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WDW Passholder Fireworks Events

Guest blogger Cedric Ching is back this time with a report on the Annual Passholder Fireworks Events at Walt Disney World on June 20, 2009.

Last Saturday (June 20, 2009), there were two WDW Passholder Events -- "A Blast With Brad", a fireworks demonstration at Disney's Wide World of Sports, followed by "Wishes! and More", a presentation that offered insight into the story and design of the popular nighttime fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom.

"A Blast With Brad" was held at Disney's Wide World of Sports and started at 4:00pm. To check-in guests, event cast members had two sets of wristbands -- gray for those who were registered for only this event and yellow for those who were also registered for that evening's presentation.




After getting banded, we were led, in groups, down to the baseball practice field where the equipment for the fireworks demonstration was setup.



There were covered bleachers, but as more groups arrived, cast members had to bring out additional benches and folding chairs.



The demonstration began with a quick acknowledgment of the entities involved with the safety and regulation of hosting fireworks events on Disney property -- mentioned were the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the Department of Transportation, and Disney itself.


Then it was time for some pyrotechnics.



Disney Fireworks/Pyrotechnics Designer Brad Cicotti and his crew ran through a grocery list of fireworks, giving a brief description of each and naming shows where we may have recognized them from, such as "Magic, Music and Mayhem", "Dream Along With Mickey", and of course "Wishes!". They showed how a variation of the angle, color, or pace of the fireworks, different effects can be produced.




Among the types of fireworks demonstrated were "gerbs" (fountains), comets, crossettes, and mortars. And as he set off shells of increasing intensity, Brad teased us saying that the next shell was a "concussion mortar".


Although it was difficult for people in the bleachers to see the rockets that exploded overhead, the 40-minute demonstration, which included about 200 pieces, was quite substantial and very efficiently run.


The event concluded with a Q&A with Brad.


When asked about the number of shells used in their shows, he had to say that Disney typically does not discuss such matters. He did provide other other insights, such as that Disney orders their fireworks from Spain, China, Italy, as well as here in the United States. He mentioned that the pigments in the fireworks do denegrate quickly (especially red), and also that their systems were sophisticated enough that it would know which fireworks not to fire when certain weather conditions are detected.

It was a nice demonstration, but it was really, really hot outside. Still, who doesn't like to see fireworks up close?

blue line


The second event,"Wishes! and More", started at 8:00pm with a presentation by Disney Imagineer and VP of Fireworks & Spectaculars Steven Davison at the Town Hall Theatre at the Magic Kingdom's Exposition Hall, and was followed by a viewing of the 10:00pm fireworks from a reserved area at the Magic Kingdom.



[Due to the nature of the material covered, photography and video-taping weren't allowed during the presentation. Below, I tried to give you the essense of the information without really revealing anything. That said, you can do a quick search on YouTube for "Steven Davison Magical" and get a good sense of Steven's presentation style, which was energetic, enthusiastic, and inspiring.]


Steven began his presentation, "Wishes: Storytelling With Fireworks", by asking the audience what we thought was the most important thing to consider when creating a fireworks show... Budget? Scope? Cool Shells?...

He suggested that it was the Story. He told us that the inspiration for Wishes! came from the story of Pinocchio. Sung at the very start of the Walt Disney film by none other than Jiminy Cricket:

"When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you

If your heart is in your dreams
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do


Like a boat out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true

Pretty, huh?

I'll bet a lot of you folks don't believe that...
about a wish coming true... do you?

Well, I didn't, either.

Of course, I'm just a cricket singing my way from hearth to hearth,
but let me tell you what made me change my mind.

One night a long time a..."

Next, Steven played for us the actual television commercial for Wishes! which presented the sky as the world's largest stage. And then he played the original demo of the theme song of Wishes! as performed by the composer Greg Smith.

Steven then walked us through the five sequences that comprise the story of Wishes!

Magic Starts With a Wish / Wishes Set Free
A Wish for Love
Magical Wishes
Villainous Wishes
A Wish Triumphant

For each sequence, he showed us the concept art, illustrated by Reggie Stanton, and explained how the design evolved. There were a lot of grand ideas that didn't make it in this show, but it all went to show how the story was really the most important element -- and that sometimes all of the embellishments are not necessary to successfully connect with the audience.

For the final sequence, Steven became the "Human Firework" -- accompanied by the Wishes! musical score, he acted out and described [in detail] all of the fireworks as they would appear. This demonstration was my impression of a Disney Imagineer realized. It was truly amazing.

During the presentation, he touched a couple times on Disneyland's current fireworks show "Magical" and also talked about the upcoming nighttime show set to open at Disney's California Adventure in Spring 2010, "World of Color", and indulged us with a small preview (*tease*). Afterwards, Steven held a brief Q&A in which we learned, among other things, that it took him and his team fourteen months to create Wishes!. The whole presentation was incredibly entertaining and insightful.

By then, it was time for us to make our way up Main Street U.S.A. to our reserved area, which was the area in front of the Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station.


Although there weren't any desserts set up for us like at the D23 Flowers & Festival Celebration (we were spoiled before), it was still nice having the freedom to move around, and the 10:00pm Wishes! fireworks show was a wonderful ending to the day's events.





Thank you Disney for these special opportunities. I look forward to future WDW Passholder events.



Previous blog by Cedric:
D23 Flower & Fireworks Celebration at Epcot

Cedric Ching is a resident of Florida's East Coast and tries to make it to the parks at least a twice a month with his camera and his Stitch, in search of magical moments. He enjoys taking pictures and running.

Cedric has completed two Disney marathons and one Goofy Challenge (will being running Goofy #2 with my two sisters in 2010) and loves the Yakitori House in Epcot for dining.

The previous post in this blog was Adventures by Disney - Emerald Isle - Part 4.

The next post in this blog is Adventures by Disney - Emerald Isle - Part 5.

Comments (13)

Shea Hunt:

great pics and thank you for sharing. I wish that as an Annual Passholder they would have emailed me and let me know about this special event. I would have made a special day out of it with my wife.

Rosemary Gregory:

Thank you Cedric for reporting on these events so well that I feel I was there! Great photos especially of the nighttime fireworks. Maybe one day I can have such a wonderful experience!

Rosemary Evans:

Hi Cedric, did I know I was talking to someone who is famous in their own right this morning? I chatted with you in front of the Hall of Presidents.(Blonde - red, white and blue shirt) Great pictures of the fireworks events! I tried to get in to those. I had forgotten about the Allears website. Used to visit it. So when I got home I decided to check it out again and there were your pictures!
I love the new Hall of Presidents and the featured presidents who have brought us through very troubling times. I am honored to have been there this morning and to meet you. No wonder you take so many pictures. Hope to see you again sometime and I will keep watching for your pictures. Rosemary Evans aka Disney Rose.

Jerry VanHise:

I agree with comment 1 - I have an annual pass
and I usually find out about the annual passholder events about 3 - 4 months after they've taken place ! ! The last one was the Space Mountain auction and special closing for refurb event they had - lost out on that too.

Cedric Ching:

Shea and Jerry, thanks for your comments :). It's only recently that I've become more diligent with checking the passholder and D23 events websites. I did have a head's up on the current Bay Lake Towers tour event from one of the many Disney mailing lists I'm subscribed to. When I see something new available, I know that I'm calling all the passholders I know!

Rosemary G, thank you for your kind words. I love being able to share photos and writing these articles also helps me remember what I did. I do hope that you have the chance to make it over to see some of the fireworks shows; they truly are quite grand. :)

Disney Rose, it was nice meeting you this morning. You were a lot of fun to chat with. What did you think about the HoP refurb? I'm sure that you've checked out Jack Spence's write-up. Keep an eye out for the next AllEars meetup and see the crew. They're so friendly! Anyways, have fun at the Bay Lake Towers event, and I hope to see you around again too! :)

Shea Hunt:

Please post those websites that send you the info as I would like to subscribe, so I can be there as well.

Thanks Again,


Great job Cedric. Please keep them coming.
posted by Chay Ching.

Gerry S:

Thanks Cedric

I was there also but didn't bring a camera so thanks for being the photog.



Nice report.
Unfortunately for me, I found out this event late. I'm a very frustrated Premium Annual Passholder, been a passholder since '95. Everytime I'd log in, to my luck, the site is down. By the time I get to log in, all is booked. I've emailed Disney World about my feelings and all they can say to me that they don't have a better solution for that. Now, it would be nice if they would email us. I mean, other companies have the capability of doing that, why can't Disney? I was happy, and surprise, that I got an email about the Bay Lake Towers Tour so I got lucky in that one. Sometimes I really feel that us Disney AP holders isn't important anymore.

My sister and I are Annual Passholders & we just love DISNEY! We go every chance we get.
However, we too, get frustrated on finding out about the events after the fact. How do you find out about any special event taking place? Any suggestions? Thanks, Donna

Danny Alley:

Fantastic photos, Cedric! What kind of camera did you use, settings, etc?

Alan Dalton:

I did receive email notice about this event months ago but didn't log in to register for over a day and found that the event had been booked already. I can only suggest that you log into the website, make sure your email address is registered with your pass number and watch your mail several times a day. I continue to receive advance notice of passholder discounts and special events, so I know the system is working.


Reply to Danny: I have a Canon PowerShot A710IS. I take a lot of pictures at these events then just use Google's Picasa to crop and label. :)

And to Donna: I totally agree with Alan. My only suggestion is to check the passholder website whenever you can remember and maybe have a network of friends who are also passholders to notify each other when they see something new. Good luck :)

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 27, 2009 8:01 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Adventures by Disney - Emerald Isle - Part 4.

The next post in this blog is Adventures by Disney - Emerald Isle - Part 5.

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