Disney Channel stars Selena Gomez and Jennifer Stone were like any other kids at Disneyland Thursday night, standing in giddy excitement next to Mickey Mouse.
That is, until the “Wizards of Waverly Place” actresses were presented with magic wands by the mouse himself.
With a flick of the wrist, fireworks burst over Sleeping Beauty Castle — the quintessential kickoff to Disney’s Summer Nightastic, the summertime run of shows at the Resort that include the fireworks display, the Electrical Parade and Fantasmic!, which plays out on Disneyland’s Rivers of America.
Disney’s Electrical Parade (California Adventure)
When a sparkling mass of lights emerged onto the street of California Adventure, the crowd stood in awe.
Tinker Bell, the latest addition to the classic Disney parade, first trotted out in 1972, led the way waving her magic wand from a hot air balloon.
“It was bright, and very green,” said Grad Night guest Prince Jones, from the School of Arts and Enterprise said.
“It was pretty cool.”
“We thought it was the right place to put Tinker Bell – leading the parade,” Director of Entertainment Doug McIntyre said of the new float, which features 25,000 lights.
“She has a sort of pixie dust-effect coming from her float, and we added it to all the floats. We knew we wanted to do some enhancements to the rest of the parade, so we thought by adding Tinker Bell to the front, we could add this pixie dust swirl that goes throughout the parade.”
The Electrical Parade has been a part of Disney since its premiere in 1972. The parade has undergone numerous changes, adding new floats, more lights. It has showed up in locations around the world.
This phase of the parade combines a bit of the old with a bit of the new; for example, the diamond mine float from Snow White and the Pleasure Island scene from Pinocchio return after a long hiatus.
“They had been sitting there in a warehouse, so we had them shipped over. When they shipped that parade (back to the United States in 2001), they left that unit behind, so we called them up and had them ship it out and refurbished,” McIntyre said. “It’s the way I remember the Electrical Parade from its old days at Disneyland. It’s nice to have it back.”
Meanwhile, a new control system allows for intricate control of the lighting and 11,000 LED lights used on the dancers’ costumes make the parade more energy efficient.
Then there is the music.
“Music is a big part of any of our entertainment experiences, and we knew we wanted to update the soundtrack,” said McIntyre, a 27-year Disney veteran. “The music was written in 1967, and with the technology of synthesizers, we’ve come a long way. We wanted to maintain the classic-ness of what the guests expect using ‘Baroque Hoedown,’ which is the piece of music used. We were excited to do it with all of today’s modern technology.”
When the parade premiered on June 17, 1972, it was called The Main Street Electrical Parade, but since then it has moved to California Adventure.
“Part of the dynamic of the business here is balancing the guest flow and the experience between both parks, so it was a perfect fit to bring the parade here,” McIntyre said.
TLT Dance Club at the Tomorrowland Terrace (Disneyland)
The Tomorrowland Terrace is not the place you want when looking for a quiet dinner to wind down after a hectic day of spinning teacups and meeting giant mice. On the other hand, if you are looking for a serious energy boost, then the TLT Dance Club is the place to be.
“Hannah Montana” star Mitchel Musso opened the night on a high note while appearing with his band for a surprise performance.
For 11-year-old Elizabeth Burkemper of Missouri, standing so close to one of her favorite “Hannah Montana” stars was a dream come true.
“It was, like, the most amazing experience of my life,” she said.
The rest of the summer is filled with a lineup of appearances by popular radio stations and Top-40 bands, including KIIS-FM, Tomasina, 104.3 MYfm and Instant Replay. The club has already been compared to the now-defunct Videopolis, but this one will have a 2009 spin, such as the ability to vote on what song should be played via text message.
Fantasmic! has been a staple of Disney nighttime entertainment since it began performances in May of 1992. It is set on the Rivers of America in Disneyland.
Just like the Electrical Parade, this nighttime show underwent changes in preparation for the summer, with Fantasmic! now including new digital projectors, a 12-foot-tall crocodile and giant eels slithering through the water.
Although the highlight of the show was slated to be a 40-foot-tall dragon from the movie “Sleeping Beauty,” technical difficulties forced last night’s premiere to debut sans dragon. Stay tuned to Around Disney for a peek at the dragon later this summer.
Here are a few of their photos from the media preview of Summer Nightastic:
Selena Gomez and Jennifer Stone were at Disneyland to launch Summer Nightastic
Vocalist for Magical, Eden Espinosa
The DJ and logo for TLT Dance Club
Mitchel Musso was performing for the first day of TLT Dance Club
The new Flotsam and Jetsam eels in Fantasmic
The temporary replacement for the dragon, Maleficant on a tower… :(
The new Tinker Bell float in Disney’s Electrical Parade
The LEDs look beautiful on the parade floats
The new Cheshire Cat looks a little freaky
And of course, Disney’s Electrical Parade would not be complete without Elliott the Dragon!