Who doesn’t love “Remember: Dreams come true”? Not anyone I know. Even my dad, who has been known to mutter threats to various princesses under his breath, gets a bit misty during this show. Let’s take a close look at it.
The beginning, of course, doesn’t begin at the beginning. It begins several hours before as you try to secure seating. The hub-centric design has been oft criticized, but really, what else could they have done? Anyway, the show starts at 9:25 so you have to show up in front of the castle at about three. If you were lucky you get a bench, but mostly you are one of the hundreds who plop down in the road between the castle and the hub, saving your space with blankets, shopping bags, food trays, strollers, wheelchairs, or teenage boys who would prone themselves spread eagle on the ground.
You wait for five or six hours, keeping a distrustful eye on the flags on the castle. If they fluttered too much then God would come over the loud speaker and warn of a possible cancellation. But if you were good, and said your prayers, it would begin.
The lights fade out, the music explodes, the castle illuminates and the hearts of every creature blooms. Julie Andrews speaks of the magic place while the castle sparkles like crazy. Even before the fireworks begin, this show succeeds in giving guests more magic than they can shake a visa card at.
The first fireworks are the shooting stars that usher in the child singing “starlight star bright”, complete with nifty little star shaped explosions. Ahhhh…
Now we get to the magical characters.
Let’s talk about something, Pinocchio. You say, “someday, I wish I could be a real boy.” Guess what kid. That day is today! You are wishing today to be a real boy. You should have said, “I wish, someday, I could be a real boy.” Or “I wish I could be a real boy someday.” Anyway, minor complaint from an English nerd. All the characters wish for things that open up the windows of nostalgia. I tear up when Peter Pan wishes he never had to grow up, as I wish the same thing for myself. Though Aladdin’s wish does make the rest seem kinda selfish, doesn’t it. Sure, Snow White wants her prince to come eh? The Little Mermaid wants to be part of that world? Good good. Aladdin wants to free a fantastic creature from eons of slavery. Beat that.
Then… Holy hell. What is that?! Tink? Tink! Holy Cow! What is she doing? This is no zip line folks. This pixie’s flying for real, like, all over the place. Holy freakin cow! And if THAT isn’t enough, She’s flying around among the spires of the castle, AND fireworks. What’s that? Still don’t have goose bumps? Still don’t have a tear in your eye. Let’s call out the big guy himself to give the opening day speech. When Walt starts talking it’s all over folks. The magic level is at eleven and pushing toward one again.
Oh, and it’s been less than five minutes.
Something about seeing Tink fly like, well, like Tink. Can’t be topped.
Like hell it can’t.
“Your attention please. Disneyland is about to blow your mind.”
The Main Street USA portion of the fireworks is a celebration of patriotism mixed in with the craziness that this land is. The honk of the motorcar, the Coke Corner piano and everything else just makes ya grin from ear to ear… leading to the Main Street Electrical parade.
And let me tell you folks, once that electromagnetic music sound hums to life, I can’t help but cheer out loud. The way that one note brings back all the excitement from that parade is amazing. I’m bawling by now.
The Tiki Room. Mine Goodness, Mon Ami! Again, just a few seconds, but gives you some of the best parts of the show, and when you anger the gods…
You get a veritable orgy of nerdy glory. Indiana Jones, Hell yeah! Fire explodes from the castle, washing the crowd with radiated heat, The com system crackles and one of the greatest movie themes burst out with more fire and fireworks. From the nostalgic feelings of Disneyland past to the heart pounding adrenalin rush of one of the greatest thrill rides ever. This part, perhaps more than the rest, encapsulates what Disneyland is.
Now, while the guests are still in their cheer and awe from the finale of Indiana Jones, they are bombarded by organ music as the castle takes on a haunted green. The Ghost host comes and ushers in the coolest firework effect I’ve ever seen, probably the best firework effect ever! The Stretching Room portion always gets an amazed awe from the crowd. The Haunted Mansion portion follows the feel of the ride to a t, starting out calm and creepy, slowly building up a chaotic feeling before exploding in an all out insane show of spooks, before dying back with the Hitchhiking ghost and little Leota. And isn’t the pulsating castle just…. Awesome!?
“Dead man tell to tale” and the castle and the Matterhorn engage in battle. How exciting, though I would have liked a bit more yo ho. That’s just me.
And now, just as you leave Pirates and witness the calming waters of the rivers of America, so does the show. With the beautiful, whatever you call those fireworks that just cascade over the sky, you ARE on the Mark Twain or Colombia. The music is relaxing, the view is fantastic, and Disneyland really is the most peaceful place I’ve ever been to.
“Hang on to your hats and glasses” one of the most loved catch phrases in Disneyland, right up there with “Welcome, foolish mortals” and “Remain seated please”. Here the whistle and chugging of, oh say, the I. M. Fearless roars with Davy Crocket in the back ground, then the shooting gallery comes up, on the castle again, and the adventure and excitement of Fronterland is here.
Now, another big bunch of catch phrases. About this time, the first time I watched the show, I thought “there’s no way they can do EVERY RIDE in the show. It would be great but it would be ten hours long.” So the smiley face fireworks brings in examples of how Disneyland is the “Happy Place”. From Peter Pan to Rodger Rabbit to Alice in Wonderland the zany world of cartoons is just as much a part of Disneyland as the Haunted Mansion or Indiana Jones. Without the whimsy and silliness, it wouldn’t work. Disneyland takes itself very seriously, but it also has Mr. Toad going to Hell. I mean, come on!
If you spent any time in Disneyland as a kid, or whenever, you’ve heard the Cinnamon toast and tacos por favor line a hundred times, probably got sick of it, probably wanted to cram that toast and tacos in someone’s Matterhorn. But put it in a show and everyone cheers. And here brings up another important aspect of Disneyland; The mystery. The wonder of the future as clips from Tomorowland’s glory days making hundreds of parents nudge their kids to try and explain why MAGNIFICATION is so cool.
Oh, then the “do-do-do-do-do” comes on and it’s freakin Star Tours, which gets my nephew the most excited by the way, and the nerds get what amounts to a Star Wars fireworks show complete with laser fights and explosions all over the park.
Once the crazy huge Star Tours bit is over, Julie Andrews comes back and reminds everyone that, yes, Disneyland is the happiest place on earth (and if I may go so far as to say that it is the place where dreams come true too), and then BAM! It’s the really real tink again. The choir bursts out with the kids in the back and the fireworks go nuts and everything goes crazy as each guest is dripping with gooey Disney Magic and happiness, making them forget the hours spent on the ground waiting along with that huge smelly family that kept trying to encroach on their territory. Everything is good and pretty and awesome and nice.
Then Leanne Rimes sings, which is kind of a set back, but I guess you need one. If everyone kept the feeling they got from the show they might never leave the park, so they let the eternal child country star bring everyone back.
So…. Nothing here that all of you don’t know already. I just wanted to take a moment and pay tribute to one of the best things Disneyland has to offer. It makes me happy each time I watch it, listen to the soundtrack, or even now as I write about it. With all the talk of “Declining by degrees” and the like, it’s important to see that Disney is doing some things VERY right.