Disneyland Forever

by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer

One of the highlights of the Disneyland 60th anniversary celebration is "Disneyland Forever," a new fireworks show designed by Steve Davison (he with the impressively long title, "Lead Creative Executive of Parades and Spectaculars for Walt Disney Creative Entertainment"). Earlier this week, Davison gave one of his famous live presentations about the new show for a group of media, providing some brand-new details about this much-anticipated show.

In many ways, labeling Disneyland Forever as a fireworks show ignores the other technology used in the show, the lasers and projectors, water screens and bubble blowers, snow makers, and inflatable dancers. In talking with Davison, though, one gets the sense that he may be OK with that oversimplification. He says that he never wants visitors to see behind the curtain, to be thinking about the infrastructure of the show.

Davison also said that Disneyland Forever wasn't designed in an effort to top his previous shows, which include the incredibly popular "Believe..." and "Wishes." Instead, he says his creative focus was immersing the viewer in the story, and bringing it to life in new ways.

The show is described as it would be seen from a hypothetical area in the middle of Main Street USA with a perfect view of both Sleeping Beauty Castle and the Matterhorn.


The show goes right for the nostalgia factor in the opening scene, as projectors transform the buildings of Main Street into an Anaheim orange grove, circa 1950. Viewers might get the sense that they're standing with Walt Disney in the time before Disneyland, as his voice fills the air.

As the music swells, the oranges grow and burst into clouds of pixie dust. An animated Peter Pan that is projected onto Sleeping Beauty Castle interacts with a live action Tinker Bell as she flies over the castle to collect the pixie dust.

Scene 1 – Clouds

Projectors turn Main Street into the rooftops of London, and a new voice recording by Mary Poppins star Dick Van Dyke leads into "Step in Time" and "Let's Go Fly a Kite" from the movie. This scene winds down with "At Last I See the Light" from Tangled, as hundreds of projected lanterns "float" into the sky. Davison said that most people have never attended a lantern festival in person, and he wanted to create that experience for them.

Scene 2 – Enchanted Places

Winnie the Pooh and friends star in this sequence. Main Street is transformed into a giant honeycomb for "Rumbly in my Tumbly" before melting away into the psychedelic "Heffalumps and Woozles" scene.

Digital projections transform the buildings on Main Street during the Disneyland Forever fireworks show. Photo © Disney.

Scene 3 – Jungle

The call of "Nants Ingonyama!" sparks a pyrotechnic sunrise behind Sleeping Beauty Castle, as the animals of the Pride Lands march in stylized silhouette down Main Street to "Circle of Life" from The Lion King. The savannah makes way for Cambodia's Temple of Angkor Wat for "I Wanna Be Like You" from The Jungle Book. A storm, complete with lightning effects and a digital waterfall, provides the transition to the next scene.

Scene 4 – Sea

Davison admits that he's included "Under the Sea" from the Little Mermaid in other shows, including the World of Color, but says that the audience has never seen it like this. Giant inflatable figures atop the buildings on Main Street come to life during this sequence, which also includes projection and bubble effects.

Bubble effects, inflatable figures and projected animation are used during the "Under the Sea" section of the Disneyland Forever fireworks. Photo © Disney.

The Matterhorn takes center stage during the next two acts, first transforming into Mt. Wannahockaloogie from Finding Nemo. With an animated Tank Gang looking on from Sleeping Beauty Castle, a figure of Nemo "swims" between the castle and the Matterhorn, and through the ring of fire for his initiation as the volcano appears to erupt. Davison calls this his favorite scene from the new show.

Scene 5 – Snow

The ash from the volcano turns into snow flurries on Main Street, and the Matterhorn transforms into Elsa's Snow Palace for "Let it Go" from Frozen. Davison says the pyrotechnics during this sequence serve as a first finale.

Digital projections transform the buildings on Main Street during the Disneyland Forever fireworks show. Photo © Disney.


Tinker Bell and Peter Pan bring viewers back to the orange grove with a remix of "When You Wish Upon a Star." Peter Pan signs off by saying "Wow, just think—Disneyland is yours forever," launching the spectacular finale, which incorporates a bank of 100 LED searchlights all around Disneyland. Davison jokes that alien ships will likely be attracted by all the light.

Tom Staggs and Steven Davison present a preview of the nighttime spectaculars coming to the Disneyland Resort during Disneyland's 60th anniversary celebration, with a preview of the Disneyland Forever fireworks starting at the 2:30 mark. Video provided by Disneyland.

While there's no denying that you'll have a great view of Disneyland Forever from Main Street—or perhaps from the International Space Station—there seems to be no single perfect spot from which to watch the show. Get too close to Sleeping Beauty Castle, and you'll miss the projected magic on Main Street. Catch the show from "it's a small world," and you won't see the Matterhorn effects. Davison says the show is deliberately designed to encourage people to explore different vantage points for repeating viewing.

The water screens of Fantasmic and the "it's a small world" facade will be used as projection surfaces during the show, with different animation than you may find on Main Street. This is honestly good news for annual passholders and day guests alike, as it will help spread the crowd beyond Main Street.

Disneyland Forever debuts on Friday, May 22, and there are no previews announced as of press time.



  1. By carolinakid

    It sounds wonderful but if I had my wish come true there would be more Walt era films included and perhaps more references to Disneyland itself than just the orange groves. I hope I get a chance to see it!

  2. By Jimbo996

    While I'm sure "Under The Sea" and "Circle of Life" will be great, NOT AGAIN comes to mind. They should try other properties that are equally terrific.

  3. By olegc

    The inflatable creatures atop Main Street seem almost like an homage to HP Lovecraft more than Mermaid ;-). I kind of agree that some of these properties are well overused. However, I also can see where you can't use a lot of characters here since it may have the same situation as World Of Color - sometimes not as cohesive as you'd think.

    I just wonder if they ever considered removing or trimming some trees from the sightlines - the hub trees tend to block a lot of views even when you are there to see both the castle and the matterhorn. So not only vantage points across the park - but a mere 20 or 30 feet could mean a difference.

    And finally - this show design, and the varied merch releases, and other planned events (I assume they will have more) is definitely targeted at repeat visits. I just wonder if they want AP holders to visit repeatedly or expect full-tourist-mode guests to make multiple trips in the next 18 months. It seems like at times the "money is no object - they'll buy it all - we're Disney" is really prevalent here.

    I can't wait for the dumping of some merch in alternate locations. Oh, and the show does sound great.

  4. By stompedge

    Disneyland Forever, yet it hardly features anything from Disneyland. I thought we were celebrating 60 years of the park, not the Disney films. Sadly, I'm not interested.

  5. By olegc

    Quote Originally Posted by stompedge View Post
    Disneyland Forever, yet it hardly features anything from Disneyland. I thought we were celebrating 60 years of the park, not the Disney films. Sadly, I'm not interested.

    but I would say that Disneyland is supposed to immerse you and transport you to adventures and fantasy in your imagination based on characters and stories you know, or don't know yet. The 50th show was unique because it really really was the first time anything focused specifically on the attractions themselves (both historic and current). However, the fireworks shows in general have been more of a way to continue to convey that sense of fantasy you had all day riding in a pirate ship in Peter Pan, or on Dumbo's back, or watching Mary Poppins stroll down the street, etc. I think if the show was similar to Remember... then maybe folks would find it to be a duplication. I will say that this one show does seem to try and blow the lid off of technology roof.

    As with any of Disney's entertainment it won't be enjoyed by everyone - that's just the way it is. Maybe something else from the entertainment will grab you.

  6. By stompedge

    I have no doubt that the projections and new layer of technology added to the fireworks show will be an excellent display of new entertainment. Personally, I hold Disneyland to very high standards because the park holds such a special place in my memories and my heart. I am concerned about this show because of my experience with World of Color. I think World of Color is an brilliant display of technology and has ushered in a new entertainment venue for the park, but I can't stand the show. Sadly, you just cannot convince me that the current version of the show is the very best show that could be put on. It just lacks. I seen it many times, and I do try to like it, but I just don't. It saddens me, because I want it to be so good and I know it can.
    Listening to this description of this fireworks installment, all I could think of was: Under the Sea huh? Really, anyone step out of the box and really find something new and exciting with that number? I agree, I do not want a repeat of the 50th celebration fireworks, but I really think there was an opportunity to shine the park in a whole new light and really celebrate 60 years of people's love & memories for this place. Obviously, I am being very judgmental on something I have not seen yet. I will honestly say I hope I am completely off-base and this will be a spectacular display of new entertainment. Fingers crossed.

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