To paraphrase Walt Disney, "World of Color" will never be complete as long as there's imagination left in the world.
The ever-evolving nighttime spectacular at Disney California Adventure Park has been through nearly a dozen iterations since its 2010 debut.
The latest twist adds a six-minute introduction to the main show on the Anaheim theme park's Paradise Bay. "Hurry Home," which runs through Sunday, tells the story of a little lantern's journey home for a Lunar New Year celebration.
It was inspired by the opening ceremonies last June for Shanghai Disneyland. The Chinese show was projected onto the new park's castle and accompanied by a musical score.
After attending the grand opening, Disneyland Resort President Michael Colglazier decided to bring a similar show back to Anaheim in time for the Lunar New Year, which began Saturday.
The original plan to use projection mapping on Disneyland's castle was quickly dropped in favor of creating an introduction to "World of Color." The challenge: marrying the high-definition digital imagery to the water show's mist screens and synchronizing the music to the 2,000 dancing fountains in the bay.
"The music is just fantastic and really lends itself to the magic we can create with the fountains and the lighting and the animation," "Hurry Home" producer Jennifer Magill said in a phone interview with the Los Angeles Times.
Magill worked on development of "World of Color" starting in 2007, serving as the original production manager of the water show when it debuted in 2010 and produced many of the subsequent versions of the nighttime program.
Since the debut, Disney has created four additional 20-minute shows, three shorter intros, three encores and several inserts for "World of Color."
"The beauty of 'World of Color' is how malleable the venue is," Magill said. "The fountains, to me, convey a lot of the emotion we're trying to express, depending on the story we're trying to tell. It still mesmerizes me. It's a very live medium."
Combining the little lantern's journey with elements from Disney's "Mulan," the "Hurry Home" story focuses on the Lunar New Year traditions of family, friends, food and reflection on the previous year and the year ahead.
Among the first steps in creating a show for Disney California Adventure was re-recording the score with Southern California musicians from the Chinese American, Korean American and Vietnamese American communities. A highlight for Magill was watching the recording session in Manila via Skype of the "Reflections" song by Filipina singer and actress Lea Salonga.
Once the music was in place, an original story was developed with new visuals. On-site programming began in December with the Disney creative team making adjustments to the video projections and the sequencing of the dancing fountains. Some of the food scenes that looked fun on a computer screen proved too busy on the massive mist screens, Magill said.
"It's kind of playing and discovery," Magill said. "It's almost like painting a picture but erasing and moving things here and there."
A fireworks finale usually reserved for "World of Color" shows on New Year's Eve and during high school grad nights was added to deliver a climactic punch to "Hurry Home."
The promise of digitally-driven attractions such as "World of Color" has always been the notion that the story and theme can change with a flip of a switch.
"On the surface, it can very much look like the flip of a switch," Magill said. "But there's a lot of long hours and work that go into that flip."
With proper planning and preparation, Magill said, two different "World of Color" shows can run on a single evening. Animation has already been created to swap out the Year of the Rooster theme for the Year of the Dog if "Hurry Home" is brought back for the Lunar New Year celebrations in 2018, Magill said.
"My hope is that years from now we'll have a huge catalog of 'World of Color' shows that we're able to rotate through," Magill said. "So that there is the ability to see something new and there's the ability to come on another day and see something nostalgic. Because I think we crave both."