It’s a gigantic Disneyland Resort photo update today for you. With the 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration now fully underway we can see, mostly, the special treats that were created or held for the occasion. In this update we recap all of the new offerings that include the sparkly Sleeping Beauty Castle, the new Paint the Night Parade, Disneyland Forever fireworks show, the updated Matterhorn Bobsleds, the all new World of Color Celebrate – The World of Walt Disney, the update to Soarin’ Over California and the Grizzly Peak Airfield, and the bejeweling of Buena Vista Street. Plus other minor bits of news from around the resort including the completion of the Pinocchio’s Daring Journey façade, the refurbishment of Peter Pan’s Flight, and the relocation of the Marvel superheroes Thor and Captain America outdoors while Innoventions is transformed. Plenty of stuff to see so let’s begin now.
The epicenter for the dazzling Diamond Celebration is Walt Disney’s original creation. Here we get a look at the decorations on Main Street and a change that many may not have noticed.
Sleeping Beauty Castle
We now get a look at the final version of the Diamond Celebration version of Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Paint the Night
For this writer, the stand out of the three 60th anniversary entertainment offerings is the Paint the Night Parade in Disneyland. A sort of Main Street Electrical Parade 2.0, Paint the Night finally uses modern technology, fiber optics, and synchronized costume lighting to create a dazzling, energetic parade that is a real crowd-pleaser.
The selection of parade floats is a modern-heavy mix of old and new Disney properties. You’ll find The Little Mermaid, Cars, Toy Story and Frozen. There is also, Peter Pan, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and Tangled. The audiences taps their feet, dances and sings along to the music. They seem to have hit exactly the right mix to delight the crowd.
Overall this is a fun, eye popping, parade of music and color.
This is a wonderful fireworks show, they just gave it the wrong name. From Imagineer Steve Davison, Disneyland Forever showcases all of the latest wizardry in pyrotechnics, projection, lasers and more.
Beginning by taking guests 60 years in the past, projections turn Main Street into orange groves. From here we are introduced to Walt Disney, the man that started it all, the man who conceived and built the park guests stand in today.
Boom! The show starts and it quickly ditches the framing device in favor of a collection of crowd-pleasing Disney songs and show tunes. To their credit, we get to see truly breathtaking fireworks perfectly synced to songs that aren’t often used. Winnie the Pooh, Mary Poppins, the Jungle Book, all get as much play here as the usual Little Mermaid and Frozen songs we have heard time and again. The mix is wonderful, but wasn’t this supposed to be about Disneyland?
We argue though, why call it Disneyland forever if there is very little of the place in it? The title alone implies that it will be something a lot like the 50th anniversary fireworks that we still consider to be the best pyro delivered by the Disneyland team. Leave the name at the door and it’s a great show.
Let’s cut to the chase. The bobsleds are back and just as painful as ever. On the positive side, the new Abominable Snowman is actually scary and very well done. Beginning with a clever scene built into the lift hill of the coaster, the new animated figure jostles and grabs at bobsleds as they barrel past him.
This scene is a mistake. The glowing crystals and ethereal noises echoing in the cavern used to tinge the beginning of the adventure with a sense of otherworldly wonder. Now, we reach the first open space in the mountain and are greeted with what is essentially a pile of junk. The idea of setting up the ominous threat is a good one but that was already done on the lift hill.
This is a wonderful upgrade overall. Harold is given new life and made into a booming, formidable threat. But why oh why could they not try something to make the ride less painful.
Hatbox Ghost returns to the Haunted Mansion
Another 60th item, the Hatbox Ghost made his return to the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland 45 years after his disappearance. It was totally worth the wait. (Yes, he returned weeks ago and we’ve already covered it, but we are rounding up the 60th offerings for you, so here it is again.)
Seeing the attic we notice that in each grouping of wedding presents now features a different hatbox.
Then, after passing the killer bride on the left, we exit the attic and suddenly to our right is ol’ hatty.
The figure is a tasteful mix of traditional animatronic and digital projection. The figure does little more than it was originally intended to do the first week the Mansion opened back in August of 1969. The difference is that now, with today’s technology, the effect actually works and works well. Perched just outside the attic just a few feet from its original location, it stands, leering at the passing doom buggies from a dilapidated southern balcony. Could the Hatbox Ghost be the one hiding all of the heads from Constance’s murdered husbands? It’s all part of the wonderful wellspring of mythos that is the Haunted Mansion. Kudos to the team behind the return of The Hatbox Ghost. It is, in a word, perfect.
Below is a video featuring three passes by the figure inside the mansion.
Here in Fantasyland we check on the progress of the attractions.
Peter Pan’s Flight
Construction walls have been removed from in front of Peter Pan’s Flight, allowing full view of the queue. A thick, blue velvet curtain obscures the load/unload platform.
Pinocchio’s Daring Journey
The façade of Pinocchio’s Daring Journey has been unveiled and it looks great.
Okay, here’s a weird one. The Marvel characters that were once housed inside Innoventions have been moved outside. Yes, you too can visit both Thor and Captain America outside, under the old Rocket Rods, Peoplemover load platform. So, the future really is Marvel characters. Interesting.
No word on when the new Disneyland museum downstairs and the new Marvel Meet and Greets upstairs will open.
Side note: Space Mountain is white and sparkly again. About time!
Buena Vista Street
The 1920’s Los Angeles that Walt Disney might have seen upon his arrival to California is also jeweled up for Disneyland’s 60th. Awkward, white decorations adorn the entrance to the park.
The Carthay Circle Theatre is now fully decorated.
Celebrate The World of Walt Disney
In this writer’s opinion World of Color Celebrate – The Wonderful world of Walt Disney is the weak link in the entertainment trifecta for the Disneyland 60th celebration. To give the show credit, it delivers exactly what it promises; The World of Walt Disney. Fountains spray and shoot into the air with graceful, swoops and twirls, the music swells and introduces the new World of Color show. It begins beautifully. Then Neil Patrick Harris shows up.
Good ol’ live action NPH strolls onto one of the many gigantic water screens and casually introduces himself to the crowd. Like watching at home from your living room, the intimacy achieved undermines the grandeur of the technological wizardry on display. We are watching TV. This fatal mistake is what kills the show from the get go. A wiser decision would have been to keep Neil Patrick Harris off of the water, projected onto the coaster, the Fun Wheel, or even limited to being a faceless narrator.
This is a 20 minute water show highlighting the accomplishments of Walt Disney and most notably, Disneyland. We see his invention of Mickey Mouse (no mention of Ub Iwerks, who actually did all the work), the development of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, feature animation, and then it all ends up tying into the park next door. . . except when it plops Froze and Star Wars awkwardly into the middle of the show. Again, every single trick in the fountain-show playbook is used along with a few new ones. It is the most visually impressive World of Color yet, no doubt about it. It is just odd for a show full of fountains to be so dry. There is no emotional narrative aside from the usual, “if you can dream it, you can do it” mantra. Then again, who goes to World of Color to learn a life lesson? Which is the real problem with this “Spectacular,” it is too much documentary and not enough WOW.
I don’t want to keep you from seeing this show. it’s still entertaining and I’m sure will have its fans. But it’s a show that suffers from severe narrative problems. Luckily, it seems that WoC is one of the easiest shows for the park to reprogram. Hopefully this one will clip Neil Patrick Harris after the 60th.
Mad T Party
The Mad T Party has returned and is also fully adorned in sparkly, diamondy, goodness. This time, the installation is a little more substantial, which bodes well for fans of this peculiar night party.
During the day the stage video screens sparkle with cascading diamonds.
Grizzly Peak Airfield
We’ve already shown you the wonderful new Grizzly Peak Airfield with its national park look and feel. Great work here and a delightful transformation.
The anchor attraction of the land, Soarin’ Over California, has returned at long last with all new digital projection. The new technology allows for crystal clear projection free of dust and artifacts on the screen. The new technology will also allow for easy replacement for the show when the eventual Soarin’ Over the World attractions finally makes its way from Shanghai Disneyland. It’s great to have this attraction back and looking good again.
The FastPass kiosks received an overhaul as well.
Now we enter the show building. The big sign on the top of the building has been completely removed with only a small “Soarin'” sign above the entrance under the canopy.
Once inside the building everything is just as it was, only cleaned up.
Is the digital projection better? Overall, yes. The film was originally shot on large format film, with a high frame rate to simulate more realistic movement. This transfers wonderfully to digital as a natural translation of the high frame rate is what digital is made for. The problem lies however, not in the motion, but in the clarity and colors. We seemed to lose the rich blacks and tonal shades that are hallmarks of film. The colors of the hot air balloons pop against the blue Napa sky, but the trees along the river in the beginning of the ride become muddy in tones of brown, green and grey. We also have major issues that pop up in the more subdues moments in Malibu and the Disneyland finale. Here the calming orange tones that faded into magenta and cobalt blue are now just a burnt umber color.
Yes, the sound is ear-blastingly good. We also still have the orange-scented pine trees, the pine-scented orange trees, and the crisp, Forrest smell of the crashing waves of Malibu. Yes it’s still a wonderful glide over lovely vistas. With a few lighting queue tweaks at the beginning they could have everything just fine here.
One note, we rode both theaters and the one on the right seems to be having some minor projection problems with a noticeable darkened area in the center of the screen, with the color balance all wonky. We would recommend asking to wait for the theater on the left if you have the time until they get these projection problems sorted out.
Overall, the upgrades to Soarin’ should end up being very good for the ride once the kinks are worked out. The image should remain sharp and without dust particles. The projectors won’t require as much maintenance or break down as often. This is a much needed technology upgrade.
Luigi’s is still flat for the moment.
Pics from the Park
We round things out with a few random pics from Disney California Adventure.
This concludes our wrap up of the 60th anniversary offerings at the Disneyland Resort. What are your thoughts on the shows and additions that were brought on by the Diamond Celebration? What are your hits and misses for the 60th? Let us know. We will see you again soon . . . In The Parks!