Monday, October 2, 2023

Moment Factory: Lighting up the night

Anakeesta’s Astra Lumina Night Walk welcomes visitors from all over, including the sky

photo essay by Martin Palicki

Astra Lumina opened in October, 2022, at Anakeesta, a family theme park located on a mountaintop in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The park was opened in 2017, after the Great Smoky Mountain wildfires destroyed much of the area. As a separate add-on ticket, Astra Lumina was created to help extend guest visits into the evening.

“Astra Lumina immerses people in this outdoor walk through the forest at night. They are bathed in light, the music is incredible, and the experience is unlike anything you would see at another park,” says Anakeesta managing partner Karen Bentz.

Astra Lumina is the latest in a series of immersive outdoor experiences from Moment Factory. Based in Montreal, Canada, Moment Factory designed the experience around the concept of stars in the sky descending to Earth each night to recharge before returning to the heavens. A custom soundtrack is complemented by artistic light installations in eight distinct scenes.

“A lot of people probably wouldn’t go hiking at night in the woods,” explains Bentz. “Astra Lumina allows them a safe opportunity to do that and to explore our universe while thinking about the planets and the stars.”

“At Moment Factory we have a ‘forest lab’ every year where we go and test new things, which helps to influence our creation,” says Thomas Pintal, multimedia director at Moment Factory.

Astra Lumina’s technology features an iconic giant glittering star orb (pictured), projection mapping, thousands of colorful LED lights, mediabars, extensive fog and other special effects. The technology is cleverly hidden to allow guests to focus on the experience.

At opening, Astra Lumina was the 15th installation of Moment Factory’s Lumina Enchanted Night Walks. Foresta Lumina at Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook (Canada) was the company’s first, opening in 2014 and receiving a TEA Thea Award in 2016. A similar version of Astra Lumina is also available in Los Angeles as a seasonal experience.

“This show is different from the other Lumina Night Walks,” says Pintal. “Some of our shows are more ambient and contemplative, but Astra Lumina has a good balance of wonder, enchantment and inspirational music that is really quite spectacular.”

Martin Palicki
Martin Palicki
Martin Palicki owns and publishes InPark Magazine. Started in 2004, InPark Magazine provides owners and operators the perspective from "in"side the "park." Martin has also written for publications like Sound & Communications, Lighting & Sound America, Attractions Management and others. Martin has been featured in Time Magazine, and Folio. Martin lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.

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