Dollywood and Intel Partner for Nightly Drone Production
The night sky over attractions continues to shine, giving operators new ways to celebrate the end of a day—and keep guests entertained after dark.
In 2014, Puy du Fou in Les Epesses, France, incorporated drones into its nighttime spectacle “Cinéscénie.” However, widely varying government regulations around the world regarding drone use may have slowed their adoption by attractions.
However, Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, United States, in collaboration with Intel, launched a nightly performance this summer showcasing the future potential of drones at attractions. The evening show headlined the park’s 2021 “Summer Celebration” that ran June 25 through July 31. Almost 400 drones created what the park describes as a “symphony of light in the sky,” with the drones choreographed to music and paired with a fireworks display.
“Our conversation with Intel began in late 2020,” says Wes Ramey, public relations director at The Dollywood Company. “We designed the drone icons, and the Intel design team translated them into drone images and then animated them. Dollywood provided the musical track, which really serves as the emotional driver for the entire experience. The collaboration with Intel includes show creation and execution, the use of the drones, as well as a drone pilot and a crew on-site at Dollywood to set up and perform the show each evening.”
Intel says it has carried out more than 1,000 performances in more than 23 countries across six continents, including the Olympics and the Super Bowl, and handles everything from aviation permits, to concept design, to the staging and execution required to safely operate the show.
Alexa Korkos, global communications representative for Intel, says attractions need to keep in mind several considerations when planning a drone show.
“Safety, risk management, weather, airspace, and creative storytelling expertise” are all elements Korkos says attractions need to plan for. “During the initial phase of planning, we work with clients to identify good launch areas, safe flight airspace, and optimal audience viewing angles. Every Intel Drone Light Show performance includes a wide range of safety measures, including geofences with generous buffers, multiple trained visual observers, and built-in emergency protocols.”
Korkos says once the show narrative is approved by the attraction, Intel’s creative team uses sketches and storyboards to create animations. The animators then utilize 3D modeling software to choreograph the drones’ motion paths and trajectories. Music is provided by the attraction.
“Because of our unique location, it was important to incorporate the Smoky Mountains into the show. The Dollywood and Intel teams collaborated closely to ensure this exclusive show really told our guests the story of this beautiful area,” Ramey says. “We want to give guests that moment they’re going to remember and hold onto long after they leave the park. The show is the perfect cutting-edge answer to what we were trying to find.”