Description And Comments

The 1,200 high-pressure water nozzles installed under the surface of DCA's Paradise Bay are the infrastructure for Disney's $75-million attempt to keep guests in the park (and spending money) until closing time. If you've seen or heard about the spectacular fountain show at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, World of Color is similar but larger, with more special effects and themed to Disney movies.

The show includes a new musical score and incorporates dozens of Disney films and characters in its 27-minute performance. The show's backdrop includes Mickey's Fun Wheel, which was fitted with special lighting effects for use in the show. Giant projection surfaces sculpted by sprayed water—even larger than those used in Fantasmic!—display custom-made animations, and flamethrowers spew almost enough heat to dry off guests standing in the splash zones. What's most remarkable about the show is how the flashing colored lights and pulsating fountains combine to look like low-level fireworks. The effects are astounding, the colors are vibrant and deep, and the music includes some of Disney's best songs without being overloaded by overly sentimental ballads.

You can even invest $25 in Made with Magic merchandise (mouse ear hats, headbands, gloves, and wands) that illuminate in sync with the show; better yet, stand toward the rear and freeload by eyeballing others who bought them.

But while World of Color is aesthetically entrancing, dramatically speaking it's a bit of a dud. Disney spectacles have never needed especially strong story lines, but World of Color is so plotless that it makes Fantasmic! next door look like a Russian novel. The show is essentially a 30-minute montage of movie moments with awkwardly edited segues straining to tie them together. Despite the show's titular association with Uncle Walt's 1960s NBC TV show, and the retro theme of DCA's overall rebranding, there's precious little vintage Disney referenced in World of Color. Aside from a brief cameo by 1937's The Old Mill, almost all the featured films are drawn from the last quarter century, with lots of mist-screen time given to modern Pixar heroes such as Buzz Lightyear, Wall-E, and Merida from Brave, and footage from the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film.

There's also a handful of obscurities mysteriously tossed in: Was there a fan club somewhere clamoring for more of Fantasia 2000's flying whales? Ultimately, there's enough dazzling eye candy to overwhelm any underlying emotional emptiness in the narrative.

Finally, World of Color has more false finales than the last Lord of the Rings film, so stay put until you're absolutely sure that the show is over.

Disney may temporarily swap in new sequences from time to time, depending on what Mickey's media machine needs to market at the moment. For example, for the 2014 holiday season a special "Winter Dreams" edition of World of Color was shown, hosted by Olaf the Snowman and featuring songs from Frozen. A crowd-sourced choir pre-show got things off to a slow start, and the excised flame effects were sorely missed on chilly evenings. But the presentation's highlights -- Olaf's 'follow the bouncing butt' sing-along, an uproarious Toy Story reinterpretation of the Nutcracker Suite, and Idina Menzel's inevitable belting of "Let It Go" -- made this seasonal spin on World of Color a more than worthy substitute for the original.

Touring Tips

Entertainment value aside, World of Color is an operational nightmare. The effects were expressly designed to be viewed from Paradise Park, the tiered area along the lagoon in front of The Little Mermaid attraction. Unfortunately, only about 4,500 people—barely a quarter of the park's average daily attendance—are permitted to stand there for each show. Though demand has slacked somewhat since its opening season, getting a decent view for World of Color requires time, planning, and/or money, and therefore can almost seem to be more trouble to see than it's worth, but we still consider it not to be missed. A couple from San Jose writes:

Although the [World of Color] FASTPASS line was horrible and waiting for the show was horrible, the show itself was simply amazing.

An Austin, Texas, mom found World of Color challenging:

World of Color was fantastic but hard for kids and shorter adults to see unless they are standing right in front facing Mickey's Wheel. My son could not see the preshow at all, and I had to put him on my shoulders for the 26-minute production. My back has not recovered. They need amphitheater reserved seating. We arrived 90 minutes prior to DCA opening to get a FASTPASS and waited 90 minutes for the show to start when admitted.

If you want anything approaching a decent view of World of Color, you'll need a special FASTPASS, the securing of which can be an annoying adventure in and of itself. Here are your options for obtaining FASTPASS tickets, beginning with the easiest (and most expensive) method:

World of Color meal packages are offered by Wine Country Trattoria, Ariel's Grotto, and Carthay Circle Restaurant. The fixed-price dinner runs $42 per adult ($22 for kids) at Wine Country Trattoria and Ariel's Grotto, and $59 per adult ($23 for kids) at Carthay Circle Restaurant. Lunch packages (not available at Ariel's) are $30 per adult ($19 for kids) at Wine Country Trattoria (not offered at Ariel's Grotto), and $39 per adult ($23 for kids) at Carthay Circle Restaurant. All viewing package meals include an appetizer, your choice of entree, dessert, and nonalcoholic beverage; selections are from a limited list that is separate from the restaurant's a la carte menu. After your meal, you'll received special Fastpasses for each member of your party, permitting entry into a Preferred Viewing area reserved for dining package patrons. Note that you don't actually watch the show from the restaurant, so you'll want to eat early enough to make it to the viewing area. The viewing section for Wine Country Trattoria and Ariel's Grotto patrons is dead center along the waterline; those standing at the front railing are likely to get wet. Carthay Circle diners stand just behind and above them, affording a better (and drier) view. Look for the illuminated white entrance signs between the blue and yellow sections, directly across from the Little Mermaid ride. Though expensive, this is the only way to be guaranteed a central viewing spot with minimal crowding. On nights when there are multiple World of Color performances, early eaters receive passes to the first show, while those eating later get tickets to the later viewing.

You can also watch World of Color from the Cove Bar. The view of the projections is less than ideal, but no reservations are required, and you can sit down with an adult beverage during the show.

Free FASTPASSes are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis from the Grizzly River Run FASTPASS machines (tickets are available early to Disneyland Resort hotel guests during Extra Magic Hour). Make sure that you get passes for your whole party at once, or you may end up in different sections or showings. These machines are disconnected from the rest of the park's FASTPASSes system, so your World of Color ticket won't interfere with other attractions. On busy days they may all be claimed by early afternoon. If seeing the first World of Color show of the night is a priority for you, we suggest getting a FASTPASS within the first 30 minutes the park is open. When a second show is scheduled, FASTPASSes for the late performance can often be had well into the afternoon.

Once you have your FASTPASS, you'll notice that you've been assigned one of two color-coded sections. Yellow is the most central viewing area and stretches to the right side (near the Golden Zephyr), and blue includes the left side and and bridge. A special section is available upon request for disabled guests, and a prime area in the middle is reserved for VIPs and dining package purchasers.

Your FASTPASS also includes a return time window. You won't be allowed into Paradise Park before the start time, but the best viewing spots will all be claimed shortly after opening, so don't be surprised to see people lining up an hour before the area opens. Once inside the viewing area, try to move to the front of an elevated area. You're best off at the front of an elevated tier farther back, rather than at the rear of a lower section, as these readers from Langley, British Columbia, discovered:

World of Color was great, but even with FASTPASS it was hard for me to see (wearing flat shoes and being 5'5"). My husband, who is 6'4", also found himself bobbing around trying to see. When we got there, we had good line of sight, but as people stood up and put their kids on their shoulders, it became difficult.

If you stand close to the railing, pay attention to the splash zone signs; on a calm night, you'll be seriously spritzed, and if the wind blows the wrong way, you'll get soaked.

If all else fails, it's theoretically possible to view the show from various points around the park, but employees with flashlights will vigorously shoo you away from all the obvious vantage points. The best ticketless viewing spot is next to the Golden Zephyr, to the right of the yellow section. Unticketed viewing is also available immediately in front of The Little Mermaid attraction. You can see many of the fountain and lighting effects from the opposite side of Paradise Pier, near the bases of Mickey's Fun Wheel and Silly Symphony Swings, but the mist projections are illegible from that angle, so we can't recommend it for first-time viewers. On nights when there are multiple performances, you have better odds finding a good spot for the last show.

While waiting for the show to start, connect your smartphone to the park's free "PierGames" Wi-Fi network and launch any web browser to join in the Fun Wheel Challenge. Follow the pattern of flashing colored lights on Mickey's Fun Wheel, and duplicate them Simon-style on your device; points are awarded for speed and accuracy, with the winner of each round awarded 30 seconds of control over the giant wheel's light display. The games start 45 minutes prior to the evening's first World of Color show, and stop about 7 minutes before the performance.

After the show, if you are headed to the hotels or Downtown Disney, you can bypass the crowd at the main entrance by exiting through the Grand Californian.

Time Lapse Video

Special Comments

Not to be missed.

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Other Attractions in Paradise Pier

Touring Plans with World of Color

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