Wondrous Journeys is Disneyland’s new nighttime spectacular that debuted for the Disney 100 Celebration. The show features fireworks, enhanced lighting and projections, and music. Wondrous Journeys shows nightly (usually at 9:35 PM) throughout Disneyland, best seen from the hub and Main Street. On certain weekdays, the show will be projections only instead of including pyro. In this post, we’ll review the new show. There will be some slight spoilers and a few photos, just to warn you!
Disneyland has an interesting history of fireworks. They seem to cycle through different shows at a quick and consistent rate. Over the last five years, the mainstays seem to be Disneyland Forever, which debuted for Disneyland’s 60th anniversary, and Mickey’s Mix Magic. The latter has become the go-to whenever Disneyland is between special events and I’m not sure why as it doesn’t have the highest approval. Switching from that and the aging Believe in Holiday Magic to Wondrous Journeys is undoubtedly a home run for parkgoers.
Wondrous Journeys takes the idea of celebrating Disney’s 100th anniversary and turns it up to 11! The show is fast-paced and stuffed to the brim with ideas. In some ways, that is similar to Mix Magic where there’s no room to take a breath. Fortunately, the show’s creators knew exactly when to pack an emotional punch and when to keep the party going.
The show is climactic with a few different builds. Somewhat unconventionally, the original song (‘Wondrous’) is played at the beginning alongside the first of many projections, featuring Mickey Mouse. The projections are a highlight of Wondrous Journeys, lighting up the castle and Main Street (or Small World and the Rivers of America, if you so choose.)
Disney has promoted the new show as featuring every animated film the company has put out. Obviously, that’s a tall task! My worry was that the show would feel overstuffed with too many ideas. While there’s more projections than you can possibly keep track of, I don’t think they distract from the feel of the show, instead enhancing it. There are some beautiful pieces that will make this show worth seeing even when they’re running the projection only version.
The soundtrack plays a big role in how they stay away from overstuffing the show. Instead of snippets from too many movies, they let the different songs breathe and give them ample time to make an impact. There’s a beautiful mix of three songs from Beauty and the Beast, Hercules and Moana just a few minutes into the show and that’s when Wondrous Journeys starts to reach a fever pitch. The mix is gorgeous and, accompanied by the visuals, is emotional but still energetic.
Tunes from Hunchback and Princess and the Frog follow along with some familiar instrumentals. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the music, save for one song but that’s mainly just personal preference. That came during the Big Hero 6 portion of the show and even though I don’t like the song, trust me, that part of the show does not disappoint. I won’t risk spoiling any other portions of Wondrous Journeys for you.
Undoubtedly, Wondrous Journeys will be compared to the much maligned Disney Enchantment that debuted in Magic Kingdom for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary. Both shows are kind of trying to do the same thing, celebrating the stories that have moved the company forward. Enchantment doesn’t land the emotional punch because it focuses too hard on being sentimental. There’s all this buildup with no musical or strong visual payoff.
Epcot’s Harmonious and Mickey’s Mix Magic fall too far on the other side of the line, just going for upbeat songs without a coherent theme that fits the park they’re in. The great firework shows, especially the castle park ones, thread that needle exceptionally well. While I’m not positive how Wondrous Journeys will age, I was impressed at the balance the show struck. Remaining upbeat and exciting without distracting from the emotion is an achievement.
That’s not to say it’s my favorite nighttime spectacular ever. I don’t think the emotional high of Happily Ever After or Illuminations: Reflections of Earth are quite met. I’ll always be more interested in the parks specific shows like Remember… Dreams Come True, as well. I think Wondrous Journeys could be a couple of minutes longer (it’s about 14 minutes) and I did like the first half better than the second, at least for now.
But after a couple of duds in the nighttime spectacular department, Disney really hit the mark on this one. Thinking of strictly the stateside parks, this is the best show to debut in the last 6 years. I’m hopeful that Wondrous Journeys will have a long run at Disneyland, far outliving the Disney 100 Celebration.
Have you seen Wondrous Journeys? Let us know what thoughts you have, along with any questions, in the comments below. Planning a trip to Disneyland Resort? Check out our Disneyland Trip Planning Guide to help you out. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends and like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!
Categories: Attraction Reviews