Disneyland Park, Anaheim, CA
HEY PEOPLE! I got access to the site real quick! So before Jim yells at me for not ordering his Chipotle on time, I wanted to let you know that I got to go on a field trip. Oooohh ahhh, I’m so proud of myself. It’s not every day they trust me with doing something, so when it happens, I’m excited to be let out of the supply closet.
Also, it sort of sucks having to work on a holiday weekend. But you’re also reading this on a holiday weekend, so what’re you doing with your life?
Friday night, I got a drunk text from Jim. Albert was out having a life, and he couldn’t drive since he was out drinking with the cool kids. This was a really high priority situation and I had to rise to the occasion. Disney was debuting the biggest, most advanced show since ‘Remember, Dreams Come True’, and we, like the rest of those internet nerds (you know who you are) who didn’t get an invite to a media event, we had to cover it on the opening night with the general public. Which is cool, because at least we don’t have to deal with the fake ass-kissing from ‘media’ and get to enjoy the night with the general public who are generally just out to have a good time anyway and wanna watch stuff go ‘boom boom’ in the sky.
Good God, that actually might have been the smartest thing I’ve said. Bookmark this, you’ll want to re-read this for years to come, kids.
Anyway, I got sent out here to brave the SoCal cold (shut up, all 12 of you east coast readers, 50ºF is COLD to us Californians and take photos of the new show. I’ll be fair about it.
The show starts off with a bang and really doesn’t let up until it’s done. Which I guess is the millennial thing to do? I don’t know. I don’t club so I guess this is the Disney version of that in show form? Anyway. There’s some cool projections throughout the show, but with mixed animation styles, and as I said on twitter, it’s a lot packed into 10 minutes and not in a great way.
The show opens up with a upbeat song about ‘getting your ears on’, and Disney was awesome to release the single to streaming services, so listen at your own volition. The opening photos above show a great example of fun projections, especially on the semi-flat surface that-is It’s A Small World. The opening number isn’t horrible. The song is alright, but you can definitely tell it’s a sense of old folks trying to think this is what ‘Disney’ and ‘Cool’ sound like to us ‘young folk’.
The use of the new Mickey animation shorts doesn’t really bother me. It’s what’s new to the company and that makes sense to use it. The opening bit, in terms of projections, make sense for the show.
Second up in the mix lineup is ‘I Wanna Be Like You’ from ‘The Jungle Book’. The remix is decent, because I really feel like you can’t flub this song up too horribly regardless of what you do to it (don’t take that as a challenge, please don’t screw this up). But the animation is the same stuff you’ve seen on any other projected surface so far. It’s nothing exciting until you get to the shot of Kaa. If they kept with the laser outline look of Kaa for most of the show, it wouldn’t be as terrible because at the least you’d have some cohesion to the overall style.
In my opinion, the show mixes a LOT of different animation styles that tries to stay cohesive with decibel meters of a music board that links the scenes together, but doesn’t really mesh with any sort of a decent fade mix between songs.
Transitions between sets…
Next up..’Everybody wants to be a cat’. Again, if the show kept the silhouetted style, and abstract look as a whole, it’d work well. The visuals on this were great, but the mix was really muddy. Also a really interesting choice considering it’s not a movie Disney uses much in pretty much anything stateside.
Then flash forward to 90’s in the Viper Room…er, Aladdin, and BOOM. Instant Robin Williams dancy segment.
Then we go from movies to parks with a really unnecessary remix of ‘Grim Grinning Ghosts’ from Haunted Mansion. It just felt jarring that there was a ride mixed in with all movies. The laser outline of It’s A Small World was really cool though, I will give it that. But again and again, as I drive this point home: if they kept it abstract in style without mixing animations and full character renders, I think the whole ‘dance party’ would’ve read better. You could argue I’m nit-picking, but when Steve Davison and company is known for quality shows, this pales in comparison to not only previous work, but work we all know could be done better.
This was probably my favorite part of the entire show. A really great thing to add to this is the music mix they had for this was all in Spanish. They could’ve opted for the movie track we all know, but hearing it in all Spanish was a fun nod of cultural appreciation to me. Oh, p.s., it was Un Poco Loco, not Remember Me.
Let It NO.
That is all.
And here we have the big grand finale. Note in that final shot little Mix Magic Little Squirt stayed put the ENTIRE show. He’s such a good little light.
Anyway, the show ends with the same song that opened it up, but in a odd way, has random characters dancing at the end. Coggsworth, Sully (but young, college Sully from Monsters U, because hey, we’re young and hip and cool, yo), and Fix It Felix. It seems unnecessary to have them in there if they don’t have a place left in the dance party. Which leads me to this: Disney came out with a full EDM album with really good remixes that would’ve lended itself much better to this type of show if they used some of those tracks and arguably make for a better EDM/Electric ‘dance party’. Seriously, go listen to Partysaurus Overflow (from Partysaurus Rex), Roar (From Monsters University), or even the Armin Van Buuren remix of Let It Go. They’re all better mixes and would’ve built the show out stronger than just hashing out old animation recuts. If you haven’t heard it, it’s available to stream on Apple Music and Spotify.
Ultimately, the high energy of the show is going to retain attention of little kids who’re already prone to short-length cuts of flashy screens and lights, and probably give parents a headache from the ten minutes of pure powered saturated noise that-is the show. For projections, it’s decent. Pyro felt like an afterthought and out of anything, its quality lacks from a creator that just got lazy with a concept that could have been something good. I’m just waiting for the next show to hopefully get back to the roots of what a true Disney fireworks show is and feels like.
This just felt like those times in high school when you had every class at homecoming do a dance in the gym to like, six songs remixed, but the kid who did it was the only aspiring DJ in your class, with no experience so it cuts hard and doesn’t make sense from song to song because there’s no transitions or flow.
As an added footnote: These concepts of a ‘dance party’ or ‘park wide fireworks’ need to be fleshed out better. If it’s a dance party, then it needs to be brought up that guests can actually move and enjoy the music, not just stand there and watch a show. Which, if we’re being honest, they’re going to do because it’s a Disney show, not Electric Daisy Carnival. Unless this was mixed into an event like oh, I don’t know, GlowFest, you aren’t going have guests engaged to dance around and party to a 10 minute rave show.
Not only that, but if this was a fully fleshed out concept, I would have expected more ground work done, especially at other areas of the park besides Main Street. It would’ve been really easy to toss a dozen gobos up on It’s A Small World and surrounding areas if they really wanted this to be a big thing. Lasers, more lights, more…something. It’s just not what it could be.
Which shows the tell on the entire project: it’s short term. This is a passover concept until the next big thing comes along, and for that, I’m grateful. For now,
I’m a little bummed too, because this concept was actually sort of cool to consider, but the reality of it is just…bad.
End of the day, this is all just my own opinion on it, go see it for yourself, but don’t get mad when you ask for your ten minutes back and they don’t give you a refund. They can’t refund time at Disney, but you might get like…a churro or something. Those always make everything better anyway.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I hear Jim coming back down the halls, so I’ve got to retreat back to the supply closet.
P.S. Albert snuck in a visit on Sunday evening and got some photos from Main Street. Here’s what that all kinda looks like—although the fireworks got shut off midway through the show due to the dreaded “winds at higher elevations.” You can get his take here.