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It's the details that really make "Disney Paint the Night," Disneyland Park's all-new electrical parade

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It's the details that really make "Disney Paint the Night," Disneyland Park's all-new electrical parade

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Greetings from the Happiest Place on Earth, where the Disneyland Resort is kicking off its Diamond Celebration.

Last night was the media premiere of "Disney Paint the Night," which is the all-new Electrical Parade that Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Creative Entertainment whipped up for Disneyland Park's 60th anniversary celebration.


Photo by Michelle Valladolid

Three years in making, "Paint the Night" is full of fun nods to previous Disney theme park parades. Take -- for example -- how Goofy, Minnie & Donald come rolling down the street on units that look very much like SpectroMagic's Whirly-Balls.


Photo by Jim Hill

But at the same time, "Paint the Night" is quite innovative. It features cutting edge stuff  like costumes that are made up of sculpted pieces which have their own sophisticated system of lighting controls.


Photo by Michelle Valladolid

The sheer size and scale of some of these units is stunning. Take -- for example -- Slinky Dog in the "Toy Story" section of "Paint the Night." Slinky Dog's ears are 18 feet tall and 11 feet across. And those 10 spinning discs that make up Slinky Dog's spine? They rotate at a mind-blowing 120 RPM.


Photo by Jim Hill

Of course, if you look closely at each unit, you'll see fun little details that the Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Creative Entertainment team slipped in there. Like this Little Green Man standing in a sea of oversized Lite-Brite pegs.


Photo by Jim Hill

There's a lot that I could write about "Disney Paint the Night," which attempts to tell eight different stories with each story being represented by multiple floats, props and performers.


Photo by Jim Hill

But rather than give you guys an in-depth look at this entire parade today, I thought that I'd just focus in on two specific units of "Disney Paint the Night" : The "Frozen" float ...


Photo by Jim Hill

... with Anna, Elsa and Olaf ... 


Photo by Jim Hill

... and the "Cars" unit. Which features Lightning McQueen, Mack, DJ as well as a slew of high energy dancers.


Photo by Jim Hill

The "Frozen" unit is genuinely massive. It's 30 feet tall and almost 35 feet long.


Photo by Jim Hill

To give you a sense of how truly big that is (especially when you consider that Disneyland is a theme park that's filled with forced perspective), I've included a close-up from the previous photo. Which shows two regular-sized men gawking up at Elsa's frozen ice palace.


Photo by Jim Hill

And when you really get in close to "Disney Paint the Night" 's "Frozen" unit, the level of detail work that Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Creative Entertainment put into this project really leaps out at you. It's full of fun details like those six etched window art panels. Three depict happy memories from Elsa & Anna's childhood ...


Photo by Jim Hill

... while the other three feature the Trolls, Kristoff and Sven. In addition to this, there are 56 hand-carved, over-sized snowflakes and 11 icy swirls.


Photo by Jim Hill

That "Frozen" float is huge. But it's not actually the largest unit in "Disney Paint the Night." That honor goes to Mack, the Mack Truck from "Cars." At 54 feet long in length ...


Photo by Jim Hill

... (which does include DJ at the back of this truck) ...


Photo by Jim Hill

... Mack is the longest vehicle in the parade. The most intriguing aspect of this "Cars" unit is the cargo that Mack is hauling. Which is 26,730 individual orbs. Which -- when they're all lit up and following their programming -- then present this volumetric light display that appears to show 3D objects in motion (I know, I know. That's a very confusing / technical description. But this display really is impressive when you see it in person).


Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of seeing things in person: One of the perks of taking part in a Disney theme park media event is that you then get to find out how things actually work. Take -- for example -- finding out where the driver for the "Cars" unit is hidden. He actually sits  in the engine compartment of this faux Mack Truck and then looks out at the world through the slits in Mack's grill.


Photo by Jim Hill

I know, I know. There are those Disney purists who will complain that "Paint the Night" is just a clone of the nighttime spectacular that Hong Kong Disneyland got last year. And why then didn't Disneyland Park get a new parade of its own for its 60th anniversary.


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According to the Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Creative Entertainment members that I spoke with, while the two versions of " Paint the Night" were basically developed simultaneously, there are enough unique elements in the Disneyland Park's version that it can stand on its own.


Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of standing, I can pretty much guarantee that it's going to be standing-room-only along the Disneyland Park's parade route as folks come out in droves to see this all-new electric parade which celebrates classic Disney and Disney-Pixar stories in a vibrant, eco-friendly way. (Did I forget to mention that "Disney Paint the Night" is the first-ever parade to be lit almost entirely with LED lights?)


Photo by Jim Hill

One final thing for all you Disney trivia buffs out there: Given that there wouldn't be a "Disney Paint the Night" if it weren't for the classic night-time theme park show that preceded it (i.e., The Main Street Electrical Parade. Which debuted at Disneyland Park back on June 17, 1972 and featured " ... "thousands of sparkling lights and electro-syntho-magnetic musical sounds"), the folks at Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Creative Entertainment decided to incorporate one of the rosettes from the original Main Street Electrical Parade in "Disney Paint the Night."

"And where can this rosette be found?," you ask. It's on the very tip of Tinker Bell's wand in the lead unit for "Disney Paint the Night." 

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  • I've seen this parade and I love it. I can't wait to see it again. It is a worthy, 21st century replacement for the Main Street Electrical Parade. (Unlike "Light Magic" in 1997, despite good intentions. That was an odd era for the park)

    The original Electrical parade was wonderful, but for today's standards it is rather primitive.

    Also, before anyone starts to whine, I should point out the fact that the theme music from The Main Street Electrical parade (Baroque Hoedown) IS STILL USED in Paint the Night. It has been re-orchestrated, but it IS the same theme music. In addition, the parade also features a new version of "When Can I See You Again?" from "Wreck-It Ralph".  

    And you're right Jim, the California version of the parade is similar, but NOT identical to the Hong Kong version. The California version includes some elements and floats that are not in Hong Kong.

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