A Summer of Lights, Music & Magic

Disneyland Resort energizes summer nights with lights, music and magic, highlighted by the grand return of beloved light shows and an ode to Black Music Month
From Disney’s “Pete’s Dragon” the 5,600 pound, 16-foot-tall Elliot float lights up the “Main Street Electrical Parade”. Photo Credit: Disneyland Resort

Arturo Hilario
El Observador

Summer 2022 could be the closest to the normalcy we enjoyed before the pandemic began in early 2020. Part of getting towards more activities in a safe manner are the different systems and processes which were implemented for people to be able to enjoy the outdoor social environments like they used to.

Recently Disneyland Resort revealed their newest efforts to safely bring back their magic to the parks. The highlights include the return of nighttime show ‘Fantasmic!’, Jazz focused experiences highlighting Black Music Month, and the return of the theatrical show “Tale of the Lion King”, as well as various other experiences, events in and outside of the Anaheim parks.

Celebrate Soulfully

Since February, Disneyland Resort has hosted Celebrate Soulfully, a project that showcases and honors the diverse experiences and culture of Black heritage. Specific to Black Music Month, throughout June guests can see daily live performances around the resort, the performances ranging from Motown, doo-wop, funk and more.

Disney California Adventure has always had the tinge of California during the early twentieth century and beyond, so it makes sense that there is where one can listen to the sounds of acapella group Philly Phonics, who perform jazz tunes from the turn of the century to the modern age.

There’s also the band Five & Dime, who can be heard playing the soaring sounds of the 1920’s and 1930’s with brass instruments.

In Downtown Disney, the Ralph Brennan Jazz Kitchen is featuring nightly jazz pianists, along with Downtown Disney LIVE! Stage showcases which are down the way from the Jazz Kitchen. There one can catch high energy (and family friendly) DJ’s, soul and R&B performances.

To round out the highlights of the Celebrate Soulfully experiences, “The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure” is a touring exhibit which touches on the dynamic legacy and history of jazz, hosted by Joe Gardner, the main character of Pixar’s jazz drenched film “Soul.” In the complimentary tour guests are taken through the history of the art form originated by African Americans in the southern US.

“Tale of the Lion King”

Returning for the first time since its debut in 2019, a new staging of the live theater production “Tale of the Lion King” is now playing daily until July 4th in Fantasyland Theater. Bridging the world of the beloved The Lion King animated film with modern music styles and African-inspired costumes.

The story is told by a narrator named Mwongozo, who recounts the story of Simba’s journey within the pride, while 20 performers and musicians called The Storytellers of the Pride Lands use their bodies, voices and drums to bring a unique perspective to the well-known story.

One great detail in this theater production is the use of Swahili dialogue interwoven into the English language production.

“Tale of the Lion King” is another one of the many experiences related to Celebrate Soulfully.

Nighttime Spectaculars

No matter what the focus of a Disneyland trip may be, whether it’s attempting to get on all the rides possible, taking photos with your favorite costumed Disney characters, or trying all the inventive food and treats, there is something that cannot be ignored: the lights and sounds of the nighttime shows.

From the classic fireworks if weather permits, to the various parades, the Disneyland experience isn’t truly complete until one of the aforementioned shows is viewed.

Back for its 50th anniversary, the “Main Street Electrical Parade”, has returned to the Disneyland Resort for a limited time. A slightly revamped classic, the 22 floats containing 500,000 lights synchronized to the classic electro-synth-magnetic sound, the “Main Street Electrical Parade” has had a new float added to the end of the parade, encompassing more than a dozen Disney and Pixar stories, the new float is weaved into the decades of history amongst the other floats.

The fan favorite, Elliot the dragon from “Pete’s Dragon,” continues to shine as the massive centerpiece of the parade.

Disney’s longest running nighttime show ‘Fantasmic!’ is also returning to the park, celebrating its 30th anniversary in a dazzling way. Taking place on the waters of the Rivers of America, and within Tom Sawyer Island, the show blends water fountain effects, animatronics, mascots, a whole pirate ship with ghost stunt performers, along with lights and pyrotechnics, into a dazzling display.

This one is a favorite to most Disney aficionados simply because it does a, for lack of a better word, fantastic job in taking the strengths of Disneyland shows, the water displays, the visual effects and pyrotechnics, and weaving it all into a thrilling story featuring Mickey Mouse battling the creatures and hijinks of his nightmares.

Definitely one to not miss.

Disneyland Resort is one of the premiere theme parks in the world for a reason, and this summer’s offerings beyond the rides, vibes and aesthetics is part of how it continues to bring in guests.

From the return of a classic light parade, a musical journey honoring an American genre and Black culture, as well as a theater production reimagining a 90’s classic, the Disneyland Resort summer of 2022 is waiting for guests to check out its magic.

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