High flying locals off to Disney

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Kite makers Simon Chisnall, left, and Trent Baker, of Peter Lynn Kites, test flying Disney characters Young Simba and Pumba and Timon at Wakanui Beach, before being shipped to Walt Disney World.

Larger than life characters from The Lion King and The Jungle Book have been created by the crew at Peter Lynn Kites for 50 year celebrations at Walt Disney World.

The kites, starring now in Walt Disney World’s new Kite Tails shows in Florida, United States, have been a two year project for the Ashburton-based kite makers and shrouded in secrecy.

It has taken all hands on deck to design, make and manufacture the kite order which included a young and adult version of Simba, Zazu, Pumba and Timon, King Louie and Baloo with multiple kites for each character, plus prototypes.

Zazu in the finishing stages with Peter Lynn Kites designer Simon Chisnall and sewer Bexx Soper.

Simon Chisnall, of Peter Lynn Kites, said Disney made contact in late 2019 about potentially having some custom work done. It involved discussions about what could be achieved, what kites we could make and where they could be flown.

“Once we had heard this idea for Kite Tails (over water) we were all super excited.”

The Walt Disney World shows run six times a day, for 15-minutes, and have kite flyers and jet ski drivers co-ordinating characters, and props, as they dance through the air in harmony with popular Disney songs.

Mr Chisnell said the Disney kite project faced challenges including secrecy, covid, lockdowns and delays and was the most complicated order they had ever done.

It involved breaking down supplied 3D models, creating flat templates with more panels than anything they had ever made, and all hands on deck to make the finished products, which have all been shipped to the US, he said.

“Extra panels were needed to make sure the kites looked like the way the design team at Disney wanted them to look. As well as having extra panels they also have a lot of scrolls appliqued all over each design.”

“This really does give each of these show kites the real wow factor.”

King Louie during a test flight.

The kites which included three of each of King Louie, Baloo (The Jungle Book) and young Simba, adult Simba, Pumba and Timon, and six of Zazu (all of the Lion King) had been a great project to do.

The Disney contract had meant test flying kites with limit public exposure ahead of the shows, which was not an easy feat to do in Mid Canterbury. The kites ranged from six up to 12 metres long.

Young Simba gets a test flight at Lake Hood before heading stateside for the Walt Disney World 50th celebrations. Photo Supplied

Any time people were seen too close, especially for photographs, the kites had to be pulled down, he said.

The kite manufacturer is no stranger to larger than life orders. They made a Toothless dragon kite for Twentieth Century Fox back in 2017 which was flown above the Thames River and under the London Bridge as promotion for the How to Train Your Dragon2 movie.

Some of the crew from Peter Lynn Kites went all over the world as part of that promotion, however would not be travelling this time.

But it had been a great project, and the timing could not have been better.

“It was an awesome, awesome thing to do,” he said.

“It’s been a great journey.”