SpectroMagic Parade at Magic Kingdom – part 1

SpectroMagic is an evening parade presented at the Magic Kingdom park at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Produced by longtime Disney Show Producer Ron Logan, it is similar to the Main Street Electrical Parade, which was its predecessor, directed by Don Frantz. The parade incorporates elaborate, brightly lit floats, a musical score, and many sound effects. The floats are populated with Disney characters and represent scenes from Disney’s movies and short films.

The parade went on a hiatus in the May 1999 when the Main Street Electrical Parade made its return to the Magic Kingdom. SpectroMagic returned in April 2001 with the following changes:

* Spectro-men have new heads

* Genie (from Aladdin) replaced Roger Rabbit (from Who Framed Roger Rabbit) as the conductor of the parade.

* Sebastian (from The Little Mermaid) animatronic and bubble system added to King Triton’s float

* Jiminy Cricket animatronic added to the finale float.

The parade went on hiatus again in June 2010 when the Main Street Electrical Parade made its return to the Magic Kingdom as part of a Summer entertainment package called “Summer Nightastic!” The return date for SpectroMagic has not been set as the Main Street Electrical Parade is currently on a open ended run at the Magic Kingdom.

The main theme for SpectroMagic (“On This Magic Night”) was composed by movie composer John Debney. Together with Steve Skorija, he arranged music by Disney composers into a 14-minute suite. It is the only parade in Disney history to be in 3/4 time. Scenic designers was Ken Dresser.

* Original run: October 1, 1991 – May 21, 1999

* Second run: April 2, 2001 – June 5, 2010

* Third run: Unknown

* Show duration: 20 minutes

* Total number of batteries: 948

* Battery type: 75 tons of deep-cycle batteries

* Fiber-optic strands: over 100 miles

* Miniature lights: 600,000

* Miniature light colors: 11 (including clear)

* Speakers: 204

* Speaker power: 72,000 watts

* Speaker batteries: 112

* Parade Units:

o Entrance Unit with Trumpeters

o Title Unit heralding SpectroMagic

o Spectro-Men on Whirly-balls (4 pods)

o Mickey Unit

o Music Unit (3 units hitched)

o Sleeping Beauty Garden Unit 1 (Peacock)

o Sleeping Beauty Garden Unit 2

o Sleeping Beauty Garden Unit 3 (Waterfall on back)

o Giant Fish Unit

o Bubble Fish Unit (3 units hitched)

o Ursula Unit (1 pod)

o Little Mermaid Unit (3 units hitched)

o Whirly Fish (2 pods)

o Fantasia Opening Unit with Spinning Hippo

o Baracus Unit (Fountain with Ostrich’s)

o Diana Unit (3 units hitched)(Flying horses)

o Chernabog Unit

o First Finale Unit (3 units hitched)

o Carousel Unit

o Second Finale Unit (3 units hitched)

In the parade there are 29 units, and 7 whirly units giving a grand total of 36 units in the parade.

Disney refers to floats as “units.” Each unit has a driver cleverly hidden in the unit. All audio is controlled through DTMF tones transmitted by RF signals from the antennas on Cinderella’s Castle to each unit. Each unit has its own audio themed to the unit, with the main parade theme played on the zone speakers. Each zone is anywhere between 70 to 80 ft in length. The audio is stored on the unit as digitally encoded information. All the audio and other effects are stored in DACS (Digital Automation Control System). The lighting effects and other special effects are all controlled by on-board computers which initiate their own cues using a Programmable Logic Controller. The cues are sent via the antennas to the units. The main control center is located under Main Street USA. The PC (Production Center) is where all Magic Kingdom parades are stored. It is located behind Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain. In its original run in 1991 most units used Amiga software developed by Richmond Sound Design Ltd. running on Amiga computers to generate animations that were synchronized via MIDI Time Code with the local audio and projected onto the side of the unit.

Recently SpectroMagic has had upgrades. Most notably, the Spectro-Men are now face characters and no longer wear masks. These characters now have either a wig that is lit from within using LED lights, or wigs with hats lit from within with LED lights. Their face make-up is silver, with blue and purple eye highlights. This change was prior to August 14, 2007.

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