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You mist a really fun time at last night's world premiere of Disney’s World of Color

You mist a really fun time at last night's world premiere of Disney’s World of Color

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Given that – numerous times over the past year -- while Disney’s Color of World was under construction, many folks that I spoke with within the Company compared this new nighttime spectacular to the Fountains of Bellagio … Well, that’s where I decided to go Wednesday night. To that 8.5 acre lake out in front of the Bellagio Las Vegas. So that I could then catch a few performances of this Sin City favorite before driving to Anaheim to attend the world premiere of the World of Color. Where I could – hopefully – compare and contrast these two shows while they were both still fresh in my mind.

Mind you, it’s kind of hard to get in the proper mood to view a seemingly elegant mix of water, music and light when – every 100 feet or so – someone’s trying to shove a picture of a half-naked lady into your hand. But that’s what I get for walking up the Las Vegas Strip after 9 o’clock at night, I guess.

Disney's World of Color in Disney's California Adventure
Copyright 2010 MGM MIRAGE. All Rights Reserved

Anyway, given how crowded the sidewalks were as I walked over to the Bellagio, I have to admit that I was somewhat concerned about possibly not being able to secure a primo viewing spot for this show. But I needn’t have worried. Literally minutes before the next performance of the Fountains of Bellagio was supposed to get underway, I was able to secure a spot right on the rail, dead center in front of the hotel overlooking Lake Bellagio.

Of course, the main reason that I was able to do this is that the Fountains at Bellagio (from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m., anyway) presents a new performance every 15 minutes. And given that there are literally thousands of spots around Lake Bellagio from which you can get a great view of this show … gaining access to the viewing venue / crowd control aren’t really issues here in Las Vegas. People pretty much can come & go as they please after they’ve had their fill of this complimentary show.

I spent less than an hour standing there at lakeside. During which time, I was able to catch four different performances of the Fountains of Bellagio. The musical selections ranged from Frank Sinatra stylishly crooning “Fly Me to the Moon” & “Luck Be a Lady” to an elegant piano version of Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. The very last piece of music that I saw the Fountains perform to was Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman singing the hell out of Con Te Partiro (Time to Say Goodbye).

The fountain show at the MGM Mirage in Las Vegas
Copyright 2010 MGM MIRAGE. All Rights Reserved

And even though it was a very breezy night on the Las Vegas Strip (Which meant that Gene Bowling and his front feature team deliberately had to dial back last night’s shows at the Bellagio Resort & Casino. That meant that the Extreme Shooters in the Fountain of Bellagio weren’t allowed to fire water 460 feet in the air. Which – due to the extreme wind conditions – probably would have wound up drenching the crowd that was standing along Las Vegas Boulevard), I still had a great time watching the Fountains of Bellagio. Watching these beautifully choreographed displays of water, music and light, it’s easy to understand how this free show has become one of the must-sees of Sin City.

Now as for Disney’s World of Color … When it comes to the number of fountains that are being used in these two shows, DCA’s new nighttime spectacular looks to be pretty evenly matched with the Bellagio Las Vegas’ dancing waters show. Given that the Fountains of Bellagio makes use of 1248 fountains, while World of Color (according to Disney’s own press releases) has “ … more than 1,200 powerful and programmable fountains.”

But – then again – the Bellagio only makes use of white light in its dancing waters show. Whereas Disney’s World of Color has fire, lasers, 28 hi-def projectors throwing crystal-clear images of your favorite Disney & Pixar characters up onto the world’s largest projected waterscreen. And did I mention the colors? The vivid rainbow hues that regularly rise up out of this 3 ½ acre Paradise Bay Lagoon?

Disney's World of Color in Disney's California Adventure
Photo by Tom Hiffmeyer. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

But another key difference between Disney’s World of Color and the Fountains of Bellagio is the distance between the audience and those fountains. In Las Vegas, there's always at least 100 feet between the people standing out along Las Vegas Boulevard and those huge columns of water that regularly fly up in the air and then come crashing down again in Lake Bellagio. Whereas the fountains that are featured in World of Color ... Some of them are just 10 - 12 feet offshore in Paradise Bay Lagoon. Which means that -- when the wind shifts (as it did last night during World of Color's world premiere) -- a heavy mist can suddenly descend on those poor so-and-sos who are watching this show from the official viewing area in DCA's newly tiered & re-landscaped Paradise Park.

Last night, Terry Hatcher, John Stamos and John Lasseter were among the folks who got an extra heavy dosing of California Dew during World of Color's world premiere were . Though -- from what a friend in Guest Relations told me last night -- most of the celebrities who suddenly found themselves seated in DCA's Splash Zone were quick to laugh off this somewhat comical occurrence and chalk the whole thing up to what can happen where you're among the first to experience a brand-new ride, show or attraction at a Disney Park.

That said, I did speak with Kevin Eld (who's the VP of Creative Entertainment for Walt Disney Imagineering) last night. And Kevin admitted that -- with a show like Disney's World of Color -- there's always a bit of an operational learning curve. And at least when it comes to WOC, Disneyland officials don't have any definitive answers yet as to when how much wind is too much wind. To be specific, which wind speed / which direction the wind must be blowing from before that night's performance of Disney's World of Color has to be canceled / postponed.

Dsiney's World of Color water fountain show in Disney's California Adventure Park
Photo by Tom Hiffmeyer. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Okay. Enough about what went wrong at the world premiere. How is Disney's World of Color? To be blunt, WOC is the new nighttime entertainment that all future fountain shows are going to be judged by.

The show’s highlights include a spectacularly staged version of “Friend Like Me” from Disney’s “Aladdin,” an achingly beautiful dance in deep space between Eve and WALL-E as well as a flame-filled “Pirates of the Caribbean” number that (depending how close you are to the water’s edge) may just singe your eyebrows off.

Is Disney’s World of Color perfect? No, not really. Given that this new nighttime spectacular has a 26 minute running time, it seems a trifle long (especially in comparison to those 3 to 5-minute-long dancing waters shows that the Fountains at Bellagio present every 15 minutes). And given that you must have pretty clear sight lines of Paradise Bay Lagoon in order to catch some of this show’s more spectacular effects, I wonder how Guests who are standing towards the back of the Paradise Park viewing area are going to react once they realize this.

Disney's World of Color water show in Disney's California Adventure park
Photo by Tom Hiffmeyer. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

But – then again – I remember what happened at Disneyland after “Fantasmic!” completed its first summer of performances. Right after Labor Day, the Imagineers came in and tiered that broad walkway around the Rivers of America in front to New Orleans Square. So that – when “Fantasmic!” began presenting performances during the Summer of 1993 – Guests then had a lot more options when it came to places that they could see this new nighttime spectacular from. Which, in the end, made for a far better Guest experience.

So I’d imagine that – once Disney’s World of Color gets through its first summer of performances – Steve Davison will then sit down with the Imagineers as well as the folks in Ops at DCA and see what can be done to possibly improve the Guest experience that’s associated with this new nighttime spectacular. I also hope that Davison will deliver on the promise that he made at last year’s D23 EXPO. That the football-field-sized rig that’s located just under the surface of Paradise Bay Lagoon will also be used to present some daytime fountain shows.

The daytime show – if I’m remembering correctly – will be more in the style of the Fountains at Bellagio shows. In that these fountain shows will supposedly be short performance pieces that are choreographed to Disney music and are presented every 15 minutes or every half hour or so. Which (I think, anyway) would add an extra layer of fun & excitement to visiting DCA’s Paradise Pier area during the day.

Anyway … That’s my take on World of Color. Which had a world premiere that was obviously a little damper than Disney had originally intended. But -- that said -- WOC is still a great new addition to DCA. I’m sure – with time and some additional tweaking (especially when it comes to the Operational end of things and how that impacts the ways that typical Guests and their family experience this new nighttime spectacular) World of Color will get even better.

So be sure and drop by DCA the very next time you’re out in Southern California & check WOC out. Because this is one fountain show that you don't want to mist ... er ... miss out on.

Your thoughts?

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  • I watched this on the streaming video feed, which was pretty impressive for it's overall clarity and minimal number of freezes.

    Technically, I thought the show was outstanding. But I would tend to agree with some other online posters that the lack of a story or, more to the point, a common theme or narrative carrying through the show was a weakness.  

    It feels like a cross between Illuminations and the fireworks shows, but whereas Illuminations is self-contained original content, this (like many Disney fireworks shows) quite rightly ties into existing Disney characters, films, music and themes... but there's just no connection or common thread to tie it all together.  Given the show's length, the absence of that continuity became noticeable, at least at home in my easy chair.  Maybe that's not so much the case when you're seeing it in person.

  • It certainly seems pretty, but despite all the hype (and there's been BOATLOADS of it), I certainly wouldn't plan my vacation around this thing.  This is what you would call a "value add,"  nice in the background but nothing more.  

    Nice try though.

  • I saw World of Color. It really lacks the scale of Bellagio but makes up for it in fire and lasers. The projections are horribly blurry and block the view of the fountain show from most angles. That being said, I would have to call it a tie between shows. While Bellagio is more elegant, classy and.... epic; World of Color is.... well... Disney like with fire and all that stuff. So the shows would be tied, but Bellagio is free and I don't have to wait for hours to see it :). So I'll go with Bellagio as the better show because of conveniance and cost.

  • My Fiance and I are planning our honeymoon and have decided to stay at http://www.swandolphin.com  This is by far the most amazing Disney World Resort. yet. There 17 restaurants on the resort along with access to transportation to all of the parks every 15 minutes. I think this is going to be the best place for our honeymoon because it looks so romantic and elegant.

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