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Behind the Scenes of “World of Color”

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World of Color promotional image.

You may have heard that Disney’s California Adventure in the Disneyland Resort is receiving a major facelift.  Imagineers are hard at work updating many parts of the park and many attractions.  The Sun Wheel has already reopened as Mickey’s Fun Wheel.  You’ll see Buena Vista Street, the brand new entrance to DCA that’s going to have a replica of the Carthay Theatre.  Plus, the characters from Cars will make their home on a 12-acre lot to be named Cars Land.  Mickey and his Imagineers also have much more planned for the DCA rebranding.

But the most exciting addition has to be the new night-time spectacular show, World of Color.  The show gets its namesake from the Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, the 1960s television series that aired on NBC.  World of Color will feature a dazzling array of lasers, lights, and fountains, and beautiful animation and music.  It will also be a technical marvel, and that’s what we’re going to find out about in this article.

Introduction: Getting our feet wet

The first thing you should probably understand is that while this show may sound like Fantasmic! in some respects, it’s really a show of its own.  Don’t think that if you’ve seen Fantasmic! you already know what World of Color will be like.  This will be a completely new experience.  Like Fantasmic!, it takes advantage of projecting images onto a screen of mist.  World of Color, though, takes this to the next level.  We’ll get into this later.


So, let’s start with the basics.  World of Color is designed by Walt Disney Creative Entertainment, the same division of Imagineering responsible for shows like Wishes.  The show will be located on the Paradise Pier Lagoon (this is the first show here since LuminAria closed in January 2002).  World of Color will debut in spring 2010.

Paradise Pier at DCA

Disney is saying this show will surpass all other water productions the parks have seen.  Also interesting is the fact that Disney says the fountains will become the stars of the show.  While shows like Fantasmic! have featured other characters (Mickey, in this case), this is the first time the water fountains themselves become characters in the show.  And from watching some videos about the show, I can definitely say that this is an amazing and artful aspect to World of Color.

And now…the technical specs!

If the water fountains are indeed your characters, right off the bat you can count on 1,200 performers.  That’s right, World of Color features 1,200 different fountains (capable of shooting up to 200 feet in the air), each with its own LED light.  Fountains are spaced out at every eight feet.  World of Color has multiple types of fountains as well.  One type, called chasers, are very fast moving fountains.  According to Imagineer Steven Davison during a presentation at the D23 expo in Anaheim on September 12, these fountains move so fast that they believe they will be able to spell out words with the chasers.

These fountains are part of an underwater grid that has more than 18,000 points of control.  This means that each fountain has multiple settings for lighting, color, height, and more.  The fountains are all part of a huge show platform that rises and lowers to three different heights.  One height is a show level, one is underwater to hide everything during the day, and the last is for maintenance.  This whole platform (shown below) is larger than a football field!

World of Color show platform If you look at the diagram above, you’ll see to long lines of dots (one is purple – though it’s hard to see in this picture – and one is black).  These are basically huge projection screens.  They are very much like the ones in Fantasmic! as they also use water mist as a projection surface, only they are much, much larger.  In fact, they are roughly four times as large as anything in Fantasmic!.  The longer one (the one with the purplish dots) is 400 feet long, and the smaller (relative term) is 300 feet long.  Now you should understand why I said this show takes water production to the next level.

These huge screens mean nothing if you can’t put pretty pictures on them, right?  Well, the Imagineers think so, too.  That’s why World of Color uses a total of about 30 HD projectors throughout the show.  What’s totally unique about these projectors is that they are encased in domes that allow them to hide under the water until show time.  Steven Davison said that this is a technical marvel in itself.  Would you be willing to try to submerse a piece of equipment costing multiple thousands of dollars?

Wrapping up

Overall, this will be a 25 minute show.  The technology looks absolutely amazing, right down to the lights and lasers.  (By the way, the show will utilize a brand new type of laser that will look very cool.)  So, get ready for some very entertaining water effects.  You’ll be amazed by what the Imagineers are doing with water fountains.

Below, I’ve posted the first of six videos from Steven Davison’s presentation at D23.  Altogether, it’s almost an hour-long presentation, but every second of it is worth watching.  There are some great sneak peaks, so please take a look!

Steven Davison at the D23 Expo

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