Friday, July 16, 2010

Today at Disney's California Adventure: World of Color Review

I thought I'd share thoughts on Disney's new World of Color show in a separate review. (Parts 1 and 2 of today's visit are here and here). Warning, there are mild plot spoilers ahead.

We watched the World of Color show from the very left of the Red Zone. Although we weren't in a "wet zone," it still "rained" enough I didn't use my camera for more than a couple of shots.

We enjoyed World of Color very much, and there are some wonderful moments, but I didn't feel it quite reached the pinnacle of memorable Disney entertainment, for several reasons:

1) The lack of a cohesive theme or storyline. For example, the Remember fireworks show was about Disneyland history and nostalgia. Fantasmic! is about Mickey Mouse's nightmares and his valiant battle against evil. World of Color is just sort of a montage which skips from thing to thing and doesn't build to any sort of climax.

2) Not enough nostalgia. For instance, I was expecting they would do something like recreate the kaleidoscope effect from the opening credits of the old Disney TV show.

And "classic" Disney was seen in relatively short clips such as a "greatest couples" montage. When the show ended, I wondered where Alice in Wonderland had been, since she's been part of the advertising for the show since it was still in the creative stages. My daughter said she'd seen a quick glimpse of Alice, but the mystery was solved for us by this review: the Alice in Wonderland sequence was almost entirely cut from the show!

Someone forgot to tell the merchandise department Alice didn't make the final cut:

3) The mix of music and dialogue simply wasn't emotionally powerful enough in many spots, and there were missed opportunities. (For a perfect mix of music and dialogue, one needs only to think of the unforgettable Remember fireworks show, which might just be the best thing Disneyland has ever produced.) Extended dialogue from FINDING NEMO was pointless. The moment of the Beast turning into the prince, which should have dazzled, dwindled away.

4) Too many "down" sequences. We've already got Mickey battling the bad guys in the amazing Fantasmic! show. World of Color should have focused more on wonder (hey, maybe they could have kept in Alice in Wonderland...!) and less on the fright factor. The heat from the flames was just a little too much...I can't imagine how it felt from the front row! The LION KING herd thundering toward the audience was impressive, but did they have to include the downer dialogue of Simba calling for his father?

5) Although it's certainly doable, it's a long time to stand without moving much, when you factor in standing in line for an hour before the show starts and then -- after a short walk to break up the standing -- standing in the viewing area. Fantasmic!, of course, allows for comfortable seating along the shores of the Rivers of America, and you can sit while waiting for fireworks shows to start, even if they ask you to stand before the lights dim. We also spent several hours walking yesterday, and by the time the show ended around 11:40 my feet were getting a bit uncomfortable from standing in one position for so long.

Enough of the show's drawbacks...there is much to like. The color fountains are very impressive, as are many of the effects. I particularly appreciated the "surprise" mini-fountains amidst the viewing areas. The lights on Mickey's Fun Wheel were used creatively as part of the show.

The best sequences? "Under the Sea" (the bubbles made me think of Florida's Voyage of the Little Mermaid, for which I confess affection), "Friend Like Me," a swirling storm featuring "The Old Mill" (although they could have made stronger use of BAMBI here), "Colors of the Wind" from POCAHONTAS (with green fountain "trees"), and the pirates sequence (although I could have done with less fire and more of the movie theme music).

After seeing the show I read Al Lutz's review at MiceAge and discovered he made many of the same points: "I still see people get misty-eyed whenever they run the 50th anniversary fireworks at Disneyland. The carefully chosen soundtrack excerpts from the attractions, and lush orchestral arrangements of classic Disney melodies not only make for a slick show, but a heart tugging experience too. World of Color has lots of pretty scenes, and a few 'how did they do that' moments. But since it doesn't build thematically (because everything is so jumbled) it's not something that stays with you for any time afterwards. It's especially disappointing after having followed all of [Steve] Davison's presentations leading up to it. It's painfully obvious that he didn't get to deliver what he had been carefully working so hard on these past few years. The good thing is that this versatile show system allows for ongoing changes to the program."

Bottom line: I think Disney needs to call in John Lasseter, Tony Baxter, and others and focus much more on emotionally connecting with the audience. Over time, hopefully the show will be tweaked and adapted.

Will I go see it again? Absolutely! It will take more than one viewing to fully absorb all that was happening. I'm sure I'll see it on multiple occasions; I'd particularly like to see it from a more central location. We might consider seeing it as part of the dinner package with a meal from Ariel's Grotto, a restaurant we've wanted to try for quite a while now.

On a scale of four stars, I'd give World of Color a three, and hope that a year or two from now I have reason to award the show the fourth star.


Blogger Irene said...

Your thoughts about WOC and mine are pretty much the same. It is a mind blowing show when it comes to the technology involved, but lack of heart and storyline is evident. I didn't like that they tried too hard to make us "feel" something part way through. Good story telling doesn't do that. Showing the dead father with Simba was too much and too long. I read (I think Al) that when Bob Iger saw the show he didn't like it and he is the one that ordered some of the changes, hence a different and more modern version of the World of Color song and less of things like Alice. Bob should stay in his office and let the creative people do their thing!

12:45 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Irene! Very interesting we had such similar reactions. I appreciate the additional background. I didn't think much of the World of Color theme...

Best wishes,

8:36 AM  

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