At Disneyland Paris, Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI Show Lighting) has teamed up with Facilities and Operations Services (FOS Electricity) to renovate the lighting effects – known as ‘Rim Lights’ – which outline many of our installations.
As night falls over our resort, who has not marvelled at the splendid, luminous display of the Disneyland Hotel – outlined in brilliant traces of light? Or at the alignment of shops along Main Street, U.S.A. or Main Street Station – all fringed in contours of warm, coloured light. For those leaving at the end of a theme park day, it’s a powerful, memory-making impression, and an invitation to come again soon. Invisible by day, when Main Street, U.S.A. reverts to its 19th century, small town America aspect, these lighting installations are now being renovated to 21st century standards.
A bit of history
The old system, comprised of lines of multiple light bulbs, is in fact, a technology as old as Main Street, U.S.A. is supposed to be. The “Edison light bulb” has not changed much since it was patented in 1880. A tungsten filament in an orb of evacuated glass is heated to incandescence by an electrical current. Unfortunately and until this day, 90% of the electrical energy applied is converted to heat – not light. That’s why the law, known as “Grenelle”, engaging the commitment of France to the environment, has mandated the replacement of the incandescent light bulb by more efficient means.
And now the future
Light Emitting Diodes are replacing light bulbs. Born in the sixties during the advent of electronics research and development, their properties are based on the manipulation of special materials that either conduct electricity or do not. These devices, known as ‘semiconductors’ emit huge amounts of light and very little heat, consume 75% less electricity than lightbulbs and last up to 50 times longer.
Changing a lightbulb may be simple but changing to LEDs requires new installations. Our WDI and FOS teams have been working on the new system since late 2014, testing four generations of prototype LED lamps for resistance to humidity, heat and cold; lamps that have the right colour, that last the longest, etc. The conversion required extensive scaffolding on our buildings while new rails holding the LEDs were applied to their rims. Altogether, more than 40,000 incandescent lightbulbs have been replaced with reliable, long lasting and environmentally-friendly LED lamps. The electricity required to power our new rim lights has been calculated to be only 33% of the former consumption. “That’s a boon for the environment,” promised Frédéric Bouchoucha (Electricity Projects, FOS).