Illuminations – The Science

Disney spends a huge amount of money on Fireworks in their parks and certainly gets the attention they deserve. For instance, Illuminations is currently running just about $38,000+/- for their display each day! Now, if you think about most community areas around the 4th of July, they can spend from $10,000 to over $100,000 but somehow Disney is able to create a magical display larger and grander than most countries spend on New Years Eve celebrations and with less cost. How?

Disney has a system in place that you can find through the parks in a consistent manner. It’s called Forced Perspective.  Take Epcot for instance, you may notice the giant Eiffel Tower standing above the French Pavilion?  Have you ever got real close to it?  It is not as big as it may appear from a distance.  Hollywood uses this effect all the time in background scenes and Disney has all it’s magical effects in each park done this way.  Now back to Illuminations.

Illuminations, Reflection of Earth is a dramatic light show full of fireworks, explosions, strobe lights and torches surrounding a larger lake in the middle of the World Showcase.  By bringing everyone together around the water, and having a full stage “set” Disney does not actually have to launch those fireworks as high as most places do.  This leads into using smaller mortar fireworks for the actual explosions and saving a little bit of cost.  The perspective difference is that the fireworks bursting above you are not really that far away from you!  Not to mention with the pyrotechnics in place, the burst of lights and fire can add quite a dramatic effect and it’s all about the propane.

The Disney Imagineers now use a new system to launch the fireworks into the air by means of forced air, unlike the traditional methods of black power.  This reduces the “explosive” tactics and also saves the cost of the black powder.  A safer and more manageable approach to going green!  Disney always comes up with new innoventions that keep you guessing “How did they do that?” and by having that magic in place, it keeps us all smiling.

Now, for the giant floating globe that you all are asking about; your dealing with 180,000 LED bulbs that can create a tremendous effect, even from a far distance.  LED bulbs can create a beautiful effect and are much brighter than standard lights.  This allows Disney to cast movie quality effects onto the 16 Ton floating raft that houses the globe.

The idea behind the Illuminations is the history line of our world.  From it’s creation in the first act, with high flying dramatic explosives and great fire spectacles, to the ingenious floating globe that shows vivid pictures of our World coming together.  The final sequence is the harmony of all the countries around the Epcot Pavilion coming together, torch by torch symbolizing the unison of our World.  The dramatic build up is quite enticing and can please any Disney goer or just about any guy in the World!  Explosives and Fireworks?  Were there!


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