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Reinventing Disney's California Adventure with lights

June 12, 2010 | 10:58 am

Disney World of Color California Adventure

Disney’s California Adventure in Anaheim will celebrate its 10th anniversary next year and there is a mad effort underway by the theme park’s masters to make sure that birthday isn’t met with sour headlines about the years of corporate disappointment or seasons of tourist apathy.

So it was that the “new” California Adventure -- or the latest “new” California Adventure -- was ushered in Friday by the scheduled premiere of a new attraction, a water-and-fire show called “World of Color” that not only lives up to the hype, it manages to tap into the company’s long but sometimes elusive tradition of true spectacle innovation.

On Thursday night, a VIP and media preview showed that five years of planning for the 26-minute musical presentation were well spent. 

The show uses characters and score elements from eight decades of signature Disney films (but the emphasis is absolutely on the post-”Little Mermaid” Disney releases and, wisely, on the evocative Pixar movies), but it’s the canvas that startles -- 100,000 images of animation are presented (amid fireworks, lasers and occasional jets of flame) on walls of water and roiling curtains of mist. Instead of smoke-and-mirror gimmickry, though, the collective effect is emotional, dreamy and somewhat bold in this hard, rectangular era of digital-screen obsession.

Read the full review the The Times' Hero Complex Blog.

Photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times