Can "light show" lasers pop balloons?

Yesterday at our family gathering, Sis in Law (whom I love dearly, but she does hold some interesting opinions which seem to me at least to be based on urban legend more than fact) asserted that back in the 1980s in Disneyworld, the 3-D movie displayed there, “Captain Eo”, had a laser light show accompanying the production. I remember that. She also stated that many kids brought balloons into the show, and these lasers ended up popping the balloons when they struck them. This “factoid” I have problems with.

My main problem is my thought that any laser hot enough to pop a balloon would be hot enough to burn skin or set fire to certain clothing material. Anybody got the SD on whether or not standard “entertainment” lasers have the capacity to pop balloons?

From Sam’s Laser Faqs

This company sells laser projectors with “60-1000 mW laser output power in 3 colours”, so it sounds as if at least some “entertainment” lasers have balloon popping capacity.

What power is required to bring the armies of the nations to their knees and rule the world? Just curious.

Well, waddaya know! SIL may be on to something!

Thanks, Squink!

1.21 gigawatts.

No, that’s the setting to make the armies of the world somewhat nauseous and gassy. You’ll need at least twice that to rule the world.

Only works if you’re going 88 MPH.

Don’t forget the plutonium.

Or the Mr. Fusion…and a nice stinky pile of garbage.

I don’t think so. For the simple reason that those lasers would not go anywhere near a kid’s balloon. A laser powerful enough to pop a balloon would be powerful enough to blind you if it hit you in the eyes. I can’t see a show firing 200mW worth of laser energy close enough to people’s eyes that they were popping kid’s balloons. That’s just a guess, but it doesn’t seem right to me.

Depends on how long the string was. Helium balloons float, y’know.

Well yeah, I suppose it would be possible if the balloons were way up there. Perhaps if kids were walking close to the laser projector, and had balloons five feet over their heads or something.

QtM did say this was back in the 80’s. I don’t know when federal regulations tamed the things, but early laser shows were not without danger:
Eric Bloom of Blue Öyster Cult:

I saw one of those early shows, and it was freakin awesome! The laserbeams did come down pretty low over the crowd though.

The FDA regulates lasers. Check their website, it may have some information.

I remember that show. I saw it a couple of times. No balloons popped, though…

I think some small european country did that once. in 1960. for about 20 minutes

But beware the Libians!!

No, no…those were 1920’s style death rays. Not lasers. There’s a difference.