Review: ElecTRONica dance party enlivens sleepy Disney California Adventure

Los Angeles Times staff writer

The new ElecTRONica nighttime party has activated a dead zone at Disney California Adventure, turning a long-dormant corner of the Anaheim theme park into a teeming, pulsating, alcohol-infused, all-ages nightclub.

ElecTRONica, which serves as a movie tie-in for the upcoming “Tron: Legacy” sequel, runs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights through April and will be nightly during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s weeks in the park’s Hollywood Pictures Backlot.

ElecTRONica replicates and improves upon this summer’s Glow Fest, a nightly party intended as a diversion for the hordes waiting for the “World of Color” water show that proved hugely popular with visitors in its own right.

But unlike GlowFest, which turned Hollywood Boulevard into a massive dance floor, ElecTRONica moves its throbbing epicenter to the once-moribund plaza in front of the Monsters Inc. dark ride.

The centerpiece of the event is a futuristic DJ platform painted in grid-like lighting patterns evocative of the computer world of “Tron” and surrounded by teen-age throngs dancing to electronica and house music blended with Top 40 songs. (View ElecTRONica photo galleries from MousePlanet, MiceChat and Inside the Magic.)

The highlight of ElecTRONica, at least during my visit on opening weekend, was the Laserman show on the Backlot Stage, which blended light manipulation and illusion into a jaw-dropping spectacle. (Watch video at Screamscape.)

ElecTRONica caters to two distinct audiences: Dance-happy club kids and Sci-Fi fanboys.

During my visit, the jam-packed ElecTRONica dance floor undulated like an all-ages rave -- only with parents pushing strollers across the gridlock and Disney employees waving flashlights in a hopeless effort at crowd control.

Alcohol represents a key component of ElecTRONica, with long lines stretching from the End of the Line club for glowing Glowjito mojitos ($10.50) and blinking Digitini martinis ($11.50). The emphasis on booze represents a departure for family-friendly Disney, with the bustling cocktail lounge wedged between Wii video game stations dominated by ‘tweens and a dance floor overflowing with high schoolers and college kids.

“Tron” fanatics represent the other half of the ElecTRONica equation, with the faithful electrified by the opportunity to step into the movie -- with Recognizer vehicles hovering over the event and sexy Sirens dancing on mini stages. Fans lined up to watch an extended clip from the 3-D movie and snapped up $15 “Tron” flying discs (which sold out in 15 minutes on opening night).

Flynn’s video arcade, a central location in the “Tron” universe re-created in the shuttered Hollywood & Dine restaurant, also proved popular with fanboys. Walt Disney Imagineering filled the 1980s-era arcade with vintage video games such as Pole Position, Zaxxon, Centipede, Battlezone, Red Baron, Pac-Man and, of course, Tron.

The one thing missing from the otherwise successful event was food. Dining options were extremely limited, with a Disney-staffed food truck serving nachos and chocolate cake. Disney brought in trendy food trucks run by outside vendors during GlowFest that served Greek and organic fare, to varying degrees of success.