11 August 2009

Visual intrusion

Visual Intrusion – Any outside element that makes its way into a scene, breaks the visual continuity, and destroys the illusion. WDI works hard to eliminate visual intrusions.

--The Imagineering Field Guide to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, p. 13

The look of Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland was designed to blend in with the saccharine sweet flavor of Fantasyland, from where it could occasionally be seen. Prior to the installation of Space Mountain, the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland had the Contemporary Resort and incoming monorails as its backdrop. The transition from Main Street U.S.A. to Adventureland hinges at the corner of the Crystal Palace where Victorian-era influences can be felt in both lands. These are just a few of the cases in which the Imagineers crafted brilliantly disguised skylines and stories and kept the visual intrusions at bay.Another tool in the Imagineers bag of tricks is the layering of areas, creating a feeling that there is more depth to a space than is actually available. A key example of this is France in World Showcase, with the Eiffel Tower some distance away, it appears that the side-streets will, eventually, lead us to the Paris icon. Another application of this tool comes from Morocco.

While I have been unable to confirm this story through any official source, there is a story that is told about the design of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. In this tale it is said that the Imagineers realized that due to the building’s height it would be able to be seen from a few locations around World Showcase in Epcot. Once these sightlines were established, and indicated that it would be seen rising up behind Morocco, the Imagineers went to work piecing together a structure that would be reminiscent of the height of Hollywood glamour and still maintain an architecture and color scheme that would add another layer to the space and story of the Morocco pavilion.Whether or not this is actually the case, the illusion is maintained as the Hollywood Tower Hotel blends into the spires and Chella minaret of Morocco. Casting your gaze to the other side of World Showcase, back towards Future World, guests are met with a large airplane hangar overtaking the rocky cliffs of Canada. While I would not give up Soarin’ for anything, and understand the vast amounts of space needed for such an attraction, the visual intrusion of the hangar seems to go against everything Imagineering has worked so hard to create.

I don’t believe the Soarin’ shelter should have been covered in rockwork, but I do believe there are small fixes that would have reduced the amount the hangar intrudes into the surrounding views. For instance, rather than the blue color, meant to mimic the color of the Florida sky, perhaps the structure should have been painted a rusty brown. This would have been in keeping with the aeronautics feel and given a brown backdrop to the brown crags of the Canada pavilion.While visual intrusion is inevitable as Walt Disney World is developed, guests are at least given fewer undisturbed vistas than those who frequent Disneyland. Thankfully, no matter where you hang your Mouse Ears, the Imagineers do phenomenal work in keeping a story cohesive wherever you choose to look.


M.Sedlar said...

The worst visual intrusion in any Disney park is at Disney's California Adventure. Walking from the Sun Plaza up to Bountiful Valley Farm, you can see the Anaheim Convention Center in the distance. I wish I had a picture of this, but I always forget. It can really take you out of the moment.

I think the rockwork rising above Radiator Springs Racers is eventually going to erase this. If you look at the concept art, there's a high berm behind the attraction. I wish they would build more E-Tickets to cover bad sightlines :)

Anonymous said...

Tower of Terror was purposefully done to blend in with Morocco. When my husband and I had a meeting with the Disney Wedding team, our planner told us this tidbit.

Ryan P. Wilson said...

Matt - I think you are right about Radiator Springs. The bad thing about Disneyland, and California Adventure specifically, is that they have never had enough land to completely blot out the surrounding businesses and buildings.

Anonymous - I have heard the story from several Cast Members as well, but I have yet to find a written source, or an inviewable source close to the creation of the area, to verify. So, just to be on the safe side, I list the story as such until I can find a source.

BamBamWED said...

The worst visual intrusions are the Dolphin and Swan beyond World Showcase IMHO

Princess Fee said...

Ryan - I'm sure that I read in the Imagineering Field Guide about the Tower of Terror (in the Morocco section?). I know I have that written in a book somewhere - I will do a search!

And this is a great article - I am always trying to 'point out' visual intrusions when I'm in the parks, because I'm fussy like that!

And I agree with Brian - I hate being able to see the Swan & Dolphin from World Showcase.

M.Sedlar said...

I forgot about Swan & Dolphin. I agree with you guys. That one is pretty bad. It's up there with the Anaheim Convention Center.

Ryan P. Wilson said...

Princess - I too thought that I had read it somewhere, but, after scouring through every book I could think of, I could not find it. If you have better luck than I did, please let me know! I am hopeful that this story will make its way into the Field Guide for the Studios with the inclusion of the Tower of Terror.

As for everyone's insight into the Swan and Dolphin. I agree it is an eyesore, although I still believe it is less so than the Soarin' building, maybe because it seems larger due to its closeness. Also, I didn't want to turn the article into a 'woe is World Showcase,' so I only went with one example.

SG said...

There is also a spot where you can see through the rooftops of frontierland and spy the carpet ride in adventureland. Let's visit the Persian Bear Jamboree, kids!

But Disney is so good at this... exponentially better than anyone else... that we have to forgive the minor intrusions, right?

Anonymous said...

You can see the non-descript backside of Main Street approaching the Crystal Palace and from spots in front of it, a similar view of the rear of Pecos Bill's Cafe from Caribbean Plaza and the Small World bldg. from the east side of Fantasyland (roughly where the Pooh playground is)...all bad show to me.

Anonymous said...

I have heard cast members refer to the Swan and Dolphin as the "duck and carp." Say it fast and slur it and one is reminded of the "Funk and Wagnall's" double entendre of Laugh-In days. Disney purists are not fond of Eisner's intrusions.