This Summer, Disneyland Paris celebrates the music of Disney’s hit movie 'Enchanted' with an amazing, high-tech fireworks display. Some time ago, the Designing Disney Blog had an exclusive interview with mister Christophe Leclercq, director of the 'Enchanted Fireworks'. Today, we show you how a Disney fireworks display is made.
Mister Leclercq, what is your job about?
As a show director, I’m in charge of the Disneyland Paris parades, shows, fireworks and special events.
When did you join Disney?
I used to be a dancer. I joined Disneyland Paris twenty one years ago when the construction of the Euro Disney Resort was in full swing.
Could you give us a overview of the major Disney projects you have been working on?
I staged several shows like 'C’est Magique', 'Beauty and the Beast', the 'Legend of Lion King Show', 'Mickey’s Winter Wonderland' and the 'Alice in Wonderland Show' (Easter Festival - 2005). I did some parades, like the 'Spring Parade', the 'Christmas Parade' and the popular 'Wonderful World of Disney Parade'.
I produced 'Wishes', the fireworks spectacular, and the Sleeping Beauty Castle illuminations for the Christmas Season a few years ago. I also worked on several seasonal or special events, like the Halloween season and the fifth, tenth and fifteenth anniversary of the Resort.
Lets talk about the 'Enchanted Fireworks'. How do you create a fireworks show?
Creating a fireworks show is all about, let’s say, creating a choreography in the sky, with fireworks. Therefore, I need to select and combine a story, lighting effects and fireworks.
There are many types of fireworks. How do you select the appropriate types?
The storyboard is presented to a pyrotechnic company. The company interprets my ideas and visuals. It makes a list of all types of fireworks that could be used to visualize the images I had in mind. In Spring, we are doing tests. There is a try out of the different types of fireworks selected by the company. After these tests, I can chose how many bombs, how many different products and how many colors we need.
Are there any types of fireworks bombs which were specially developed for Disneyland Paris?
Yes. Sometimes the company needs to create a new kind of bomb / pyrotechnic effect to develop my ideas.
How do you select the appropriate colors for a fireworks show?
The colors need to match the story that you are trying to tell. For example, if you're telling a love story, you need to have some red or pink in the sky.
How do you select the music? Does it have to meet some predefined requirements?
You need a strong score with different accents, because every accent represents a bang. On every accent we shoot different bombs into the sky. Just imagine how long it takes to program a fireworks show!
For the 'Enchanted Fireworks' we made a medley of the songs of the Disney movie 'Enchanted'. Its soundtrack is appropriate because it is so punchy. During the show, the music changes every thirty seconds.
How many bombs get launched during one show of the 'Enchanted Fireworks'?
4150 bombs are being shot in one evening. That’s a lot! When you give an order to the computer, it can shoot up to sixty bombs at the same time.
How long does it take to install one fireworks show?
Every night our technicians need more then three hours to clean the launching platforms and to put up the fireworks for the next show the day after.
How many fireworks technicians / cast members are involved?
Twelve technicians are working around the clock to make the 'Enchanted Fireworks' show a dream come true.
Does Disneyland Paris has a special place to store fireworks for the upcoming shows?
Backstage there is a bunker where we can store two fireworks.
The use of big fireworks shells is limited? How come?
When Euro Disney opened its gates back in 1992, some tiny neighbouring communities could be found close to the Resort. In the past eighteen years, those villages have grown rapidly. Some houses have been build in the immediate vicinity of the Disneyland Park. If Disneyland Paris organizes show with big fireworks shells, our closest neighbors had a lot of trouble with noise.
That is why we were forced to limit the use of big fireworks shells. In order to create a silent fireworks, our pyrotechnic company developed some new noiseless bombs. But don't be afraid, the effect in the sky is still gorgeous!
Is the Enchanted Fireworks show different from the past years?
Yes, every year we have new bombs. This year forty five percent of the bombs have been replaced by new products. It's the same show. But there are plenty of new (more silent) pyrotechnic effects to discover!
How did the Disneyland Paris fireworks show evolve?
We try to keep pace with new technologies (like video projections) and evolutions in the ever changing world of Disney. And in the past decade, serious efforts have been taken to reduce the impact of our fireworks shows on the environment.
What was your favorite Disneyland Paris show of the past eighteen years?
I will select some of my favorites! It was fun to create the 'ImagiNations Parade' (in celebration of the new millennium). I like the 'Christmas Parade'. The Holiday Season is a wonderful source of inspiration and the most magical time of the year! And I'm proud of the 'Lion King Show' because it was the first time I had people singing live on stage.
Do you want to share any other special or funny anecdotes?
It is hard to select one. I have so many great memories! I had so much fun in the past eighteen years. I still have fun, every day! We work very hard, but we laugh a lot.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.