Over 300 ADJ IP-Rated Pars Illuminate Holiday Road Drive-Thru Experience In California

With COVID-19 affecting the holiday plans of most people around the world, opportunities to celebrate the season safely are very much needed. This is what the new Holiday Road drive-thru experience in Calabasas, CA has to offer. It features larger-than-life festive displays and millions of Christmas lights arranged throughout a 2+ mile track, which families can enjoy from the comfort and safety of their own car. ADJ fixtures are used extensively for the theatrical and architectural lighting of the various scenes that make up the experience, with over 300 ADJ 12P HEX IP and 7P HEX IP units spread throughout the attraction.

 

Holiday Road has been put together by the same creative team – Ben Biscotti, Bobby Rossi and Tony Schubert – that hosts the annual Nights of the Jack Halloween attraction. Originally launched as a walkthrough experience in 2018 and 2019, this year Nights of the Jack pivoted to a drive-thru model so that it could go ahead despite COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings in California. Following the success of this, the creators decided to use the same venue – King Gillette Ranch – to host a totally new holiday-themed drive-thru event. Named after King C. Gillette, founder of the Gillette razor brand, who owned and developed the land in the 1920s, the King Gillette Ranch is a 588-acre site that is now owned and operated by the US Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority. The large estate, filled with mature trees and areas of open grassland, is an ideal blank canvas for the creation of magically-festive displays.

Made up of a variety of different scenes, each with their own soundtrack, the Holiday Road experience is an all-inclusive celebration of the holidays, including displays dedicated to Hannukah, Kwanzaa and every imaginable aspect of Christmas. From the Nutcracker to Santa’s workshop, snowmen to the a crib scene, all kinds of holiday traditions and imagery and combined into a non-stop display that the whole family can enjoy.

CBC Technical – a full service audio, visual and lighting solutions company based in Temecula, CA – has been responsible for supplying the lighting equipment and power distribution for Nights of the Jack since the event’s inception. It therefore made sense to bring in the same team – led by Lighting Designer, Michael Hoffman, Master Electrician, Will Stakely, and VP of Sales for CBC and Holiday Road Account Manager, Dave Meek – to provide the lighting for Holiday Road, especially due to the time pressures for delivering this event in the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19 regulations.

“It was all very last minute,” explains Michael, “because we were all playing ‘follow the bouncing ball’ with COVID! The organizers confirmed the event would go ahead when they’d had approval from LA county health officials, which was the Friday before Thanksgiving. We started transforming the park Thanksgiving week and the first car was on the track December, 4th. Although plenty of planning took place ahead of time, a lot of the design work – particularly from a lighting perspective – was done on-the-fly on site. There were three teams working on the project: the scenic guys who setup the props and set pieces, the guys who put up the Christmas lights and then us doing the theatrical lighting. We gave the other teams a week’s head start and then we went through last, lighting up the scenic elements and filling in any areas of darkness with appropriate color washes.”

As with Nights of the Jack, the most used lighting fixture by Michael and his team was ADJ’s 12P HEX IP. CBC Technical invested in 30 extras units ahead of this event, which brought the total used throughout Holiday Road to 210 fixtures. Featuring 12 x 12-Watt (6-in-1) HEX LEDs and a 30-degree beam angle, the 12P HEX IP is a versatile fixture that can be used for a wide variety of both indoor and outdoor applications. Its robust all-metal construction and IP65 weatherproof rating makes it suitable for use in any environment, while its multi-purpose dual yoke can be used either as a floor stand or hanging bracket.

“The 12P HEX IPs were my go-to for canopy lighting of the trees,” explains Michael. “That was the big transition, from a lighting perspective, between Nights of the Jack and Holiday Road. Instead of highlighting the trunks of the trees, like we did at Halloween, we switched more to the canopy and upper branch structure. This created a lighter, happier environment for the holiday displays compared with the darker and more foreboding feel we went for at Halloween. The 12Ps have a lot of punch and are great for washing those large areas with nice vibrant colors.”

Michael also made use of 110 of ADJ’s 7P HEX IP fixtures. This more compact option features 7 x 12-Watt (6-in-1) HEX LEDs built into a similarly-robust IP65-rated casing, complete with the same style of multi-purpose dual yoke. Its smaller size makes this model extremely portable, easy to rig and ideal for concealing in tight spots when a fixture is required to be hidden from view.

"The 7P Hex IPs have become my workhorse fixtures for lighting set piece scenic lements on outdoor projects," stated Michael. "They are super compact and produce just the right amount of light to highlight an element of a scene without drowning out the background. They're also extremely tough; during the first night we discovered that three of the fixtures were located too close to the track as they were run over my vehicles! I had to take the yokes off and bend them back into shape, but the fixtures themselves were not damaged in the least, which really shows how robust they are. As well as that, all of the lights are holding up in truly freezing weather for this run. While for the October event the temperature might dip into the 40s up there, it’s now routinely dropping to the lower ‘30s and even ‘20s, and they’re still rock solid.”

Finally, Michael and his team utilized 12 of ADJ’s Ultra HEX Bar 12 linear LED fixtures for one particular scene where a specific lighting coverage pattern was required. Offering 12 x 10-Watt (6-in-1) HEX LEDs, this compact LED wash bar offers a wide 40-degree beam angle and features ADJ’s magnetic ‘Quick Align’ end caps, which allow for a seamless output of light between adjacent fixtures with no breaks in color.

“We used the Ultra Hex Bar 12s in the North Pole area and they really transformed the scene,” enthuses Michael. “I tried three different ways of lighting it and nothing looked natural or organic, but then I remembered that I had those LED bars sitting back at the shop. So I had them brought out to the site and they really saved the scene. I used them basically as a ground row on what would be the downstage edge side, so they’re up-lighting from a ground position, and they have just the right beam spread to arc across the whole scene. The result is fantastic, it just makes the whole thing come to life and the snow really pop!”

Holiday Road opened on December, 4th and will run thru January, 3rd. The attraction is open nightly between 5pm and 10pm, with the exception of Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Due to limited capacity, timed slots must be booked in advance, with some nights having already sold out.

Project

Holiday Road 2020

www.holidayroadusa.com

Venue

King Gillette Ranch

26800 West Mulholland Highway

Calabasas, CA 91302

Lighting Production

CBC Technical

www.cbctechnical.com

Lighting Designer

Michael Hoffman

Photographer

Brian Dowdle

ADJ Gear List

210 x 12P Hex IP

110 x 7P Hex IP

12 x Ultra Hex Bar 12