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  • [Chat] how the fireworks work

    Good evening Micechat, I have been lurking this site for a while now and decided to join, I work in Disneys pyro department and I'd like to share with you all how we bring you our show and some of the procedures along with the show. I have seen many threads and questions reguarding our show so here is some cool tidbits and info you'll find enjoyable....

    While I cant say the name of the company we get our pyro from, I can say that the 25 foot truck we get backing up daily is full of pyro boxes for us to sort out and load, unloading from truck takes about 30-45 minutes, depending on what show we're loading for. Pyros are ordered on a daily basis. All our shows are governd by the ATF. Loading a show can take 6-8 hours, we start loading at 11 am or sometimes noon, getting pyro loaded is first priority, the senior techs on the crew while we load check to make sure our system is running smoothly without any issues, also they make sure each timer is set appropriately. anytime after 8 PM is considered showtime, this is when the crew gets in their dedicated positions, the backstage crew goes for cover in covered areas or as we call them, pyro bunkers, to protect us from fallout, he senior techs test wind direction and wind speed leading up to showtime, one our many test stations is atop of Matterhorn mountain, we also release big white balloons to determine which way the wind takes it. Wind direction and speed are key to our firework show, state regulation says any wind speed at more than 30 miles and hour and we must cancel the show but Disney has it set at a wind speed of 20 miles and hour due to the distance of mortar to audience, speaking of mortar to audience ever wonder why certain areas of the park are blocked off? Thats because we must have a clerance space of 100 feet from mortar to audience. Disney also has the ability to aim the mortar tubes according to what the wind is doing, if the wind is breezing east and it may be and issue, they can mechanically aim the tubes west. Our fallout radius varrys from show to show, sometimes its a radius of 600 feet and sometimes we narrow it down to 300 feet, like I said, it all depends on what the wind is doing. During the show everyone is in contact with one another, the backstage crew is responsible for getting fallout info to show control, it can be exciting to listen to cannons going off for 15 minutes but it can also be very dangerous, training for pyro department is a long and tiring process, I have witnessed people being burnt from fallout, its a very demanding job. Anything else your interested in knowing, please ask and I will do my best to answer, I cant answer it all but some I can

  • #2
    Re: how the fireworks work

    Thank you for that great info

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    • #3
      Re: how the fireworks work

      My pleasure

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      • #4
        Re: how the fireworks work

        Great info, was a good read.

        Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't there also a station in the Employee Parking Lot? They seems to have it closed off during the fireworks show, and it always sounds like gun shots going off when you pass there.
        Last edited by BradleyC; 08-18-2012, 11:23 AM.
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        • #5
          Re: how the fireworks work

          If there are mortar tubes in the CM parking lot, Ive never loaded there or seen anything in the parking lot. It could be the echo of the fireworks going off, alot of the times the sound reflects off of the surrounding hotels

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          • #6
            Re: how the fireworks work

            Do u also load fireworks for fantasmic?

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            • #7
              Re: how the fireworks work

              can you tell me anything about Fantasmic pyro, also why are some shows more smokey than others? Thanks

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              • #8
                Re: how the fireworks work

                What's the craziest mis-hap you've experienced that you could tell us about as it relates to your pyro department during an evenings show?

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                • #9
                  Re: how the fireworks work

                  Cool information, thanks!!! And great job. I've been so spoiled by DL fireworks that every time I see another show I'm utterly disappointed.

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                  • #10
                    Re: how the fireworks work

                    how did you get a job as a pyrotechnician. its a difficult field to get into.

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                    • #11
                      Re: how the fireworks work

                      sorry for the delay in responds.... Work

                      Fantasmic has their own loading crew, usually the mortars are loaded and then put on the boat and are shipped out to their position, the reason why it would be more smoky than other shows sometimes is most liekly the amount of powder the shell contains. The biggest misshap I have witnessed? Like I said in my OP I have seen techs get struck by fallout and burned, thats probably the most serious I've ever seen it, but shells often shoot and dont explode in the air, that can be dangerous as well considering I wouldnt want it to strike me in the head. Shows that are cancelled we wrap up each shell sperately then we store them in a safe spot and keep them for another showing, the rumor that we can't reload shells once they are set is a false statement, shells that shoot but dont light we send them to be checked out and if the shell is reuseable we can reload it, as long as its safe to do so, shells sometimes only light halfway if thats the case we cannot risk lading the shell and having something go wrong with the rest of the fuse. The path to get into pyro is very hard, you have to train with the anaheim fire department for months then you have to train with disneys fire department for quite a long time and a bunch of OSHA safety testing is required, on the job training, how to load, the list goes on and on, I would suggest that you find an independently owned pyro company and apply with them and get hired onto a seperate crew then when your well trained with them, go to apply with disney, it would make the process alot less stressful than what it already is

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                      • #12
                        Re: how the fireworks work

                        This is really cool, Can you tell us any more about how Disney can make each and every show so consistent and accurate? It seems like each time I watch the show it is so perfectly timed to the music and the display always looks perfect. Is there some special kind of control system or do you have to fire by hand like old school shows? again very interesting line of work always love to hear about other peoples jobs.

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                        • #13
                          Re: how the fireworks work

                          Thanks for all of this great info! I'm wondering if they really have to explode all of the fireworks after hours if the show doesn't go off the previous night due to high winds etc. I'm also hoping that they can tweak the three shells that make up the Mickey face so that a much larger shell makes up the face and two smaller ones make up the ears. I've heard the timing on Mickey is extremely tricky and I've seen all sorts of variations on it. I think Mickey really looked a bit more like Mickey a couple of years ago, but for the last few months, his ears and face look to be about the same size, or his ears don't quite meet the head before everything fades. I still have no idea how you folks manage to put together such and AMAZING show every night and get the timing down so that it matches the music. I know it's done with the computer, but I'm still astounded at how accurate these bursts can be. Keep up the good work and please pass along the many thanks and compliments to your co-workers!

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                          • #14
                            Re: how the fireworks work

                            Great info. I understand they have to keep people away from the mortars. Is it possible to design a show where they don't have to shut down such large parts of the park?

                            I realize that is most likely not your part of the job. I'm just wondering, in general.
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                            • #15
                              Re: how the fireworks work

                              Thanks for a great thread. I'd like to know if they use compressed air or powder to launch the fireworks.
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                              • #16
                                Re: how the fireworks work

                                air
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                                • #17
                                  Re: how the fireworks work

                                  Originally posted by DisDiver1 View Post
                                  This is really cool, Can you tell us any more about how Disney can make each and every show so consistent and accurate? It seems like each time I watch the show it is so perfectly timed to the music and the display always looks perfect. Is there some special kind of control system or do you have to fire by hand like old school shows? again very interesting line of work always love to hear about other peoples jobs.
                                  I'd love to see this get answered, too! :D

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                                  • #18
                                    Re: how the fireworks work

                                    Very interesting! Thank you for sharing! I'm a big fan of the fireworks and it's nice to hear from one of the people who actually make it possible every night. :thumbup:

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                                    • #19
                                      Re: how the fireworks work

                                      This is a very interesting read! Thanks for taking the time to tell us all of this. Have you considered doing an AMA (ask me anything) on reddit?

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                                      • #20
                                        Re: how the fireworks work

                                        Originally posted by DisDiver1 View Post
                                        This is really cool, Can you tell us any more about how Disney can make each and every show so consistent and accurate? It seems like each time I watch the show it is so perfectly timed to the music and the display always looks perfect. Is there some special kind of control system or do you have to fire by hand like old school shows? again very interesting line of work always love to hear about other peoples jobs.
                                        They use a computer controlled firing system for safety and accuracy.
                                        Originally posted by sailor310 View Post
                                        Thanks for a great thread. I'd like to know if they use compressed air or powder to launch the fireworks.
                                        They use both. The air launched are used for certain shells for the dramatic effect where they don't want you hearing the mortar. Like a shooter star that appears with the narration..
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