When Jennifer Auer’s three young children first saw the exterior wall of Boardwalk Hall appear to crumble before their very eyes, they could only gasp.
“They were in awe, just so excited,” says Auer, of Absecon, who brought her 5-, 7- and 9-year-old children to see the nightly “Winter Sweet” light show in Atlantic City. “The kids love it.”
The crumbling facade of Boardwalk Hall is one of the centerpiece moments in Winter Sweet, a multimedia sound and light spectacular bringing together more than 25 lighting designers, animators, graphic artists and composers. The free, seven-minute show uses hundreds of different visual effects, including live models, 2D and 3D animation — all projected onto the exterior wall of Boardwalk Hall.
The show, produced by Moment Factory, originally debuted in 2012 on the heels of the company’s first successful Atlantic City show, Duality, and returned for a repeat run this year on Nov. 30.
Winter Sweet is free and runs nightly every 30 minutes between 6 and 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and from 6 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The shows are commissioned by the Atlantic City Alliance, the nonprofit entity funded and overseen by the city’s casinos.
“I think one of the best things about it is every time you see it, you find something different,” says Melanie Sole, spokeswoman for the Atlantic City Alliance. “There are so many scenes and vignettes throughout. You can see it two or three times and see something different every time.”
The Winter Sweet show features three magical worlds, including the first, “Snow and Ice,” where the building appears to crumble, similar to an effect seen in Duality.
The second world, “Winter Village,” transforms the hall into a candy wonderland, lit by the glow of candles, sledding elves and sugary treats. The third and final world, “Illumination,” features ornaments and intricate lighting that eventually “melts” the surface of the building as spring and new beginnings come to Atlantic City.
The Moment Factory team also worked to integrate lots of small surprises into Winter Sweet — small rabbits, ducks, a rainbow — so spectators coming back to see the show again can may notice new elements they didn’t see the first time.
Approximately 300,000 people have seen the light and sound shows since the first run of Duality, Sole says.
For Auer, it is a new tradition to share with her children.
“It has all the things you would expect to see at Christmastime — the figurines, the ballerinas, the tree,” says Auer, who writes a blog called Jersey Family Fun. “Yet it also has more of a winter feel, too.”
Auer has included the Boardwalk Hall light show as part of an entire day of free family events. Other free, nearby attractions include the water and light show inside The Pier at Caesars, and the laser light show inside The Quarter at Tropicana.
In addition, the Heartwalk, a giant, 30-foot heart sculpture made with reclaimed wood from the Atlantic City Boardwalk, debuted on New York Avenue in November.
“There are family-friendly things, and there are ways to make a whole day around it,” Auer says.
The idea to project a light show onto the facade of Boardwalk Hall is not a new one. In fact, Boardwalk Hall had an outdoor light show projected onto its facade in the 1930s, making the current light show a historically accurate attraction (albeit a modernized one).
Winter Sweet is slated to run until March, though no specific end date is scheduled, Sole says. A new light show will likely follow in the spring.
“It’s called Winter Sweet, but it’s not necessarily tied to a holiday,” Sole says. “It’s just about celebrating the season. It is timeless. You could see it now, in January, in February, and it’s still interesting to see.”