Disneyland premiered its first fireworks presentation in 1956. The show was actually created by hand - with employees touching off the fuses with a flare! (A few years later, technology enabled fireworks to be launched electronically and synchronized with a soundtrack.)
“MAGICAL” – FIREWORKS BY THE NUMBERS
The pyrotechnic devices are fully choreographed to “Magical’s” musical soundtrack, using 750 discreet digital control channels.
Guests see the burst of fireworks before hearing it because light travels roughly a million times faster than sound.
The Disney Air Launch system installed in 2004 creates less ground level smoke than the former system that used black powder.
Disney is recognized as the world’s largest producer of fixed-base fireworks shows, at its parks in the United States, France, Japan and China.
A SPARKLING HISTORY OF FIREWORKS AT DISNEYLAND
Disneyland opened to the public in July 1955. There was no fireworks show that year.
In 1956, after seeing fireworks tests in the Disneyland parking lot when the park was closed, Walt Disney said, “Let’s give it a try.”
Mickey Aronson, who worked in Disneyland Resort Entertainment for more than 50 years (originally as an outside fireworks consultant), began “shooting” Disneyland fireworks the summer of 1956. In those days, Aronson fired the show by hand, touching off the fuses with a flare.
Beginning in the late 1960s, Disneyland Entertainment developed a system for firing the shells electronically, synchronized to a musical soundtrack.
During this period, the fireworks “choreography” was storyboarded like an animated cartoon. At one time, the storyboard artist was Roy Williams, the “Big Mooseketeer” from “The Mickey Mouse Club.”
The current system, with its multiple fireworks launch sites, special lighting and lasers, and high-tech marriage of music and choreographed pyrotechnics, was first installed for the 2000 Bicentennial/Disneyland 45th Anniversary show, “Believe…There’s Magic in the Stars.”
Elaborate fireworks shows synchronized with Disney songs and often have appearances from Tinker Bell or Dumbo, flying in the sky above Sleeping Beauty Castle. Since 2000, presentations have become more elaborate, featuring new pyrotechnics, launch techniques and story lines. In 2004, Disneyland introduced a new air launch pyrotechnics system, reducing ground level smoke and noise and decreasing negative environmental impacts. At the time the technology debuted, Disney announced it would donate the patents to a non-profit organization for use throughout the industry.
* Regular Fireworks Show:
o 1958–1999 Fantasy in the Sky
o 2000–2004 Believe... There's Magic in the Stars
o 2004–2005 Imagine... A Fantasy in the Sky
o 2005–2010 Remember... Dreams Come True
* Special Fireworks Show:
o June 12, 2009 – September 20, 2009 Magical: An Exploding Celebration In The Sky
o September 25, 2009 – November 1, 2009 Halloween Screams
o November 13, 2009 – January 3, 2010 Believe... In Holiday Magic
Since 2009, Disneyland has moved to a rotating repertoire of firework spectaculars.
* Yearly Fireworks Repertoire
o Winter – Spring Remember... Dreams Come True
o Summer Magical: Disney's New Nighttime Spectacular of Magical Celebrations
o Independence Day Week Disney's Celebrate America: A 4th of July Concert in the Sky
o Halloweentime Halloween Screams
o Holiday Believe... In Holiday Magic
During the Holiday Season, there is a special fireworks presentation called Believe... In Holiday Magic which has been running since 2000, except for a short hiatus in 2005 during the park's 50th Celebration.
Scheduling of fireworks shows depend on the time of year, during the slower off-season periods, the fireworks are only offered on weekends. During the busier times, Disney does offer additional nights, such as an extra night for a 3 day holiday. Also, Disney does offer Fireworks nightly during its busy periods, which includes Easter/Spring Break, Summer and Christmas time.
The show is normally offered at 9:25 PM if the park is scheduled to close at 10 PM or later, but shows have started as early as 5:45 PM. Also, a major consideration is weather/winds, especially at higher elevations, which can force the cancellation of the show. Disney usually waits an additional time (15 minutes) to see if the winds die down. Shows, with a few minor exceptions, such as July 4 and New Year's Eve, must finish by 10 PM due to the conditions of the permit issued by the City of Anaheim.
Most of Jack Wagner's Disney recordings were made at his own house where he had a recording studio (which was installed by Disney in the 1970s). A voiceover booth in his home was connected to Studio D at Disneyland in Anaheim. At the time, Jack's home in Southern California was one of the first to use a direct audio link from a remote recording studio!
I would like to set the record straight on the voice. Throughout the 1970's and into the 1980's the voice heard on all Disney monorails, as well as most all the voiceover work for all the parks was the legendary "Voice of Disney", Jack Wagner.
I have had the privilege of working with him many times through the years.
One interesting side note is that Jack's home in Southern California was one of the first uses for a direct audio link from a remote recording studio. It was put in by Disney in the 70's and connected a voiceover booth in his home to Studio D at Disneyland in Anaheim. He frequently would receive last minute calls for special events and was able to just walk over to the booth and "beam" it directly to the park. Anyhow, with the amount of work that Florida was generating after Epcot and the Studios opened, plus the fact that Jack wanted to head towards retiring sometime, other voice talent was sought out locally in Florida.
There have been several people used in voiceover work since then, one of them being Kevin Miles, who is one of the original members of the Voices of Liberty at Epcot, and can still be heard there daily. Kevin recorded the monorail voiceovers after the Grand Floridian was built, and his voice was still there until the 25th Anniversary rolled around, when it was updated by one of the new voiceover talents.
The amount of voiceover work at the parks now is astronomical, and it is shared by a couple of people who have "the voice", including Kevin. Interestingly enough, though, Jack's voice can still be heard welcoming everyone to Orlando on the monorails at the airport terminals.