We all know how much fun you can have on a Disney World vacation, but is it all just a trick of the mind?
Believe it or not, Disney is working some EXTRA behind-the-scenes magic you might not even be aware of!
Leave it to Disney World to always have a few tricks up its sleeve — after all, Sorcerer Mickey does live there!
Let’s examine a few of the head games Disney likes to play, shall we?
Disney Knows A LOT About Color Theory
If you haven’t worked for Disney (or any major company that knows a thing or two about advertising such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Target, etc), you might not realize the role color plays in influencing consumers’ emotions and decisions. Have you ever felt an inexplicable burst of emotion at the Disney parks such as happiness, excitement, or hunger? (Well, who hasn’t?!)
But still, you might be totally surprised by how most people experience the same emotional reactions to certain colors. Disney knows this and they also know how to use it to their benefit at the parks! It’s time to whip out your color wheels, cause we’re going to break down why Disney uses certain colors!
The sidewalks and bricks when you enter Magic Kingdom are red because back in the early days of Disneyland, Walt Disney wanted to subtly signal to guests they were rolling out a red carpet for guests! (It also looks great in pictures with a blue sky!)
The color red is known to elicit an excited response when people see it. Most people associate red with love, excitement, and passion. It’s also one of the most naturally appealing colors to children (maybe why a certain Mouse duo sport the color so much😏)!
Since red and green are opposites on the color wheel you’ll notice red used a lot to make natural green elements appear more vibrant and lush. Look down in World Showcase at Epcot — the ground is a shade of red to make everything green pop!
Red has also another superpower — it has been scientifically proven to make people hungry when they see it!
Your body physically reacts to the color, causing your heart rate to increase, which speeds up your blood flow — resulting in hunger! Next time you’re dining at the Disney parks, try to spot all the red accents in the room (Casey’s Corner is a good place to start!).
Yellow, Pink, and Orange
Disney also knows which colors that are scientifically proven to make people happy — that’s why you’ll usually see TONS of vibrant colors like yellows, pinks, and oranges in lots of Disney’s foods and attractions!
These colors are known to create a sense of excitement and optimism, so you’ll also see these bright, poppy colors used for parade floats, costumes, and other celebrations.
Check out the costume Mickey wore during his 90th-anniversary — it features TONS of happiness-inducing hues!
These happy colors also have been shown to make people think positive, cheery thoughts! Bright colors like orange and yellow in particular can make people feel energized — something all of us could use a little more of at the Disney parks!
But did you know that when we’re happy and energized, we’re more likely to loosen our purse strings? That’s right — these colors can also make you want to impulsively spend some EXTRA money! Look for them next time you’re browsing a gift shop in Disney World!
Greens and Blues
Greens and blues tend to have a calming effect on people. You’ll see LOTS and LOTS of these shades being used where Disney wants you to chill out. Look for them in queue areas — they even use green and blue throughout their Baby Care Centers and First Aid Centers that are located inside the theme parks.
Green is known to reduce anxiety, while blues are commonly associated with promoting a sense of security and has been known to reduce appetites (you might not spot this one TOO much at your favorite quick-service spots!😉).
But green serves another purpose in at the Disney parks. You might have heard of the term “Go Away Green” if you have any Disney Cast Member friends. It’s a term that refers to a particular shade of green that is so unnoticeable, it tends to make things Disney doesn’t want you to see “blend in” with the background!
It’s used to hide utility boxes, Cast Member doors to backstage areas, and even construction projects the size of Space 220 Restaurant! This restaurant has opened since we took this photo. But this is what construction looked like when the restaurant was being built.
See if you can spot some stuff Disney doesn’t want you to see next time you visit the parks!
Purple is a color that invokes a sense of creativity and imagination. Ever wondered why that lovable dragon in Epcot, Figment, bears the purple hue? He is quite literally a “figment of imagination” and lives in the Imagination Pavilion, after all! 🙂
Interestingly, purple also can represent spirituality including GHOSTS! Wonder why so many of the Disney Villains and the Haunted Mansion bear the hue so often? The color can quite literally represent the otherworldly!
Next time you’re in Disney World, look around and consider how all the colors are working together to influence your thoughts. Even just look at Mickey Mouse — he’s decked out in the colors that evoke excitement and happiness — so you basically can’t help but smile when you meet Mickey! 🙂
That’s how Disney tricks our MINDS, but, now let’s examine how Disney plays tricks with our EYES!
We’re throwing all sorts of new terminology at you, but even if you’re not a professional artist, the theory behind “forced perspective” is pretty simple. It’s a way of tricking a person’s eye into thinking something is taller or further away than it actually is, and Disney has mastered this technique over the years!
This is normally achieved by the use of scale and special painting effects — all of which Disney’s highly trained staff of scenic artists excel at.
Why Disney Uses Forced Perspective
The Disney parks are only SO big, so Disney has only a finite amount of space to create its different “worlds” and “lands.” You’ll see forced perspective being utilized all over the parks — even the buildings on Main Street, U.S.A. have smaller windows on their second and third stories. It’s a barely noticeable detail to the naked eye, but it makes the buildings seem MUCH taller than they actually are!
Disney also utilizes this technique on its castles — next time you visit Magic Kingdom, take a look at how the “bricks,” windows, and roof shingles appear much smaller towards to top of Cinderella Castle’s towers. It draws the eye upwards, creating a taller-looking castle!
This little trick was also used when Sleeping Beauty Castle was refurbished. The blue spires of Disneyland’s iconic pink castle (which is MUCH shorter than Cinderella Castle) received a special paint job — the bases were painted a darker blue hue that lightened towards the top to make the castle appear to have some extra height. You’ll notice the pink color also gets lighter the higher up you go as well!
Some of our other favorite places to admire Disney’s use of this special painting technique are the rock formations at Disney California Adventure’s Cars Land…
…as well as the floating mountains of Mo’ara in Pandora: The World of Avatar located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom!
These scenic elements seem much further away than they actually are thanks to Disney’s expert team of painters. These visual tricks transform our whole experience as guests by making us feel more immersed in the story Disney is trying to tell.
Even More Ways Disney World Tricks Our Senses
Reverse Forced Perspective
In Epcot’s American Adventure Pavilion in World Showcase, Disney actually utilizes a technic called “reverse forced perspective” which is the exact opposite of what we just talked about! They used this to make a large building appear SMALLER!
Colonial Era buildings were only typically 2-stories tall, yet the three and a half story building needed to be larger to house the theater inside. Imagineers scaled windows on the top floors larger than on the ground floor to make the building appear much smaller than it actually is!
The last thing Disney wants to do is bum you out on your vacation with all the stuff you CAN’T enjoy, so that’s why you’ll often see temporary barricades and construction walls (along with that good ol’ Go Away Green) covering up the stuff they’re working on.
Disney even covers up buildings they’re working on with covers printed to look like the buildings they’re covering! Talk about a total mind-bender!
Maybe they think if you squint real hard, you won’t be able to tell the difference! 😉 It does make for better photos, though!
Nothing “Out of Place” and How Sightlines Work
How badly would it ruin the illusion to see a Haunted Mansion Cast Member in Tomorrowland or a Jungle Cruise Skipper in Fantasyland? Have you ever noticed how this NEVER seems to happen? Disney does this intentionally for its guests so that nothing pulls you away from the fully-immersive experience they’re trying to create.
You’ll also notice how it’s almost impossible to see from one land to another — and that’s thanks to A LOT of strategic planning! If you’re standing inside Adventureland, don’t expect to see any elements of Main Street, U.S.A. or Frontierland, even though they’re right next door!
This is most notably seen with the Tower of Terror in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. When the tall attraction was being dreamed up, Imagineers knew the structure would be visible from Epcot. Imagineers designed the color and architecture of the tower so that if viewed from EPCOT’s World Showcase, it appears to blend right in with the Morocco Pavilion!
If you’re ever at Disney World and see what looks like giant colored balloons floating in the sky over a certain location, these are testing sight lines! Imagineers can go near and far around the location to see how the planned attraction will impact the views of the area!
Not sure what you guys think, but we’re pretty impressed with all the crazy ways Disney messes with our brains. Next time you suddenly crave a hot dog when you stroll down Main Street, or find yourself rushing to buy that merch you didn’t know you needed, now you’ll know partially what’s to blame (or maybe you’re just hungry!). We hope we’ve given you a lot of cool new stuff to be on the lookout for next time you visit the Disney parks!
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What’s your favorite illusion at the Disney parks? Let us know in the comments below!