Beauty Untold: The Wonderful Colors of Walt Disney World
You may have heard that the world is a carousel of color…the blue rolling sea, the red summer rose, the gold morning sun in the sky…there’s beauty untold that’s ours to behold in the wonderful world of color. Nowhere is that more evident than in a visit to Walt Disney World. Each park, restaurant, and resort on property embraces a veritable artist’s palette of colors to create moods and tell stories.
With that in mind, we thought we’d take a look at some of our favorite uses of color in Walt Disney World. Are you ready?
Spaceship Earth Beacon of Magic
As part of Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary, Imagineers came up with “Beacons of Magic” for each park. One of the most stunning was the transformation of Spaceship Earth. LED lights were placed all over the exterior of the attraction, transforming it into a dazzling, twinkling display after dark. Disney’s official description states, “Lights shine from within Spaceship Earth’s reflective panels as stardust emerges to symbolize beacons of possibility and optimism.”
Imagineer Zach Riddley provided more detail, revealing that the new lights were capable of producing 30 million lumens of light (the equivalent of 35,000 light bulbs). He also stated that, “lights from 14 locations shine onto Spaceship Earth, giving our designers much more artistic flexibility to blend colors and achieve the classic color gradients Spaceship Earth has always been known for…With nearly 2000 fixtures, there are nearly 12,000 side-firing beams that produce the iconic starburst effects.”
These technical descriptions don’t do justice to the awe and wonder you’ll feel watching the colors sweep over Spaceship Earth. Even better? Imagineers keep coming up with new displays, creating lighting compositions for things like International Flower and Garden Festival and the International Festival of the Holidays.
The Mosaics of Morocco
Some of the most ornate and complex use of color in Walt Disney World can be found in the Morocco Pavilion of Epcot’s World Showcase. Roughly 99% of Morocco’s population adheres to the Islamic faith, and this is reflected in their artwork.
Frequently, this means that the art created in the country embraces aniconism, or the avoidance of making representations of the natural or supernatural world. In place of these concrete images, both religious and secular buildings in Islamic communities often contain art such as mosaics that make use of patterns, geometric shapes, and colors.
This can be seen throughout the Morocco pavilion, particularly in the large fountain found in the plaza, and in a much smaller fountain within the Fez House. Both make prominent use of white, green, blue, red, and yellow colored tiles that form gorgeous, fractal like imagery. Beyond simple aesthetic appeal, the intricacy and beauty of the work is meant to convey a spiritual meaning as well, drawing the viewer into a sense of the numinous or divine. This feeling is particularly evident in the Fez House, where the colorful designs adorn not only the fountain, but the walls and pillars throughout the room. They stand in stark contrast to portions of the room that are pure white, as well the dark browns of the carpentry elements of the architecture.
The Wild Beauty of the Oasis
When Joe Rohde and team set out to design Animal Kingdom, they wanted the park to tell a story. The park was not simply a zoo (it was in fact Nah-Ta-Zu), but instead a celebration of the relationship between humans and the rest of the natural world. However, to accomplish this, they first needed to remove Guests from the workaday realities of human existence. This begins the moment you step into the Oasis.
According to Rohde, “There is, in a certain sense… Nothing there. First, you have to recall that when we opened the park, there was no other theme park like it. That’s creatively interesting and all, but what about guests? How do they know what to expect? So… our first question was “How do we signify to you that this park is not like other parks.” We needed to reset expectations…The first thing you notice is not a presence, but an absence. What is not there is a human-based, urban, architectural environment. Instead there is a forest with two paths…Having more than one path is a simple metaphor for adventure… Even if nothing happens on the path you take… There’s always the mystery of that other path.”
Exploring the Oasis feels a bit like diving into the wild, the unknown, and color plays a large part in this. The area overflows with an abundance of green. Trees, vines, and bushes grow everywhere and in seeming chaos, meaning that no matter where you look, you are surrounded by varying verdant shades. They are accented by the cool greys and browns of stone and dirt. As you wander through, your eye is occasionally grabbed by the brilliant colors of the animals scattered throughout–the bright red of the scarlet macaw or the snow-white feathers of the African spoonbill against the crimson of its face. Then, just as quickly, you are re-enveloped in green.
It’s almost like stepping into an Impressionist painting, made all the more wondrous because it is real.
The Magical Charm of Cinderella Castle
It’s impossible to discuss color at Walt Disney World without talking about its defining icon: Cinderella Castle. Over the years, its look has changed (remember the birthday cake?), but it’s newest incarnation might be one of the most beautiful in terms of color palette.
The turrets are a painted a deep royal blue, that somehow seems bluer than should be possible. Gold and rose gold accents provide a regal sense, which is contrasted by the soft pink of the castle’s facade. Taken together, they give you a sense of Cinderella’s essence, the grandeur of her role as princess, offset by the gentleness of her character. The tallest spires on the building are a darker shade of gold, almost giving the viewer the sense of a royal crown.
That doesn’t even take into account the glittering white “dream lights” that adorned the building during the holiday season, which sparkled like freshly fallen snow against the dark of the night sky. The castle is an artistic masterpiece, blending architecture and color to pull Guests into a world of make believe and fantasy.
Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg. There are countless innovative and clever uses of color in Walt Disney World. To learn a few more, check out this previous blog by Tim Foster: 8 Unusual Uses of Color at Walt Disney World.
And for even more Disney Color fun, be sure to listen to our newest podcast episode: The Wonderful World of Color at Walt Disney World, streaming now!