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Summer Nightastic! brings an exciting new look to some old Disneyland Resort favorites

Summer Nightastic! brings an exciting new look to some old Disneyland Resort favorites

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"Don't throw the past away
You might need it some rainy day
Dreams can come true again
When everything old is new again"

That Peter Allen tune kept running through my head this past Thursday night as Alice and I took part in the Summer Nightastic! press event. Where we wandered from Disneyland over to Disney’s California Adventure to check out several classic shows that – to quote from the invite – had been “… reimagined with spectacular, state-of-the-art effects.”

Was this true? For the most part, yes. As Alice and I sat at the Tomorrowland Terrace noshing on cheeseburgers and listening to Mitchel Musso perform, I had to admit that the TLT Dance Club seemed to be a pretty clever updating of this classic Disneyland venue. Right down to those giant plasma screens that flanked the stage. Which then allow the teens & tweens seated in the audience to text message the artist who's performing on stage.

Disneyland's Club Tilt
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I got the same feeling as I stood there watching “Magical,” Disneyland’s new fireworks spectacular. Sponsored by Honda, this special summertime show (which will only run through September 7th) really is a charmer. It has the same sorts of specialty shells ..

Disneyland's New Magical Fireworks
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… and over-the-top effects that Disneyland Guests have come to expect, thanks to Steve Davison's previous fireworks extravaganzas like “Remember … Dreams Come True.”

Disneyland's New Magical Fireworks
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And yet to hear the crowd go “Awww …” as that Dumbo puppet slid down the wire and then – flapping his ears – “flew” over Sleeping Beauty Castle …

Disneyland's New Magical Fireworks
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… it made you realize that there are still new ways to stage something as tried & true as a theme park fireworks show.

From there, we strolled over to the Rivers of America to catch a performance of the newly enhanced “Fantasmic!” Now I’ve been a fan of this nighttime spectacular since it first debuted back in 1992. And I have to say – thanks to those new Hi-Def projectors that are now used to digitally project that classic Disney animation footage out onto those mist screens – “Fantasmic!” has never looked better. The color saturation that you get this time around is simply incredible.

And then when you see that newly articulated version of Tick Tock, all 21 feet of him swimming after Captain Hook’s pirate ship …

Disneyland's Fantasmic
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… as well as those 37-foot-long versions of Flotsam & Jetsam snarling through the water …

Disneyland's New Fantasmic
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… it just makes you that much more eager to see Fantasmic!’s new dragon in action. Which – contrary to what you may have heard – didn’t have its head fall off in rehearsal. But – rather – as Doug McIntyre, Disneyland’s Director of Entertainment, explained it to me last Thursday night:

“During test and adjust, an issue came up. And we’re working now to resolve that. But trust me. I’ve seen the dragon moving. And it’s going to blow your mind. It’s the greatest, fully realized Disney character I’ve ever seen. 45-feet-tall with a 32-foot wing span. 18 points of articulation, it takes 5 computers to run the thing.  And when this thing steps out of the shadows, people aren’t going to believe their eyes.

The best part is – once it’s up and running – this new dragon isn’t wind sensitive. When it gets good and windy here in the Park, that dragon is still going to be there.”

Doug was equally enthusiastic about the newly revamped version of Disney’s Electrical Parade. Though this nighttime spectacular is currently celebrating its 30th season of entertaining Guests at the Disneyland Resort, the DEP still has a few tricks up its sleeve.

Chief among these is “Disney’s Electrical Parade” ‘s newly recorded soundtrack. According to McIntyre, the recordings that had been used until just recently were done on a Moog back in the 1970s. Drawing their inspiration from the soundtrack that was created for Tokyo Disneyland’s “Dreamlights” parade, this all-new version of “Baroque Hoedown” (which – as always – folds in hints of your Disney favorites) now has a much richer, fuller sound.

Now add to this “Disney’s Electrical Parade” new lead-off float. Which has Tinker Bell floating in a balloon high above a magical fairy garden that shimmers with light.

Disneyland's Electrical Parade
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Those of you who have actually been paying to attention to the previews for “Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure ” will immediately recognize this balloon. It’s the lighter-than-air craft that Tinker Bell uses when she must venture across the sea in order to save Pixie Hollow.

Does it bother me that Disneyland replaced DEP’s traditional lead-off float (i.e. The Blue Fairy) with a brand-new unit which promotes an upcoming Walt Disney Pictures home premiere? Maybe a little. But any concerns that I may have had about this cross promotional issue were quickly swept away when I saw all those little girls along the parade route. Who were frantically screaming & waving their hands as they tried to get Tinker Bell’s attention.

Disneyland's Electrical Parade
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Then add to this – after a 13 year absence – the return to the “Disney’s Electrical Parade” line-up of the Snow White & Pinocchio units. Which now shining brighter than ever, thanks to all the fiber optics that have recently been installed.

disneyland's electrical Parade
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During Disneyland’s Summer Nightastic! celebration, everything old really does seem like it's new again. With several of your Disneyland & Disney’s California favorites being plussed to the point that they almost seem like brand-new shows.

A word of warning, though: These special summertime-only shows have a very limited shelf life. “Fantasmic!” and “Disney’s Electrical Parade” are only scheduled to run through August 23rd, while “Magical” is supposed to go dark on September 7th. So if you want to get in all of this Nightastic! fun, you only have a few weeks to get on out to Anaheim.

As for me, I'm already planning on heading back to Disneyland sometime in late July. So I can then see if "Fantasmic!" 's new dragon really is as wondrous as Doug McIntyre says it is.

Your thoughts?

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  • Leave us not forget that only a few minutes ago it was still June 14th...and the 50th Anniversary of the 1959 East side expansion...Matterhorn, Monorail, Submarines....Happy Birthday to the first truly amazing growth that Disneyland knew...and is still going strong today!

  • I'm confused -- are they going to de-plus (minus?) these shows once summer is over, or what?

  • What a great article...thanks. I'm so glad to see the park getting a nice night time upgrade for the summer.

    And get used to Tink ruling the parade for awhile, there are at least seven more films planned. Lasseter and his people are using all of their Pixar-like skills to get the most out of these stories.  I've seen "Lost Treasure" and it's amazing. They're quietly turning the old Disneytoons Studio, in to a Pixar south for the Disney.

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