World of Color is a dazzling 22-minute nighttime show of pure Disney magic that adds a “happily ever after” ending to your day at Disney California Adventure Park. Our joy is overflowing now that it has returned. We've put together this post to help you navigate this breathtaking show. There are dining packages and dessert parties to get a reserved viewing area, plus several ways to see Disneyland's World of Color without spending any additional money (both standby viewing and reserved areas via a new virtual queue). "The world is a carousel of color .... " On opening weekend we did all three: standby, virtual queue and even the world of Color Dessert Party! We'll tell you all about it so you can decide the best plan for your family.
What is this amazing show? The inspiration for Disneyland World of Color came from Walt Disney himself. The show begins and ends with the original theme song from “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” 1960s television program, which was written by Disney legends, Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman.
World of Color features a fountains and a gigantic projected water screen. This wall of water is 380 feet wide by 50 feet high! It provides a projection surface of 19,000 square feet. The dancing fountains reach up to 200 feet high — that's even higher than the top of Pixar Pal-A-Round! During World of Color, you’ll see projections of characters and scenes from Disney and Pixar films. Look for favorite characters from “Finding Nemo,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Toy Story,” “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King.” But that is not all — it is set to music and narration. There are dramatic moments with flames shooting up from the water. We forgot how emotional we get when watching it. It's toadally a must-see show! Pictures of moving images on water do not do it justice ... you have to see it in person. Showtimes vary per night so check the entertainment calendar in advance.
Best Ways to View World of Color at Disneyland
There are new and old ways to see the show. You can now join a virtual queue, look for standby viewing, get a reserved area with a World of Color dining package or sit and watch the show at the World of Color Dessert Party. All viewing is standing only, except for the dessert party, which is seated. We have information about accessibility viewing below.
World of Color takes place inside Disney California Adventure on the waters of Paradise Gardens Park, so no matter how you see it — whether you have a dining package or not — you’ll need a valid theme park ticket and park reservation to access it. To get the best places for viewing Disneyland's World of Color at California Adventure Park, read on!
You can see two different angles of the show in Tad's YouTube video. He shot it from the standby area on the railing of the pier (first show) and from our table at the World of Color Dessert Party (second show). We were center behind the circular section of the main viewing area. That viewing area would be more crowded for the first show.
Join the Virtual Queue to See World of Color
Guests will sign up for the free virtual queue in the Disneyland app at noon each day. Joining the virtual queue for World of Color is not required to view the nighttime spectacular, but it is highly recommended.
To join the virtual queue, you must have entered a theme park that day by 12 p.m. You must have a reservation for Disney California Adventure with either a one park per day ticket or for starting in either park with a Park Hopper ticket. The virtual queue is accessible beginning at 12 p.m. via the Disneyland mobile app and is subject to availability. Guests who begin their day at Disneyland may then enter Disney California Adventure park with their Park Hopper ticket after 1 p.m. for their designated entrance and show time. Joining the virtual queue does not guarantee the ability to view World of Color.
Joining the virtual queue may be highly competitive. Our Disneyland virtual queues post will best prepare you. Distribution will fill for the first show and then automatically start filling for the second show. If you are able to enter the virtual queue, you will receive a notification via the Disneyland app to enter the designated World of Color viewing area at one of the two entrance points: Blue or Yellow. Colors are assigned to you and are just entry points. Follow the color lights. All Blue and Yellow viewing is the same area. You do not get to pick colors or which show you get to see (if there are two shows that day).
You can arrive approximately 45 minutes before the show begins. The Blue entrance area is on the pier. Yellow is down near the Golden Zephyr (look for the blue and yellow lights). Blue and Yellow actually share the same viewing area once you enter, and guests are able to move about the area to find the perfect spot. More on that below.
If you do not have a smartphone, talk to a cast member in the park about an alternative way to gain access to the show.
Paradise Bay Standby Viewing for World of Color
If you are unable to enter the virtual queue, you can access standby viewing shortly before the show in Paradise Bay viewing areas. Check in with a cast member there for walk-up viewing options. We have more on this below.
If you cannot arrive by noon or the virtual queue is at capacity, then booking a World of Color dining package or Dessert Party may be your next best option. Otherwise, you should arrive early for standby viewing. An alternative is to wait for the second show, which is much less crowded. Cast members may let you into the viewing area without a virtual queue if there is space.
Reserve a World of Color Dining Package
If you want a little less stress about getting a spot to watch the show, or want a central viewing location, you can purchase a World of Color Dining Package that will give you vouchers for accessing the Preferred Dining Section. They are now available. The World of Color dining packages can be found in two locations: Wine Country Trattoria and Storytellers Café. Storytellers is actually located in Disney's Grand Californian Hotel, but don't worry. It's just inside the theme park entrance to the hotel. There is also a World of Color Dessert Party, which is available now. More on that one below.
For the dining packages, you simply make a normal reservation for Wine Country Trattoria or the dinner buffet at Storytellers Café. Let your server know you want to upgrade. You will get one reserved viewing area voucher for each dining package you purchase. Vouchers are valid only for the designated showtime on the same day as the dining experience. Packages and vouchers may not be refunded, redeemed for cash, exchanged for a different date or time, or sold. You will receive your voucher at the restaurant. You do not dine while you watch the show (with the exception being the dessert party) because the restaurants are not in viewing areas. Viewing is standing only (with accommodations for people who need them).
Reserve online or through the Disneyland app. If you need to cancel, be sure to do it by the day before or you will be charged $10 per person.
Wine Country Trattoria World of Color Package
The World of Color dining package includes a full-service, prix-fixe menu three-course meal with a starter, entrée and dessert, plus a non-alcoholic beverage. Food choices include dishes such chicken parmesan, fettuccine alfredo, salmon, roasted vegetable lasagna and tiramisu, just to name a few. Check in with your host or server about upgrading your reservation to the dining package. A nonalcoholic beverage is included. Packages do not include alcohol, tax or gratuity. Lunch and dinner both cost $59 ($35 for ages 3-9) plus tax and gratuity.
Storytellers Café World of Color Package
Enjoy a buffet dinner at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, which is just a short hop, skip and jump from Disney California Adventure, thanks to the park entrance directly from the hotel. The meal includes an all-you-care-to-enjoy dinner buffet with specialty sweets, a nonalcoholic beverage and a voucher for a reserved viewing area for World of Color. You need a valid theme park ticket to use your voucher. You can reserve online or through the Disneyland app. Upon arrival for your reservation, let your server or the host know you want to upgrade to this package. Dinner buffet is $59 ($35 for ages 3-9) plus tax and gratuity.
- First Show recommended dining time is 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.
- Second Show recommended dining time is 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
- Nights with only one show, the recommended dining time is 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
If you are just making a night of it, guests dining at Storytellers Café can park at the hotel and receive three hours of complimentary valet parking with validation. World of Color dining packages are on a first-come, first-served basis and are subject to availability. You will receive one reserved viewing area voucher for each dining package purchased. Each person in your party must purchase a package in order to obtain a voucher. Vouchers are valid only for the designated showtime on the same day as the dining experience. The viewing area is separate from the restaurant and is standing only. People with disabilities will be accommodated.
Attend a World of Color Dessert Party
At the end of a fun day in the parks, it's nice to sit and rest your flippers while you watch the show and enjoy snacks and drinks. The World of Color Dessert Party is the relaxing and sweet way to go. It’s recommended to arrive 60 minutes before check-in for the best seat selection. Even if you are seeing the second show, you can check in one hour before the first show and get wristbands and select your seats. Then go enjoy the park until after the first show ends. The early frogs get the flies (the flies being the best seats). There are low-top tables and high-top tables. The high-top tables can easily see over the lower tables in front of them. Smaller parties of two will share a table with other small parties.
The viewing area is toward the back of the crowd, but up higher than the crowd, and is from center of the viewing area over to the left when facing the water. You can reserve online or through the Disneyland app.
Drink options include bottled water, coffee, tea, Coke, Diet Coke and Sprite, plus specialty beverages. Specialty beverages include non-alcoholic Cherry Breeze, sparkling wine, beer and Rainbow Spritzer with tequila and a colorful sugar rim.
The food includes crackers, cheeses (sharp cheddar, double cream camembert and Toma Provence), grapes and sweet desserts. The desserts include a raspberry-filled shortbread cookie, triple chocolate cheesecake, blue raspberry bundt cake and Mickey crispy. You can get a to-go box to take home any remaining treats. It's the breakfast of champions the next day. ;) There are fruit plates for people allergic to chocolate or are gluten free.
Our frog fam got to experience the Dessert Party for the first time recently! The show times were at 9 and 10:15 that night (but can vary). Our reservation was at 9:15. Admittedly that was a bit confusing to us, so we arrived an hour before the first show just in case and it worked out perfectly. They informed us we were seeing the second show and checked us in for the second show early. We received a wrist band and selected our table from the seat map at that time. We chose a seat towards the center of the World of Color viewing area with a high-top. It was perfect! Then we did other things in the park and arrived to be seated after the first show ended.
We received our plate of desserts and cheese and beverages. Being the later show on a school night, the viewing area was pretty empty, so we had plenty of space in front of the dessert party without people around us. There is a roped buffer area between the dessert party and other guests even if it were more crowded.
The World of Color Dessert Party costs $89 (including tax and gratuity) per person. The price is the same for adult and child. We left Lily with Grandma Frog since the showtime is past her bedtime and the price is a bit steep for a toddler. She was hoppy to get some leftover treats the next day. Tad joined as the videographer of the family.
Is it worth it? We certainly did not need to have the dessert party to view the second show, but we really did very much appreciate having a seat at the end of the day with space around us. We enjoyed the food and beverage. We found the process was less stressful than wondering where to watch, and we were hoppy not to have to enter the park before noon to join the virtual queue that day, since we were having such as late night. If it's in your budget and you want to sit, then it's worth it. You might want to save it for a special occasion or date night, though, without the tadpoles. But great viewing can certainly be had for free, so don't feel like you need to do this to get a good seat. There are great views from the bridge in standby or down in front with virtual queue. Standby guests stood on some steps just behind, us so they got the same view for no additional money.
World of Color Viewing Areas at Disneyland
Two of the most frequent questions we get are, "Where are the best Disneyland World of Color viewing locations?" And, "Is the dining package worth it?" While everyone has a different budget, it's hard to say whether it will be worth it to you. We can, however, give you the skinny on the best World of Color viewing spots! That way, you can make your own decision based on your schedule, needs and budget. Some standby areas are wonderful and others more obstructed. We'd also like to add that the second show is the easiest to watch. There are way fewer people watching, and you can hop in place much closer to show time.
The largest viewing areas are the Yellow and Blue areas (which are combined as one area). The other areas are the Preferred Dining, World of Color Dessert Party and Standby areas. All viewing is standing-only, except for the World of Color Dessert Party. The show is huge, spreading across all of Paradise Bay in Disney California Adventure, and the water shoots up high, so front row, back row, side, middle ... you can’t miss it. The rule of thumb is to be at the front of whatever standing section you are in for the least obstructed view.
Blue and Yellow Viewing Area
Blue and Yellow areas have great, close or central viewing for FREE. (Free stuff is what we frogs love best.) You have the entire waterfront, the raised sections to the sides near the front. You may also watch from the whole center, flat, circular section directly in front of the round arches in front of The Little Mermaid to stand and spectate. It's just behind the Preferred Dining viewing area. Keep in mind that the viewing locations at the water’s edge are a wet zone. You may get mildly misted or toadally soaked from the fountains of water, depending on which direction the wind is blowing.
The best Disneyland World of Color viewing spots are affected by how early you arrive and hop in place to claim your spot. Here’s where the free part makes a difference: If being front row is important to you, you will pay by giving up some time. The virtual queue says to arrive 45 before showtime, we'd say to jump in space when you see the ropes go up an hour before showtime (depending on crowds and showtimes that day). If there are two shows, you can usually hop in a little closer to showtime for the second show. It's much less crowded.
Look for the blue or yellow lights to guide you in. Cast members will let you in the entrance and keep you in a holding area before bringing you down to the viewing area. The first people who go in can claim the best spots. No pressure, because there are a LOT of great spots, but if you have one in mind, be there early. The Blue entrance is at the Pier and the Yellow entrance is further down by Golden Zephyr. Be careful not to stand in a designated walkway or you will get moved. If entering in Yellow, make your way to center of the viewing area as the far right side does not have as great a viewing area.
Preferred Dining Viewing
People who make dining package reservations have a little more luxury in not having to arrive so early. But again, the front row of that section will go first. There are Preferred Dining viewing areas that vary depending on where you eat. Both are in the center viewing areas. The following information is based on before the pandemic. We will be updating our post as soon as we have a chance to dine and enjoy the show. Wine Country Trattoria is in the second section from the water, one tier above the Blue and Yellow front section. It's just in front of the Blue and Yellow upper round section. There are some steps near the back of the Wine Country Trattoria section if you don’t get the front and want to rise above the crowd. (We hear ya, vertically challenged folks!) The steps can definitely help a frog out.
One dining viewing area is one tier down from the back. It's located above and behind the round, flat Blue and Yellow viewing section. So from the water to the back, there is Blue/Yellow, then Wine Country Trattoria, then Blue/Yellow, then Storytellers and then Standby at the very back. Keep in mind that a skinny rope is all that separates you from the people who got their viewing area for free, so you have to be OK with that. You might wonder why the back is a good area to view the show. The viewing area is raised a bit above the crowd and all of the round lights placed in the audience glow different colors and interact with the show, so it adds to the visual effect.
When deciding whether to spring for the dining packages, consider that you have to eat anyway, so if you want to eat at the restaurants offering the package and want to see World of Color, then a dining package makes good sense. If you won’t be in a park by noon to enter the virtual queue, then a dining package can definitely help relieve that stress. For some guests, it is toadally worth it. Look for the white lights in the middle to find the right entrance.
World of Color Dessert Party
The World of Color Dessert Party takes place on the upper back tiers of the viewing section. You are seated at tables (some lower and some high top). While you wait and watch, you can enjoy your desserts, cheeses and sparkling drinks or warm beverages. Check-in is generally an hour before showtime, but people who check-in first will be seated first. Look for the pink lights to guide you in. If you are seeing the later show, you can still check in an hour before the first show and choose your seat. Then hop back after the first show ends.
Standby Areas on the pier and in Paradise Gardens Park
If you were unable to join the virtual queue, you can still view Disneyland's World of Color. Standby viewing areas can vary. The areas ranged from the bridge of Pixar Pier, back against The Little Mermaid ride and in some roped sections at the back of reserved viewing. You may be able to watch from near the Golden Zephyr but watch out for obstructions. It's harder to see the main projections from there. You will want to arrive about an hour to an hour and a half early for the first show for the Little Mermaid area. You do not have to be that early for the second show.
We prefer the bridge to Pixar Pier for an unobstructed view of the water where you won't get wet. Once all the Blue section of people is admitted, a cast member will open the ropes and you can swoop in. You want to get on the railing if you can. If there is a second show, it is going to be a lot less crowded than the first show. One toadlly cool part of having that view is seeing the color on the crowd of people in the viewing area. You cannot see that effect from the other areas. The color of the crowd was an amazing surprise at the start of the show.
If you have joined the virtual queue, you can enter in the bench section at the back of the main viewing area. If you want to be closer, enter the Yellow section and watch close to the water in your wheelchair or ECV near a railing, but arrive early so you get a good spot. If you did not join the virtual queue, arrive early. You'll more standby viewing section at the back.
There are a few seats at the back for VIPs. Unless you are a VIP, you aren’t getting in there. If you are a VIP, we are toadally available to join you on your next visit (hint, hint)!
The area of Pixar Pier where the Incredicoaster launches off will be dark and not operating during World of Color. It is not an official viewing area. You will not see the projection or get the whole show with Incredicoaster as a backdrop (which also lights up at the end). But you will hear the music, see the pretty fountains, colors and light. It is a good choice for a family that needs space and a bench or railing. It is enjoyable, but you are not getting the full show in all its glory.
The Lamplight Lounge is a bar and restaurant on the water that closes about 45 minutes before the park closes. It is not an official World of Color viewing area. If you time your meal right and are still sitting there when World of Color begins, you may be able to watch from the outside patio. You would want to be near an edge to see it. There is a window on the side of Lamplight Lounge around the corner to the left of the doors. You can see straight through to the show.
If you want to stand to the immediate right of the Lamplight Lounge opening on the pier, it's outside the roped areas, so you can line up there early while the Blue section is loading.
Holiday Versions of World of Color
Throughout most of the year, Disneyland's World of Color has one main show, but there are some holiday versions definitely worth seeing. During the Holidays at Disneyland, there is World of Color — Season of Light at California Adventure. We get chills every time we see it! (The Goofy scene is particularly electrifying.) During Lunar New Year, World of Color is preceded by a special World of Color Lunar New Year presentation, Hurry Home, Little Lantern! No spoilers, but it ends with a bang! And some years, on New Year's Eve, there is a World of Color countdown with fireworks and a rockin’ dance party version of World of Color.
Tips for Viewing World of Color at Disneyland
Here are a few pointers to make the most of your experience:
- Get a reservation for Disney California Adventure or have a park hopper ticket so you can hop over for the show.
- Have each person in your party enter a theme park by noon to join the virtual queue. You need to join for each person in your party. You can only join one show per person, per day.
- Keep in mind, if you are park hopping, you may not be able to join a World of Color AND a Fantasmic! queue for the same night (depending on if Fantasmic! will use a virtual queue when it returns May 28, 2022). Guests may not hold a boarding group for more than one experience at the same time.
- Check the show schedule. If seeing both World of Color and other nighttime entertainment, make sure that the times do not conflict. Plan enough time to travel between each show. Navigating the parks before and after shows and around fireworks time can be slow-going due to the crowds.
- Arrive early, before the earliest posted time, to get the best spots. That goes for the Dessert Party too. Check in an hour before the first show no matter which show you'll see.
- See the second show if there is one for the lowest crowds and most elbow room. Also, a Sunday through Thursday night may be less crowded than a Friday or Saturday.
- Bring Made with Magic items. They still interact with the show!
- If you do arrive late, stand toward the back of the crowd in your section. Leave a gap space in front of you to see better.
- Use the restroom and grab snacks and drinks before you hop into place.
- If you have to leave the viewing area to get food or use the restroom, tell a cast member so you do not have trouble getting back in.
- The show often takes place about park closing, or just after closing. If you are viewing the last show of the day, be prepared to show your virtual queue to gain entry to the park if you are hopping in last minute.
- Wear a poncho if you go for the first row in case of spray.
- Dress warmly for comfort.
- Visit Pixar Pier rides and attractions early. Some rides close prior to World of Color, such as Incredicoaster (line closes before World of Color, depending on current wait times — an hour wait will make it close an hour early), Pixar Pal-A-Round, Golden Zephyr, Silly Symphony Swings, Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind, Jumpin’ Jellyfish, Toy Story Midway Mania! and Games of Pixar Pier. (Ride Toy Story Midway Mania without a wait just before World of Color if you are not seeing the show that night, are seeing a later show or want to catch the backside of the water. If you are in line when it closes, you can stay in line.)
- A few rides reopen after the first show ends until park close.
- If World of Color ends before the park closes, take advantage of shorter ride lines after the show before exiting.
- People with wheelchairs or ECVs may remain in them and may want to arrive early to get a good, unobstructed view.
- Watch out for obstructions that could block your view.
We hope our guide to viewing Disneyland's World of Color was hopful and answered any questions you might have had. If you love the Disneyland nighttime entertainment — and who doesn’t? — then hop over to learn more about Disneyland Fantasmic! tips and the best places to view Disneyland fireworks.
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