It's official. The newest addition to a long line of in-park entertainment excellence has made its debut at the Disneyland Resort in California.
The World of Color is a 25 minute nighttime show that is a stunning blend of lights, water, animation and music. With nearly 1200 fountains that can shoot streams as high as 200 feet in the air, jaw dropping fire effects and appearances from some of your favorite Disney characters that will entertain as well as touch your heart" this is a show that must be seen in person to truly be experienced.
The show takes place at Disney California Adventure on Paradise Bay. Originally the prime viewing area was to accommodate as many as 9000 people, however that estimate has been updated to between 4000 - 5000 for the best locations that allow for some level of view of the main projection screens.
These areas are divided into several color labels sections (blue, yellow, orange, red & green) that are divided in side-by-side sections rather than front to back. One of the sections also includes the bridge that leads to Ariel's Grotto. The view is acceptable, and you get a view of the projections, however you miss the intensity of the more up close and personal experience some of the other sections provide.
Personally I found some of the best, most centered locations in the Blue & Yellow sections located right in Paradise Park.
Tip: Some parts of the show are down at water level, but the majority of effects can be seen from several levels. Rule of thumb - If you have an unobstructed view of the bottom of Mickey's chin on the Fun Wheel from a center location, you should be able to see most of the major effects.
Getting in the Game of Getting a FastPass
It's important to note the information I provide here is subject to change at any time. This process is new and my experiences were from the opening weekend. Disney will more certainly be tweaking the options and processes to improve the guest experience as they learn what works and what doesn't.
So, at the time of this writing, there are several ways to enjoy the show, but three that will help guarantee one of the better views in the house.
1) The General Admission FastPass
Aside from your Disney California Adventure park admission, there is no additional purchase required for this option. However, you will have to arrive early to get in queue at the Grizzly River Run FastPass machine to get your FastPass ticket. Once they are gone... they are gone.
Tip: If you are a Disneyland Resort guest staying at one of the three Disney Resorts you have the extra benefit of using the Grand Californian entrance to the park that spills you into the area right next to Grizzly River Run. You MUST show your valid room key for entry.
Tip: If you do miss the FastPass distribution for the first and second show, be sure to ask a cast member if a third show will or has been added. If not, try for a picnic meal - see below.
2) The Picnic Meal
The least expensive guaranteed FastPass option is the Picnic Meal for $14.99 per person. This provides a choice of pre-packaged snack options and a guaranteed FastPass. Ours was for the Yellow section. You have the option to pre-order online that will provide a pass to the first show or you can risk it and try to purchase on a walk-up basis which will admit you to the second show.
Tip: The hands down easiest way to order is online at www.disneyland.com . Be sure to print your confirmation and have it with you when you pick up your meal between 2pm-8pm at the Sonoma Terrace.
3) The Dining Package
Disney offers a dining package at two of its restaurants, Ariels Grotto (inside seating adults $36.99/ kids $18.99) and Wine Country Trattoria (adults $39.99/ kids $18.99). They offer a Prix Fixe menu with some hearty entrée choices as well as the coveted FastPass for the preferred viewing section for the show. Ours was in the blue section and allowed us to select our spots before the other FastPass holders were let into the viewing area.
Tip: Of the three FastPass methods this was by far the most convenient and provided the best viewing selection. To make reservations call Disneyland Dining at : 714-781-DINE. Reservations are taken up to 60 days in advance.
I have my FastPass now what?
Your FastPass will detail where you go to check in for your show. The first show usually requests that you go right to the viewing area, while the second and third will have areas where you will queue up and a cast member will lead you to your assigned viewing section. Have your Fast Passes handy and ready to show when asked. The cast members are very diligent about checking them and you will be asked to show them a few times as you reach your viewing location.
Tip: When you enter your section, find your spot quickly. Best places are where a rope or fenced divider is to avoid having someone right in front of you. Opinions vary on if closer is better, but I can tell you, the closer you are the more intense the experience. However, the closer you are, the more likely you will get wet. They do have a Splash section right in front of Yellow and other locations - and they aren't kidding. If you want to get wet, you will.
What if I don't have a FastPass at all?
You can still see the show without being in one of the assigned color sections. Anywhere you can see the water will offer some view of the show and you will certainly hear the music. However from the side or behind you will likely not see the screens that project the characters and other animation.
I will say that after you have seen the show from the front viewing area, it's a wonderful experience to view the next show from the side or behind the main viewing area. It gives you a whole new appreciation for the artistry of the fountains and color patterns that don't get as much attention when the projections are visible.
Another interesting view is from a theme park view room on a higher floor at Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel. The music is piped into your room through a dedicated TV channel and the overhead view of the show is a unique perspective that you do not get from the ground.
Regardless of where you view the show, you will see Disney entertainment at its best with all of its heart string-pulling, energizing excitement we have come to expect from these talented Imaginers.
Beci Mahnken, CTC-MCC is the Founder, President and CEO of MEI-Travel & Mouse Fan Travel - An Authorized Disney Vacation Planner - Beci has over 12 years vacation planning experience, specializing in vacation packages and cruises, with a team of over 60 affiliates nationwide. Visit: www.MouseFanTravel.com - Follow Beci on Twitter @beci_MouseFan
The previous post in this blog was Animal Kingdom Youngsters - Part 3.
The next post in this blog is A Special D23 Event with Dave Smith, Disney Archivist.