Attention, Programs. Effective following this weekend, ElecTRONica at Disney California Adventure is subject to immediate de-resolution. The portal that links users to the Grid will close forever as Disneyland Resort replaces its popular nighttime “Tron: Legacy”-inspired party with another called Mad T Party, inspired by Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland.”
But Flynn still lives. His ENCOM system has a backdoor. And we are forever your hyperlink back to the digital frontier. Enjoy this ElecTRONica tribute.
ElecTRONica first debuted on October 8, 2010 in promotion of the highly-anticipated “TRON” sequel called “Tron: Legacy,” released a month and a half later. What was expected to be a relatively short-lived nightly event has lasted just over a year and a half. Though “Tron: Legacy” was not as big a box office success as Disney hoped it would be, its strikingly unique look and modern electronic score by Daft Punk gave it longevity, which Disney has capitalized on via ElecTRONica, selling merchandise, tokens to play retro video games at Flynn’s Arcade, and plenty of drinks in the party atmosphere.
Moreover, for the past 1.5 years, ElecTRONica added new life and energy to Disney California Adventure where otherwise guests found seemingly endless rows of construction walls as Disney worked to complete its 5-year renovation project. Beginning with the early evening Portal Opening and continuing through the park’s final hours, ElecTRONica lit up the Hollywood Pictures Backlot area of the park in electrified shades of blue and green, with a combination of loud DJ-spun dance music, live dancers, unique shows, and kinetic video projections. The seemingly temporary setup found a cult following among teens and young adults who made frequent repeat visits to Tron City.
This weekend it all comes to an end as Disney California Adventure’s $1 billion+ makeover draws closer to its June 15 completion date. Like many of the areas around the park, ElecTRONica will be made over into an entirely new nighttime party event. But to hang onto ElecTRONica, I present a tribute to all the sights and sounds featured in the only “Tron: Legacy” attraction to make its way into a Disney theme park, beginning with the overview video below highlighting each element of the experience.
Video: The ElecTRONica experience at Disney California Adventure
A giant digital countdown preceded the start of the ElecTRONica festivities each night, leading up to the Portal Opening. The stage show brought the ’80s “TRON” era back to Disneyland as dancers groove to strains of Journey over the loudspeakers. But soon the much more modern “Tron: Legacy” motif took over and a disc battle broke out before Eckert took the stage with his sirens to lighten the mood and bring the countdown to a close.
When the Portal Opening show first debuted on October 8, 2010, it was located in Sunshine Plaza. But as part of the park’s ongoing reconstruction project, Sunshine Plaza has since been removed, becoming part of Buena Vista Street, so the ElecTRONica stage was moved down the path into the Hollywood Pictures Backlot. Since then, much like the Grid, our own equipment has evolved. So though we shared video of the very first Portal Opening in 2010, for this tribute I wanted to bring a fresh look at this somewhat corny but entirely enjoyable stage show, this time in full 1080p HD in the video below.
Video: ElecTRONica Portal Opening
Once the portal to the Grid opened, ElecTRONica nights were mostly filled with dancing and socializing. But one headline act drew the attention of users and programs alike: Laserman. Though the real name of the French performer is Theo Dari, under his rather appropriate title Laserman he performed deep within Tron City, surprising audiences with his ability to manipulate colorful lasers in a dazzling light show. Throughout the 1.5 years of ElecTRONica, Disneyland debuted two separate Laserman shows, with the second adding multi-colored lasers and a new soundtrack.
Like the Portal Opening above, we shared video of the debut of Laserman at Disney California Adventure in 2010. But since then I had an opportunity to recapture the original Laserman show in 1080p HD, later aided by frequent Inside the Magic contributor Jeremiah Daws to also share the 2.0 act, both of which are included below.
Video: Laserman at ElecTRONica
Video: Laserman 2.0 debut at ElecTRONica
Dancing, Libations, and Entertainment
Whenever Laserman was not performing, Tron City erupted in thumping beats driven by a ever-changing line-up of DJs at its center. The area in front of the park’s “Monsters, Inc” ride turned into a massive dance party, complete with an End of Line Club lounge from which guests could buy unique drinks, sit, and relax.
Those looking for more entertainment could also find the “Tron: Legacy” 3D experience inside the MuppetVision 3D theater, offering clips from the film enhanced by in-theater special effects including multi-colored lighting and wind. The theater experience was initially used as an extended trailer for the film before it hit theaters, but ultimately served as a promotion for the movie’s Blu-ray and DVD release.
Those looking to return to the era of the original “TRON” found delight in entering Flynn’s Arcade, tucked away in a Disney California Adventure sound stage, modeled after the arcade run by the film’s character Kevin Flynn, played by Jeff Bridges in both movies. Flynn’s Arcade featured classic stand-up arcade games including Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga, Robotron, Donkey Kong, and, of course, TRON – the game based on the movie.
Disney also created a playable version of Space Paranoids, a game Kevin Flynn develops in the original film. The arcade was complete with air hockey, foosball, neon signs, and plenty of ’80s tunes playing. The authentic retro experience transported many guests back to hours of their childhoods spent in video arcades, long before the days of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.
Though Flynn’s Arcade will be leaving Disney California Adventure when Mad T Party moves in, “TRON” fans can still find its original exterior shooting location from the film in Culver City, California, now home to a restaurant:
ElecTRONica by Day
ElecTRONica was an even taking place at night, but its large set pieces stuck around throughout each day, causing some park regulars to complain about what they felt was an eye sore. Flynn’s Arcade was not open during the day and decorative elements that shined with TRON’s signature glow at night appeared rather flat during daylight hours.
But with Glow Fest preceding ElecTRONica in the theme park and the Mad T Party debuting in just two months, it seems the Hollywood Pictures Backlot (or Hollywood Land as it will soon be called) will remain home to elements lingering around seemingly out of place throughout each day.
End of Line
Disneyland is commemorating the end of ElecTRONica this weekend with the finale of their ongoing Tron City’s Dance Crew Challenge, pitting local dance teams against each other to win the ultimate prize, a one-of-a-kind ElecTRONica disc-o ball trophy.
The winning dance crew will be crowned Sunday night, the final night for programs to take a last trip to the digital frontier that is ElecTRONica. Though the new “Tron: Uprising” animated series is set to debut on the Disney XD television channel this summer and a third film is reportedly in the works, the removal of ElecTRONica from Disney California Adventure will certainly be the “end of line” for Disney’s most elaborate “Tron” theme park experience.
More photos from ElecTRONica: