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LED Lighting On Rides and Midways


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More and more, you see LED lighting packages being installed on rides. Mainly ferris wheels and tall rides. But on carnival midways, it seems to starting to get crazy, to the point of headache and seizure inducing. Will theme parks follow?

 

I like them, to a point. The fantastic animated colors on the giant wheels, and even on coaster trains like RR&R at Universal, and Thunderbolt's headlights at Kennywood are super cool. I'll even give high-powered LED floods a thumbs-up on modern rides like Black Widow. But I came across the following picture of a midway with a carousel lit up in white LEDs that just looks NAUSEATING!

10371408_870578759626673_5503776250942649708_n.jpg.7fc5d60e4a630300a52905e0c5562575.jpg

Random image from a carnival industry facebook page... Carousel in question, too much? Could you see an entire midway lit with these?

Kennywood's Bayern Kurve is quite the eye-killer as well...

(IMAGE: Wikipedia)

Call me old fashioned, but I love the charm of well designed incandescent lighting. I would really hate to see theme parks move away from this, especially when the themes are old-world or historic, which is a LOT of theme areas! Could you imagine a classic coaster covered in LEDs? How about an entire games midway? Me neither.

 

What's your opinion on them? They are a great energy-saving, flexible, durable technology, but come at a price of beauty and charm. (And sometimes, headaches!) Do you want to see more, or less, or consider them a great "Accent" but not a replacement?

 

Just really curious what everyone else thinks...

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If you really want to draw attention to your park, a few million LEDs or other bright lights will do the trick. It works in Las Vegas, so why not an amusement park? I mean, look at Cars Land:

 

10046148696_908d0272b8.jpg

Ok, not exactly LED lighting, but still incredibly bright lights nonetheless.

 

In that pic, there's a lot of lighting in a relatively small area. Yet, it draws your attention, just like a moth to a lightbulb, and in turn draws in more visitors. Granted, in that pic, the lighting looks really good, but the same idea applies to any other park. If I had an establishment with no flashy lighting and some bub across the street put up a giant, flashy sign on his joint, that jerk's gonna steal my customers and, more importantly, my profit! And when it comes to amusement parks, one of their strongest assets at night IS their ability to draw in crowds with their flashy lighting. Some places will mess up or get it wrong, but that's inevitable when there's so many parks floating around now. These kind of flashy, attention-stealing antics have been around since the turn of last century, and I don't see them dying off anytime soon.

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THEATRICAL LIGHTING TECHNICIAN HERE!!!!!!!!

LED lighting is the new technology on the block. They are way way way cheaper to operate and repair than incandescent. Not only that, but incandescent is actually GROWING in price because it is being phased out. Meanwhile, LED technology is getting better every day and even cheaper, too!

 

Thinking of cost alone, take this into account. For my theatrical rigs we have a mix of LED, incandescent, and arc-source lighting (among others). Incandescent is mainly used as accent lights because they kinda suck with their output (brightness). Arc-source, while super bright, is super expensive ($110 per lamp for the low end crap) and doesn't last long (750 lamp hours, AKA how long it can be turned on before it dies or needs to be replaced).

 

LED? Glad you asked! LED is BANANAS!!!! They are SUUUUUUUUPER bright, brighter than arc-source! Not only that but they can be dimmed to whatever intensity you want. You want something akin to a 40-watt bulb in your reading lamp? DONE! You want something that will rival the Sun itself? DONE! Also, LEDs don't require separate components to change color. All you need is a new LED, about the size of, well, you know, half a pencil eraser. Generally LEDs come in RGB or RGBW (that's Red, Green, Blue, and White). Some come with Amber. Some with Magneta. The list goes on and on. These can be precisely mixed on the fly whenever the hell you feel like it to create any color in the human visible spectrum. As for length of time, hoooooooo boy, they win by a long shot. Arc-source was the king for a while with 750 lamp hours, as I mentioned. LEDs? 22,000 hours. Yes, that's three zeros. Twenty two THOUSAND. They also cost about the same as arc-source at the moment. Not per LED, mind you, but per replacement fixture-head. The plate of LEDs that create the source of the light. If one LED dies they're fairly cheap and simple to replace.

 

I can go on and on and if you would like me to, please ask. This should definitely answer your question, though. LEDs are the bomb diggity and they're here to stay for a looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong time!

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As the lighting technician said, the brightness can be turned down and the color can be changed to any color. So they can make LED's look like incandescent at theme parks if that's what people want. So the idea of LED lighting everywhere is going to happen, the problem you are focused on is basically the park itself going for that bright and that color. I bet some parks will notice the lights and either see that it really does look bad and change it up to be more of a glow that midways have/had, or keep it the way it is.

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I love the LED lighting parks have put on their rides but the only thing that should remain incandescent are the chaser lights on roller coasters - it just seems so traditional. I know a lot of parks don't do that to thier wooden coaster but when CP replaced the chasers on Blue Streak to the LED lighting it just doesn't seem the same.

 

I agree with Den Den on that carousel in the pic he posted. IMO carousels look better with soft incandescent lighting.

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If you're looking for "taste," you won't find it at a fair or carnival, except for the deep-fried whatever booth.

 

Even these "bulbs" at Tokyo DisneySea are LEDs in disguise.

You could seriously fake the incandescent look with LEDs anywhere and no one would know. The technology has gotten that good.

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If you're looking for "taste," you won't find it at a fair or carnival, except for the deep-fried whatever booth.

 

Even these "bulbs" at Tokyo DisneySea are LEDs in disguise.

You could seriously fake the incandescent look with LEDs anywhere and no one would know. The technology has gotten that good.

 

Well if that is the case, I hope parks go crazy, just adjusting the brightness so I don't get nauseous and blinded. They look so cool on ferris wheels, chaser lights, ect. Just please keep them away from roller coasters with dark forest sections like Nitro and we'll be cool.

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Just please keep them away from roller coasters with dark forest sections like Nitro and we'll be cool.

 

Great Adventure hates lights. They want everything to be as dark as possible... both the rides and the paths. Lights involve a minimal amount of money and maintenance to operate which is way more effort than they're comfortable with so I wouldn't worry about that ever happening.

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^Yes, I doubt that any park is going to add LEDs willy nilly to sections that are much more "atmospheric" when left dark. Disney and Universal have always used lighting effectively, as have other major park chains.

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If you really want to draw attention to your park, a few million LEDs or other bright lights will do the trick. It works in Las Vegas, so why not an amusement park? I mean, look at Cars Land:

 

10046148696_908d0272b8.jpg

Ok, not exactly LED lighting, but still incredibly bright lights nonetheless.

 

I think you might find more LED in Cars Land than you'd expect. Sure, there is probably a fair amount of neon there but I suspect a lot of it is simulated with LEDs, and it looks awesome!

 

Melbourne's new observation wheel got the LED treatment too, took them a little while to figure out the best way to use the lights but the overall effect has been pretty impressive lately:

11479540423_74c85fdc54_c.jpg.c9a4120b10d8ba84424bc0df54a8bea7.jpg

400 feet of glorious LEDs!

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The new LED additions this year at Valleyfair for the refurbished Tilter, Scambler and Ferris Wheel all turned out pretty sweet and look great at night. I certainly like them. I am sure there is a saturation point that will turn me off at some point but I have not found it yet at any park.

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More and more, you see LED lighting packages being installed on rides. Mainly ferris wheels and tall rides. But on carnival midways, it seems to starting to get crazy, to the point of headache and seizure inducing. Will theme parks follow?

 

I like them, to a point. The fantastic animated colors on the giant wheels, and even on coaster trains like RR&R at Universal, and Thunderbolt's headlights at Kennywood are super cool. I'll even give high-powered LED floods a thumbs-up on modern rides like Black Widow. But I came across the following picture of a midway with a carousel lit up in white LEDs that just looks NAUSEATING!

[attachment=0]10371408_870578759626673_5503776250942649708_n.jpg[/attachment]

Kennywood's Bayern Kurve is quite the eye-killer as well...

(IMAGE: Wikipedia)

Call me old fashioned, but I love the charm of well designed incandescent lighting. I would really hate to see theme parks move away from this, especially when the themes are old-world or historic, which is a LOT of theme areas! Could you imagine a classic coaster covered in LEDs? How about an entire games midway? Me neither.

 

What's your opinion on them? They are a great energy-saving, flexible, durable technology, but come at a price of beauty and charm. (And sometimes, headaches!) Do you want to see more, or less, or consider them a great "Accent" but not a replacement?

 

Just really curious what everyone else thinks...

 

LED's a great, as everyone's said, but I do agree about the "look" of a lot of the rides using them now. The ultra-bright lights look great on some rides; perfect fit for wild high-intensity flat rides. Like you said, though, it just doesn't work for classic rides; it doesn't have the same feel at all. LED's can mimick that look convincingly though; they just aren't being used that way.

 

So, LED's aren't going away, and there's no reason they should...but I'd love to see parks but them to better use, and keep the classic look, not just "how bright can we get?"

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The trick is to put the LEDs in the colored domes the incandescents were in. That's what we did when we started redoing the lighting on our SkyDiver and they don't look obnoxiously bright, still have (almost) the classic color, with the other benefits of LED.

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I think that they just need to get the color temperature and intensity right for the super bright ones like on the carousel in the photo.

 

One thing I really miss from coasters is the chaser lights. I think most parks gave up on them because they were a maintenance hassle (incandescents burning out). I'd love to see them make a return via LEDs.

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Lights involve a minimal amount of money and maintenance to operate which is way more effort than they're comfortable with so I wouldn't worry about that ever happening.

 

I'm going to stop you right there.

 

LEDs are cheap in the sense they save you a ton of money down the road on energy use and replacement frequency. However, the initial investment into LEDs is very expensive and in fact time consuming. You are looking at anywhere from $75,000 for a Scrambler-sized ride to over $300,000 for a chance 24-gondola Ferris wheel. Not a cheap investment on a very tight annual budget for most parks. Besides the fact they look nice, it is hard to always justify those kinds of investments as they don't have a direct return on investment.

 

As for just buying the bulbs to put into former incandescent sockets. NOT CHEAP. Each bulb is close to a couple bucks, multiple that by few thousand for most flats, and again its not exactly pocket change when you factor in labor time and a tight maintenance budget. Personally, I have changed old bulbs and replaced with LEDs, its not a fast process as those standard light covers crack easily and usually are very tight. As for general lights upkeep, it is the last priority on the list of things to maintain because its not always important to safety. Also, controllers can cost you several hundred to over a thousand dollars to make the lights sparkle and run their programs, so again, not cheap to maintain when they blow. Parks don't have free money floating everywhere to perfectly maintain every light bulb or convert every ride and attraction to LEDs.

 

I love LEDs and want every ride to have them someday, but I understand implementation is a costly, time-consuming process.

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Even these "bulbs" at Tokyo DisneySea are LEDs in disguise.

093_38.jpg

 

To me, this is SUPER IMPRESSIVE, I've never seen incandescents simulated like this before. These are the types of lighting schemes I was talking about, most parks have it, and knowing that this picture is LEDs makes me feel better about them.

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^I saw this thread and instantly thought of the LED's on Japan's Midway Mania. There is an amazing story about how they were created. Some super awesome Japanese guy developed them and worked crazy hours to get enough of them done for Disney. The area looks incredible.

 

I think it just shows that you can do LED right and you can do it wrong. As new technology comes out and prices fall you'll hopefully see it done better not just done bigger.

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