Well I went to Disneyland last week and besides all the rides I had a great time checking out all the special effects and lighting. So here's my trip report.
First off LED's are EVERYWHERE at Disneyland. I was told Disneyland loves LED's and has the money and time to see the long term pay off to convert fixtures to LED. In a an operation where the lights are on full from 9am-midnight you can definitely see how they will save a lot of money in gels, lamps, and labor by converting to LED. While it's clear by the color saturation that they are using lots of LED's its not always easy to see the fixtures. Here's an LED being used in "Innoventions" an exhibit about the latest technology.
It's a Small world has a lot of LED's in use. Take a look at the color saturation of the blues in this night shot.
If you look way off to the right you'll see a dimly lit blue structure. The fixtures used to light this were hidden behind the main clock tower face and can be seen during the day. It's probably a 80' throw. Not sure what they are using to try to light that area. It's not the most effective but it works. Below are two shots from the day time of the fixtures they are using to light that distant blue area... with top hats.
Inside Small world they were using a lot of LED's as well
There were several times in Small World that there is a water ripple light effect. I was curious how they were doing it. Because I could hear a fan from the boat. Yet I could see the source of the light. I leaned my arm out of the boat and shot several pictures into the moat to try to figure out how they were doing the water effect. I finally got this shot. Looks like a fan pointed at a sheet of blue gel. Not sure how this works. If the were reflecting the instrument off the gel or shooting light through the gel. Any thoughts?
Over in Disney California Adventure I spoted these VERY impressive turnbuckles holding up 1 1/4" cable. It was some impressive rigging although I find it odd they didn't mouse the turnbuckles. Perhaps they put a little weld on them or some sort of lock tight adhesive to keep them from moving. That's me. I'm 6'2". My wife just laughed at me for being such a nerd posing with the turn buckles.
Also in California Adventure they are working on a new Water show that will open next summer. As you can see they've drained the lake and are building a massive pump structure for the show. It'll use lights, fountains, video, and lasers to project a massive show at night. It'll be open summer 2010. That's a really impressive structure with a LOT of pumps. Can't wait to see it in a few years.
During the fireworks show Tinkerbell flies from the top of the Materhorn down around the castle.
Notice how she glows... She's getting hit by tons of UV from a bank of moving lights. In order to not cook Tink, her costume has full UV protection including her face. Note: the flying rig is just barely visible in blue in this second shot.
Here's a better view of the flying rig. In the day you can see the lines that run from the top of the Mountain to what would have to be the world strongest and most conveniently located tree (if it were real that is).
Speaking of Fake Trees... this was in the parking lot at Knott's Berry farm. I thought it was hilarious.
Future technicians amusing themselves in line. My 5 year old figured out that Dad knows how they do a lot of the special effects tricks and spent the week asking me "How did they do that?" I had a great time trying to explain: Scrim, Pepper's Ghost, video projection tricks on different mediums, IR cameras, intelligent lights, bubble machines, stages with traps, flying effects... it was a proud moment for me. The best one was when we were having lunch while the "jedi training academy" show was going on. A Jedi master picks kids out of the audience, gives them robes and light sabers, teaches them a few moves then an elevator brings Darth Vader and Darth Maul up out of the floor and the kids duel Vader and Maul. Good times. Well we had already seen the show and were sitting behind the stage. As the show ends, Vader and Maul descend back into the trap room on an elevator. Vader's stomping around the stage swinging his light saber and threatening that he will be back as he descends. My son completely ignored all this, because from where he was sitting he could see down into the trap room and spotted a technician and the door Vader uses to escape once the stage is completely submerged. I was so proud.