If you want a vision of the future of light shows, you might want to take a trip to Disney World during the holidays. With the help of Intel, Disney will put on evening shows featuring 300 drones flying around the night sky, treating spectators to streaks of light — call it a quieter, gentler celebration of the holidays. Well, maybe not quieter — just swap booming for buzzing.
Appropriately enough, Intel’s drones are called Shooting Stars. 300 of them will take to the skies during Disney’s Starbright Holidays – An Intel Collaboration show, which will take place at the resort’s Disney Springs shopping and entertainment district. The drones will fly along with holiday music, tracing out scenes in light as they go.
The Shooting Star drones are quadcopters made of Styrofoam. They weigh only 280 grams, making them small and light enough to zip around the sky and leave some pretty awesome light streaks behind them. They’ll have quite a palette at their disposal, too — Intel says the LED lights on the drones can be programmed to generate over 4 billion color combinations. All 300 of those drones will be painting the sky according to commands coming from a program running on a single computer.
There will actually be more than 300 drones involved. While it must have been a lot of work to write a program that can control 300 drones individually and create fun light animations, both companies want this show to go off without a hitch. Part of that is preparing for the inevitable drone failure. If a battery dies unexpectedly, backup drones will be ready to go, and the control program can automatically do the work of assigning the downed drone’s role to a new one.
The shows will take place through the holiday season over the Disney Springs district, and will be free to all parkgoers. The shows will last about 20 minutes, which is about how long the batteries on those drones last on one charge.