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Disney California Adventure's World of Color: Disneyland Event Review

by Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist
Last modified 04-26-2012

Disney has a long running, and fine tradition of providing superb night-time entertainment.

There's IllumiNations at Epcot, Wishes at the Magic Kingdom, and Fantasmic! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, not forgetting the superb Main Street Electrical Parade at the Magic Kingdom. So when I heard that Disneyland in California introduced a new night-time show, World of Color, at Paradise Pier in the California Adventure park, I was intrigued. I was even more intrigued to hear some mixed reviews of it. Would it live up to the wonder of Walt Disney World’s night-time entertainment, or would we leave disappointed?

The first thing I quickly discovered, when doing my research for our trip to Disneyland, was that World of Color, despite the initial mixed reviews I’d read, seemed to be a huge attraction – and I mean huge! Who’s ever heard of FASTPASS tickets being offered before for a night-time event at Walt Disney World? Apparently, even these FASTPASS tickets, a bit like the ones for Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, were like gold dust! I read a number of stories about the lines just to get these FASTPASS tickets, which are distributed outside the Grizzly River Run each morning at park opening. The tickets give you access to a color-coded viewing area, although you can’t pick your specific showtime, if there’s more than one show on the night you’re visiting.

I couldn’t bear the thought of standing in line for a FASTPASS, so instead we opted for the dining option. This works in a similar way to the Fantasmic! dining option at Walt Disney World, with you enjoying a meal, and getting tickets to a Disney Dining Reserved Viewing section. This is right in the center of Paradise Pier, giving you a superb view of the show.

You can choose from either a fixed price dinner at Ariel’s Grotto or the Wine Country Trattoria or a lunch at Wine Country Trattoria [note that Ariel's Grotto won't be available on the meal package after June 14, 2012]. Not having eaten at the Trattoria before, we opted for dinner there. We can highly recommend the Wine Country Trattoria, as we found it to be excellent food. You then are given a ticket, showing where you need to be for World of Color, and at what time. It’s as simple as that.

For Ariel’s Grotto, if you want to see the first show of the night, you’ll need to dine between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm, while seating times for the second show are between 7:05 pm and 8:30 pm. If you’re thinking that this sounds like a good way to enjoy some time with the characters, then think again, as they’re not present during World of Color dining package hours. The price is $39.99/adults and $20.00/children aged 3-9.

The deal at Wine Country Trattoria is exactly the same, both in terms of cost, and the times at which you need to dine. For lunch there, the cost is $29.99/adults and $18.99/children, with times running from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm for the first show, and from 2:40 pm to 3:30 pm for the second show. If this is something you’re interested in, then you can call to book on 714-781-DINE.

Another option is to go for the World of Color Picnic Meal, which come in four different options. Adults can choose from either the All-American, European Antipasto, Taste of Asia, or Mediterranean Vegetable, and each one comes with an entree, dessert, and choice of beverage. Children’s picnics come with the choice of a chicken leg or peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Each meal is $15.99, including tax. These can be pre-ordered up to 30 days before the date that you’re planning on seeing the show, but don’t leave it too late, as Disney won’t accept pre-orders on the day of.

If you don’t want to opt for any of these, then you could face a long wait for the show. We were amazed by how early people were camping out to get a good spot for that night’s World of Color. Almost every inch around Paradise Pier were taken up by people, eagerly awaiting the show. We were exceptionally glad that we’d gone for the Disney Dining package. One thing that’s worth knowing about the packages is that they let you in at a set time, and they have a set area for you. We were delighted by the area we were let into, as it was directly center stage, right opposite Mickey’s Fun Wheel, and was a perfect viewing spot.

So what’s the show like? We’d been told beforehand by a Cast Member that it’s 29 minutes in length. That’s a long time to keep your audience’s attention, but my goodness, Disney manages it. I was sceptical about this, as after all, it’s a water show. What can you do with water? Well, as it happens, a heck of a lot! Water may be the main ingredient, but World of Color also pulls in color, light, images, and fire to bring to life some of Disney’s greatest films.

If you’ve seen Fantasmic!, then you’ve got an idea of what to expect, in terms of images created with mists of water, but World of Color somehow manages to take it to a completely new level. It starts off with Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, from which it draws its name, and finishes with this. In between, films such as Finding Nemo, Toy Story, WALL-E, the Little Mermaid, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Lion King, Lady and the Tramp, and Fantasia are featured.

It’s not just the images and the accompanying music, but at times, there’s a superb use of fire, and even the Fun Wheel has a role, with its lights synchronized to the show. I will be honest here, neither of us are fans of Fantasmic! It just doesn’t do anything for us, so I wasn’t sure what we’d make of World of Color. I don’t know if the technology has moved on - I’m sure it has, with high definition now available - but it was so much easier to see all the images than in Fantasmic! We didn’t have any of those irritating moments we’ve had before, where we’re sitting there, wondering what on earth we’re seeing. Everything was clear, and immediately obvious. Perhaps even better, the photos we took of the show came out superbly, so anyone looking at them could instantly get an idea of what we experienced.

Perhaps something that surprised us, though it shouldn’t have done really, given that we’ve seen the fountains dance outside the Venetian in Las Vegas, is how high the jets can shoot into the air. They can reach up to 200 feet, so if you’re near the front, you may get wet. It’s not exactly a splash zone, but it’s something you might want to think about if you want to have a camera out during the show, and don’t want it to get wet. Another thing worth knowing is that the viewing areas for World of Color are designed to be standing, rather than sitting. For me, with chronic fatigue, that was a major concern for me, but I was able to snag a bench to watch it from. However, there aren’t many, and if this worries you, you may want to get an ECV or wheelchair to be on the safe side.

In short, you miss World of Color at your peril. After seeing it once, it’s already on our must-do list for any future visit to Disneyland. We’re obviously not the only ones, given the crowds we saw waiting for it on our most recent visit, and I suspect it will be exceptionally popular for a long time to come. If you do want to see it, I can thoroughly recommend getting a dining package, as we got a wonderful meal, and some great spots to see World of Color out of it.

About the Author: Cheryl is the author of the e-book, PassPorter's Walt Disney World for British Holidaymakers, and is the co-author of PassPorter's Disney Vacation Club Guide: For Members and Members-To-Be. Cheryl and husband Mark live in England and love to travel, particularly to Disney, and they have travelled around the world, taking in a number of Disney cruises, Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani in Hawai'i, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney and Hong Kong Disneyland on the way. Click here to view more of Cheryl's articles!

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Updated 04-26-2012

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