Updated: Oct 20, 2022
“World of Color” at Disney California Adventure Park brings animation to life with powerful fountains that create an immense screen of water. Combining music, fire, fog and laser effects with memorable animated sequences, this nighttime spectacular floods the senses and immerses audiences in some favorite Disney and Pixar stories, including scenes like WALL-E and Eve zipping through the cosmos, Pocahontas exploring just around the riverbend and Jack Sparrow battling on the sea.
Here’s a closer look at the history, storytelling and technology behind the show:
Inspired by “Your host, Walt Disney”
“World of Color” was conceived as a kind of “living ‘Fantasia,’” using music, animation, color, light and water to involve the audience in an exciting, whimsical and moving journey of storytelling.
The Emmy® Award-winning “Wonderful World of Color” (1961-1969) was Walt Disney’s first color television series, an extension of his previous “Disneyland” and “Walt Disney Presents” anthology series. The music and kaleidoscopic images of this pioneering TV show inspired the “World of Color” nighttime spectacular.
The show begins and ends with the original theme from the “Wonderful World of Color” television show, which was written by Disney Legends Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman.
Music and animation
The “World of Color” score was recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London, featuring more than 100 voices from soloists and choir. The 100-piece orchestra included 60strings, 15 brass, a dozen woodwinds and a harp, plus guitar, percussion, keyboards and synthesizers.
Among the characters and stories represented are Dory, Marlin, Crush and Squirt from “Finding Nemo,” Ariel and Sebastian from “The Little Mermaid,” Woody and Buzz Lightyear from “Toy Story,” Aladdin and Jasmine from “Aladdin,” Belle and the Beast from “Beauty and the Beast,” Wall-E and Eve from “Wall-E,” Simba, Mufasa and Scar from “The Lion King” and an array of heroes, heroines and colorful villains from the vast treasury of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios films.
In addition to traditional and computer animation, “World of Color” employs some more unusual techniques. An award-winning animator contributed an “Aladdin” sequence to the show using the medium of “sand animation.”
Technology and fountain factoids
The “stage” for “World of Color” in Paradise Bay is a platform composed of nearly one full acre of engineered superstructure. It’s longer than a football field!
The show’s control system precisely manages more than 18,000 active points of control.
“World of Color” features nearly 1,200 powerful and programmable fountains. Each fountain has multiple points of control for lighting, color intensity, water angle, height and more.
The fountains can send water to heights ranging from 30 feet to 200 feet (by way of comparison, the Pixar Pal-A-Round reaches a height of 150 feet, some of it below the edge of the lagoon).
“World of Color” features a gigantic projected water screen – a wall of water 380 feet wide by 50 feet high, for a projection surface of 19,000 square feet.
28 high-definition projectors (14 of them, submersible) are employed in the show.
The show spans Paradise Bay, a 5-acre man-made lagoon with 15 million gallons of water.
When design preparations for “World of Color” began, Disneyland Resort collaborated with the Orange County Water District to reduce water waste in Paradise Bay. Instead of draining the lagoon to the ocean when it is emptied, the water is sent through the Water District’s advanced Groundwater Replenishment System. After it is purified, the water is pumped into recharge basins and replenishes the county’s groundwater supply. For these efforts, along with other Resort-wide environmental practices, Disneyland Resort was recognized in 2009 with the Governor’s Environmental & Economic Leadership Award, California’s highest environmental honor.