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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Disney Invests in New Searchlights for Magic Kingdom Nighttime Spectaculars

There’s a new spectacle on display at Walt Disney World few have noticed thus far. Last week, eagle-eyed fans of Magic Kingdom’s nighttime spectacular, Happily Ever After, discovered something was different about the show’s opening sequence.

When Happily Ever After made its triumphant return to Magic Kingdom Park on April 3, 2023, fans found one particular effect was missing.

Original “Searchlights” Effect (2017)

Original Happily Ever After searchlights intro effect (Photo: ©Mickey Views)

In Happily Ever After‘s initial run, the show utilized 10 of the world’s brightest xenon searchlights. Mounted atop the buildings flanking Cinderella Castle, a symmetrical set of ten AO FALCON® arrays flooded the castle with cinematic beams of light. Most notable in the show’s intro sequence, the searchlights danced and strobed throughout the show, adding a sense of spectacle to the Magic Kingdom’s well-received nighttime spectacular.

Original AO FALCON® Searchlights at Magic Kingdom. (Photo: ©Disney) (Photo Courtesy: Disney Glimpses on X)

Upon the return of the show in 2023, this lighting effect was absent. Allegedly, the supplier of parts for the complex AO FALCON® searchlights faced difficulties due to a decline in business during the COVID-19 era. This meant Disney’s Live Entertainment team was unable to maintain the original searchlights, hence their absence when the show initially returned.

Restored and Upgraded “Searchlights” Effect (2024)

In a surprising move for a resort focused on cost reductions, an impressive new fleet of searchlights have arrived at Magic Kingdom Park.

According to X user Disney Glimpses, the updated Happily Ever After lighting sequence, which premiered last week, combines multiple brand-new lighting systems into a singularly spectacular effect. Cleverly integrating two different lighting systems, PROTEUS BRUTUS™ and PROTEUS EXCALIBUR™, there are now reportedly 20 searchlights flooding the castle with light during the show. This means there are now double the searchlights in use compared to the original iteration of the effect.

Updated Happily Ever After searchlights intro with twice as many beams as original effect.

Based on the MSRP of these new lights, it can be estimated Disney invested around $250,000 into fixing this little-noticed effect.

While $250,000 is not a vast investment for a company the size of Disney, it demonstrates there still lives a commitment at Disney towards “plussing” existing shows and infrastructure.

Why the Pricey Upgrade to an Already-Successful Show?

In the latest Mickey Views News episode, we cover the rumored drone show in early development at Walt Disney World, possibly created by drone show maker Dronisos. It is possible this new investment in Magic Kingdom’s nighttime spectacular wasn’t solely done with Happily Ever After in mind. You can find the video below.

Brayden produces quality Disney news commentary videos at Mickey Views. He is also working on feature-quality documentary films at "Address Unknown."


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