Outdoor walking attractions that immerse guests in an experience have become increasingly popular, especially around the holidays. This past season south Floridians had the chance to experience NightGarden, a new enchanted walk-through experience at Miami’s Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden magically illuminated by lighting designer Chris Werner. Produced by Kilburn Live under the creative direction of Max Painter, the attraction featured such magical curiosities as talking trees, fairies, and 10-foot tall dandelions.
Werner has an abundance of know-how from lighting theme parks and Halloween attractions under his belt and knows what it takes to create an immersive experience. Responsible for lighting design, specification and programming for all of the exterior spaces within NightGarden, he created a variety of visually stunning experiences using light, colour and movement that both supported the story line and wowed guests.
With a tropical environment to contend with, reliable IP65-rated luminaires were a must. Werner specified multi-environmental Elation Proteus Hybrid moving heads and WW Profile IP ellipsoidals for the project as part of a larger lighting package supplied by 4Wall. He said there were a couple of factors that led him to the Proteus lights. “Not only is it a humid and rainy environment, everything is surrounded by an irrigation system for the plants so everything got wet every day. In addition, availability of product was key. My involvement came only six to eight weeks before load-in but 4Wall was willing to purchase the Proteus products and worked quickly to have them available.”
The Proteus fixtures operated in two main areas of the attraction. At the entrance, where the designer wanted to make an initial impact, Proteus beams were used to project aerial patterns across a reflective lake, as well as onto the tree canopy. Farther into the attraction, in an immersive area called Dance of Lights, the fixtures were incorporated into 12 two-minute time-coded light and music shows, each show unique with its own tempo and emotional concept. Scattered about the area, the Proteus lights fulfilled a number of duties from illuminating trees and the canopy to projecting powerful, dense beams of light through haze.
Populating several areas of the attraction with gobo breakups or custom gobos of whimsical forest characters were WW Profile IP warm-white ellipsoidal spots. The 130W ellipsoidals with framing shutters also served other purposes, for example lighting the tree canopy and illuminating the pathway so guests could more easily navigate through the experience.
NightGarden’s inaugural season ran from November 23 until January 11 and Werner reports that it was a big success, so much so that the attraction was extended a week and would have run even longer if not for a previous booking.