An Illuminating Discussion
By Brian~WDWithMe, Jul 14 2015 07:08PM
Imagineering does wonderful things with lighting…and in many different ways. A recent trip to EPCOT gave me a chance to appreciate and reflect (no pun intended…) on just how many ways WDI masters the use of light. For example:
• As you’re leaving the park at night, take a look at the sidewalk between the large fountain and Spaceship Earth. Embedded within the concrete slabs are fiber optics, creating a wonderful effect of “pixie dust” dancing on the ground—color changing sparkles of light that bring the walkway alive with a playful vibrancy which surprises and amazes kids and adults alike.
• In the Magic Kingdom, a technique called Projection Mapping has been used incredibly effectively to change the textures and exterior of Cinderella Castle. Typically used during the nighttime shows such as “The Magic, The Memories and You” or “Celebrate the Magic”, projection mapping has turned the iconic castle into a colorful canvas painted with imagery from Disney’s classic and contemporary animated films.
• Given that many of WDI’s original and current Imagineers were recruited from the world of movies, theater, and entertainment, it’s no surprise that many of the show’s lighting designers bring this expertise with them and have creatively adapted or cross-pollinated techniques to use in the attractions. The burning city in Pirates of the Caribbean, for example, is a relatively simple theatrical lighting effect—though many people have no idea. (I’ll write about that some more in a future blog.)
• Show lighting of the buildings exteriors is often masterful. Not only in EPCOT, but all the Disney parks. Colors are used for dramatic effect, bold washes draw your attention to certain structures or portions of structures where the Imagineers want you to focus your attention. One of the most beautiful lighting jobs, in my opinion, is the exterior of Spaceship Earth.
I could probably go on and on with examples. As an Imagineer, I had the chance to view the inside of Space Mountain, the Haunted Mansion and several other attractions with the lights on. Although that is no doubt a very cool experience in its own way, it really drives home what proper show lighting can bring to a story.
Next time you’re visiting the parks, take some time, once the sun goes down, to appreciate the way Disney illuminates at night. Like many aspects of show design, lighting can easily be taken for granted…but if you stop to notice, you will see just how much more magical it makes the experience.
If you have some favorite lighting examples, please list them in the comments below—I’d love to hear what they are!
One of my favorites is the lighting inside the Mexico pavilion -- the eternal dusk there is so beautiful and sets such a mood.
I agree Gilly Rosenthol-The interior of Mexico is a beautiful lighting job on many levels!
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