Friday, July 22, 2011

Burning the candle at both ends...(Updated)

When Disney's Imagineering group needed a spooky candle for their "Haunted Mansion", they couldn't be bothered with using real candles.  The fire hazard alone makes that a no-go, but as with all things in theme parks, the operational cost has to be evaluated, too.  Replacing real wax candles multiple times per day would be both material and labor intensive.  Using incandescent lamps wasn't a real good option either, as they consume lots of energy, have relatively short lives (by theme park standards), and still generate a lot of heat.  More heat means more air conditioning, means more electric bills.  Besides that, they just don't look like a candle - you know: flickering randomly, soft ethereal glow, and all that spooky stuff.

Well, if you can bring Abe Lincoln, and other animatronic things to life, why not a candle?  Add a little Disney magic to some LED's and a bit of creative molding for a candle body, and poof:  You have a Dream Candle.

First introduced at the 2010 CES show by Luminara LLC (originally Dream Candles, LLC), they have exclusive rights to commercialize Disney's patented idea.  They now have product available and information can be found at (this site redirects to a UK site, but if you go to you can find US resellers.)

Don't use real candles on stage unless you can meet the requirements of NFPA Life Safety Code 101, Section  13.7.3.  If you do plan to use real candles, then you should obtain a copy of NFPA 160 Standard for the Use of Flame Effects Before an Audience.  This standard is referenced by the 2009 NFPA Life Safety Code 101, Section 13.7.3.(2).  Failure to know the requirements of the law is not an excuse to break the law.

There are other pretty good LED candles out there, like Smart Candle (, and some are even less expensive than real candles, and they don't drip hot wax on your actors, melt your props, or ignite your costumes that you failed to treat with fire retardant.  (Ref: 2009 NFPA Life Safety Code 101, Section - Flame Retardant Requirements).

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