The Walt Disney Company has perfected the art of marketing their films beyond their original theatrical premieres. Elaborate home video releases, theme park shows and attractions and an endless array of merchandise are some of the things the company does to make sure their movies are still fresh on our minds. Call it capitalizing on our nostalgia and collective love of movies, but they do an incredible job of it, often going through great lengths just to put on a show. Disney’s World of Color is the latest in Disney’s efforts to inspire our love of all things fun, animated, magical and even inspirational.
Disney’s World of Color is a dancing water show on Disney’s California Adventure theme park in Anaheim, California, similar to the dancing water show in the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada. The show has been in development for over five years and finally premiered on the evening of Friday, June 11th, much to the delight of thousands. World of Color takes some of the greatest moments in Disney film history and recreates them through the use of dancing water fountains (around 1,2000 of them, lights, lasers, mist, digital projectors and even fire. In honor of Pixar week here at Filmstrip Memories, we are going to take a look at the role Pixar movies plays in this homage to the magic of Disney.
Pixar has contributed a lot to the Disney lore as of late. Starting with Toy Story, Pixar is now synonymous with the company Walt Disney founded decades ago. You think of one movie and the worlds “Disney and Pixar” pop up. It’s no surprise that Pixar movies have made countless appearances throughout the Disney theme parks, often in attractions, lands and character meet and greets. Disney’s World of Color dedicates a great segment of its show to Pixar’s most amazing efforts, old and new. Pixar even contributed to it! They took their most iconic film moments and re-animated them so they could take advantage of the show’s watery presentation.
Here is a video of how they did it, as well as their thoughts on being represented on such a prestigious show:
Let’s take a look at their segments, shall we?
The show begins with a Little Mermaid segment starring Ariel’s “Part of your world” and culminates with Sebastian’s “Under the sea”. Right after this song is over the first Pixar characters that we see are Crush the Sea Turtle and Squirt, his baby turtle son from Finding Nemo. It’s appropriate that the first Pixar film we see featured in this show is this one. For the longest time, Finding Nemo was Pixar’s most popular film, seeing a lot of representations in the Disney theme parks. Some of these include the Submarine Voyage in Disneyland, the Finding Nemo musical in Walt Disney World Florida and The Seas with Nemo on Epcot. When Crush and company leave, Dory and Marlin appear, recreating the famous “whale talk” scene. Once this scene is over we are taken to the “Pines of Rome” segment from Fantasia 2000.
As the last whale finishes his dance in space we then cut to a view of a beautiful galaxy, with glowing orbs representing different planets. A familiar face then appears: It’s Wall-E! The scene is the one in which Wall-E and EVE are in outer space, they “kiss” for the first time and they perform an amazing outer-space ballet. This scene is wonderfully recreated through the use of water effects, lasers and lights. The ending of the scene has Wall-E moving across the screens using his fire extinguisher. The puffs of smoke he leaves behind then turns into a familiar set of clouds…
The audience then sees two great friends: Buzz and Woody. The scene is from Toy Story, where they meet for the first time. After their now iconic argument, Woody challenges Buzz to fly around the room. But instead of “falling with style”, Buzz literally blasts off into infinity and beyond, taking the show to recreate the amazing opening sequence from Toy Story 2.
This is my favorite part of the whole show. Buzz battles a giant, laser version of Zurg as water fountains recreate laser blasts and Buzz flies left and right, with the giant water screens creating a great illusion of depth and movement. When Zurg is finally defeated all of the fountains shoot water up hundreds of feet into the air, culminating with the Little Green Men (aka the Toy Story Aliens) being amazed at the whole spectacle.
As the water screens go black, a single balloon appears on screen. This balloon signals the arrival of Carl Fredicksen’s house, taking us to Up’s segment in the show. The scene is very short, but very sweet. As the scene progresses we hear the first few notes of the film’s heartbreaking “Married Life” song. The house scrolls up and we begin to see Up’s main characters: Kevin the large colorful bird, Carl Fredicksen, Russell the Wilderness Explorer and the very lovable Dug. Dug then talks to the audience saying “My name is Dug, I’ve just met you, and I love you!”. The scene then ends with Dug saying “SQUIRRELL!” while a single Mickey Mouse balloon flies up, signaling the end of Pixar’s segment in the show. From this point on, World of Color focuses on the famous animated films from the 90s, which include Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King and even Pocahontas.
But Pixar hasn’t completely left the show. After the Pocahontas scene, a couple of leaves fly across the screens. A big, red leaf then appears and stops in the center screen. We are introduced to Heimlich from A Bug’s Life! His stay, however, is cut short by the arrival of wind and rain, leading up to the Little April Showers segment of the show.
Disney’s World of Color concludes by presenting us once more all of the previous scenes while adding new ones as well.
Watching the show online doesn’t top being actually there, but the show is so amazing that even watching it on your computer screen you can't help but be in awe! Here’s the full show in case you missed Disney’s broadcast last Thursday night (Warning, the show is over 30 minutes long! Loading the video, especially in full high definition, may take a while):
Oh yes, I forgot to mention one thing. Before the show begins the audience is treated to a great pre-show parade. What’s so cool about it? Performers walk around with giant, Mardi gras puppets of classic Disney characters. Best of all, they are lit up! For the Disney side of things we have Sebastian from “The Little Mermaid”, Lumiere from “Beauty and the Beast”, Genie from “Aladdin” and Tigger from “Winnie-The-Pooh”. Care to guess which Pixar character got to dance around? That’s right, it’s Mike from “Monsters Inc.”!
Here’s a video of the festivities taking place before the show:
In many of the videos I’ve seen the audience reaction is incredible to say the least. When Dory and Marlin appear on screen, people begin to laugh and applaud, remembering how amazing the characters in Finding Nemo were. Wall-E’s segment also drew a lot of reactions. Despite the film’s controversial premiere due to its daring themes of mass consumerism and pollution the reactions were very positive, especially when Wall-E and EVE kiss and danced together. Toy Story perhaps drew the biggest reactions, with Buzz and Woody’s appearance creating a lot of applause. Buzz’s space battle amazed the audience with its great use of lasers and light. The one reaction that surprised me, though, was with Up. Up’s scene was very brief and simple. But as soon as the first notes of Giachinno’s “Married Life” started playing, people started going “Aaaaaaww” due to the tune’s usage in the film’s most memorable scene.
Shows like World of Color prove that Pixar’s movies have created a deep, emotional connection with audiences. It doesn’t matter if the story takes place inside the room of a child or into the deepest regions of out space, if a father clown fish is trying to find his son or a family of super heroes is trying to lead a normal life, all that matters is that the audience enjoys a great story that touches their souls, enlightens their hearts and inspires their imaginations.
Disney may be guilty of over-capitalizing on these wonderful memories of ours, but when you have amazing shows like World of Color it’s easy to forgive them for it. This is one great example of extending a film’s legacy and creating an amazing show, assuring that its presence never dies in our hearts. It’s why we love referencing movies so much, and Disney is the best at this practice.