Inside Mad T Party: Disneyland show director explains eccentric dance party, reveals reasons for replacing ElecTRONica

in Disney, Disney's California Adventure, Disneyland Resort, Entertainment, Events, Music, Theme Parks

With the debut of the “new” Disney California Adventure, the Grid has closed on ElecTRONica, the former popular dance party that featured a “TRON” takeover of a portion of the theme park. Now rocking the park’s Hollywood Land area is Mad T Party, replacing the “TRON” theme with that of “Alice in Wonderland” and featuring elements loosely inspired by Tim Burton’s take on that Disney classic tale.

Standing amidst the Mad T Party on its official debut night, entertainment show director Robin Trowbridge discussed Disney’s reasons for replacing ElecTRONica, despite it drawing hoards of raving regulars. “The company was trying to do different directions,” said Trowbridge. “We had obviously a big grand opening so it was just something to mix up. You know, we always want to offer something new, something fun. It seemed like a good time to do it.”

To take a closer look, step inside the Mad T Party for highlights of the event in the video below.


Video: Overview of Mad T Party at Disney California Adventure
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfaICn5L22E


Unlike its predecessor ElecTRONica, there is no “opening moment” each night for Mad T Party. As the sun begins to set, the area surrounding the Monsters, Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue! ride transforms into an “Alice”-themed wonderland, complete with a fog-infused “rabbit hole” entrance.

Mad T Party

Mad T Party

By design, Mad T Party is confined to a much smaller area of the park than ElecTRONica was. The big changes around Disney California Adventure made that a requirement. “Because of all the reconstruction on the boulevard, our party had to be more intimate and all within the Hollywood Land,” explained Trowbridge. “We were held to those limitations so we had to figure out how we have as big of a party in a smaller, more intimate area. So it was about utilizing this area as a lounge, building our own main stage to pull people out. I think we’ve done a pretty good job.”

And on that stage, the main act is the Mad T Party band, featuring live singers and musicians each representing a familiar “Alice in Wonderland” character. The band cycles through a set list of pop and classic rock hits, from The Police to Maroon 5 and just about everything in-between. Despite their outrageous costumes, the band’s sound is fairly faithful to covering the original songs with “Alice” and the “Mad Hatter” taking turns on lead vocals. And all the while guests are invited to jam in front of the stage along with a few Mad T Party dancers.


Video: Mad T Party band plays at Disney California Adventure


Unlike the predominantly digital beat-infused dance music spun by DJs at ElecTRONica, this live element potentially opens up the Mad T Party to a wider audience of theme park guests. “I definitely think Mad T Party is for everybody,” stated Trowbridge. “I think because we’re bringing some classic rock in, you’ll see dads and moms with young kids by the end of the night still rocking it out, still having a good time.”

Mad T Party

Mad T Party

Mad T Party

Mad T Party

Mad T Party

Mad T Party

But Mad T Party isn’t completely without the familiar DJ element. “We offer the opportunities for dance with a DJ and the rabbits and we give more of that house music,” emphasized Trowbridge. The “rabbits” he referred to are the various DJs that take the stage when the band isn’t on, donning glowing White Rabbit ears to continue the “Alice in Wonderland” theme.

Mad T Party

There are indeed a few “mad” elements to the Mad T Party. In addition to the main stage, a second “House of Cards” stage sits next to a re-themed lounge (formerly the End of Line club during ElecTRONica). While the lounge offers guests a chance to sit, there’s little relaxing to be found here as Mad T Party twin hosts Dee and Dum (as in, the Tweedles from “Alice in Wonderland”) take the secondary stage when the band and DJ aren’t playing, introducing a pair of unique acts: Who R U and the Hottest Deck in Town.

While the Hottest Deck in Town is a fairly straight-forward dance group, seen in the overview video above, Who R U is an act like no other guests have seen, frequently described by fans as “slinky man.” Though its official name references the phrase uttered by the Caterpillar in “Alice in Wonderland,” reasons for giving him/her/it the unofficial moniker should be obvious when watching the video below, as the rainbow-colored object contorts itself around the stage to amusing results.


Video: Who R U performs during the Mad T Party at Disney California Adventure
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUG2HXSfOgQ


Mad T Party

Mad T Party

Mad T Party

Guests’ attention is regularly thrown between the Mad T Party’s two stages, sometimes to the point of confusion. When the Mad T Party band wraps up a set, they cue everyone to look toward the secondary stage. And after Dee and Dum finish hosting there, they throw the focus back to the main stage for the DJ of the night to play a few tracks. From there, attention is then directed back to the second stage, in a never-ending ping-pong between the two. While the variety of entertainment offers a little something for everyone, anyone who wants to hang out at the Mad T Party for the entirety of the night will find it difficult to just stay in one place and party, getting exposed to repeat acts. Where ElecTRONica offered nearly non-stop dance music throughout the night, interrupted only by twice-nightly performances by Laserman, Mad T Party divides its focus quite often.

Those wanting to fall deeper into the madness can enter the new Mad Arcade, a reinvention of the popular Flynn’s Arcade that was part of ElecTRONica. While Flynn’s Arcade was a retro ’80s-style video game arcade pulled directly from the “TRON” films much to fans’ delight, the Mad Arcade takes the concept in a new direction, offering different “Alice in Wonderland”-themed arcade games, shifting the focus away from screens and onto active games of skill.

Mad T Party

Mad T Party

Mad T Party

Mad T Party

The transition was a difficult challenge for Trowbridge and his team. “Flynn’s Arcade is classic, iconic,” he admitted. “How do you make a different experience in there? So by taking all the games and retiming them to ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ I think that is what made the difference. [Having] games that adults and kids can play opened up the variety. But theming it out was important for us to do.”

Players of all ages can now enjoy the games of the Mad Arcade, while those previously found in Flynn’s Arcade required a certain knowledge of joystick handling of button mashing generally reserved for those who grew up in arcades and with Nintendo at home. But it’s exactly that generation that made up the majority of the ElecTRONica demographic, disappointed to have Flynn’s Arcade removed.

Fans of Flynn’s have called for its return, suggesting the retro gaming area of DisneyQuest in Orlando as a perfect home for it. But Trowbridge didn’t hint at any future ideas for iconic location. “I think that a little piece of Flynn’s Arcade in my little cubicle area would be nice,” he joked. “I don’t know of any plans for [Flynn’s Arcade], but certainly those games are fantastic.

Other draws to the Mad T Party include unique stilt-walking flamingo characters (seen in the overview video above) and a relocated bar serving a variety of glowing cocktails, one of the most popular spots during ElecTRONica. It’s been said (unofficially) that drinks sales were the driving force behind the previous event and while Mad T Party has decidedly shifted its focus away from the adults-only crowd, the cushy seating now provided just outside the event’s “Drink Me” bar area invites guests 21 and over to relax a bit while enjoying a themed cocktail or two – or three.

Mad T Party

Mad T Party

Not everyone is completely convinced Mad T Party is a worthy replacement for ElecTRONica, but even the most hardcore fans of the prior event are willing to give it a shot. One rapidly-growing group can be seen attending nearly every night of party wearing black shirts that proudly read, “I ❤ TRON BUT THIS WILL DO FOR NOW.”


(Photos by @ashleyburryyy)

Trowbridge and his team feel the update to the ElecTRONica formula will still welcome the same crowds to party in the park at night while also drawing those who may have never warmed up to the “TRON” takeover. “We hope that it still brings back the same audience,” said Trowbridge. “We’d love to have everybody back. But it was just an opportunity to […] explore and see what we could offer. Does it change things? Do we get a better demographic? Do we get more people sticking around? I think we had a good platform with ElecTRONica. We knew things that we could do. So we just gave it a mad twist and put it out here to see what happens.”

Throughout the summer months and holiday weeks, Mad T Party will be held nightly, moving to Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays for the rest of the year. Like ElecTRONica, which remained at Disney California Adventure for roughly a year and a half, Trowbridge sees no immediate end to the Mad T Party, though periodic updates are possible. “We’re going to be here for a long while,” explained Trowbridge. “We’re grounded, so I’m hoping to keep it activated, do new things, really energize it throughout the year – the same thing we did for ElecTRONica.”

More photos from Mad T Party:

13 Comments

  1. OV

    The Tron movies are considered very mediocre (to put it nice, Ricky). The music is for a very small demographic and because of that doesn’t draw in the crowds. The Burton Alice film was also not received very well (about the same as Tron when you look at the score at IMDb) but the party and its name also relates to the old Disney classic (sorry the first Tron movie isn’t a classic).
    Playing a bigger spectrum of music and giving the guests more entertainment they are sure they get better paying customers with more money to spent then the former niche.
    The only problem I have with both shows is that it’s clearly visible and audible from the wonderful main street and breaks the show in many ways. Why not put this party in the shopping district?

    1. Tiger

      Because OV, the entire point of the parties is to keep people INSIDE DCA! Thats the whole point. Its a way to give people something to do if A. They are waiting for WOC or who dont have tickets and B. To not keep them rushing off to DL! Thats why its there. You put it in DTD, the people in DCA would lose a huge entertaiment offering! Thats why you pay for those nice APs and day passes! 😉

      1. OV

        That makes sense, thanks.

  2. Jeff Lynch

    You know what would be cool?

    What if they redid Disneyland’s Tomorrowland and had the ElecTRONica party be over there every night? That would add some excitement to Tomorrowland. Flynn’s arcade/ElecTRONica should be permanent parts of a new Tomorrowland, along with a Tron E-ticket ride to be built in part of Autopia.

  3. Kevin

    Am I the only person annoyed that the arcade is full of games of skill that typically would give out tickets, but in the Mad Arcade you don’t get anything?

    It’s like they missed the point on why people play these games. They’re the types of games where you should either be able to win prizes, or you should get to play them for free.

    Or maybe they’re serious about their theme, and want to make you go mad as you wait for the ticket dispenser (which IS on the machines) to pay out after you have knocked down all of the Cheshire Cat’s teeth!

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  6. evan

    Electronica was better for sure….glow fest was even better…mad t party would be so legit if they would get rid of the band And keep the DJ on the entire night…

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  8. Mike

    As an avid visitor to Electronica, I wasn’t one of the hipsters that went nightly and shuffled until my feet were numb – however I did enjoy the ambiance. The Tron theme, End of Line bar, the –GREAT– 80’s style arcade, the video game tournaments and modern shows (Laserman, for example)…compared to the crap that is there now, is just a joke.

    The live band just doesn’t do well. The dance area is plagued with people who just stand inbetween band breaks to hold their spot, and the arcade is like 1/16th of what it once was. I still go to this new “attraction” but it is simply nowhere near what it once was. I hate to be cheesy with this next line but.. that magic has left.

  9. Luca

    I have been to Disney several times and basically always end my night at the Tea Party. One thing I have noticed is that many times there are no Tea Party dancers. A couple of guys here and there standing around looking bored to make sure folks don’t climb on the stage etc. But that’s it. No one is there actually trying to get folks to dance or act excited.

    Often it seems like the only reason anyone is there is the booze. They get their drink and then stand around looking bored. They need to get the dancers back into the game, perhaps even mix up the bands play lists a little and get it back to being a party.

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