According to the OC Register’s Around Disney blog:
Just a year after Disneyland opened in 1955, Walt Disney saw some fireworks being tested in the parking lot when he thought, “Let’s give it a try.”
In 1956, the first fireworks show was created by hand, with employees touching off the fuses with a flare.
A few years later, technology enabled fireworks to be launched electronically and synchronized with a soundtrack. The current system, which has been in use for about eight years, features multiple fireworks launch sites, lighting and laser effects.
This summer, Disney is launching a whole new show, “Magical”, which embodies Walt Disney’s idea that, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”
Disney gave guests a preview Wednesday night, as it went through a practice run in the skies above the theme park. On June 12, the new show officially begins its summer run. It is the first change in the fireworks show since 2005.
After eight months of work, “Magical” aims to keep the tradition of change and growth alive with its use of 750 discreet digital-control channels, Disney Air Launch system, which creates less ground-level smoke than the former system using black powder, and the addition of six high-beam lights shooting up behind the castle.
The 13-minute fireworks show is organized in five scenes, each depicting the different types of magic that Disney offers.
“What we’re doing with ‘Magical’ is celebrating all those wonderful Disney movies that everyone has,” Senior show director John Addis said. “We wanted to have those moments of, ‘Wow! There’s Tinker Bell and she’s darting all over.’ ”
Few Disneyland park-goers were aware, ahead of time, that they would see the first run of the show.
“We just happened to be walking through the park, and who could be more lucky to see the preview? That’s magic,” said Kathy Chance, a refinery operator from Anaheim. “That was the best part for me, was that it was so unexpected.”
In ‘Magical,’ Tinker Bell opens with her famous, traditional flight to the tune of “Second Star to the Right.” A cast member flew from atop the Matterhorn and over Sleeping Beauty’s Castle before landing in Frontierland.
During the show, Disney makes liberal use of the new high-beam lights — which blast color into the sky, an effective technique. At one point, scenes of carousel horses are projected onto the castle.
“I think we are going to surprise a lot of people here,” Addis said. “You don’t usually see a ballad in a fireworks show, but we’re using the song ‘Baby Mine’ from Dumbo, which is one of my favorite pieces of music.”
The scene also features a prominent addition in Disneyland’s firework history, a fully articulated Dumbo puppet, the size of a baby elephant, that flew around over the castle. His ears flap; and he waves with his trunk.
“Dumbo doesn’t fly fast like Tinker Bell — he’s an elephant. He’s going to be flying above the castle, his ears will fly, his legs will move, and he even gets to say goodbye with his trunk,” Addis said.
Fourteen-year-old Emma Doolittle from Santa Rosa, whose favorite Disney character happens to be Dumbo, was happy.
“They meshed Dumbo well with the lighting and the fireworks behind it,” she said.
Music for the show is a medley of classic Disney tunes. There is also an original ‘Magical’ theme song.
The soundtrack’s songs are all voiced by Eden Espinosa, who is best known for her role as Elphaba in the musical “Wicked” on Broadway and at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles. Espinosa attended Canyon Hills High School in Anaheim and Fullerton College.
“It was amazing. It was so, so good,” said Cole Younger, 21, from London. “Dumbo being in it was just great. The choice of music was brilliant.”
His favorite part was the finale.
“They mixed so many different fireworks that were so big and covered the entire sky. The change in color of the castle with the three fairies was great. It was awe-inspiring.”
“Magical” runs nightly at 9:25 p.m. in Disneyland from June 12 until September 7.