Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Blue Sky Buzz: Try All & Era...

Wow...





Wonderful...

Friday a whole new era begins for the Disneyland Resort...

Those that have seen World of Color know what I'm talking about. Having seen it three times now, I can tell you that it's a game changer for the resort and the theme park. Starting this week, DCA will make its first, bold step toward becoming a Disney destination, not a Disney abomination. You can already see some of the changes in how the park is being marketed in the new commercials and billboards for the event. It truly crosses the line that ends the Pressler Era for good and moves forward into a bright future for Disney Parks the world over.

So, what is it that is so different? First off, scale. The scale of this endeavor is big. Really big. More than any project so far seen in this park. When this show is seen by the public it will give them a sense that things have changed. Things are different in Disney's Second Gate in California. There's now a reason to come through those turnstiles. I've seen the show three times myself and it's incredibly beautiful with one of my first reactions to it as how different it feels from anything else that the Mouse has tried to pull off there since the 2001 park opening. It doesn't feel like a stopgap measure, as many other "events" have. This feels amazing and spectacular, an entertainment show that you would see in a park like Disneyland itself were it to have the real estate to actually pull it off. That is going to be one of the great benefits of the bay at Paradise Pier. And it's going to be a great alternative to those that have seen entertainment over in the Rivers of America and are looking for something else.

The one thing that some people will be critical of is the narrative of the show. There is none. Being as almost everything that Disney does from attractions to films, a storyline is usually involved, but WOC is a string of beautiful scenes combined with powerful, cutting edge technology that are connected by nothing else. And no, Disney wasn't trying to be lazy. There actually was a storyline in the beginning of the concept and it survived all the way through much of the testing phase. But it didn't work, so bits were replaced and changed as the show was worked on. If you've seen some of the videos on YouTube and think you've seen it then realize that you probably haven't. There have been at least five versions on display during late night testing and this is the final version for the opening. Missing is the little character known as "Squirt" that was supposed to be making an appearance throughout the scenes as a water creature that was going to tie certain scenes together. All of the scenes of paper mache animation as well. The Cheshire Cat scenes may have looked good on the small screen, but spread out over three hundred feet they didn't look near as attractive and so they were cut. It will probably have little tweaks made over the coming years and add/drop scenes just as "Fantasmic!" has done. There is even early, blue sky talk of having customized shows for specific events, like Christmas or perhaps Halloween as time goes by. But that won't likely happen the first few year, just like "Toy Story Midway Mania" was designed so programs could be switched out and new things added in little time, so will this show do/be eventually.

Come this fall, the front entrance will start to become a mess of walls and construction like many other parts of the park and a little more than a year later, Disney fans' eyes will drink in an incredibly detailed, lovingly crafted and themed new front entrance that evokes the idealized version of the Los Angeles Walt saw when he stepped off that train looking for his American dream. This Christmas will not likely be very themed in DCA as the room/space that could be used in very limited, but once the front area is turned into something far better than a gaudy extension of The Block in Orange, you can expect something during the holiday season to rival Disneyland's Main Street decorations. A very California Christmas I would say/imagine. With themed entertainment that the park is working on making guest feel like they've gone back in time to what it must have been like in an earlier part of the Golden State's holiday history. Events that park goers experience during Holidays 2012/13 are going to have them looking back on what was DCA when it opened as a faint, drifting bad dream. The young ones that first enter the park then will have to be told that all this wonder as a far better sight than what they remember a decade ago. They won't believe you.

And about that time, as the first phase of the Extreme Makeover comes to a close, people will start to see the improvements coming to the original park start to take place as well as the announcement of an addition Disney hotel if attendance and spending continue to rise from current levels. But that's another story for another posts (just like the beginning of the second phase of expansion at DCA which won't start till probably 2014 or so).

The future is bright for Southern California over the coming decade and we Disney Fans/Geeks can look forward to the evolving plans finally turning what was said to be a resort into an actual one...

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great article. Can't wait.

Try all and era?

Trial and error?

Funny and clever, Honor!

acroyear70 said...

well, i'm still one that greatly likes the scenes of california murals that are at the current gate, and will miss them more than pretty much anything next time I visit. I did take advantage of being there in 2009 and taking plenty of pictures.

Animated Response said...

You have very low expectations for a Disney park, Acroyear70. Might I suggest Six Flaggs or Knotts Berry Farm instead?

Anonymous said...

I still hate the new entrance concept. Why make it look like WDW's studios park? DCA will be a unique park with it's own identity and rides, although it does share many rides with the Florida counterpart.

I'm a bit skeptical about the new watershow. Not sure how much of a game changer it is. DCA already has a great show called Aladdin and it did nothing to advance the park. The park will get better with the new rides and attractions, but a new watershow is just done at night for a small audience. Whatever happened to 9,000 people who can see it? It's down to 4,000 now, and only 2 shows per night, with most of Paradise Pier rides closed.

Justin said...

I heard on the radio this morning that you can watch the entire premiere of World of Color streamed live over the internet: http://www.ustream.tv/worldofcolor

Anonymous said...

The complaints of a lack of story line are without merit. Honestly, beyond the "Mickey battles the villains, good combats evil" angle, what story is there to Fantasmic! Not much.

jedited said...

I have a question concerning BIG changes at DL or DCA 2.0 when Bob Iger himself said, "I think, once we get through this period, we're probably going to drop down to what I'll call a more steady state," Iger said. "We don't really project — save for Disneyland Shanghai, should be we successful in completing that agreement and building the park — we don't really project anything as significant as this collection of investments on the [capital expenditure] front over the next decade."
That sure sounds like this is it for awhile.

jedited said...

I question your sources concerning DCA 2.0 and other BIG capital expeditures when Bob Iger himself said,
"I think, once we get through this period, we're probably going to drop down to what I'll call a more steady state," Iger said. "We don't really project — save for Disneyland Shanghai, should be we successful in completing that agreement and building the park — we don't really project anything as significant as this collection of investments on the [capital expenditure] front over the next decade."
That sure sounds like they are done for awhile to me.

Doopey said...

If you think in terms of the billion-dollar DCA makeover, the two new cruise ships (a HUGE expenditure), the new Hawaii resort, the WDW Fantasyland expansion, and the Hong Kong expansion, then what Iger is saying is pretty reasonable. That's ALOT of money getting spent right there. Dropping down to "a steady state" as Iger puts it, doesn't necessarily mean there won't be more investment in the parks, just not at the level listed above.

If Universal sees a significant uptick in attendance and WDW sees a corresponding decrease in attendance b/c of Harry Potter, then they will have to put more focus on Orlando, but I expect they will take a "wait and see" approach on that.

Kaleidoscope said...

It's too bad the paper animation was, er, cut. I was looking forward to those.

http://www.meganbrain.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

World of Color was just a mediocre hodgepodge of films, with nothing tying them together. The music was only as good as the films they came from and what sounded like new orchestrations were nothing special. There is far too much ambient mist in the air for the projections to be seen clearly at least from anywhere but center seats. It is a huge spectacle, and todays super size society may well eat it up (when they used all the flame throwers at once, the audience went nuts), but aside from the huge technological feat that World of Color is, there's absolutlely nothing special about it. I know it's not true, but it looks like it was designed by a comittee not a showman.

Anonymous said...

Honor,

I'm told that the Maliboomer is going to be dismantled this fall. Is that true? The Pier's skyline will be much nicer without it.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

So, is it pretty sure that the show had 'heart' and story to it until Iger came and ripped it to shreds to turn it into a hodgepodge of movie clips to sell more DVDs and toys?

I'm surprised more people aren't going on about this. When the show was first pitched and Davison gave his runthrough, the show was about sweeping emotions/visuals and integrating Disney animation into the fountainwork. Now it has been reduced to play by play clips of movies on screens with fountains around them.

Honestly people, this show has been nuetered. It's downright sad to see what it ended up as when so muc h was worked on and shown...

Any takers?

Kyle said...

"I know it's not true, but it looks like it was designed by a comittee not a showman."

It WAS designed by a showman, but the committee got involved and desecrated the shows integrity. I've seen it twice in person and think that the fact that there is no real narrative is not the shows weakest point, It's the flow of it. When I listen to Steven Davison's original walk-through he did in the BSC over a year ago, I hear a show that has great flow similar to Fantasmic with an epic score that will tie everything together like the fireworks. What we got was a ginsu'd version of that. It doesn't need a storyline to be a great show, look at RDCT, hailed as Disney's best firework show anywhere (also designed by Steven), with no narrative, just a hodgepodge of Disney ride audio with a fantastic score.

Do I think WOC is "mediocre", not the least bit. From a technical and visual stand point, WOC is ion's ahead of any water show that has ever been produced, not to mention MANY "WOW" moments. Which gives me hope, that in the coming months and years the show will change and evolve into what it was meant to be.

Spokker said...

There are two ways to look at World of Color.

First is the technical view. This part is amazing. All that crap in the water, all those spouts and gizmos, makes for a really incredible visual experience.

Second is the content. I'm not looking for a big plot where "things go wrong" or "one of our dinosaurs is missing." But what World Color lacks is the motivation for why anything in the show actually happens. Fantasmic!'s storyline isn't Shakespeare, but we have this whole concept of Mickey's imagination that turns into a battleground between good and evil. Disney attractions usually have some kind of motivation. Pirates of the Caribbean for example, takes place in a different time period in New Orleans and takes us back into the time of Pirates. Disney attractions transport us to a far off land, a past time period or a fanciful realm.

World of Color just feels like we are standing around in Southern California watching some visually impressive tech. The show is entirely dependent on Disney film nostalgia. It might as well open with, "Hey guys, remember Toy Story???"

The Up scene is a perfect example, offering only two catchphrases after the colorful and impressive balloon projection. Again, great tech, but what does it all mean?

World of Color is definitely for people who go to Disney parks primarily to see the characters. Those who are into the original attractions, less into synergy, may enjoy the show, but probably won't connect emotionally with it.

Of course, people are still in the World of Color honeymoon phase, so expect heavy blowback to any criticism of the show, even if you say it's still a good show. It's still a good show!

Spokker said...

Kyle, speaking of Remember... it sort of goes against everything I said about World of Color, but I mostly gave it a pass since it was the 50th and all.

However, it does flow a lot better than World of Color does. In fact, a subtle structural element is the train, which we can imagine is transporting us to the different Disney lands.

But see, even Remember... had a motivation. It was the right time and the right place, basically.

But Disney theme parks are not museums. They are not tributes unto themselves, but that's what World of Color feels like, another tribute. Another Partners. Another circle jerk of Disney proportions.

Maybe we can save those for the anniversaries.

Spokker said...

"I know it's not true, but it looks like it was designed by a comittee not a showman."

I think you've summed up my thoughts perfectly. Here is what Disney should do. Let Steve Davison really fly. Give him the complete auteur license to do what he needs to do to blow people away with not just a technically impressive spectacle, but a coherent one as well.

Spokker said...

"If Universal sees a significant uptick in attendance and WDW sees a corresponding decrease in attendance b/c of Harry Potter,"

Well, Universal is where the movies come to life, and by early accounts they really hit a home run with "Harry Potter Land." It'll probably do some damage.

However, you might see residual effects. People who visit Universal will probably visit Disney World too. However, in the past it was "We might as well see Universal on our Disney trip."

Today it's, "We might as well see Disney on our Universal trip."

Either way, those guests will probably spend more at Universal. Disney is not the top dog anymore. Universal has, at the very least, leveled the playing field a lot.

Kuka arms can do that, I think.

Honor Hunter said...

Just so you know guys...

Iger didn't gut the show. The main thing he wanted changed was the music. He preferred something a little more modern compared to the classic 60's opening.

The things that were cut out were with Davison's approval. Many of those scenes looked fine on a normal screen, but blown up they didn't look as good as he wanted and some of them looked downright cheap. So they were cut. No need to make Iger out to be the villain here.

But I think the show is fantastic and will likely evolve somewhat over time just as "Fantasmic!" has...

Anonymous said...

Any news on hollywoodland? PHASE 2 FTW!

Spokker said...

Hey Honor Hunter, are you breaking your NDA? Or, who is breaking their NDA to talk to you? Not expecting an answer, but just curious.

Honor Hunter said...

As for the Phase Two of DCA...

I've never said it would be like Phase One, as in almost a billion put into it.

By then it won't need that much. P2 should be between 200-400 million depending on how the company and the economy are doing. If the economy is still in the tank then you never know, it might be delayed, but there are a few things that could/would/should be done around the middle part of the decade. Nothing is final as I always say.

And we all know that you're the one breaking the NDA to speak with me, Spokker...


;)

Spokker said...

They should build a giant statue of Huell Howser at the entrance to the park. Then I'd sing DCA's praises.

Honor Hunter said...

You are a strange, little man, Spokker...

Anonymous said...

I'm the anonymous who said it looked like the show was created by a committee, just so everyone knows. A few more things to say:

I will concede that I was in the front row a bit over to the right, and from there, really couldn't see much of the show. Perhaps if I was further back, I would have been more impressed and many of my complaints wouldn't be valid. There were moments I felt like, wow, this probably makes a beautiful scene if I could take it all in. But I still say, as Spokker said, it felt very hodgepodgy. There was no motivation. Unlike Remember, there was nothing linking the films that were depicted, except their "Disneyness". I guess they were all films that did pretty well at the box office, but that's not necessarily enough. It's not like Fantasmic where you can say each film depicted was truly a Classic, even the newer ones used like Beauty and the Beast and Mermaid. I think all the Pixar bothered me. While Up and Wall E are very very good films, they seem to stand out like sore thumbs amid all the musicals depicted. And don't get me started on Heimlich- Bug's Life ages worse and worse as the years go on. I think that was the Jump the Shark moment for me.

I think just a little narrative would do it, or lyrics that essentially say, we're going to take you through the colorful films you've grown up with, or something like that. I mean, that's what they're doing, and we as an audience can see that common thread for ourselves, but we can also see the likely possibility that they just strung together every possible film, and without the Creative team taking the lead and telling the audience which possibility is true, I as a cynical person choose the latter.

And was it just me or was the sound system really crummy? I felt like I was sitting in front of one really blown out speaker? I couldn't hear any attempt at surround sound. But perhaps that was just a glitch on the night I saw it.

Fantasmic! said...

I've watched Fantasmic! since its premiere in 1992. The story itself and music DID NOT CHANGE or EVOLVE. Maybe, the presentation itself as in different fireworks finale, lighting upgrades to the barges, a full-bodied dragon, Ursula barge to Flotsam and Jetsam jet skis, has changed. The PLOT, hence, the SHOW, has stayed true for the past 18 years.

I just don't understand how the author can state "It will probably have little tweaks made over the coming years and add/drop scenes just as "Fantasmic!" has done."

Add or drop scenes? The scenes are still the same...

Kevin S. Willis said...

"He preferred something a little more modern compared to the classic 60's opening."

Any time I hear that, I know that's wrong. Of course, I'm the one who'd like to say a new gate at Disneyworld entitled Retroland (done in the 1950s Disneyland style). A place to put all the old and "retired" rides, or versions thereof, and versions of restaurants and stores, and to sell mostly retro or nostalgic stuff. Plus a few classic tie-ins (like a 1950s style McDonalds featuring the 1950s menu and containers, that sort of stuff).

If I had been Micheal Eisner, Retroland would be up and running, and we'd being tooling around in 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea right now. And Mission to Mars. And I would have freed up the space in Tomorrowland and moved Carousel of Progress there. Sigh.

BTW, While my lack of time and money to travel is often depressing to me, at least I know that the next time I get back to Anaheim, DCA will be super-awesome.

Capt. Tomorrow said...

I guess I should be surprised by all the negative commentary regarding WOC, but quite honestly I’m not. Out of all the Disney sites I follow so far Honor is the only one that gets it. It’s a water show people! There doesn’t have to be a story, a plot, or “underlying theme”, it just needs to entertain people. And by people I mean the park visitors that manage to make it to the park once every few years if even that; NOT the 50 mile radius APer’s who are at the park almost every weekend and harp on every little detail. Enjoy the spectacle and be done with it.

Spokker said...

"There doesn’t have to be a story, a plot, or “underlying theme”, it just needs to entertain people."

So much for the "themed" park concept, then. Hear that Disney? no more themes. Capt. Tomorrow is letting you off the hook.

"NOT the 50 mile radius APer’s who are at the park almost every weekend and harp on every little detail."

I heard that something like 40% of Disney's business is annual passholders, and it's not an accident. Disney is going for the passholders and it shows.

2.0 and Beyond said...

^
I agree. WoC is a WATER (fountain/laser/light/fire/music) show . I think that if they had shortened it to around 18-20 minutes, removed all (or most) of the animation projections and condensed the show to sharp, concise segments that take advantage of the outstanding new water/light/laser effects held together with strong musical elements (the Pirates of the Caribbean segment as an example), the show would be a success.

Spokker said...

"the show would be a success."

The show is a success. I even like it. But it's not a bad thing to point out some criticisms.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen the show in person, but I've seen it in its entirety on the 'net. Now I know it's not the same as seeing unfold before you, with full sound and splash and lasers. But I have to say this: the show's opening is spectacular. I got goose bumps when I heard "Walt Disney presents!" and Mickey's Fun Wheel lit up and the fairy dust erupted all over. That was AWESOME. And the show went on from there and was good. But then came all of the meaningless film clips that were pretty blurry and made no sense and frankly looked like a Disney informercial. Mufasa's death scene was not only pointless but depressing. The smoochy stuff afterward seemed a jarring juxtaposition and also made no sense. The finish was nice, so overall...it's a pretty good show. But man does it lag in the middle. I think it's technically amazing in some spots, but overall I've changed my mind about making a special trip to California to see this. I'll probably head over to Florida for WDW and a few days' side trip to visit Universal to check out a boy wizard named Harry Potter...

Capt. Tomorrow said...

To Spokker: I like how in your reply to my post that you conveniently leave out the part where I say that it's just a water show, just like a parade is a parade and doesn't need any grandiose "theme" or "plot" or "story" that you evidently think they should have. And as for that 40% of Disney's business being from APers, would that not be the people that are paying like 9 bucks a month for their pass and who aren't staying in the resort hotels and who aren't having dinner in the Blue Bayou and who aren't buying all those souvenirs?

Imagitastic said...

I have a point to make...and some things to say:

Capt. Tomorrow, I'm an AP and I LOVE to have Dinner at the Blue Bayou and I hope to stay at the Grand Californian some time soon when I can save up the money... I realize I'm the exception not the rule, but thats not my point.

I haven't been to the park to see WoC yet so I really shouldn't review the show, but from the videos I've seen I'll probably agree that the show could use some extra structural support... however that's not my point either.

THE POINT I'D LIKE TO MAKE is that there is a factual error in this review when Honor Hunter implies that "All of the scenes of paper mache animation" were cut from the show. Megan Brian's paper animation, in fact, does appear in the show in the "Under the Sea" sequence in the form of fish and other sea creatures that sing and dance and and in the "A Whole New World" section she also created the beautiful palace that Aladdin and Jasmine fly over. The only paper animation that was cut that I'm aware of was a result of the removal of the "Alice" scenes.

I just wanted to make that clear.

Thanks.

Honor Hunter said...

Imaginastic, the scenes that were cut I was referring to are the ones on the large background sprays...

The wide angled ones. I'm not counting the ones that appeared on the globes.

There's a reason they're on the globes. They looked bad and weren't believable on the large screens.

There are several other scenes that were cut and rearranged as well. Not to mention the deletion of poor, little Squirt.

But the show will be tweaked over time and in a year or so we can look forward to those Holiday versions of WOC as well. It took five months to program this one and it won't be changing for a while...

Anonymous said...

About Little Squirt Honor, can you provide any specific reasons as to why that particular story and personalization of the show was dropped? It seems to me that the show only suffers from simply being just clips presented to the audience and that having a simple host with a little bit of personality would fix that rather quickly.

Also, did anyone catch Little Squirts appearance at the end of the post show sequence? He bows to the audience. I thought that was pretty great. Little Squirt still lives...

2.0 and Beyond said...

“Imaginastic, the scenes that were cut I was referring to are the ones on the large background sprays...

The wide angled ones. I'm not counting the ones that appeared on the globes.

There's a reason they're on the globes. They looked bad and weren't believable on the large screens.

”

Those globes didn't improve things any and need to go altogether. Most of the images on them were redundant, but ALL of them were out of character for the show as the animation on them was TOO sharp and clear in relation to the rest of the show, which was softened by the projection on water jets.

Anonymous said...

"There's a reason they're on the globes. They looked bad and weren't believable on the large screens."

I think anyone could have told them that 2 years ago. Pretty much everyone who knew about it thought the whole paper was stupid.

Anonymous said...

I know that I'm late here, but I wanted to mention that even though World of Color may not have a clear, traditional story, the clips are not random;

THERE ARE TRANSITIONS

Under the Sea transitions into Crush surfing,

Dory speaking whale transited into the flying whales of Fantasia 2000, and so on

I think its fair to say that World of Color is a journey through different moods and emotions. And at one point, the villains clearly take over and the mood gets dark.

I just wish that clips from Bolt were in the show. After all, all of the other most recent Disney and Pixar films were included,
(WALL-E, Up, The Princess and the Frog)

Perhaps Bolt was one of the things that got cut?

In general though, I like World of Color. it is clearly a hit with guests, and that's all that matters.

And I agree, Spokker is a strange little man.