Spotting blown bulbs along Main Street, U.S.A. should become a thing of a past, as Disneyland Paris completes a major upgrade of its trademark “rim lighting”.
In total, more than 40,000 light elements have been replaced in a collaboration between Walt Disney Imagineering Show Lighting and FOS (Facilities and Operations) Electricity.
Spanning the length of Main Street, U.S.A. and running along rooftops, canopies and balconies, the small “popcorn lights” have long been a timeless feature of what makes Disneyland Park special. Walt Disney made it a particular point to make sure his 1955 park looked as good — if not better — at night as it did during the day.
For fans of Disneyland Paris, charting the turbulent status of these “rim lights” lining landmarks such as the Disneyland Hotel rooftop, towering over the entrance of the park, has long been a point of obsession — and disappointment. However hard the resort tried, it seemed to always struggle to keep up with the original, unreliable incandescent bulbs.
Efforts had been made in the past to upgrade some fixtures to halogen bulbs but, as well as not offering the same efficiencies, these were hard to control and didn’t always offer the correct colour intensity or output.
This new LED upgrade should make a major difference to the perfection of the park experience; an investment that will pay off for many years to come.
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).