Drones take flight over Disney World fueling speculation of future nighttime shows

Feb 22, 2024 in "Disney Springs"

Drone test flight over Disney Springs
Posted: Thursday February 22, 2024 1:07pm ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

Walt Disney World fans who may be feeling a little envious of Disneyland Paris' drone shows may soon have something to get excited about.

Disney has recently tested drones at Walt Disney World, and an eagle-eyed WDWMAGIC reader spotted a flight at Disney Springs this week.

Just after 7:30 pm, the drone made several loops around the Disney Springs lake before returning to its launch pad in the parking lot behind Cirque du Soleil. The drone, illuminated with a bright purple show light, carried out several more take-offs and landings as part of the test.

Watch below to see the drone flight over the Disney Springs lake.

Disneyland Paris became the first Disney theme park to incorporate drones into a nightly show as part of its 30th anniversary celebrations in 2022. Two hundred drones were used for the Disney D-Light show, which served as a pre-show to the main Disney Illuminations show. The drone segment was developed alongside specialist drone show company Dronisos, based in Bordeaux, France, which also has a new office in Orlando, Florida. The company says on its website that "Orlando, as the heartbeat of the amusement park industry, emerged as a strategic location for Dronisos' American expansion. With an airbase near Orlando, the company can conduct tests and demonstrations, inviting both existing and potential clients." It isn't clear if this recent Disney Springs test involved Dronisos.

Disneyland Paris has recently stepped up its drone integration for its live entertainment offerings with "Disney Electrical Sky Parade," which uses 500 drones to recreate moments from the classic Disney Main Street Electrical Parade.

Disney has long been developing drones for shows in the parks, with both EPCOT and Magic Kingdom strongly linked with their use. News of Disney developing drone technology for use in nighttime spectaculars surfaced in late 2014 with the filing of various patents relating to their Flixel system that used drones to carry a projection surface.

Walt Disney World's 50th celebration, which saw the debut of two new nighttime shows, Disney Enchantment, and Harmonious, did not bring the technology to the parks as hoped, and EPCOT's latest show, Luminous, has also side-stepped drones.

Walt Disney World did host the limited-run drone show Starbright Holidays at Disney Springs for the 2016 holiday season in association with Intel and its Shooting Star drone product. The 5-minute show featured 300 drones, intricately choreographed in 3D space over the Disney Springs lake and synchronized to holiday music.

While it isn't clear from this latest Disney Springs test precisely what Disney's future plans are, it isn't much of a leap to imagine a drone show returning to Disney Springs and perhaps elsewhere at Walt Disney World. Keep an eye on the skies.

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JohnD30 days ago

I was about to mention this. Can't do fireworks shows at AK because of the animals but a drone show can be done. And besides, they have the seating that was built for ROL and it goes unused except for people taking breaks during the day. DHS is also no longer a good candidate for fireworks. They built a new pad on the other side of World Drive that is slightly to the right of the Chinese Theatre. It had its own problems with debris falling on World Drive and not directly behind the theatre. A drone show is doable there, however.

jrhwdwFeb 27, 2024

So.......With the 2025 Price Increases, are we going to get any Good News??? On the Drone Front or other Entertainment?

doctornickFeb 25, 2024

I know they can be, but would that be a reason they couldn't be used in DAK? Fireworks tend to spook animals due to the sudden significant loudness, but wouldn't drones be a more constant and not as intense sound? Or to put a different way, would drones at DAK be any louder (or more scary for animals) than playing the music that they did for RoL?

doctornickFeb 24, 2024

I’ve long been an advocate of a drone show at DAK as a way to make a compelling night show without fireworks. But I do also think that something like the Electric Sky Parade performing at the hub in DHS could be a good idea as a compliment to the projection shows there since the high level fireworks never really worked out.

GhostHost1000Feb 24, 2024

That may explain why there’s usually one Hula girl missing. Testing.

RoadiJeffFeb 24, 2024

I'd like to see something similar with It's a Small World but with softballs. Maybe hand out 3 to each rider. You'd want to do that ride early in the day.

BrianLoFeb 23, 2024

This makes sense with some of what I have heard and then also personally suspect; -2025 is primarily entertainment counter programming and for marketing. -2026 would be a timeline to see overlays by (i.e. Test track - etc.) -2027 was the targeted date for an expansion of substance. Which I heard was actually MK back in summer of 2023 - they were sending it for formal budgeting prior to D23. 2 E-tickets. Though like always the suspicion was they'd miss their opening goal. Which I'd say is pretty likely if ground breaking is not formally occurring this year. Exactly. They can have one dedicated drone show (i.e. Electrical Sky Parade) and one night spectacular that leans on it heavily as an element. Otherwise they risk over-exposure. They need to limit its use beyond that to pre-show tags or as they'd say 'Activations'.

jrhwdwFeb 23, 2024


wdwmagicFeb 23, 2024

yeah not that close

Splashin' RyanFeb 23, 2024

Are we all conveniently forgetting DAK already had drones for a moment before?

Splashin' RyanFeb 23, 2024

Yep, I saw the Summer and Holiday drone show they did last year and it was really something special, very high quality too and coming back this year!

Starship824Feb 23, 2024

If they were little more about the guest experience they wouldn't be playing Mickey's mix magic

jrhwdwFeb 23, 2024

Should we be looking for Later Park Hours as a clue to where the Drones are Landing? Or are we not that close?