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Celebration of Light, Events, News

Record 500,000 people expected for Disney's Celebration of Light fireworks tonight

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Kenneth Chan Jul 29, 2016 7:19 pm

The Honda Celebration of Light could potentially experience a single-day attendance record tonight when the Walt Disney Company, representing the United States, takes to the night sky with its Disney-themed fireworks spectacular.

According to Paul Tilbury, Co-Chair of the Vancouver Fireworks Festival Society, it is estimated that crowds at the beaches and parks in and around English Bay could swell to 500,000 people for the final night – equivalent to about 20% of the Metro Vancouver region’s total population.

Attendance normally reaches a maximum of 400,000 per night while the previous two evenings, featuring Netherlands’ Royal Fireworks on Saturday, July 23 and Australia’s Howard’s Fireworks on Wednesday, July 27, both saw approximately 300,000 each evening.

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There are a number of factors in play for tonight’s attendance estimate: the forecast of optimal weather; the final show is traditionally the highest attended; the long weekend; and, of course, the promise of Disney magic.

“Our expectation obviously with Disney being the pyrotechnical company representing the United States of America, it will be a significant draw,” Tilbury told Daily Hive.

“Disney is such a recognizable global brand that it adds a new dimension to the Honda Celebration of Light this year. They are highly recognized within the global pyrotechnic community, so we’re expecting a show which is indicative of the spectacles that Disney provides and we’d encourage people to come down early to get a good seat on the beach or in the park and enjoy all of the pre-fireworks activities.”

The team staging the show hails from Walt Disney Resort in Florida and are responsible for designing and creating the three nightly shows that go off at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. They have promised a fireworks soundtrack that features some of the most iconic songs and music from Disney’s film properties.

“This show is all the best Disney music that I can find to put in 25 minutes,”said Brad Cicotti, the principal fireworks designer for Walt Disney Entertainment in Florida. “It’s all Disney music, every song is recognizable to everybody.”

Disney’s pyrotechnics team rarely ventures out of its theme parks, which means the Vancouver show is absolutely rare. Cicotti’s team has only done five international competitions over the past five years as Disney is “very picky” on which festivals they should be involved in.

“We start the process in the fall of 2015,” Tilbury added. “We solicited interest from pyrotechnical companies from around the globe, and Disney this year had said that they would like to represent the United States and bring their pyrotechnical experience to Vancouver.”

On Friday, a post on Disneyland Anaheim’s Facebook page had a caption that read: “Don’t miss out – Vancouver could be the most magical place on earth for the night!” The statement suggests that Disney’s Vancouver fireworks could potentially be better than the Anaheim park’s Disneyland Forever nightly fireworks, which is the largest and most expensive fireworks show in Disney theme park history.

Disneyland Forever runs for approximately 15 minute and is rumoured to use $80,000 worth of fireworks each night while the Honda Celebration of Light has a running time of 25 minutes and a nightly fireworks budget of about $140,000.

The final fireworks show of the summer in Vancouver kicks off in English Bay at 10 pm, when temperatures are forecasted to dip to 21°C with humidity taken into consideration. Music for the fireworks will be played on LG 104.3’s radio simulcast. Attendees are strongly encouraged to use public transit.

Daily Hive Vancouver is a proud Media Partner of the
2016 Honda Celebration of Light


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Kenneth Chan
National Features Editor at Daily Hive, the evolution of Vancity Buzz. He covers local architecture, urban issues, politics, business, retail, economic development, transportation and infrastructure, and the travel industry. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]dailyhive.com

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