05 April 2009

‘IllumiNations 25’ Explodes With More Power and Pizzazz

One of the pieces of Walt Disney World that I most cherish is also the one item I have the most difficult time photographing, fireworks. Walt Disney World has a long a storied history with firework shows. From Fantasy in the Sky, to the various incarnations of IllumiNations, Laserphonic Fantasy, Sorcery in the Sky, Wishes, and beyond to specialty shows like HalloWishes, Holiday Wishes, and Magic, Music and Mayhem, lighting up the night sky has long been the traditional way to close out a day in Walt Disney World.

Today’s Back Issue comes to us from the October 3, 1996 Eyes and Ears, just as Illuminations 25 was beginning its run (it would run from September 1996 until February of 1998 in two different forms), and details the specifics of the new show.

The four corners of the earth unite to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort in the new nighttime spectacular, “IllumiNations 25” at Epcot. New music and intense fireworks, fountains, lights and lasers five Epcot’s international extravaganza a sensational new sound and look.

“IllumiNations 25,” directed by creative designer Mark Fisher – known for his work with the Rolling Stones, Tina Turner and Pink Floyd – runs at a faster, more dynamic tempo than the original show, which made its debut in 1988.

The demand for such high-paced action posed a steep challenge for the technical engineers. Creators built four new fireworks barges to hold at least 100 additional fireworks, including eight-foot-long strings containing up to 20,000 explosive pops on each strand.

“We challenged the technical crew to push all of the systems to the limit and pack the most exciting show possible into 14 minutes,” said Keith Dyer, “IllumiNations 25” show production manager.

The Disney technicians reprogrammed a network of more than 25 computer systems, which coordinates visual and sound elements, fountains and fireworks, to launch each special effect more rapidly.

¤The excitement kicks off with a rhythmic explosion of fireworks in the Spanish mascelta style. The pop of fireworks evolves into a funky calypso riff, which segues into several styles of international dance music, creating a global celebration.
¤More than 100 rainbow-colored fountains soar 40 feet high, shooting water at the rate of 4,500 gallons per minute.
¤Eight projectors create a “laser cartoon” that appears on four water screens. One hundred and sixty new laser animation storyboards illustrate the magic of Epcot Future World, orchestrated to a modern interpretation of the original “IllumiNations” fanfare.
¤Every fountain blasts into the air as lasers and fireworks paint the sky for a magical climax, choreographed to an inspiring gospel version of “Circle of Life” for The Lion King.

While “IllumiNations 25” must be experienced to be truly appreciated, even by the numbers, the show is impressive:

¤A dozen show barges which shoot 835 fireworks rockets – totaling at least 304,775 blasts a year – make it a breathtaking Fourth of July celebration every night.
¤108 fountain nozzles (27 on each of the fountain barges) produce the lagoon’s jubilant dancing waters.
¤New lasers generate four times the power of the previous show.
¤Four-hundred and fifty theatrical lights brush each building with color; 712 strobe lights flash on the front of the buildings; and five miles of rim lights – with more than 45,000 light bulbs, producing more than 110,000 watts of electrical power – outline the facades of World Showcase.

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