The Stories Behind Theme Park Spectaculars and Special Events

By Juanita Chavarro Arias

 While sparkling fireworks, powerful songs, and eye-catching displays are well-known facets of spectaculars and special events, storytelling is at the heart of these cherished guest experiences. So said the panel of experts hosting Monday’s session, “Creating Entertainment Spectaculars, Special Events, and Festivals within Your Budget.”
Through montages of shows like “Fantasmic!” and “Rivers of Light,” Chuck Davis, principal technical director for Disney Parks Live Entertainment, illustrated how technological elements are used purposefully to tell a story.
“There are a lot of tools out there to help refine a story, figure out only what you need, and then present that in a cohesive way,” Davis said.Spectaculars
James Silson, show director and puppet master for Disney Parks Live Entertainment,
highlighted the process of developing “Happily Ever After,” the new evening spectacular at the Magic Kingdom here in Orlando. The team created the storyline and then brought the story to life through music, visuals, and projection mapping.
“We wanted the castle to go on the journey and be a character,” Silson said. “We enhanced the architecture of the castle, which kept the castle present the whole time and made it that much more magical.”
Barb Granter, general manager of Gilroy Gardens, and Christine Kerr, vice president of BaAM Productions, worked together to create fall daytime and nighttime events at Gilroy Gardens. They found their creative springboard was right in front of them.
“We discovered that the park itself is actually the inspiration,” Kerr said. “It’s a beautiful park that’s about nature and horticulture, so the trees and natural features of the park became the story. That’s what we focused on.”