INTEGRATING LASERS INTO A MAJOR THEME PARK
Editor’s note: ILDA Member LaserNet submitted this account of their significant installation at a major Florida theme park. Due to the park’s policy on publicity, The Laserist cannot mention the name of the park or the attraction, or include any photos taken in the park. However, the article does give insight into some of the many factors that go into creating a high-profile laser attraction.
We at LaserNet are proud to have developed and installed lasers for an end-of-the-day spectacular production that included fireworks, flames, fountains, and — of course — laser beams. The show was designed to help keep patrons in the theme park until closing time, starting in the summer of 2017 and continuing in subsequent summers.
The majority of the special effects are located on an island in the center of a lake. The primary audience was directly across from the center SFX island. The audience viewing area also extends 180 degrees around the lake on various walkways. We determined that it would require seven high-powered lasers to ensure that the entire audience was covered by laser beams. All lasers are located on the SFX Island, behind a 3’ high wall that hides the pyro and laser equipment. Due to the harsh summer environment, each laser is housed in an air-conditioned, all-weather housing. A slot was cut in the wall to allow beams to project out and over the heads of the audience.
Due to the proximity of the area’s primary airport, and the thick canopy of trees that surrounded the performance area, it was decided that all lasers would be terminated into the tree line or onto available structures within the area. We worked with the park’s safety team to ensure all lasers projections remained inside the park property. This was checked daily and was a success.
We originally demonstrated our 25W RGB lasers for the show, but the park had a very tight budget. It was at this moment that our “Made in America” 15-Watt lasers were born. Rather than lose the sale, we dialed down the lasers to 15W’s and discovered that the brightness level was very acceptable for the show producers and the lower price fit perfectly into their budgetary restrictions. Designed and built in-house, the 15W RGB ScannerPro features the latest in laser technology, with built in FB4 network Pangolin control, LaserNet’s solid state diodes, internal shutter, electronic scanner fail-safe, remote safety interlock, etc. This interfaced through our own SMPTE time code 1U rack-mount unit to the rest of the show SFX.
Another unique aspect to the installation is the distance from the projectors to the control booth. Fiber optics were utilized to connect the two positions as the main laser computer was located on the Island. Off-the-shelf interface devices were used to accomplish the task.
To complete the laser installation, we positioned six high output fog machines around the lake to provide additional atmosphere in the air to highlight the beams. Each unit is controlled by DMX to provide individual control. The operators can turn on the units that have the best effect, depending on wind direction that night.
The summer 2017 run was scheduled to run through mid-August, but was held over through Labor Day due to popular demand.