Ocean City Beach Lights Spectacular

How do you get people to stick around Sunday nights on the boardwalk? Give them a five-story illuminated “beach ball” with lasers, flames, custom content and three different shows to keep them fully entertained.


Ocean City, Maryland is one of the mid-Atlantic’s premier beach vacation destinations. Blossoming to a temporary population of nearly 300,000 during its busiest weeks in the summer, the resort town boasts endless beautiful ocean beaches, a three-mile boardwalk and a host of other summertime activities and attractions.

While the classic mainstays of Ocean City are enough to keep the vacation spot a favorite destination among its thousands of annual visitors, the OC Tourism Board was looking to add more pizzazz to the night time environment of the city. Working with T.E.A.M. Productions and Special Events, Inc., Image Engineering created a one of a kind visual presentation to play on the beach at night.

The Design

An Atlantic Coast beach environment can be an unforgiving one; persistent wind, deep sand, and the ongoing threat of pop-up thunderstorms all add to the logistical challenges Image Engineering had to account for when designing this 15-week long spectacle.  Because the nightly show had to be seen by thousands along the boardwalk, Image knew the design had to call for something big. The multi-media show would need to play against a huge structure that could be set up and struck daily while maintaining enough stability to resist the normal seasonal winds that can buffet the beach. As it was decided that anything smaller than 30’ would appear dwarfed against the massive beach and coastline, there were some advanced logistics needed from the Image team on this one.

Image’s design team settled on the creation of a custom five story sphere serving as the projection surface and the centerpiece of the show. During the storyboarding process, the design team focused on creating imagery depicting circular or spherical objects such as a beach ball, disco ball, submarine window, and zoetrope. Choosing an inflatable sphere also solved 3 major engineering challenges for the show: the sphere shape is aerodynamic and thus is very stable in a windy environment, the inflatable feature makes the show capable of being set and struck in the same day, and most importantly it was big enough to be viewed by a large audience at various distances.

The Show

With the 50’ sphere in place, IE artists went to work creating 3 distinctly choreographed shows set to a custom soundtrack. Each of the independent story lines are told utilizing 3D video, lasers and special effects. The three 8-minute shows play throughout the night, offering the strolling vacationers a different show each time.

The Response

Advertised as the Ocean City Beach Light Spectacular, the multi-media presentation lives up to its name. Because of its scale and diversity of effects, the show is reminiscent of a grand nightly outdoor theme park show. Most performances play to a crowd in excess of 10,000, while dozens of videos of the show continue to appear on Youtube and other social media outlets.

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