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Nighttime Entertainment Returns! Surely We Have Data About That …

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Hello all, allow me to reintroduce myself. I’m Becky, the Genie expert chatty YouTube person data analyzer/storyteller/etc. In case you can’t remember, I do sometimes write about things that aren’t Genie, Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes. And thankfully we have something really exciting to talk about today!

Disneyland’s nighttime entertainment (mostly) returns tonight! Main Street Electrical Parade, Disneyland Forever and World of Color will all make their post-reopening debuts. Fantasmic is the only holdout, with its own return date in late May. Coincidentally, I’m travelling to Disneyland for the very first time late next week, so I’ll get to catch all of these exciting shows!

And, of course, that means I’m curious about what the data has to say about them. How does satisfaction with Disneyland nighttime entertainment compare to Walt Disney World? How high (or low) should I set my expectations? Spoiler alert: if there’s one thing that makes me ignore data (gasp!), it’s nostalgia, and my all-time most stand-out Disney memory from childhood was watching the Main Street Electrical Parade at Magic Kingdom when visiting with my family in 2000. Soooooooooo, expectations for that will be sky-high. But I’ll see what the data says anyway for funsies.

Explain the Math!

When you visit Walt Disney World or Disneyland or Universal Orlando (or a DCL cruise or Tokyo Disney Resort or Washington DC … but I digress), you can fill out a post-visit survey to tell us all about your trip! That way we get more data to then give you more insights and tips for your next vacation. It’s the circle of life data.

One part of that survey tracks satisfaction with “attractions” during your visit. Attractions can be rides or entertainment – mostly anything that isn’t your hotel or dining. We ask you to score each attraction that you visited on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being very unsatisfactory and 5 being very satisfactory. And, bonus, we ask each member of your party to score it according to their age group. That way we can figure out if certain attractions appeal to kids more than adults, or seniors more than anyone else, or if teenagers hate everything.

For today’s analysis, I’m pulling satisfaction for anything that was open pre-pandemic based on surveys from Jan 2018 through closure. For post-reopening attractions, I’m pulling any surveys that we have from that entire timeframe.

And we’ll just be comparing averages of those satisfaction scores. With averages, plus counts and standard deviations, we’ll be able to tell if results are significantly different between any two experiences/attractions/entertainment offerings.

Disneyland Forever vs Disney Enchantment

Disneyland Forever scores significantly better than Disney Enchantment, so score one point for California!
  • Disneyland Forever has generally been regarded as a good show, with positive reviews ever since its debut. Projections are viewable at multiple locations around the park, in addition to the fireworks.
  • Disneyland Forever actually performs better with every single age group … other than preschoolers, where it is virtually tied with Enchantment. I guess preschoolers are easily entertained. Ha!
  • So, personally, I’m prioritizing seeing Disneyland Forever somehow, even if (when) I have to contend with major crowds or camping out early.

World of Color vs Harmonious

World of Color scores significantly higher than Harmonious, so California gets another point. 2-0?! Come on, Florida.
  • Harmonious has a lot of baggage associated with it. I’m a person with a background in engineering, so I have to admit that it’s an engineering marvel. But as a show? Meh. It’s also difficult to get an “ideal” view. The 360-degree theater that is World Showcase suddenly becomes much smaller when you have to (or want to) see the center “screen”.
  • World of Color, on the other hand, appears to be more beloved. Not as much as Disneyland Forever, but still much higher than either of the current shows at Walt Disney World.
  • Unlike our previous battle, no age group likes Harmonious better than World of Color. It’s a miss all around.
  • I’m headed to World of Color for the first time next week, so I’m pumped to experience it for myself!

Now let’s pivot and do some historical perspectives, because maybe those help tell the story!

Main Street Electrical Parade vs Paint the Night

Main Street Electrical Parade is AWESOME. But apparently not as awesome as Paint the Night.
  • Main Street Electrical Parade has no good comparison at Walt Disney World, so let’s compare it to another nighttime parade at Disneyland. (Side note: I’m pretty sure that just having a nighttime parade scores another point for California.)
  • The only age group where the Electrical Parade “competes” with Paint the Night is Seniors. Paint the Night still wins, but just by a not-statistically-significant hair.
  • There’s no chance of me seeing Paint the Night, so I’m going to say that a 4.33-satisfaction parade gets me more excited than a 0.00-satisfaction non-existent parade that I would see in Florida.

Why is WDW losing?! Let’s look at some more historical comparisons.

Enchantment vs Happily Ever After

Disney Enchantment is a letdown, at least compared to its predecessor.
No age group enjoys Enchantment more than Happily Ever After.
  • Let’s be clear. Disney Enchantment is still satisfactory. On average, it scores higher than “Somewhat Satisfactory”. It’s certainly not neutral or dissatisfactory.
  • But … it’s not as satisfactory as Happily Ever After, which had more people saying that it was “Very Satisfying” than any other category.
  • If we had the hypothetical matchup of Happily Ever After and Disneyland Forever, the point would have switched over to Florida. But the most recent show hasn’t kept the same scores or fanbase.

EPCOT Spectaculars

Harmonious does better than EPCOT Forever (barely), but still doesn’t quite compete with IllumiNations.
Different age groups react very differently to the various EPCOT nighttime entertainment options.
  • The various versions of the EPCOT nighttime spectaculars have much closer satisfaction scores than the ones at Magic Kingdom did. Illuminations is still the winner, but only by a very statistically small margin. Harmonious and EPCOT Forever don’t have significantly different results.
  • When we look at results by age, things get much more interesting here! All adults appreciated Illuminations more than Harmonious, some by a very wide margin (looking at you, wise Seniors). But kids show the opposite trend. Anyone teenaged or younger very obviously likes Harmonious better than Illuminations. If I give Disney executives the benefit of the doubt and say they were trying to make EPCOT more appealing to kids, then … this one part succeeded?
  • I am staunchly aligned with the other adults here. Engineering marvel or not, I miss Illuminations, and dislike water tacos.

What Does This Mean For You Me?

  1. I’ve got 2 nights in Disneyland, and I’m going to work my tail off trying to see all of the things. Hopefully the parade more than once. Crossing all of the fingers.
  2. Assuming that Disneyland Forever and World of Color keep their pre-pandemic satisfaction scores, nighttime entertainment at Disneyland is the clear winner in the battle of the coasts.
  3. All of this high satisfaction, plus parks that are popular with locals who haven’t gotten nighttime entertainment in literally years means high crowds in the evenings. Plan accordingly!

Are you surprised by any of the coast-to-coast or historical comparisons? What is your favorite Disney nighttime spectacular? Let me know in the comments!

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Becky Gandillon

Becky Gandillon was trained in biomedical engineering, but is now a full-time data and analytics nerd. She loves problem solving and travelling. She and her husband, Jeff, live in St. Louis with their two daughters and they have Disney family movie night every Saturday. You can follow her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/becky-gandillon/ or instagram @raisingminniemes

6 thoughts on “Nighttime Entertainment Returns! Surely We Have Data About That …

  • I have read that the nighttime H2O is coming back to Typhoon Lagoon – I’ve tried researching it but there’s not a great deal of information that I can find as to what exactly happens. My husband and I are both “seniors” and just wondered if it’s an event more suitable to families who enjoy nightclubs etc than us. We have been to other Disney after hours events and enjoyed them – just not sure what to expect with this one.

    • Sorry if I’ve put this on the wrong blog – wasn’t sure where to ask 🙂

  • I am looking forward to seeing MSEP again, as it’s something I associate very closely to my visits to DL as a kid. At the same time, Paint the Night stands out from our first trip to DLR with our own kids, so I’d love if they’d bring it back too!

  • Now I want to see the head-to-head data for Fantasmic at Disneyland vs Disney World.

    • Me too … but they’re both so stale at this point since they haven’t reopened that I wanted to save it until they’ve both reopened for a bit.

      • Fair enough. And WDW’s old FM scores might not be meaningful anymore, with the 27-minute Pocahontas segment being removed from the show moving forward. 🙂

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