Friday, Oct. 8th was the opening night for the Disneyland Resort’s new TRON promotional event, ElecTRONica. It is held in the Hollywood Pictures area of the Disney California Adventure theme park.
At first glance, ElecTRONica appears to be a better-themed Glow Fest, which premiered around the same time as World of Color (presumably as a way to handle the massive crowds of people who did NOT get a coveted World of Color Fast Pass). But ElecTRONica offers much more.
Glow Fest featured ’60s decorations and a seemingly-random dance party happening in the middle of the Hollywood Pictures area of the park - and it did not thrill me at all. Those elements combined with serving alcohol created an uncomfortable environment with many small children dancing near inebriated adults.
But all of the complaints I had with Glow Fest (that I dutifully registered with Guest Relations) were improved for ElecTRONica. It isn’t just a random dance party and it isn’t just about drinking. ElecTRONica is an experience.
Sure, the whole idea is to promote TRON: Legacy, due in theaters on Dec. 17. If you can look past the massive advertisement, it’s actually quite enjoyable to enter the world of TRON for an evening.
The experience begins with the “Portal Opening” ceremony. At 6:45, dancers appear on a stage at the Sunshine Plaza. They’re dressed in ’80s attire and dance to an ’80s song in front of ’80s gaming machines. The stage transforms halfway through and a video screen transitions to present day. The dancers are transformed as well and they perform in the sleek new costumes from TRON: Legacy.
Then the host comes on stage and he welcomes you to ElecTRONica. It’s basically a gathering of “Programs” and “Users” to relax and refresh. There is a count down and then at 7pm, the Portal is opened and all of the lights in Hollywood Pictures area turn on. It has been transformed into “The Grid.”
Here is a video of the full Portal Opening from opening night:
Theme & Decor
As I walked under the Hollywood Pictures entrance, I could tell immediately that ElecTRONica had a much larger budget than the similar, but not nearly as entertaining Glow Fest. From the lighting to the digital projections of light cycles racing around on the buildings, ElecTRONica is top quality.
The main street is basically an entry way. There are small stands set up to sell drinks and merchandise (more on that later). The music is tame and cyber-like. The transition from California Adventure to ElecTRONica is slow and easy. It’s quite a contrast to Glow Fest where I couldn’t wait to get far, far away. This is welcoming and smooth.
The costumes that the dancers and cast members wear are very impressive, each with a TRON-style “disc” (frisbee) attached to their backs, just like in the movie.
I made my way underneath a “Recognizer” that was hanging at the entrance to the backlot area (where the Monsters Inc attraction is). It scans every User and Program that passes underneath it.
In the center of the backlot is a large digital “chandelier” where the DJ is set up. Apparently, the Programs in TRON use Apple computers. It’s good to know there aren’t any viruses in The Grid. It was this area where the dancing/raving happens and the music is loudest here.
There are stands where dancers dance above the crowd (as in Glow Fest), but for some reason it works better here. I felt like I was a User who had been transported into the TRON world and found myself in a dance club in The Grid. It all just works.
The “End of Line Club” is a highly-themed outside bar and lounge area, complete with “windows” giving an illusion that guests are really in The Grid. I want one of these couches in my house.
At the back end of the backlot area sits Flynn’s Arcade. Outside, you can try the Wii version of the new TRON: Legacy game. Inside Flynn’s Arcade are a couple dozen classic arcade games. All work (rare for these old games) and are in great shape.
To play the games, you need tokens. Three coin machines in the arcade spit out Flynn’s Arcade/ElecTRONica coins - four for a dollar. Each game cost one coin to play. It’s a steal.
There is just one TRON game at the end of the arcade, just like in the movie, and one Space Paranoids machine (though it was out of order by the time I got to it). I did not get to play TRON because there were a few guys in there hogging it trying to break the records.
Every 15 minutes or so, the 80′s music playing in the arcade would slow and fade and you could hear the characters of Sam Flynn and Alan (Bruce Boxleitner) talking. It was the dialogue from the trailer. Then the wall behind the Tron machine would glow. I could have hung out in Flynn’s Arcade for hours but there was so much more to see outside.
TRON: Legacy Preview
I waited no more than 15 minutes to see the TRON: Legacy preview in 3D. I don’t think anyone waited more than that. It is held in the Muppet-Vision 3D theater so there are plenty of seats.
I expected just a long version of the trailer, but they’re actually showing around 10 minutes of the movie. And WOW! I am so excited to see this film. And I’ll definitely be seeing it in 3D. Spectacular.
Three times a night, a performer named “Laserman” performs on a stage outside. In my opinion, Laserman is the best part of all of ElecTRONica. Phenomenal.
Laserman can somehow bend and control lasers. He’s an incredible showman who obviously has a knack for technology.
Watch him in action in this video, keeping in mind that it is even more impressive in person:
The TRON: Legacy merchandise is great, and includes everything you can imagine - action figures, shirts, hats, etc.
But the best piece of merch that sold out within MINUTES of ElecTRONica’s opening were the discs/frisbees. I didn’t even get a close look at them. I would have bought one for sure. Maybe next time.
Would I recommend buying a plane ticket to California just to experience ElecTRONica? Probably not. But with all of the current Disneyland Resort offerings like Mickey’s Halloween Party, Haunted Mansion Holiday, Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, and World of Color, ElecTRONica just puts icing on the cake. If you live in the Southern California area, I’d definitely make a special trip to the parks to see it. This is simply a great time to visit the Disneyland Resort.
ElectTRONica runs every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night ’til the end of the year. Check out more info about it on the official Disney Parks Blog.
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Jeremiah Daws and his brother Josh are theme park fans and filmmakers living the dream in California.
Follow their adventures at DawsBrothers.com.
More photos from ElecTRONica at Disney California Adventure: