Wondrous Journeys is Larger Than Fortunately Ever After Fireworks

Wondrous Journeys is best than Fortunately Ever After. There, I mentioned it. Disneyland’s latest nighttime spectacular is best than the fan-favorite fireworks at Magic Kingdom, that are so beloved that they had been introduced again by common demand even after Walt Disney World mentioned they had been gone for good.

Earlier than you begin with the hate mail, we completely adore Fortunately Ever After. It’s the very best everlasting fireworks present we’ve ever seen at Magic Kingdom, and made our checklist of the Prime 10 Disney Nighttime Spectaculars & Fireworks Reveals of All Time. We begged for its return after being massively upset by Disney Enchantment. We additionally suppose Fortunately Ever After is best than Needs, the fireworks present from our adolescence as Walt Disney World followers and for which we nonetheless maintain nostalgia in our hearts.

Level being, we aren’t Fortunately Ever After haters. (However then once more, is anybody?!) Taking {that a} step additional, you would possibly discover that we avoided reviewing Wondrous Journeys again when it debuted in the beginning of Disney100, regardless of reviewing World of Colour – ONE. That was a seemingly odd resolution, however truthfully, it was as a result of our first impression of Wondrous Journeys was so constructive that I fearful it was an “overreaction” and partly because of Disney Enchantment being so terrible and underwhelming. After seeing Wondrous Journeys a dozen-plus occasions–together with viewings inside days of seeing Fortunately Ever After–I’m now extra assured in my evaluation…

Earlier than we get going, I wish to supply a few fast notes. First, we each love Wondrous Journeys, but it surely being higher than Fortunately Ever After is strictly a “Tom Take.” Sarah has not been in a position to see Fortunately Ever After since its triumphant return, and doesn’t essentially share my controversial opinion. She has suggested that I make it abundantly clear that this isn’t a joint commentary–direct all hate mail at me, completely!

Second, that is very a lot a why not each?!” state of affairs. They’re each phenomenal nighttime spectaculars, and simply as simply as I could make the beneath case for Wondrous Journeys being higher, another person might advance arguments in favor of Fortunately Ever After. The truth is, I can consider 112! (What is the peak distinction, in toes, between Cinderella Fortress and Sleeping Magnificence Fortress?)

Greater than anything, this can be a ‘only for enjoyable’ publish meant to underscore simply how good Wondrous Journeys is for the uninitiated. It’s an article for the non-believers who had been burned by Disney Enchantment and are skeptical that Disney Stay Leisure is able to producing something on par with Fortunately Ever After. They’ve nonetheless obtained the magical contact–and listed below are the highest 10 the reason why! 

No Walt – I’ll begin with the most well liked of takes that’s positive to catch the ire of some Disneyland diehards: I’m glad there’s no Walt Disney narration in Wondrous Journeys. Don’t get me incorrect, I really like Walt and recognize when the parks honor him. However I additionally suppose generally he’s shoehorned into issues as fan service or as a crutch.

Disneyland Eternally, a nighttime spectacular I in any other case actually like, is the prime instance of this. This initially debuted for Disneyland’s sixtieth Anniversary Diamond Celebration, so the opening contains Walt’s dedication and stuff about Anaheim and orange groves. The present that follows is totally unrelated to all of that.

It’s like they developed the substance of the nighttime spectacular after which mentioned, “oh shoot, that is an anniversary present. Anyone fast give you a heartfelt introduction!” To every their very own, however I’d reasonably have Walt Disney be honored in significant and applicable methods, and never as an afterthought. I really feel the identical manner about superfluous statues to gloss over an absence of substance, however that’s one other rant for one more day!

Love Letter to Walt Disney Animation Studios – Regardless of no phrases of knowledge from the person himself, Wondrous Journeys truly is a significant tribute to Walt Disney by advantage of being a love letter to the animation studio he based, its wealthy historic legacy, and the inventive course of.

Wondrous Journeys begins with an animator sketching Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and Donald Duck. Extra hand-drawn variations of traditional characters–Snow White, Pinocchio, Woman & Tramp, Peter Pan, Bambi–comply with, reworking into coloration illustrations. Because the pages come to life, the infectious new music “It’s Wondrous” builds in depth and the primary pyro explodes overhead.

In its first minute, Wondrous Journeys already has extra coronary heart and is a extra heartfelt homage to Walt Disney’s inventive legacy than most nighttime spectaculars–particularly those that instantly invoke Walt–do of their complete runtimes. Within the minutes that comply with, everything of Fundamental Avenue USA and Sleeping Magnificence Fortress come alive with new characters coming to life each second.

It’s surprisingly satisfying to see these acquainted faces, and that’s a direct results of Wondrous Journeys doing the precise work of laying an emotional basis and constructing to one thing, reasonably than utilizing a “nostalgia shortcut.”

Endlessly Rewatchable – I’ve misplaced depend of what number of occasions I’ve seen Wondrous Journeys, but it surely’s simply over a dozen. And I’d hazard a guess that about two-thirds of these showings had been projections solely (I really like fireworks, but it surely’s all the time a dangerous dedication at Disneyland since pyro will get cancelled typically and crowds are worse). As such, I’ve actually been in a position to deal with the projections and never all the time been preoccupied by pyro (or pictures!).

Suffice to say, it’s completely unimaginable to identify all the 62 Walt Disney Animation Studios movies represented in Wondrous Journeys throughout a single exhibiting…and even a number of showings. Heck, even on the ultimate night time I noticed Wondrous Journeys earlier than it went on hiatus till 2024, I used to be nonetheless recognizing new issues, preserving my head on a swivel making an attempt to observe each Fundamental Avenue and Sleeping Magnificence Fortress.

Clearly, all of this has made me wish to rewatch Wondrous Journeys itself. However how a lot I really like the present additionally makes me wish to rewatch my favourite motion pictures which are highlighted. (Wondrous Journeys is a a lot better “commercial” for Disney+ than Disney Enchantment, regardless of the latter feeling prefer it was made for that categorical objective.)

In all probability in opposition to my higher judgment, however Wondrous Journeys has given me pause and induced me to rethink my opinions of previous flops–Treasure Planet, Atlantis, Dwelling on the Vary, Hen Little, Meet the Robinsons–that had been ‘one and dones’ for me.

Higher Projections – Regardless of being on the smaller canvas, Wondrous Journeys has higher projections than Fortunately Ever After any Magic Kingdom nighttime spectacular. Not solely that, however the secondary projections on Fundamental Avenue, Rivers of America, and “it’s a small world” are all higher and extra formidable than ever, with extra precise animation that helps inform the present’s story.

I hate to confess this, however the projections in Wondrous Journeys truly are important. I’ve lengthy maintained that Fortunately Ever After is simply as robust with or with out them, however Wondrous Journeys simply doesn’t carry the identical emotional weight with out them. (I truly noticed it one night time when the projections weren’t working that basically drove house this level!)

That’s arguably some extent in opposition to Wondrous Journeys, because the smaller Sleeping Magnificence Fortress could be tougher to see. However with a variety of places with projections, it’s attainable to get the total expertise with out being dead-center within the Hub. (My private favourite spot is being between Gibson Woman and Refreshment Nook, totally immersed within the projections and pyro. See The place to Watch Disneyland Fireworks: Greatest & Worst Spots for extra recommendation on viewing areas for this and different fireworks exhibits.)

It’s Timeless – For me, the most important very nice shock of Wondrous Journeys is that it didn’t skew closely to the final decade of Walt Disney Animation Studios motion pictures. Certain, there’s numerous Frozen, Moana and Encanto–however given their reputation, that’s to be anticipated. There’s additionally numerous the unique classics and Disney Renaissance period motion pictures

Wondrous Journeys is extremely well-balanced, and each technology of Disney fan goes to see various things that “communicate to them.” For me, that’s largely the older stuff, plus Magnificence and the Beast plus late 90s movies that I really feel had been ignored. Greater than anything, although, I really like how not one of the scenes are a single technology. All of them weave collectively a long time of animation, as if previous characters are passing the baton to newer ones, simply as Walt Disney Animation Studios itself has discovered classes from the previous.

Theme Tune – “It’s Wondrous” itself is much better than nearly some other present theme music I’ve ever heard. It’s actually good, and by actual music requirements, not simply schmaltzy present songs by Disney.

For a music that doesn’t embody the phrase “Disneyland” in it even as soon as, it has an actual “Fundamental Avenue at Disneyland” high quality to it. (Don’t ask how, as a result of I can’t for the lifetime of me clarify that.) There’s one thing about it that simply embodies the spirit of Walt Disney’s authentic magic kingdom. It’s refined and doesn’t hit you over the pinnacle…which might be what I recognize about it. I might see “It’s Wondrous” turning into an anthem of types for Disneyland, and wouldn’t be in the slightest degree shocked to see music outlive the nighttime spectacular itself, reused and remixed for provides and future leisure.

Musical Medley – The music all through Wondrous Journeys is implausible, with nice music decisions and preparations. That is much like, however higher than, Fortunately Ever After–and a really sharp distinction to Disney Enchantment.

There’s quite a bit I really like in regards to the Wondrous Journeys soundtrack, however the second throughout my first viewing that cemented this being a brand new traditional was the Songs of Hope and Craving–the mashup of “Go the Distance” from Hercules, “Belle” from Magnificence and the Beast, “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana, and “Out There” from the Hunchback of Notre Dame. The way in which these are weaved collectively is pure perfection.

Blue Fairy and Baymax – I’ve seen Tinker Bell fly over castles tons of of occasions, and it by no means will get previous. If ever I get cynical as a substitute of sentimental about seeing that, it’s time to hold it up. With that mentioned, seeing Blue Fairy as a substitute of Tinker Bell for the primary simply hit totally different. I can’t put it into phrases, however I obtained goosebumps–possibly it was akin to seeing Tinker Bell for the primary time over again, proving that you may go house once more.

Seeing Baymax buzz round Sleeping Magnificence Fortress is simply actually cool. Nothing deeper, simply dang that was superior. Effectively, and he additionally units up what’s arguably the very best stretch of all the present–a couple of minutes which have extra emotional vary than most fireworks exhibits do in full.

It Will get Darkish – Fortunately Ever After was the primary Disney montage fireworks present that had a compelling narrative throughline, and didn’t simply really feel like a seize bag of flicks and songs. It was the end result of that period of nighttime spectaculars, making use of and perfecting the teachings discovered on the technology of fireworks exhibits main as much as it.

Wondrous Journeys takes {that a} step additional, and has a way of self-assuredness and swagger. It’s a confidence I wouldn’t have anticipated coming off of Disney Enchantment, fairly truthfully. Sarcastically sufficient, that is most obvious than within the option to eschew a standard hero/villain good/evil dichotomy for the low level being one in every of self-doubt, failure and uncertainty.

The air is sucked out of the present, the soundtrack goes silent for a number of seconds, and the projected canvases return. It’s like coming into a void, and it’s an absolute emotional gut-punch for the viewers. It’s additionally actually dangerous, as this failing to resonate would have been like Disney Enchantment over again. But it surely does and it’s not–as a substitute being an extremely poignant second in a present filled with well-earned moments.

Additionally, and I don’t wish to be a kind of individuals who reads an excessive amount of into issues and sees subtext that was by no means meant, however the first time I noticed Wondrous Journeys, I assumed/puzzled whether or not this was executed to allude to Walt Disney Animation Studios itself. Specifically, its Darkish Period and the struggles and sense of self-doubt the animators had after Walt Disney’s passing. This in all probability was not meant–totally different movies would’ve been chosen to convey this if it had been the case–however I however nonetheless recognize how this may very well be learn as a metacommentary on the studio itself.

Pooh Humor – All of us have a relative who posts “humorous” graphics on Fb that includes Winnie the Pooh and mates that appear to be they had been made in Microsoft Paint ’98. I’m not going to call names, however a few of us have aunts who go onerous with these graphics, even when it is senseless in anyway. I’m unsure how Eeyore with an umbrella hooked up to his tail is relevant to the delivery of our daughter, but I digress.

Regardless of being beloved by boomers, Pooh’s posse has an understated dry humor and this wryness is simply ready to be “found” by youthful generations. The ending of Wondrous Journeys is an instance of this, and one in every of my favourite elements of the present, because the narrator tells Winnie the Pooh that we’ve come to the conclusion of this chapter. Pooh breaks the fourth wall (do fireworks exhibits have partitions in any respect?) and says, “oh no, please, can’t we return to web page one and do it over again?”

In response, the narrator calms a tearful Pooh by telling him that “it’s simply one other flip of the web page” and “that what comes subsequent can be wondrous.” That is such slightly factor, however it’s so unbelievably good and, to my data, has by no means been executed in one other Disney nighttime spectacular. In becoming trend, Winnie the Pooh supplies an lovely second of appeal and humor, and the present deftly makes use of that to tightly transition to its emotional finale. Greater than anything, that encapsulates the magic of Wondrous Journeys. Certainly, Mr. Pooh, can’t we return to web page one and do it over again with Wondrous Journeys returning in 2024?

Planning a Southern California trip? For park admission offers, learn Ideas for Saving Cash on Disneyland Tickets. Find out about on-site and off-site lodges in our Anaheim Resort Evaluations & Rankings. For the place to eat, try our Disneyland Restaurant Evaluations. For distinctive concepts of issues that’ll enhance your journey, try What to Pack for Disney. For complete recommendation, seek the advice of our Disneyland Trip Planning Information. Lastly, for guides past Disney, try our Southern California Itineraries for day journeys to Los Angeles, Laguna Seashore, and lots of different SoCal cities!

Your Ideas

For those who’ve seen each Wondrous Journeys and Fortunately Ever After, which do you like? Or is it onerous to select a favourite? The place does Wondrous Journeys rank amongst all-time Disneyland nighttime spectaculars for you? Do you agree or disagree with our evaluation? Any questions? Listening to your suggestions—even if you disagree with us—is each fascinating to us and useful to different readers, so please share your ideas beneath within the feedback!

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