We got a color TV in about 1962, and there were only a few shows being broadcast in color. Bonanza. The NBC Peacock. And the Sunday night “Wonderful World of Color” from Disney.
Little did I know then how Walt Disney had pioneered early artistic use of color technologies, back as early as the 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first full-length, animated feature film. It used a new technology called Technicolor — which many people associate with the two 1939 films, Gone With The Wind and The Wizard of Oz. But Disney used Technicolor two years earlier, at great risk and with stunning effect. (At the premiere, Snow White got a standing ovation as a masterpiece film.)
He was also a pioneer in using full orchestration, first in the mid-30’s Silly Symphonies and then, boldly, in 1940’s Fantasia. I still remember the scary music that accompanied the scene when the Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Mickey Mouse) lost control of the proliferating mops and buckets … and the deluge that followed.
But I digress. All of this is just background to establish Disney’s credentials in the pioneering use of color, music and animation to entertain us. So it was no surprise to me that people are raving about a new, technically advanced, “sound and light” extravaganza at Disney’s California Adventure park (which is right next door to Disneyland, and a part of the Disney Resort).
Each night, the thirty-minute show coordinates 1,200 programmable water nozzles to create a canvas of dancing fountains, illuminated by lasers inside the streams, and a wide palette of vibrant, changing colors. Sometimes the nozzles spray a fine mist to create a wall onto which are projected images of the Disney characters, who tell stories, dance, sing, play instrument or otherwise engage the audience in fanciful entertainment. The water jets can spin and rotate to choreograph movement that advances the story, and the orchestration (recorded at Abbey Road studios, in London) uses the full power of the music to emotionally engage the audience.
In case you can’t make it for an overnight stay at Disneyland, here is a glimpse of what the show looks like: