From Glow Fest to Frozen: An evolution as Disneyland moves nighttime parties into mainstream entertainment

in Disney, Disneyland Resort, Entertainment

The little nook of Hollywood Land at California Adventure has been home to a myriad of nighttime spectacles over the last few years – and with news surfacing that Frozen will be taking over in early 2015, there are bound to mixed feelings. Returning guests will have experienced the many different stages of the area’s development, from the family-friendly rave of Glow Fest to the more on-brand ElecTRONica to the more recent and perhaps most beloved Mad T Party.

As we prepare to welcome in “Freeze the Night! A Family Dance Party,” it seems fitting to take a moment to reflect on what we’ve loved and lost at Hollywood Land, and what there is to look forward to in this next chapter.

Glow Fest (2010)

With its kitschy neon banners, glow-in-the-dark drinks and loud array of popular music blasting to the far reaches of Hollywood Land, Glow Fest was an event like no other. At least, in terms of the Disneyland Resort. It didn’t have much to do with Disney as a brand, but it proved an excellent time for kids and adults alike.

With alcoholic beverages on the Glow Fest drink menu, the outdoor party attracted an older demographic, while still catering to family audiences with food, music and dancing. A neon wall projection with a live feed of dancers in the street that also allowed guests to become the entertainment themselves, no doubt a well-received novelty.

The event was a surprise hit with park-goers, and was likely responsible for the decision to institute the more permanent and brand-friendly event, ElecTRONica.

ElecTRONica (2010-2012)

ElecTRONica satiated the need for another nighttime spectacle, with the added bonus of providing synergy with the Tron franchise around the time of the premiere of Tron: Legacy.

Some of the youthful fun of Glow Fest may have been lost, but what remained was the commitment to nighttime glow, including glowing drinks and an all-blacklight nighttime affair with dancing for older folk and light-up hoola-hooping for kids. Or vice versa, depending on preference.

One of the more clever attractions of ElecTRONica was Flynn’s Arcade, a replica of the famed arcade from the Tron films, where guests could play old school coin-operated video games. ElecTRONica took a chance in attracting primarily older audiences, which proved a slight step down from the excitement of Glow Fest. The next iteration would salvage the spirit of Glow Fest for the next two years by ushering back in a younger and more exciting energy.

Mad T Party (2012-2014)

After a year and a half of “de-lighting” (get it?), ElecTRONica was replaced by the Mad T Party, which quickly became a park staple for its twisted and slightly macabre Alice in Wonderland themed atmosphere.

In the spirit of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland live-action film, the Mad T Party brought together the characters from Lewis Carroll’s beloved fairy tale in a truly unique fashion: as performers.

Taking a page from ElecTRONica, the event carried over dance party, arcade and drink offerings, but with an even more classic Disney twist. Mad T Party became popular with repeat visitors and had more staying power than its two predecessors. Yet as the event passed its two year anniversary and crowds thinned, change seemed imminent and, some would argue, necessary.

Freeze the Night! (2015 – ?)

Thus, we welcome in Freeze the Night! A Family Dance Party which, when it opens officially in January 2015, will incorporate Frozen into the Hollywood Land backlot. Freeze the Night! will create an even more inclusive experience in Hollywood Land, translating the dance party area previously occupied by Mad T Party as well as creating all new Frozen experiences.

The Muppet*Vision 3D theater and Stage 17 (previously occupied by Who Wants to be a Millionaire – Play It! and more recently, the Dancin’ with Disney kid-friendly dance party) into a Frozen Sing-Along show and Olaf’s Snow Fest play area respectively.

The transition may be hard to stomach for diehard fans and frequenters of the Mad T Party, Disney’s commitment to transitioning existing elements of previous nighttime dance parties should alleviate some concerns. The area, though themed quite differently, will maintain the essence of the previous three iterations by providing a safe space to let loose and get your groove on. And with all the extra Frozen activities, it will no doubt become an even more exciting and popular attraction at the park.

Though the more family-friendly nature of a Frozen dance party may not hold the same appeal to mature guests, it will open back up the space for the whole family to take part in a uniquely Disney experience.

For those looking for a more traditional club-like dance environment, there will always be opportunities outside of the Disneyland Resort, but Freeze the Night! may just be the hark back to kid entertainment that Hollywood Land needs.

So while we may look back fondly over the last four years in Hollywood Land’s history, the next chapter appears just as bright.

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