Drones unleashed: Sky Elements elevates theme park entertainment at IAAPA Expo

Dallas-based company leading drone industry

ORLANDO, Fla. – Chances are you have seen one of the nighttime spectaculars at one of Central Florida’s theme parks.

Each show is choreographed to music that delights guests with fireworks, fountains and lasers.

Now imagine, if you could add another element to the experience: thousands of colorful drones. Theme parks around the world, within the past decade, have added drones to their parks which add a new and unique multi-sensory layer to the production. Guests see thousands of small drones dance in the night sky creating images and characters that are brought to life.

While none of Central Florida’s theme parks use drones yet, we could see them in the future.

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One company helping lead the industry and bring drones to theme parks, sporting events and live performances is Dallas-based company, Sky Elements. The company said it puts on roughly 400 shows a year, including displays for the MLB, FIFA and NASCAR as well as Independence Day celebrations, live concerts and the 65th Grammy Awards.

Sky Elements drone show at IAAPA Expo 2023 (WKMG)

“We’re aerial entertainment, so a drone light show can be great for anything that you can imagine,” said Kyle Pivnick, Vice President of Business Development. “You could do your next proposal with a drone show, you could also be celebrating at a theme park by seeing your favorite characters 400 feet in the sky. Drone light shows are a perfect way to visualize anything that you want and celebrate any way you can imagine.”

At its core, Sky Elements calls itself a storytelling company that marries the worlds of creativity and technology.

On Wednesday night, in a breathtaking finale, Sky Elements showcased its prowess by orchestrating a dazzling display near the Orange County Convention Center during the IAAPA Expo. The synchronized swarm of 1,600 drones created formations, including Earth, a cowboy, a dragon fighting a knight and an astronaut outside the International Space Station.

The team also broke two Guinness World Record attempts in the process. The company earned the record after creating the world’s biggest American flag and aerial logo made out of drones.

Sky Elements logo made of drones (Sky Elements)

Sky Elements said this was also the largest drone show ever flown in the Sunshine State.

Sky Elements Drone Shows breaks two Guinness World Records at IAAPA Expo (Sky Elements)

“Our team worked hard and pushed through the rain to make this show happen. We fought through the weather and flew an amazing show for an awesome audience,” said Ross Dusenbury, Sky Elements drone pilot in command.

Each of the awe-inspiring designs showcased Wednesday night was hand-crafted and designed by one of the Sky Elements staff members through a creative process.

Ross Dusenbury, the pilot-in-command for Wednesday's Sky Elements drone show (WKMG)

During a sneak peek before Wednesday’s performance, the SkyElements team, consisting of 30 skilled individuals, offered a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes magic. In a meticulous operation, the team picked up, calibrated, and staged the remarkable fleet of drones, setting the stage for the extraordinary aerial display.

News 6 had an up-close opportunity to witness this preparation, revealing the precision and expertise that goes into crafting these captivating aerial performances.

The company said each of the drones requires about 10 square feet of space. To help with the performance, each drone is armed with bright LED lights that are checked before take-off.

Sky Elements Drone Shows setup at IAAPA Expo (WKMG)

“The biggest concern is visibility,” Pivnick said. “We’re always safe with aircraft. You might see helicopters going by or planes going to land at the airport — we’re always going to make sure we are operating in a safe level no matter what. The FAA requires that we have three miles of visibility. So if we can’t see within three miles we legally can’t fly the show. That’s their biggest restriction. Those drones don’t care if they get wet. We care that we’re safe.”

The emergence of drone light shows and aerial performances marks a shift in the landscape of entertainment, offering a unique and immersive experience on an unprecedented scale.

The next drone show in Florida from Sky Elements is scheduled for Dec. 7 in Fernandina Beach, coinciding with the Dickens on Centre Festival. Sky Elements will be a prominent presence throughout the festival, captivating audiences with their drone displays for two additional nights on Dec. 8 and 9, promising an enchanting experience for all attendees.

Sky Elements at IAAPA Expo (WKMG)

Click here to learn more about Sky Elements.

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About the Author:

Landon joined News 6 in 2017. He grew up in Southern Illinois and graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelors degree in TV and digital media. When he is not at work you can catch him at one of Orlando's theme parks or the beach. Before working at News 6 he worked for stations in Miami and Fort Myers.