Want to write “Marry Me” in the air in front of the person you’re proposing to? What about showering the sky with shapes of stars over a sporting event or show? Or maybe forming your company’s logo overhead for a corporate event?
You can do it — with hundreds of tiny, lit-up drones. Companies ranging from the massively corporate, like Intel, to tiny drone startups, are offering drone light shows to add some pizazz to your party. So how much does a drone light show cost?
Let’s just say, your proposal plans are going to turn out to be pretty spendy. Intel posted their drone light show cost sheet online — and prices start at a hair under six figures for a single show.
Here are the base prices for Intel’s drone light shows according to their official site, which include on-site operations, animations, rehearsals, aviation permits, and site survey:
|Number of drones:||200||300||500||500+|
|Show includes:||Solid, 2D shapes and imagery||More volumetric, 3D shapes and animations||Higher resolution imagery, more dimension, detail, and more complex animations and scenes||The most premium experience|
|Starting Price:||$99,000||$199,000||$299,000||Contact Intel for a custom quote|
Of course, these are just base costs, and doesn’t necessarily include costs associate with the shipment of drones and Intel operations team travel. Plus, you’re still on the hook for expenses related to onsite infrastructure, which could mean fences to block off areas below where the drones are flying, seating and more (Intel requires a minimum site space of 25m x 45m with secured fencing around the launch area, plus 340m x 300m of minimum airspace).
Intel says they typically recommend 2-3 months of lead time to plan their shows, which ultimately last about five minutes.
Intel’s drone light shows are primarily used for major, flashy events like concerts and the biggest conferences.
250 drones flew over the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada as part of the massive CES tech conference in 2018. A massive 1,218 drones flew over PyeongChang, South Korea for the Olympic Winter Games 2018 Opening Ceremony. And in what might be the largest drone light show of all time, 2,018 drones flew over Intel’s own campus to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary.
Prior to that, hundreds of Intel drones flew in an FAA-approved, Super Bowl Halftime Show featuring Lady Gaga, as nighttime entertainment at Coachella and for a recurring show during the 2016 holiday season at Walt Disney World. And recently, drones flew in the shape of Baby Yoda for a Disney+ promotion.
Of course, Intel is far from the only company offering drone light shows. On a large scale, Ehang has also gotten into the drone light show game — trying to compete with Intel regularly for breaking records on largest drone light shows.
There are only a small handful of companies approved in the U.S. for drone light shows that travel. They are are Great Lakes Drone Company operating as Starlight Aerial Productions, Verge Aero, Firefly and Intel.
Many of those smaller, independent companies offer light shows often at a much lower rate than what an Intel drone light show costs.
Can drone light shows replace fireworks?
Many have suggested that drone light shows are a more environmentally friendly alternative to fireworks. But what about wallet-friendly?
Small-town holiday fireworks displays typically cost about $2,000 to $7,000 for a basic show, according to Premier Pyrotechnics. On a large scale, Disney spends an estimated $33,000 per show for its fireworks spectacular at its Magic Kingdom theme park in Orlando, Fla.
Plus, while drone light shows don’t necessarily have the sonic impact of a fireworks display, experts say that drones, which can be arranged in seemingly infinite 3D shapes and colors, offer far more creative opportunities.
Are you surprised by the cost of a drone light show? What event would you like to see a drone light show at? Leave a comment below!