Some compare it to Disney’s Fantasmic, with both projecting animation sequences onto screens made of water. Some compare it to the water show at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas, as both feature fountains “dancing” to music. But Disney has added that magical “wow” factor to “World of Color” that no other show I’ve seen includes.

World of Color

Only those who have seen “World of Color” in person truly understand the indescribable “wow” that the show offers. No video, photos, or audio recording of the show can fully capture the intensity, emotion, and visual impact that it has on its in-person viewers.

Unlike many of Disney’s attractions, “World of Color” does not tell a story. And yet, even without a clear beginning, middle, and end, the show is presented in acts and waves that somehow still get guests emotionally involved. From the first moments of spying smaller fountains lighting up in a rainbow of vibrant colors across Paradise Bay to later head turning sequences involving 200-foot tall streams of water stretching as wide as 380 feet, it’s all an impressive display of what can only be described as Disney magic.

World of Color

Sure you can talk about “World of Color” in terms of its basic components: fountains, water screens, fog, video projections, lighting, fire, and music. But doing so is doing the show a disservice because it is the careful combination of all of these elements that produces the overall experience.

It’s almost certain that every guest who sees “World of Color” will walk away with something different that touched them. Nearly every Disney classic animated feature is represented, some more than others. But if you grew up within the last 8 decades, you’re almost guaranteed to see a sequence that brings back a cherished memory.

For me, the most memorable “World of Color” moments include watching the Genie from Aladdin send twinkling fountains ping-ponging back and forth across the water, being taken aback by Buzz Lightyear battling a convincingly three-dimensional Emporer Zurg made of lasers, and staring in awe as colors seemed to gather, float, and swirl in the air as Wall-E and Eve dance across the night sky. I witnessed others in the crowd become touched by an inspiring Pocahontas scene and saddened by a particularly memorable moment from The Lion King.

World of Color

World of Color

World of Color

In addition to being touched emotionally, “World of Color” literally touches guests with its main show component: water. While not necessarily part of the nightly show, viewers may be surprised to find themselves getting periodically “rained” on as wind may carry tall streams of water over the heads of onlookers. It’s not enough to soak, but I found it to be enough to potentially injure electronic equipment, so be careful if you plan on taking pictures. Fortunately, the fire-based sequences near the tail end of the show are hot enough to help dry off any accumulating drops (but not so hot that they singe eyebrows).

World of Color

The majority the 26-minute “World of Color” show kept me captivated, so much so that I was able to forget that to watch it had to remain standing on my aching feet, having walked around the theme parks all day. It’s standing room only around Paradise Park for the majority of viewers, though some seats are available only for those needing special assistance (ask a Cast Member) and VIPs (get famous or pay for a private tour guide).

While the show itself allows you to forget your concerns throughout its duration, its current popularity makes getting to actually see it in a prime viewing location the biggest concern. Fastpasses are available at the beginning of the day, but can require an hour or two of waiting in line to obtain them. My recommendation for a mostly headache-free first viewing is to purchase one of the available dining packages. You’ll get a decent meal, a great spot to view the show, and will avoid having to wait early in the morning for a Fastpass“>Fastpass.

If you opt not to purchase a dining package or get a Fastpass in the morning, you’ll find yourself watching the show from a side or back angle, which isn’t all that bad. You won’t see everything, but you’ll still witness a stunning show. In fact, even if you get the “perfect” spot in the middle of the Paradise Park viewing area, you still are likely to have some obstructions, as the show’s immense width stretches farther than you can see at once. It’s literally a head-turning experience.

After it’s all over, the release of the massive crowd that gathers to watch the show flows surprisingly well. The pathways leading out of the Paradise Pier area are wide enough to easily accommodate the thousands of guests ready to head out for the night. So many of Disney’s attractions involve the slow shuffling of feet, shoulder-to-shoulder, trying to get out of a space filled with people. But afer you’ve witnessed the “World of Color” spectacle, you won’t ruin your experience by capping it off with any frustrations in trying to leave. It’s quite a casual and quiet atmosphere.

“World of Color” currently gives new life to the Disney California Adventure theme park, providing visitors with a great reason to enjoy its attractions by day and stick around to take in an incredibly satisfying show by night. And as long as Disney follows through with plans to revise the show over time, creating Halloween, Christmas and other new versions, guests will keep coming back to see it time and time again.

Photo slideshow from the “World of Color” premiere event:

“World of Color” premiere event program:

(Photos by Jeremiah Daws.)

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