While making snow fall at a SoCal shopping mall seems pretty magical, it’s not exactly the type of magic Adam Williams originally had in mind when he headed to Hollywood.
“I was working at the Magic Castle and trying to become a successful magician but not getting very far,” he says.
But, he happened to be working on a magic trick that involved snow, and it gave him an idea. “The Grove had just opened, and I had an idea to turn the space into a real life snow globe. I was very bold and wrote a letter directly to Rick Caruso with my idea. I got a call from his office right away and set up a demo.”
The demo worked and his company, MagicSnow, took off. Now he’s the go-to snow man behind those delightful flurries you’ve seen shooting out overhead at the Grove, Americana, Disney theme parks, Universal Studios, and even the Radio City Music Hall Christmas show.
So what exactly is that “snow” made of? A water-based, non-toxic solution that, unlike some older ways of making fake snow, is designed to be environmentally sensitive. After it falls, it just dissolves naturally, leaving no residue or anything to clean up.
“Our focus is on creating snow spaces that audiences can interact with. All of our snow effects are water-based and self-cleaning. For snowfall, we create that with water and a light foam formulation. It looks and feels just like the real thing,” Williams says.
Setting up the snowfall requires months of preparations. For the Grove, Williams’ team starts installing in September. When it’s time for snow season, a special-effects technician is on site every night to oversee the system, which has been built to accommodate varying humidity, temperature, and wind conditions. The Grove goes through around 20,000 gallons of snow solution each winter.
“A lot of people love to taste the snowflakes,” Williams says. “It’s not toxic, but it’s not really designed to be eaten! It’s still a special effect!”
His company also creates installations with snow on the ground, like Snow Day at the Santa Monica Pier. For those, it’s just real life snow. “We use frozen water and nothing else to create our snow effects,” he says, adding that “snowmen are actually really great for landscape irrigation when they melt.”
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