Are Disneyland’s fireworks worth the noise and nuisance?

“Disneyland Park has offered a fireworks show every summer since 1956. At first, fireworks fuses were lit by hand, but by the 1960s an electronic system launched the shells, the shows carefully synchronized to music. By 2000, the fireworks had become far more elaborate, with Tinker Bell and Dumbo flying overhead. To reduce noise and pollution, Disney patented an air launch pyrotechnics system, which was put to use in 2004. Disney later opened the patent on the system so that others could enjoy the benefits of “greener” pyrotechnics,” according to Disneyland’s website.

“The loud noise torments some of the neighbors, forcing them to put thick windows to block the noise or move away from the city. After many complaints to the city of Anaheim, there seems no way out,” according to the Magical Theme Park blog.

While Disneyland has permits in place to launch their fireworks, that doesn’t mean the chemicals are good for you.

The original blends of black powder used in fireworks can be a bit too unstable and messy for some uses, though, so the potassium nitrate is often replaced by perchlorates, a family of chemicals all featuring a central chlorine atom bonded by four oxygen atoms. Two types in particular — potassium perchlorate and ammonium perchlorate — have become the go-to oxidizers of the pyrotechnics industry, according to the Mother Nature Network.

MNN also reports that “In addition to gunpowder, fireworks are packed with heavy metals and other toxins that produce their sparkling shower of colors. Like perchlorates, the exact effect of fireworks’ heavy-metal fallout is still mainly a mystery, but scientists do know that the metals themselves can wreak havoc in the human body.”

“In 2004, Disney switched to compressed air technology in the California theme park. The switch to the environmentally friendly fireworks decreased the noise by 60% and significantly reduced the smoke from the nightly aerial display,” according to Science Daily.

But Science Daily also reported that “Locals complained that children with asthma had breakouts more frequently because of the smoke generated. William Fitzgerald, a representative of the homeowners group, told participants at South Coast Air Quality Management meetings that high concentrations of chlorate were leaking into the ground and polluting underground water. “Six wells have been shut down and most people rely on bottled water,” Fitzgerald said.”

Should Disneyland keep firing off fireworks or should they be a good neighbor and find a better way to entertain their guests?  They have options, as seen in the World of Color attraction at their California Adventure park.  That show includes music, lasers and even fire – so are the fireworks even necessary anymore?

21 responses to “Are Disneyland’s fireworks worth the noise and nuisance?

  1. “While Disneyland has permits in place to launch their fireworks,”…uh…permits with whom? Kept where? City of Anaheim does not facilitate the permit process, a friend checked. AQMD specifically exempted pyrotechnics from review. Fire Dept only concerned with stability and storage. Environmental docs related to the resort cover page after page of issues for landscaping, NONE on fireworks that I can find. Air quality issues only addressed in terms of auto traffic. If you have seen permits somewhere I would love to see them, please, so I can lay my fears to rest, because the knot in my stomach gets worse with each layer I dig into that I cannot find docs on. This appears to be a case where everyone thinks someone else is monitoring it, after all they are a giant company, surely someone has checked to be sure what they shoot into the air every night is OK for kids to breathe, right? Right?

  2. Good luck with that, you think they don’t know? The sad thing is William Fitzgerald has been screaming about this for years with AQMD and Anaheim and is dismissed as a crackpot. I started looking into it honestly hoping to quiet him down because while Disney and i don’t see eye to eye lately I still don’t want rumors tanking out tourism industry. Imagine my shock when I could not find anything to show Fitzgerald is wrong. I keep hoping, praying, someone shows me the reports, hoping someone proves they really did study this stuff and what it does to humans (and pets and water supply) before choosing to send the stuff into the air night after night over our homes! I used to own a house RIGHT UNDER the fireworks, I bought it there on purpose thinking they would be a cool memory for my kids’ childhood. Stupid me. Nope, look at how much they pump into local elections, nobody is going to do anything about it. Even the good guys are afraid of the big bad Mouse.

    If Disney has anything to add to the discussion, I would be SO happy to print a huge apology, this is a case when i do not want to be right.

  3. I think it should be fair to say that Disneyland was built in the 1950’s, when there were only orange groves in sight… NO houses! This article states that they started the fireworks in 1956, a year after the opening. I’m sure a large amount of Commercial areas grew in response to the hype Disneyland created. If Disneyland has been launching fireworks since 1956, why complain now? If anything, there should have been complaints to the city of Anaheim for designating residential areas so close to a worldwide known theme park. Disney has been launching fireworks for over 50 years, let them continue. They were there before houses were and will be there for years to follow.

  4. I grew up under the fireworks and am now living back in the same house. I agree, Disney has been doing fireworks since 1956. However, the length of the show, the size of the display and the number of nights it is done have ALL increased dramatically.

    As a teen, I remember the display ONLY in the summer – it was a big deal when they would start it! Now it is 280+ days a year. It is so loud now that it sets off car alarms. Those alarms have now become part of the mocking bird’s song in our neighborhood.

    Additionally they now allow it for “special parties”. I recall Miley Cyrus’ 16th birthday. Disney allow not only the fireworks, but the timing to be controlled by their “guest”. The park had a permit up until 10pm….the display went off at 11:45! After days of calling the city and the park, I finally got someone in the city to tell me that Disney violated their agreement. However, Disney did NOTHING to remedy the situation. I didnt even get an apology!

  5. I’m in Costa Mesa, how many miles away, and it sounds
    like an invasion some nights 9:30=9:40PM or so…kinda
    reminds me of the Army in 66-68…WHY?

  6. Good Grief. . .if you didn’t want to hear the fireworks or put up with the smoke why did you move next to Disneyland to begin with? Same category as the people who complain about the noise from an airport when the live right next door. Most likely Disneyland (and the airport) was there long before you located to the neighborhood. Get no sympathy from me.

  7. thetruthwillsetufree

    The only people who have a right to complain about the fireworks are people who lived there prior to Disneyland shooting off fireworks in 1956. Everyone else who moved/built/rents/bought any housing around Disneyland did so knowing full well that they do fireworks regularly. When Disneyland was built it was surrounded by orange tree fields. Hmmm…. I believe only the orange trees have a right to complain (that is if there are any still left).

    • That’s not how public safety laws work. And if Disney knows that they are either harming or bothering the residents amd they opt to ignore this then that speaks ill of Disney’s ethics.


  9. Just because Disneyland was established in the 50′s does not mean they should be are able to abide by the same laws that existed. Times have changed everyone, it goes without saying Disneyland has established dominance over the theme park industry and would not be impacted by lowering the amount of firework displays.Greed is fueling Disney now, they should drop the political agenda and consider the surrounding area.

  10. I live in Irvine, some 14 miles away and the noise is getting worse every year. Apart from the toxic pollution they are damaging peoples hearing, It won’t be long before Disney is faced with a massive lawsuit on that one! Someone should measure this noise with a decibel meter.

    • Thsee comments: brought to you by some of the biggest wussies on Earth.

      • Apart from not being able to type and spell correctly, you are incapable of providing a comment correctly. Instead of entering your general comments in the LEAVE A REPLY box below, you clicked on the Reply of my comment. Clearly your moronic attitude, that is devoid of compassion and intellectual discourse, indicates that you probably best suited to hanging around your 4-wheeled truck.

    • I am so glad that I’m not the only one annoyed by the fireworks. Ask me why I go to bed at 8:30 pm, it all started because of the fireworks. If I can get into a deep enough sleep, I may not wake up. If I went to bed at 9 or 9:30, I would wake up. I live in Yorba Linda about 1/3 up the hill, the vibration like noise is so loud. I have contacted Disney, the fire dept, city of Anaheim, no luck changing anything. Disney is like the government, has more rights than anyone. It’s just not right. I have a right to quiet enjoyment whether it is 9am or 9pm. If there ever was a petition or suit, I would sign up in a nano second!

  11. I live in Irvine too, I usually take a dump about 9:45pm and I can hear the damn things then…

  12. S. Keenan Davison

    My parents bought there first home in a neighborhood directly adjacent to Disneyland in 1956. This is the house that I grew up in. I have now inherited this house and have for the past few months, lived here. My mother, always said- “Disney is a lovely neighbor”
    Perhaps, in years gone by- now, it would seem they are just another corporate bully. Fireworks go off whenever they will generate another buck (which by all evidence is every night) the magnitude and duration have changed to a degree that indicates a wonton disrespect to all who inhabit the surrounding areas- what do people with children do? When I was growing up here they were only in the summer, a fraction of the present duration, decibels….and shot off at a decent hour. Imagine my surprise in moving back here- the sound bounces off the recently built Walnut Manor and causes a tsunami of sound that reports back and forth down the street. It is a nightmare and beyond my comprehension in this day and age why anyone would enjoy what sounds like bombs going off- and this is to say nothing of what Disney’s actions are doing to property values and salability of my home, (something I consider nightly as the fireworks literally rattle the glass in my home and make it impossible to converse, watch TV, sleep for nearly 15 minutes) And the toxins that all this must be putting out into the environment- it’s unconscionable.

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