Show Spotlight: Disneyland Forever – The Fireworks

“Walt Disney wanted the nightly fireworks to be like a kiss goodnight… a little bit of pixie dust to end your visit to this magic kingdom…”

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I couldn’t think of a more appropriate week than that of July 4th to take a look at another of the Disneyland 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration offerings: Disneyland Forever.

However, I have decided to split this spotlight into two parts because the show is really two completely separate – but related – things.

First, there is the new fireworks show over Sleeping Beauty Castle, which I will discuss here.

Then tomorrow I will look at the other part of the show which is the accompanying lights display.

What is Disneyland Forever?

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Disneyland Forever is the new fireworks and lights display show created for the Disneyland 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration.

As a fireworks “spectacular”, the show had some major sky footprints to fill as the successor to the seasonally rotating performances of the still beloved 50th Anniversary fireworks celebration, Remember… Dreams Come True, along with Magical and the various holiday fireworks performances. It’s still unknown this year if the traditional Halloween or Christmas fireworks will happen or if Disneyland Forever will be shown consistently throughout the anniversary celebration.  Reportedly this weekend a patriotic tag will be shown for only the 4th of July Disneyland Forever fireworks, rather than the several nights of specific patriotic themed fireworks, Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky, that have been run in recent years. (However, another version of that show will play at Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom on July 3rd and 4th.)

Who are the performers?

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Continuing the tradition – Tinker Bell still flies over Sleeping Beauty Castle!

When and where can I find it?

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Disneyland Forever fireworks play nightly over Sleeping Beauty Castle – weather permitting (check the daily Entertainment Times Guide for the schedule). It has been canceled, however, at times due to winds or other unsafe conditions. Sadly, you generally don’t know until the show starts IF it will start at all – so you may wind up waiting for nothing!  (Which is why I don’t understand why they don’t consider splitting the lights display and the fireworks so that the display could still run, giving the audiences *something* to have waited for when winds or rain cancel the fireworks!)

Why spotlight it?

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I’ll admit that I was repeatedly distracted from actually watching the fireworks themselves by the lights display show going on around me, however, I think that’s 50% due to the quality of the lights display and 50% due to the lack of interest in what was happening over the castle itself, sad to say.

For me personally, strictly from the fireworks and storytelling perspective, Disneyland Forever was ineffective. I felt there wasn’t any real distinction to the bursts in the sky (it felt very rote – burst on the left, rocket trails up, burst on the left, rocket trails over, heart, burst on the left, rocket trails, etc.). I was… a bit bored by it. It felt like there was a lack of an exciting color palette (it seemed to leave mostly an impression of white bursts though there was some red and green too), a lack of distinctive shapes to what formed over the castle, a lack of balance, size and scope compared to what we’d had previously, and definitely a lack of story.

Which for a celebration of 60 years of park history was incredibly frustrating.

For the 50th anniversary, Remember… Dreams Come True was an extraordinary journey through every corner of the park and its attractions with special standouts including the Haunted Mansion and Star Tours sections. Perhaps it simply couldn’t be topped. But it didn’t really feel like the attempt or focus was there to do so.

“Remember” was full of color and explosion after explosion in constantly changing shapes and a wild, unexpected use of light beams in the sky to complement them. And most importantly, it made your heart swell with love for the Disneyland Park.

It did not feel like Disneyland Forever accomplished that with its fireworks display or even its soundtrack (although the new original song “Live the Magic” is beautifully sung). In fact, other than the very beginning and end, the show seemed to forget that it was supposed to be about the park at all, instead opting for familiar (though still very loved) movie music.

In all, it was disappointing to feel the replacement was inferior to its predecessors, which I’d spent many a late evening sitting and watching from spots ranging from Main Street to Tomorrowland Terrace to the Esplanade between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure (a popular viewing location for those not wanting to make the full trek to cross parks but who still wanted to see the show).

Although I’m willing to give it another chance to impress me more when I return to see it in the next few weeks (and maybe from a different vantage point it will have a stronger impact), for me, the fireworks portion of Disneyland Forever was anything but “spectacular”.

The lights display on the other hand…

Have you seen “Disneyland Forever”? What did you think of the fireworks?

Update 8/3/16: The Disneyland Resort has announced that the Disneyland Forever fireworks and light spectacular will end at the conclusion of the 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration on September 5th.  It will be replaced by the returning Fantasy in the Sky fireworks show.  So if you’d like to catch this one more time, you’ll want to get to the Disneyland Resort in the next month!

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