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Christmas Gift Guide

Magic through tech

Master of ceremonies

Watch it go

Beauty at night

Part of that world

Bright idea

Mack the truck

Unlikely inspiration

World of Color

Making a splash

Water stars

Splashes of color

Ablaze

'We're home'

Feel the heat

Laser focus

Explosive finale

Projecting

Finding innovation

Drawing a crowd

A complicated facade

Transforming buildings

Walt Disney opened an Anaheim, California, theme park 60 years ago. To mark the anniversary, Disneyland reinvented its nighttime programming, which it calls its "spectaculars."

Caption by / Photo by Nick Golebiewski

The electric-light parade "Paint the Night" has advanced significantly over the years, but Mickey still headlines the program.

Caption by / Photo by Nick Golebiewski

Floats are tracked by GPS to ensure clockwork precision every evening.

Caption by / Photo by Nick Golebiewski

The parade has 1.5 million sources of light. That's one for every person in a city the size of Philadelphia.

Caption by / Photo by Nick Golebiewski

Lights in the performer's costumes are controlled by their own system.

Caption by / Photo by Nick Golebiewski

Its electric-light parade is now the biggest to be illuminated almost exclusively by light-emitting diodes, or LEDs.

Caption by / Photo by Nick Golebiewski

A float based on the Mack the truck character from Pixar movie "Cars" has a novel three-dimensional display in his trailer, built from thousands of suspended glowing orbs.

Caption by / Photo by Nick Golebiewski

Mack's 3D technology was inspired by an installation at Burning Man, the experimental art festival in the Nevada desert.

Caption by / Photo by Nick Golebiewski

Across from Disneyland in its sister park, Disney California Adventure, a water show called "World of Color - Celebrate" explains how Disney entertainment has changed over the decades.

Caption by / Photo by Nick Golebiewski

The centerpieces of the program is a 380-foot screen created by jets of water and mist.

Caption by / Photo by Nick Golebiewski

The water projection allows stars like Mickey and Neil Patrick Harris to narrate the show.

Caption by / Photo by Nick Golebiewski

Lights illuminate jets of water to appear as different colors, which sometimes sync with the lights around the park -- even the light-up ears in the Mickey Hats that audience members may be wearing.

Caption by / Photo by Nick Golebiewski

The "World of Color" show isn't all water -- it integrates blazing jets of fire as well.

Caption by / Photo by Nick Golebiewski

The latest incarnation of the program includes a clip from the forthcoming "Star Wars" franchise reboot.

Caption by / Photo by Nick Golebiewski

Chuck Davis is the parks' entertainment tech guru. His favorite part of the show is when a 100-foot plume of flame blasts into the air -- though he loves it partly because he's a big "Star Wars" fan.

Caption by / Photo by Nick Golebiewski

The show beams lasers into the sprays of water to create different effects.

Caption by / Photo by Nick Golebiewski

The fireworks display occurs over Sleeping Beauty's Castle, in front of the park's statue of Walt Disney walking hand-in-hand with Mickey Mouse.

Caption by / Photo by Nick Golebiewski

The new program using projection mapping technology to dress structures in the park in animation, such as twinkles of light.

Caption by / Photo by Nick Golebiewski

Projections turn Matterhorn Mountain into the volcano from the tank in "Finding Nemo."

Caption by / Photo by Nick Golebiewski

Visitors to the park begin staking their spots for the nighttime spectaculars hours in advance.

Caption by / Photo by Nick Golebiewski

Disney developed a mapping technology to project on the park's castle, mountain and buildings along Main Street USA. The technology creates 3D models of the structures because their facades aren't flat surfaces that easily accept projections.

Caption by / Photo by Nick Golebiewski

The projection mapping allows Disney to "shrink wrap" live animation onto complicated buildings.

Caption by / Photo by Nick Golebiewski
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