Visitors after dark to three different Six Flags amusement parks are in for a spectacular treat this summer with the premiere of the Magic Light Parade (Six Flags México in Mexico City) and the Glow in the Park Parade at Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ, and Six Flags New England, Agawam, MA.

Gary Goddard Entertainment (GGE) conceptualized, designed, produced, and now operates the decidedly unlike-Disney parades in cooperation with Six Flags. “I wanted to create something unique to Six Flags — their own branded event,” notes Gary Goddard, chairman and CEO of GGE. “We really took it much closer to Broadway and Las Vegas to provide something young, hip, and exciting. It's a different kind of parade.”

Gathering inspiration from Cirque du Soleil, Blue Man Group, and Stomp, GGE mostly relied on influences from outside the traditional theme park world but still called upon famed Rose Parade float designer Raul Rodriguez, who collaborated with Mia Gyzander on over 100 costume designs and also worked with GGE conceptual designer Phil Mendez and GGE designer Taylor Jeffs to create multiple floats. Benoit Jutras, a renowned composer who has worked for Cirque du Soleil and Franco Dragone, provided the jovial score for the parades. Featuring five larger floats with special effects, including a CO2-breathing dragon and a pirate ship that shoots CO2 from cannons, each parade takes about 45 minutes to meander its way through the park. Every float is accompanied by its own group of performers, each decked out in reflective fabrics highlighted with battery-operated electro-luminescent (EL) wire semiconductor lights in eight different colors. The cast of dancers, drummers, puppeteers, and stilt-walkers move along with smaller push floats. EL wire also lights each float's elements.

“About 80% of the lighting on the costumes and floats is EL wire — large strings of light we shaped as necessary,” Goddard says. “We really desired a different look and also wanted to stay away from twinkle lights.” The other 20% of the lighting consists of LED chasing rope light, mini strobes, Color Kinetics/Philips Solid-State Lighting Solutions ColorBursts, and MR16 spots. All the floats were built by Festival Floats in Orange County, CA and require a technical support staff of over 30.