World of Color made its glorious post-pandemic return to Disneyland back in April 2022. So, where should you plan to watch once it now that it’s made its comeback? Read on as we break down the best World of Color viewing areas and give a little insight into the most vibrant show at Disneyland.
World of Color, Disneyland Resort’s Ode to a Walt Disney Classic
“The world is a carousel of color… There’s beauty untold that’s ours to behold in the wonderful world of color.” For eight vivid years, from 1961 to 1969, Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color dazzled television viewers with a mix of cartoons, live-action feature films and educational content – each shown in all their colorful glory, a novelty at that time.
Charming and entertaining, with a catchy theme and other original songs written by the famed Disney songwriting duo, the Sherman Brothers, the show was a runaway hit. Although Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color has long since ended, its legacy (and theme song!) live on in the equally brilliant and beloved World of Color at Disney California Adventure Park.
The whole stunning display takes place in Paradise Gardens Park, with Pixar Pier as the whimsical backdrop and Paradise Bay lagoon at center stage. While the Wonderful World of Color captured audiences’ imaginations from the television screen, this bright nighttime spectacular uses water and fog as its canvas and effects like lasers, pyrotechnics and multi-colored lights as the paint.
A glittering kaleidoscope of dancing fountains and mist screens splashed with projections from your favorite Disney and Pixar stories – all set to a soundtrack of iconic songs, including the Sherman Brother’s titular theme – World of Color is an undeniably magical way to end your day at California Adventure.
What time does World of Color start?
World of Color is usually offered nightly on Paradise Bay lagoon. Depending on the schedule, you’ll have either one or two opportunities to watch World of Color. Showtimes run about an hour and 15 minutes apart, with start times typically between 8 PM and 9 PM for the first showing and, if there’s a second show, between 9:15 PM and 10:15 PM.
Please note that in some cases, World of Color will even be scheduled to start after California Adventure has officially closed. This makes it the perfect bookend to a day in the parks or, as Disney calls it, a “Kiss Goodnight.” Keep in mind that, just like anything else at Disney, things are subject to change. So, before you go, make sure to check the schedule to avoid any potential disappointment.
How long is the World of Color show?
World of Color runs for around 22 minutes, entertaining guests with a collection of almost 1,200 water fountains spraying around 19,000-square-feet of H20, each perfectly timed to the music.
Can you watch World of Color from outside the park?
While the best views of World of Color can be found directly surrounding Paradise Bay lagoon, depending on where you choose to stay during your Disneyland vacation, it is possible to see the show from outside California Adventure Park. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa has a hidden gem of a spot, a private viewing deck accessible only with a valid hotel room key that’s usually almost empty.
Unfortunately, you can’t watch World of Color as you splash around in the rooftop pool like you can with the Disneyland fireworks. However, if you reserve a Premium View Room at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel and request an east-facing unit overlooking California Adventure, you can enjoy watch the show from the comfort of your room – a true luxury for any trip to Disney.
World of Color During the Holidays
Like some of the other nighttime spectaculars held at Disney, World of Color often gets a temporary, seasonal makeover when different holidays roll around. These limited-time renditions – featuring festive music, color schemes and projection sequences – have included:
Villainous World of Color – On select nights during the Halloween season for the Ooogie Boogie Bash
Season of Light – During the winter holidays, typically runs from early November through early January
World of Color Countdown – On New Year’s Eve, complete with a DJ dance party, fireworks and a live countdown
Hurry Home – During Lunar New Year, typically held sometime around January 21 through February 20
Experiencing World of Color: Viewing Areas, Dining Packages & Dessert Party
So, where are the choicest spots to catch this splashy show? When it comes to the best World of Color viewing areas, you have a few different options – whether paying for the convenience of reserved viewing with a dining package or dessert party or saving some cash and finding your own spot.
Best World of Color Viewing Areas at Disney California Adventure
World of Color is a hydrotechnic spectacular, with all of Paradise Bay as its stage. In other words, the show is massive. Fortunately, that means it’s relatively easy to get a decent view. So, the question is, where is the best place to watch World of Color?
California Adventure offers tons of great spots in Paradise Gardens Park overlooking the lagoon. In general, if you want to feel immersed in the show, you’ll want to get as close to the water as possible. And we don’t just mean figuratively. If you’re close enough and the wind is blowing right, you could find yourself with a face full of mist.
From the dancing fountains aflame with a riot of colors to the up-close views of projections from Disney and Pixar films to the music pulsing through the air, it doesn’t get better than a front-row seat to the magic. (Well, not actually a seat. The only way to sit down and watch World of Color is at the dessert party – everything else is standing room only.)
Of course, if you’d rather enjoy the projections than be mystified by the fountains, you’re better off finding somewhere to watch that’s slightly further from the waterfront. Don’t be afraid to move back a lot. While The Little Mermaid ride might seem too far away, standing directly in front will give you crystal-clear views of the projections.
Paradise Gardens Park
This corner of California Adventure offers the most World of Color viewing areas, including those reserved for the dessert party or guests with a dining package. Now, here’s where things get semi-complicated. Previously, aside from the preferred dining and dessert party areas, the spots here were handed out through FastPass and MaxPass. However, since coming back, reserved viewing can now be secured through a virtual queue.
Whichever section you end up in and however you get there, try to wiggle your way towards the front for the best views and look out for anything that could obstruct your view. Keep in mind that competition for a spot can be fierce. If you absolutely have to be close to the action, plan to arrive at least 90 minutes before showtime.
Watching World of Color from around Pixar Pier can be a great option if you don’t want to spend lots of time or money for a nice view from Paradise Gardens Park. The bridge leading to the Pixar Pier boardwalk is perfect for fountain-watching, though quite popular (AKA busy).
If you’re looking for a bit of peace away from the crowds, you might want to consider watching from in front of the Incredicoaster’s launch area. Sure, you won’t be able to see the projections, but you will be able to enjoy the fountains as they put on a show to the distant music.
Lastly, if you play your cards right and time things out perfectly, you can also try to watch World of Color from the Lamplight Lounge. If it’s open, the outdoor patio offers a few tables at the water’s edge.
Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
If you’re lucky enough to be staying at this property hotel you do have the option to view World of Color from a private balcony a top the Grand. Guests can head up to the top floor of the hotel (southwest corner) and follow signs for the viewing area.
Overhead heaters and bathrooms are available as well as speakers playing the shows music. You’ll want to arrive early as the best viewing is from the very front of the deck. Keep in mind that you are a bit away from the show so it’s not as amazing as being at ground level but it’s still a great view.
World of Color Dining Package & Dessert Party
One of the easiest (and most expensive!) ways to score a great view of World of Color is by booking the dessert party or a dining package. Sure, you’ll be spending a pretty penny, especially if you go the sweet route.
However, for many people, the cost is worth the convenience of not having to waste time hunting down and saving a spot. Plus, everyone’s gotta eat. You might as well reserve a great view and save yourself some hassle in the process. Here’s each delicious option.
World of Color Dinner Package – Storytellers Café, Wine Country Trattoria & Carthay Circle
World of Color can be enjoyed from many areas around Paradise Bay since the show spreads across the entirety of the lagoon and splashes far into the air. However, some of the most central viewing – standing room only though, unfortunately – can be enjoyed from the Preferred Dining section.
Guests can choose between three different restaurants for the World of Color Dining Package: Storytellers Café, Wine Country Trattoria and Carthay Circle. World of Color Disney vouchers are provided for each guest, which saves you a spot in your chosen restaurant’s viewing area in Paradise Gardens Park.
Keep in mind that, unlike with the World of Color Dessert Party, you won’t be watching the fountains blaze to life while tucking into some supper, as the dining package restaurants don’t overlook Paradise Bay. Instead, you’ll be eating earlier on in the day for either lunch or dinner.
Here are the currently posted prices (subject to change; tax, tip and alcoholic beverages not included):
Dinner – Starts at $50 per adult or $25 per child (ages 3-9)
Wine Country Trattoria
Lunch or Dinner – Starts at $50 per adult or $25 per child
Carthay Circle Restaurant
Lunch – Starts at $56 per adult or $25 per child
Dinner – Starts at $74 per adult or $25 per child
Only available for dinner, Storytellers Café at the Grand Californian is the only dining package restaurant not in the park, offering an all-you-can-eat buffet with a non-alcoholic beverage. (Sorry, that doesn’t include a specialty coffee for your late-night caffeine fix.) Wine Country Trattoria and Carthay Circle Restaurant are a more elevated affair, serving a prix-fixe, three-course meal – appetizer, entrée and dessert – with a non-alcoholic beverage.
On evenings with two World of Color shows, your reservation time will decide which viewing you attend. If you’d prefer the earlier slot, reserve a table for lunch or, if you’re doing dinner, for at least two hours prior to showtime.
All in all, whether you’re already interested in dining at one of the restaurants above or are only visiting for part of the day and want to maximize your time in the park, the World of Color Dining Package can be both a tasty and convenient way to experience Disney California Adventure.
World of Color Dessert Party
Happy to splurge a bit if it means getting booze and the best (and only) seats in the house? Starting at $84 per person (including tax and gratuity, children ages 2 and under are free), the World of Color Dessert Party may be spendy.
However, with lagoon-side seating and a decadent spread of desserts and drinks, alcohol included, it can be worth the high price of admission and a truly sweet way to end the day. For this sugary finale, guests enjoy a selection of savory snacks like cheese and a bread basket, as well as an assortment of treats and both warm and sparkling beverages.
As with the Disneyland World of Color Dining Package, seating for the dessert party is located towards the center of the show. While seating opens up about 45 minutes prior to showtime, the first guests to arrive will also be the first to be seated.
Tips for Watching World of Color at Disney California Adventure Park
Hoping to have the best experience possible watching this incredible show? Here are some suggestions for making sure you have a magical time watching World of Color.
1. Show up early for the best spots.
As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm – and, in this case, the “worm” is the best places to watch World of Color. Don’t just show up to Paradise Gardens Park right before showtime, or even 30 minutes early, and expect to find a spot right along the water.
Instead, plan on arriving at least an hour and a half to an hour and 45 minutes before the show starts to snag the best spot. Alternatively, on nights with two World of Color shows, you are able to squeeze in a bit closer to showtime if you wait for the last viewing.
2. Stop for snacks and a bathroom break before you claim a spot.
With a runtime of roughly 22 minutes and our recommendation that you show up around an hour and a half before for the best view, chances are you’ll be hanging out at World of Color for a relatively long time.
So, something to snack and sip on, along with a trip to the toilet beforehand, wouldn’t go amiss. If you do decide to hold out on your snack and bathroom run until after your group has staked your claim on a spot, be sure to notify the cast member directing traffic so you’re able to get back in easily.
3. Explore Pixar Pier earlier in the day to avoid ride closures closer to showtime.
Due to the show taking place out on Paradise Bay, with Pixar Pier effectively “backstage” of the action, many of the attractions shut down early, including the Incredicoaster, Toy Story Midway Mania, Jumpin’ Jellyfish, Golden Zephyr, Silly Symphony Swings, Pixar Pal-A-Round and carnival-style games along Pixar Promenade.
So, we suggest you accomplish everything there on your list ahead of time so you don’t miss out. The Incredicoaster, in particular, closes according to the ride’s current wait time. In other words, if there’s an hourlong wait to get on, expect them to cut the line an hour early.
As for Toy Story Midway Mania, if you’re planning to catch World of Color’s second showing or are skipping the spectacle altogether, consider hopping in line right before the first show starts (don’t worry if they cut the line – once you’re in, you’re in). You’ll basically be able to walk right on without a wait, plus you’ll have an extra-colorful view of another Disney wonder: the Back Side of Water.
4. If available, go to the second World of Color show for fewer crowds.
On nights with two showings, many people try to hit up the earlier World of Color showtime then leave right after it’s finished. So, consider waiting for the second go-round to enjoy shorter lines while the first show is happening, followed by lighter crowds and better views once it’s finally your turn.
5. If possible, stick around after the show for shorter ride queues and crowd-free photos.
Similarly, on nights when California Adventure stays open after World of Color finishes, don’t just join the mass exodus of people as they stream towards the exit. Rather, hang back to take advantage of blissfully short lines and fewer guests photobombing your selfies.
6. Dress for success – bring a poncho and something to keep you warm.
There’s nothing like being cold and miserable to kill the magic at the end of a long day spent waiting in line and fighting the crowds. You’re already going to be tired and uncomfortable standing there for the show. Why should you be chilly, too?
Pack a jacket or sweatshirt for when the temperatures drop at night, as well as a poncho if you’re hoping to stand near the lagoon railing to protect you from any mist fallout from the fountains.
Have you had a chance to see World of Color? Where is your favorite spot to take in the display? Let us know in the comments! Then, learn how you can stretch your travel budget with our discount Disneyland tickets.