Disneyland Paris goes all in on drones with multiple aerial light shows

You might not think of Disneyland when you think of Paris. But this drone light show at Disneyland Paris is giving other tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame a run for their money.

Disneyland Paris is looking to make drones their de facto form of nighttime entertainment. That’s primarily due to Disney D-Light, a (mostly) nightly drone light show that takes place in the skies over the theme park’s iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle.

The roughly 7-minute show uses drones to make shapes like a Mickey Mouse silhouette, as well as provide some sparkle to the backdrop of a lit-up castle, alongside other features like glowing fountains. It’s all set to some hyped up pop music and it’s made to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Disneyland Paris theme park.

The show has been running successfully since March of 2022. And for the most part, the show always goes on, as long as weather conditions permit. You can check out the full show here:

But what’s even better is that the Disneyland Paris drones do not appear to be limited to just this show. In fact, Disneyland Paris stunned audiences with another drone light show to honor the Avengers.

Unlike Disney D-Light, this one was a limited-time show marking the official ribbon cutting ceremony at the Avengers Campus in Disneyland Paris, held in July 2022. That drone show put drones in the shapes of Avengers-inspired images including the iconic A logo and a Captain America shield. And, it went even more beyond just shape-making. It included costume characters as well. For example, Captain America appears to do his circle light trick but the lights are actually drones.

It’s thoughtful and choreographed and, by bringing in characters to the stage, does more than just display lights in the sky. The drones interact with the characters in a sense.

Check it out here:

Alas, Disneyland Paris has not announced any plans for these drones to be used as part of nightly entertainment for Avengers Campus. But given the ongoing success of Disney D-Light, it doesn’t seem impossible that drones won’t appear in more shows (like an Avengers entertainment offering) in the future.

This is far from the first time we’ve seen a Disney using drones for entertainment. The earliest on record dates all the way back to 2014, when Disney applied for three UAV-related patents, indicating that drones could hold a marionette or projection screens for nighttime entertainment. In summer 2020, it filed yet another patent for an entire “Aerial Show System Using Drones.”

A sketch from the 2014 Disney drone patent

Disney also briefly used drones at its Walt Disney World Resort in Florida during the 2016 holiday season to put on a nighttime spectacular.

Other Disney competitors are also looking to drones. Universal Studios Hollywood partnered with the Intel drone light show team in the summer of 2019 to put on a “Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle” show. which featured a variety of special effects to create the illusion of Dementors and Death Eaters casting images on Hogwarts castle, ending with a massive Patronus charm over the night sky. Alas That “Patronus” was made possible not by magic, but by drones.

It’s not clear how much money Disney spent on the show. But the cost of a drone light show tends to start at $20,000 for small shows — but those are usually one-off events. Given that Disney can replicate the same show every night, it’s cost per show is likely far lower — and could be competitive with the cost of fireworks. Plus, drone light shows are generally seen as more environmentally friendly than fireworks anyway.

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