Water show gets ‘spectacular’ reboot at Disney’s California Adventure

In celebration of Disneyland’s 60th anniversary, the “World of Color” water show at Disney California Adventure will get a new story overlay dedicated to the history of Walt Disney and his first theme park.

Starting May 22, “World of Color” water show joins a new nighttime parade and new fireworks display across the esplanade at Disneyland as part of a diamond jubilee celebration that’s expected to stretch through the end of the year and beyond.

Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary: Overview | Parade | Fireworks | Ride Updates

Dubbed “Celebrate,” the new “World of Color” overlay will hopefully offer a much-needed break from the recent trend of turning shows, parades and nighttime spectaculars into little more than a cavalcade revue of popular Disney characters strung together with the loosest semblance of a story line. The compelling “Celebrate” story seems like a fresh departure from the recent broad stroke appeal-to-the-masses approach to entertainment at the parks.

During a recent press preview, I watched rough animation of “Celebrate” and found the show to be even more spectacular than before -- if that’s possible.


I remember being blown away by the scale and extravagance of the $75-million hydrotechnic show when it opened in 2010. Now Disney’s Imagineers have added even more effects, lights and projections that should raise the entertainment level from breathtaking to barn-burner.

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Spoiler Alert: What follows is a detailed breakdown of the three acts of “Celebrate” as well as the opening and finale. Consider yourself forewarned.

“Celebrate” opens with an introduction by Mickey Mouse and actor Neil Patrick Harris, who serves as the host. Harris spent four days in front of a green screen recording segments for the water show.

The first act, dubbed “It Was All Started by a Mouse,” is a celebration of Mickey with classic clips from “Steamboat Willie,” “Plane Crazy” and “The Band Concert” as well as new shorts from the Disney Channel. The show’s first section concludes with scenes from “Fantasia.”

The second act pays tribute to the golden age of animation with a video of Walt Disney projected on the Ferris wheel that serves as a backdrop for the show. Scenes from popular Disney movies appear on the mist screens, from the earliest films to newer releases “Up” and “Frozen.”

The third act, called “The Dream of Disneyland,” shows vintage footage from opening day as well as some of the park’s most popular attractions, including Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan’s Flight, Jungle Cruise and Matterhorn.

The finale, dubbed “Infinity & Beyond,” celebrates the future of the Anaheim theme park that will never be complete “as long as there is imagination left in the world” with a rousing salute to the man and the mouse who started it all. Expect Buzz Lightyear to play a starring role in the climactic coda.


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