The show transpires at the lagoon of Paradise Bay at Paradise Pier, while the audience watches the performance at the Paradise Park viewing area in front of The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure attraction. Other nearby attractions such Mickey's Fun Wheel and California Screamin' become part of the performance as they undergo various forms of lighting and projections throughout the show. The effects utilized in World of Color (water fountains, mist screens, fire, lasers, lighting, and fog) are choreographed to work in synchronicity with the featured music and image projections.
Construction and development
The show was first announced as part of the Disney California Adventure Park expansion in the fall of 2007. Construction for the water show began with the draining of the lagoon on November 3, 2008. Construction on the platform began on January 5, 2009. The water was refilled in Paradise Bay in November 2009. Testing began during and after park hours in January 2010. A 25-minute video of sequences from the show was posted on YouTube by a hotel guest staying at Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel, on April 7, 2010. The first public performance was held on June 5, 2010 for the creators of the show and guests. In the week leading up to June 11, private viewings for cast members, contest winners, and a celebrity-filled World Premiere took place.
The show uses nearly 1,200 fountains that can shoot water up to 200 ft in the air. Each fountain is equipped with an LED light ring. Other water features include a 380 ft-long mist screen on which images are projected (similar but smaller screens are used in Fantasmic! at Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida). Isopar instruments are capable of shooting flames up to 50 ft in the air. Fog and lasers are used. Projection domes emerge from the water atop telescopic masts and feature lighting effects and video projected onto the inside surface of the domes, and laser and video projections are made onto the sun icon behind California Screamin's vertical loop. A 65' tall telescopic mast was installed in the lagoon to create Chernabog of Fantasia, but the tower has not been used in the show. The LED lights on Mickey's Fun Wheel, as well as LED lights installed on California Screamin', are synchronized to the show.
Light trees rise from boxes bordering Paradise Bay. The light trees bordering the viewing area and the bay include speakers, bubble machines, infrared transmitters and a handful of VariLite lighting fixtures. On either side of the bay, there is an additional light tree with five Syncrolite fixtures. The viewing area, known as Paradise Park, is situated along the northern shore of Paradise Bay, and can hold up to 4,000 spectators at full capacity. It is multi-tiered, similar to the viewing area for Fantasmic at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. It features trellises, flowers, and an interactive play fountain during the day. Hidden fountains located in the flower beds in the viewing area are incorporated into show. When World of Color Celebrate was being programmed, a large scrim shaped like Mickeys head was added to be raised to cover the face on Mickeys Fun Wheel giving the show another projection surface. On nights where winds are too strong, the scrim is not pulled up and some projections seen on the Fun Wheel head show up on Screamin's loop area instead. The fountains on the flower beds in the viewing area were replaced by smoke shooters and additional shooters were placed on the edge of the viewing area on the water. Each shooter has their own LED light rings like the fountains do.
Special animation sequences were created using paper animation by paper artist Megan Brain, who created many characters for the show. Mark Hammond and Dave Hamilton arranged the music, which was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and The Nashville Choir.
The show begins with Dick Wesson's original introduction to Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. A quote from Walt Disney appears on the center mist screen; "Every child is blessed with a vivid imagination", and the theme song transforms into the reworked version for World of Color. As the introduction concludes, a projection of Ariel before a sunset, stretches across the mist screens. The show enters The Little Mermaid portion, with Ariel and Sebastian singing "Part of Your World" and "Under the Sea", respectively. On the last note of "Under the Sea", Crush and Squirt from Finding Nemo are seen traveling on the East Australian Current, as the water fountains begin to portray the characteristics of rough surf. As the final breaking wave clears, the scene with Marlin and Dory encountering the blue whale from the film plays out. As the duo attempt to escape, the scene transitions into the "Pines of Rome" segment from Fantasia 2000. The bay gradually transforms into an outer space environment as EVE and WALL-E from WALL-E appear and re-enact their "Define Dancing" scene. WALL-E, equipped with a fire extinguisher, sprays it throughout the lagoon, forming small clouds as a result. The clouds eventually re-create Andy's room from Toy Story, with Woody and Buzz Lightyear appearing shortly thereafter on Andy's bed. Woody rebuffs Buzz's ability to fly, thus Buzz attempts to disprove him and Andy's room is suddenly changed into a battle between Buzz and Emperor Zurg from Toy Story 2.
After a brief pause, Heimlich from A Bug's Life arrives, informing the audience of an approaching thunderstorm. The storm rapidly intensifies into the thunderstorm scene from The Old Mill, accompanied by an unsettling instrumental version of "Little April Shower" from Bambi. As the storm dissipates, Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean emerges from the shadows and "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)" is faintly heard. Suddenly, the bay turns blood-red as fountains and flames of fire are orchestrated in tandem with "He's a Pirate". Battle scenes from the Pirates of the Caribbean series are projected onto the mist screens before transcending into a sequence dominated by jets of fire. Once the Pirates of the Caribbean act concludes, the atmosphere of the show's narrative darkens and Mufasa's death scene from The Lion King unfolds erratically on the bay.
After a brief moment of silence, the show enters its climax. "So Close" from Enchanted plays as touching scenes from Disney's animated films (including The Lion King, Bambi, Dumbo, Tangled, Lady and the Tramp, The Princess and the Frog and Beauty and the Beast) are projected. The transformation scene from Beauty and the Beast takes place, being followed by other famous moments from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty, The Princess and the Frog and Cinderella. Immediately following Cinderella, the fountains and lighting turn white and the lagoon fades into darkness. The fountains then slowly begin to regain momentum as they swirl around the lagoon, until Tinker Bell appears to enchant the bay, which suddenly blossoms into a myriad of colors. Entering the show's finale, a reprisal of "The Wonderful World of Color" is heard as the bay becomes host to a kaleidoscopic montage of films, some of which were earlier components of the show (including Alice in Wonderland, The Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo, WALL-E, Toy Story, Aladdin, Fantasia 2000, Pocahontas, The Old Mill, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Lion King, Lilo & Stitch and The Princess and the Frog). Mickey Mouse then appears in his iconic "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" attire from Fantasia and the show concludes with a final series of water, fire, laser and light orchestrations.
Early plans also called for a small orange fountain, named Little Squirt, that was meant to embody Walt Disney's artistic and mischievous spirit, and it appears at the very end of the after show, (the post-show that plays after the main World of Color show). After all the other fountains turn off, the little orange fountain remains on for a couple seconds as it bows to the audience, then disappears.
A video of a run-through of the show leaked onto the Internet on April 7, 2010. There had been a few changes to the show from the synopsis that had been disclosed for Disney fans in September 2009. Sequences featuring Alice in Wonderland, the Firebird, and Dr. Facilier were missing, the Pocahontas/Heimlich/Little April Showers segment was placed after "A Whole New World," and new Hercules and Pirates of the Caribbean segments had been added. It was also rumored that Disney CEO Robert Iger wanted a more contemporary soundtrack and that the show was being reworked. Many of these changes were confirmed when a second video of a run-through leaked onto the Internet.
Disney launched a website for World of Color containing interactive features, pictures of on-site testing, and videos. The theme song to "World of Color" has also been posted on the Disneyland website. Although videos of testing have been leaked online, the site shows both the extensive Alice in Wonderland and The Princess and the Frog segments of the show that were said to have been cut. The site was launched after leaked videos of testing were posted. Even more edits have been made, including extending "Part of Your World" and "A Whole New World" to include the verses, cutting "Go the Distance" in favor of "Friend Like Me," and the return of the "Firebird."
Singer-songwriter Amy Grant was going to provide lead vocals for the show's rendition of "The Wonderful World of Color", but was ultimately replaced in the studio and is not heard in the final version.
Encore scene additions
On October 29, 2010, previews for an encore scene promoting Tron: Legacy began, using additional projections and effects on the California Screamin' structure along with improved use of Paradise Park and Mickey's Fun Wheel lighting in a reworked trailer sequence. The scene was added to the show on November 1, 2010 and was discontinued in March 2011. On May 20, The Pirates of the Caribbean segment was expanded to include scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and was discontinued on June 15, 2012, the same day that a sequence incorporating Brave premiered.
On December 3, 2011, Blizzard Entertainment held their annual Christmas party at Disney California Adventure and for the event a custom World of Color segment was produced featuring characters and game footage from Diablo III, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, and World of Warcraft.
In November 2014, World of Color: Winter Dreams opened with a different show than its pilot year. The pre-show segment of Glow has been removed; its music plays after the post-show segment as exit music. There is a reorganization of the Toy Story version of The Nutcracker with one song cut. Overall the show faced major rearrangement, such as additional songs from Frozen, including "Love is an Open Door" and "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?". In the song "Believe", the old paper animation and guest made greeting cards were replaced with both new and familiar scenes from Big Hero 6, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, The Princess and the Frog, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Brave, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Pinocchio. The isopar flames were introduced into this show.
In November 2015, two different World of Color shows were presented back-to-back: Winter Dreams was followed by World of Color: Celebrate!. "Love Is an Open Door" from Frozen was removed and the additional lights installed for World of Color – Celebrate! on California Screamin' were incorporated into Winter Dreams. The rest of the show is the same as the show from the 2014 holiday season. The scrim made for World of Color – Celebrate! to cover Mickey's head on Mickey's Fun Wheel is raised up before Winter Dreams but is only used for Celebrate.
World of Color – Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney
Premiering on May 22, 2015, as part of the Disneyland Resort's 60th Anniversary celebration, the World of Color show was changed to World of Color – Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney. Dedicated to Walt Disney's legacy, this special edition of the show is hosted by Neil Patrick Harris and Mickey Mouse (Bret Iwan), and features music and imagery from Disney films and theme parks. Under the direction of Steve Davison, the show took nearly three years to develop.
"Opening": Hosts Neil Patrick Harris and Mickey Mouse are introduced, accompanied by a new arrangement of the "World of Color" theme. Harris begins to describe Walt Disney's lifetime achievements and milestones including in the creation of Mickey, feature animation, and the conception of Disneyland. Archival footage of Disney is featured throughout the subsequent scenes.
"It Was All Started by a Mouse": Dedicated to the creation and career of Mickey Mouse, featuring footage from classic Mickey Mouse cartoons and feature films including the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" segment from Fantasia.
"Finale – Infinity & Beyond – A Celebration for Years to Come": The show's finale with a tribute to Walt Disney's legacy, featuring archival images of Walt Disney throughout his career, imagery from Disney parks worldwide, as well as scenes from various Walt Disney Studios films.
The post-show includes a fountain overlay set to Perri's renditions of Bob Dylan's "Forever Young" and Howard Ashman's "Disneyland".
Films, animated shorts, and television series that appear (alphabetically)
World of Color uses Disney's Fastpass as the only method of obtaining tickets for entering the Paradise Park viewing area unless individuals have gotten reserved viewing vouchers through a World of Color dining package at select Disney California Adventure table service dining locations or a World of Color picnic package. Tickets are distributed for two sections, labeled Blue and Yellow. The Fastpasses are available at the Grizzly River Run Fastpass machines beginning 30 minutes before official park opening. The dinner packages are available at the Carthay Circle Restaurant, Ariel's Grotto, and the Wine Country Trattoria. The dinner package from the Carthay Circle Restaurant includes, with the meal, complimentary tickets to the Reserved Viewing section of the viewing area. Those at Trattoria and Ariel's Grotto are available in limited supply.