We had the chance to be part of a Disneyland Paris 30th Anniversary media roundtable that included several producers of entertainment. One of those producers is Ben Spalding, who created the Disney D-Light Illuminations preshow. Spalding has been with Disneyland Paris since the park opened.
Here is our video of the interview followed by the article and two videos of the show!
Spalding said that the 30th team started with the same music, the same goal. He said, “We created a preshow that is not character based…it’s about the story, the song, the meaning behind that”. The preshow includes fountains and lasers but no fireworks. There are 150 drones in the sky. This is the first time drones have been used in a Disney park above a castle.
Spalding said they tested in “complete secrecy”. There were only about 40 people within the company that knew it was being done. On January 25th, a press release revealed it to everyone else.
Spalding said they started talks about 10 months ago with French company Dronisos, and they started working on the show 8 months ago. The creation and development of Disney D-Light started out virtually due to the pandemic. Initially they were going to just have the Disney D-Light preshow but then Spalding said, “It’s such a cool thing, that we just had to add something extra at the end of Illuminations”. (Since this interview took place, Disneyland Paris combined the “before” and “after” into one preshow).
Originally there were to be 200 drones, but they got it down to 150. “The spot that we’re able to fly drones in the backland of Fantasyland …we’re only allowed to fly in certain areas. It’s like having a stage and putting 100 people on it when it’s only meant for 20”. He said 150 is the right number for the movements within the space available.
While testing, they drove into the countryside near Bordeaux. “In the middle of this place where they grow asparagus…it was completely off the beaten track…”. Of the project, he said, “Yeah, it’s cool”.