Six Flags introduces three parades
A further nod towards the family market that the group is now keen to attract, Six Flags has added new nighttime parades to three of its parks. Paul Ruben sheds some light on these new entertainment offerings.
First off the starting blocks was Six Flags México, Mexico City, with Magic Light Parade, followed quickly by the almost identical Glow in the Park Parade at Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, New Jersey, and Six Flags New England, Agawam, Massachusetts.
Guests at all three parks can now enjoy drummers, puppeteers, singers, dancers and stilt-walkers in the nightly spectacular. Chosen to create the parades was the team at Gary Goddard Entertainment (GGE). The results transform each park into an after dark fantasy land of light, sound and motion.
“Gary delivered first rate results with this project,” believes Dan Weinberg, entertainment vice-president for Six Flags Inc. “His powerful creation was exactly what we envisioned and delivers a memorable and exciting experience for our guests. We hope to continue expanding the parade throughout our parks.”
Goddard and colleague Taylor Jeffs created the Glow in the Park concept together with conceptual designer Phil Mendez. Once Six Flags approved the idea, GGE brought in Raul Rodriguez, a designer that Goddard has worked with before on numerous projects. Benoit Jutras, one of Cirque Du Soleil’s premier composers, was approached for the music, which had to be uplifting.
The GGE production team got the parade built, cast and working in record time. That team included Barry Kemper as executive producer. Michael La Fluer, whose resume includes artistic co-ordinator for Celine Dion’s A New Day in Las Vegas, Imagineer for Disney and extensive portfolio of Broadway musical and play work, created fluid choreographed numbers for the Glow in the Park performers. The final touches to the parade were added by Mia Gyzander, who designed and constructed more than 100 breath-taking costumes that shimmer with bright colours, reflective fabrics and glowing lights.
“All in all, the concept was a bit daring,” believes Goddard. “We presented what we called the anti-Disney parade. We stated that Six Flags should not copy the Disney approach but originate something unique to its brand. We saw that as edgier, hipper and cooler, something that people had not already seen a hundred times.”
“We took our inspiration more from Las Vegas and Broadway than from Disney,” Jeffs continues, “more from Blue Man Group, from Stomp and from Cirque du Soleil. We wanted something truly different.”
The parade has been a monster success so far,” proclaimed Six Flags CEO Mark Shapiro after the show, the first of its kind in the country, opened in Mexico
“Magic Light Parade is a phenomenal success,” agrees José Garcidueñas, the park’s president. “It drives attendance, visitors spend more time in the park with us, and they leave having great memories from it.
Goddard returns the compliment and praises the Six Flags Mexico team, saying that without the park’s active co-operation the project could not have been realised in such record time: “José and his entire team made the project possible. They have some superb people in Mexico, all dedicated to the realisation of quality in everything they do. We certainly could not have done it without them.”
“We’re happy to see the audiences reacting as they are to the parade,” concludes Goddard. “It’s a truly emotional experience. The music, the lights, the performers, the costumes …it all came together in a way that made real magic.”
See pictures from the parades in the June 2008 printed issue of Park World.
Way to Glow!
Each Glow in the Park parade takes approximately 45 minutes to wind through the park and features five custom-designed floats, 65 performers and approximately 35 support staff and technicians.
Every float is accompanied by its own group of talented performers. The opening float features magical Cirque-style performers including rhythmic gymnasts, extreme rollerbladers, stilt walkers and a live vocalist.
The Amazonia float follows close behind with a smoke-breathing dragon tamed by marching armies. Batman is featured on the Gotham City float, surrounded by the Batmobile, The Flash, Robin and The Green Lantern.
In Mexico the parade contains a float celebrating the park’s popular dolphin and sealion show, while in both New Jersey and New England this is substituted by the Wiggles characters sailing along on the SS Feathersword.
The parade concludes with Bugs Bunny and his Looney Tunes pals, Daffy Duck bringing up the rear.