Located in San Antonio, TX, the Natural Bridge Caverns is the largest cavern in the state. This premier natural attraction has ‘massive, otherworldly formations’ that guests can explore in wonderment. During the holiday season, the caverns add to their on going tours with the ‘Journey to Bethlehem’. This cavern tour takes guests through an immersive story telling experience of the birth of Jesus. Matt Carr, Operations Manager at Natural Bridge Caverns, reached out to Louis Bohn, Lighting Designer at SRO Associates, to develop the attraction with lighting from Mega-Lite.
In its second year in running, Carr and his team refined the attraction and began with Hidden Passages Tour. Traveling towards the innermost depths of the cave, guests learn about the geology of the cavern’s formations and then arrive at the event’s main attraction – the Journey to Bethlehem. Using lighting, video projection and audio, guests experience to the story with all their senses.
Bohn utilized 16 Mega-lite Outshine T100 lighting fixtures to transform the space with lighting. It was important to Carr that the lighting be used to enhance the cave and to avoid making it feel like a disco. Thus, Bohn approached lighting the space differently than he would for an event or celebration. Working in tandem with video projection, Bohn created a lighting sequence that began with a sunset, then changed into night and ended with the breaking of dawn. To make that possible, he specified the custom made Mega-Lite Outshine T100 with a 51º lens angle to achieve the most wide, even coverage possible. The unit’s fantastic coverage allowed him to keep the fixture count low and stay within budget.
There were more features that made the Outshine T100 an ideal choice for Bohn on this project. The unit’s IP65 rating was critical because of the cave environment. Since the cave has 99% humidity and the air is very acidic, the Outshine T100’s weathered enclosure was was vital to the long term health of the fixtures. Also, Bohn was also able to make the units match the limestone inside the cave by selecting a custom powder coating housing color, a service that is included with the Outshine T100. And, the temporary set up of the fixtures was also made easy with the unit’s double yoke. Bohn simply placed the fixtures on the floor of the cave, which was ideal for having the least impact on the cave surfaces.
Creating the colors for the sunset was simple for Bohn with the Outshine T100’s single source 100-watt RGB LED. To represent the sunset he selected a deep orange to illuminate the cave walls and transitioned into a deep blue-violet to signify the night. As the video projection finished, the lights revealed an amber-orange hue to cue the breaking of the dawn and a moment of reflection.
Bohn also chose the Drama LED W120 fixture to illuminate the caverns formations in a unique way. In the moment the video projection referenced the Star of Bethlehem, the Drama LED W120 illuminated the cavern’s ‘soda straws’ above to give the illusion of a sparkly star. Bohn simply attached a gobo rotator to achieve patterns of light and dark to create this dazzling effect.
The Journey to Bethlehem was a popular holiday attraction for the Natural Bridge Caverns. The attraction received great feedback and excellent reviews. It has already been planned to offer the tour again next holiday season with the same Mega-Lite Outshine T100 and Drama LED 120W LED fixtures.