The series ‘Walt Disney’ series moved to NBC in September 1961 to take advantage of that network's ability to broadcast in color. In addition, Walt Disney's relationship with ABC had soured as the network resisted selling its stake in the theme park before doing so in 1960. In a display of foresight, Disney had filmed many of the earlier shows in color, so they were able to be repeated on NBC. To emphasize the new color feature, the series was re-dubbed Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color and retained that moniker until 1969. The first NBC episode even dealt with the principles of color, as explained by a new character named Ludwig Von Drake, a bumbling professor and uncle of Donald Duck. Von Drake was the first Disney character created specifically for television.
After Disney died in December 1969, the show was retitled and changed its ‘direction’ as ratings slipped and the Walt Disney Productions fortunes slipped as the box-office sales for recent movies sunk, and sunk, and the show went more towards Live Action movies, like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and others.
Many years later, in 2007, Walt Disney Imagineeering announced the new nighttime light and water spectacular, Wonderful World of Color, which would take place on Paradise Bay in Disney’s California Adventure. Many fans thought that it would be reviving a ‘classic’ show as a nightly spectacular. Unlike the past Disney’s California Adventure nighttime show, LuminAria, World of Color would use no fireworks, just lights, and water to put together a kaleidoscope of color performance.
Construction for the water show began with the draining of the lagoon on November 3, 2008. Construction on the platform began on January 5, 2009. The water was refilled in Paradise Bay in November 2009. Testing began during and after park hours in January 2010. A 25-minute video of sequences from the show was posted on YouTube by a hotel guest on April 7, 2010. Many sequences originally announced were missing and new ones had been added. The first public performance was held on June 5th for the creators of the show and guests. In the week leading up to June 11, private viewings for cast members, contest winners, and a celebrity-filled media opening will take place.
The show will include the use of 1200 fountains that can shoot water up to 200 ft in the air. Each fountain is equipped with an LED light ring. Other water features include a 380-foot-long mist screen on which images will be projected. Fire nozzles will be capable of shooting flames up to 50 ft in the air. Fog and lasers will be used. A large frame was installed in the lagoon, to create Chernabog of Fantasia, but the tower has not been used since May 2010. Mickey's Fun Wheel will have its lights synchronized throughout the show. There are also projection domes that rise out of the water to create planets and an underwater musical band, among other things. (Check out this video below by the Disney Parks Blog that shows Paper artist Megan Brain making some pieces for the show)
Searchlights and other light towers will rise from boxes bordering Paradise Bay. Special animation sequences were created using paper animation by paper artist Megan Brain, who created many characters for the show. The music was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London, England with over one hundred musicians. Australian Choreographer Joshua Horner created a unique interpretation of the music for the Disney Creative Entertainment team thus serving as another source of inspiration for the movement of the water fountain sequences. (Check out the videos below from the Disney Parks Blog that go behind the scenes to see how the recorded the Night on Bald Mountain, how a professional dancer interpreted the music and helped the team develop the fountain movements, and how the developers thought to use the lasers and lights of the show.)
A viewing area, now known as Paradise Park, was built specially for World of Color. Situated along the northern shore of Paradise Bay, the viewing area can hold up to 6,000 spectators at full capacity. It is multi-tiered, similar to the viewing area for Fantasmic in Disneyland. It features trellises, flowers, and an interactive play fountain during the day. Construction walls surrounding Paradise Park went up in January 2009. As of mid-April 2010, the construction walls have been removed and several smaller barriers are in place to prevent guests from accessing certain areas. On May 31, 2010, the play fountain was turned on for the first time. As of June 7, 2010, the current barriers have been removed and all of the park is now open, including the wooden boardwalk.
Here is some concept art for the show released from the time it was announced in 2007, until now.
Here is a look at the water fountain rig that was constructed in Paradise Bay.
Check out this set of videos by All Ears Net during a test run in mid April 2010, taken from the Grand Californian Villas.
Finally, we’re onto the pins of the World of Color, though not officially debuted yet (until today) there are a few great pins for this show already released, most are from Walt Disney Imagineering.
These final pins are from elements that were originally planned for the show, but scrapped days before the official previews began. First, we have Squirt, which would have been a character taken from Walt Disney’s name in the beginning quote, and was thought to be the ‘personality’ of Walt Disney.
This final ‘set’ is from the Alice in Wonderland Segment which was scrapped, almost entirely, except for the Cheshire cat and a brief clip of Alice falling down the Rabbit hole at the end of the show.
Finally, we have a great set of three videos on a new site, Club D23, be sure to check them out! (NOTE to help viewing, if it you don’t care if they in HD, I suggest moving the ‘resolution’ from 720p HD to 360p. The viewing will be easier and the videos will load quicker)