This week, we got the good news that fireworks are headed back into the domestic Disney Parks. It just doesn’t feel like a proper day in the parks without Walt’s “kiss goodnight.” But the announcement got me thinking about what I would consider to be my favorite Disney Parks fireworks show. I certainly haven’t seen them all, but the one that will forever hold a big place in my heart is “Remember… Dreams Come True.”
The “Remember… Dreams Come True” fireworks spectacular premiered at Disneyland in 2005 as part of the park’s 50th anniversary. It was the perfect show to celebrate such a big milestone, and I would argue the most fitting fireworks show ever ignited in the parks. I didn’t see it in its first year, but luckily for me, it ran for a long time, giving me many opportunities to catch it.
The show was certainly plussed through the years, as technology definitely changed between 2005-2014. The show designers took advantage of these newer technologies to add projection mapping to the show and more. But this new tech isn’t the reason I love the show so much. You could strip away all of the fancy projection, lighting and lasers, and “Remember… Dreams Come True” would still be my favorite fireworks show.
Full disclosure: As a bit of a pyromaniac, I love pretty much any fireworks show, but one with a strong theme and story brings it to the next level for me. Too often, I feel like a lot of the Disney Parks fireworks shows are simply a medley of popular Disney songs. Sometimes they have a fairly weak through-line trying to create a story, but much of the time it’s simply a “greatest hits” sort of soundtrack. As a side note, I’m always amazed how many of the same songs are used from one nighttime spectacular to another, considering the huge library of music available to choose from.
When it comes to “Remember… Dreams Come True,” the soundtrack and story is what really sets it apart for me. This is a fireworks spectacular all about celebrating the park that Walt Disney built, and it does so in a grandiose fashion. It doesn’t hurt that Disney Legend Julie Andrews is the narrator for the show. She says, “In 1955, an amazing man named Walt Disney dreamt of a Magic Kingdom.” We then hear Walt’s classic opening day speech. If you’re not feeling chills or shedding tears at that point, are you even human?
Some of the first music we hear may be recognizable to fans of the fireworks show “Wishes” at Walt Disney World, but it then goes on to give us a sort of “tour” of Disneyland park. It begins with the music of Main Street U.S.A., including the recognizable Scott Joplin tune “Maple Leaf Rag.” And when you think of Main Street in Disneyland, there’s a good chance you think of the times you’ve sat there watching parades. This fireworks spectacular pays homage to one of the park’s most famous parades, “The Main Street Electrical Parade.”
The soundtrack then heads into Adventureland, with familiar music filling in from Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room as well as Indiana Jones Adventure with full-blown flame throwers on the castle. That iconic “Raiders March” feels like it was written to be accompanied by fireworks, but I guess you could say that for almost any John Williams score.
Then there’s a tribute to New Orleans Square, where we hear music from Haunted Mansion and the iconic Ghost Host dialogue. One of the things I especially love is that this audio isn’t simply a soundtrack pulled from the ride. This is newly orchestrated music interwoven with the iconic “Grim Grinning Ghosts” theme. They do the same thing in this section with music and dialogue from Pirates of the Caribbean. It should also be noted that during the New Orleans Square section, there’s a jaw-dropping moment when the audience is asked “Is this haunted room actually stretching?” followed by a trail of bright, white pyro punching high up into the sky. It’s a moment, for sure.
Next up is Frontierland, where we originally heard the iconic “Ballad of Davy Crockett” — but that was eventually removed in 2009 when the show was abridged a bit. This section would continue to feature music like the American folk song, “Oh Shenandoah” and dialogue and visuals from the Mark Twain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
This is followed by a section mixing and celebrating Critter Country, Mickey’s Toontown and Fantasyland, primarily featuring the song “Everybody’s Got a Laughing Place” from Splash Mountain and tons of attraction and character dialogue. I especially love that Benny the Cab from Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin is featured.
The most retro section of the show, giving older Disneyland fans all of those nostalgic feelings, would be the Tomorrowland section. There are numerous retired attractions heard in this portion, including the PeopleMover, Adventure Thru Inner Space and Submarine Voyage, along with more current classics like Space Mountain, Autopia and the Rocket Jets. Star Tours is also heavily featured with the classic “Star Wars” fanfare. The show wraps up with the return of Andrews, Tinker Bell, and “When You Wish Upon a Star.”
Overall, the beautiful lighting all around the park, the 360-degree pyrotechnics, and the projection mapping all give a bit of extra magic to “Remember… Dreams Come True,” but the thing that really sets it apart for me is the celebration of your day in Walt’s original theme park. This audio and pyrotechnic journey throughout the park is a great reminder of what you’d just experienced throughout the day and truly felt like the perfect kiss goodnight. I hope that the skies of Disneyland will someday, once again, remember… dreams come true.
What is your favorite fireworks spectacular in a Disney Park? Let me know why in the comments below.
If you have any theme park topics you would like to hear my opinion on, let me know in the comments. You might just see it pop up in a future DePaoli on DeParks.
Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. Get your FREE gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit” and more at DizneyCoastToCoast.com.