/ Monday, October 12th, 2015

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The immersive environments in Walt Disney World all tell a complete story, and one that is woven and connected through experiences that impact all of our senses. And there are many instances where the lighting sets the mood, tone, and effect on your emotions. So this week, join us as we reveal our Top Ten Lighting Effects in Walt Disney World, and then ask you to share yours as well!

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QUESTION for YOU from this week’s show: Who is YOUR favorite lighting effect in Walt Disney World? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Tomorrowland Audio Tour Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World Lou Mongello




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14 thoughts on “WDW Radio Show #422 – Top Ten Lighting Effects in Walt Disney World”

  1. chris g says:

    Gotta say the Haunted Mansion at night.
    Really brings out the theme of the attraction.
    Jungle Cruise at night. Whole different ride experience at night

  2. Chuck Zitta says:

    Favorite lighting effect? I’m going to take a different look at this topic and say. The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights! Yes, dancing lights. Not only are the lights in front of you, they’re left of you, right of you, AND yes, even above you!!! They surround you, dance for you, move for you and create an overwhelming feeling of pure HOLIDAY JOY that make you want to dance, sing, toast, cheer and hug your fellow man. We took my mother to see them last November and I think it was one of the happiest moments of her life. They truly are a spectacle for all to see. So, they may not technically be an effect style of lighting, but they sure do “create a mood”. Love those lights!!! Thanks again for another terrific show, Lou.

  3. Sarah Jane says:

    There is nothing better than Disney at night. My favorite lighting feature would have to be the “fires” along the path driving up to the Animal Kingdom Lodge at night. They make you feel like you’re on safari and that something exciting is to come!

  4. Chuck Zitta says:

    Oh, I’m sorry. Was half listening to the first part of the show, as my mind was occupied with work. I guess I kind of cheated – using a Christmas themed lighting effect in my previous post. So, lets go with the Pepper’s Ghost effect in the ballroom of the Haunted Mansion. Even though I know how it’s done, there’s something about that scene that still intrigues me to this day. I’ll never tire of cruising by that scene in a doom buggy.

  5. Isaac says:

    I completely agree with this list, especially about Hollywood and Sunset Blvd(s). I have to say that Fantasmic! has to have some of my favorite lighting effects. I finally saw the show for the first time very recently and I was in awe. Everything from the purples and reds in the high rising fountains to the projections on the water screens, the lighting in Fantasmic! is quite spectacular. The show blew my mind!!

  6. Rosalie says:

    Hey Lou! We actually spoke while on my last visit to WDW a few weeks ago (I was the one who was stuck on spaceship earth while you were in Epcot). My boyfriend (now fiancé / he proposed at wishes😬) and I kept talking about the lighting by the train station on Main Street. As we left magic kingdom on the last night of our trip I couldn’t help but feel like we were leaving our own home. The lighting is, somehow soft yet so bright. We felt so at home. Main Street has always felt like home, especially at night.

    Thanks for all you do!

  7. Steven McPhail says:

    I was really thrilled to hear you specifically mention Mexico, as it’s one of the lighting effects my wife and I really enjoyed during our Disneymoon in September. It’s so subtle yet completely immersive, to the point it was a little jarring to walk back out into the heat of day. The lighting in Epcot really does set it apart as a whole. It’s a simple thing, but one of our favorite memories from the trip was sitting outside Katsura Grill with our udon bowls, looking out over the lagoon as dusk fell and the lamps overhead sparked to life and Spaceship Earth began to show its evening colors.

    One lighting effect I’m a little surprised hasn’t been mentioned so far are the fireflies on Pirates of the Caribbean. Since it was down for refurbishment when we were there I wasn’t able to speak to it specifically, but I always remember that part of the attraction being a wonderfully subtle touch.

  8. John says:

    I heard Lou kind of tangentially mention this location: Columbia Harbor House Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom. I think the lighting there is perfect for the era for two main reasons.

    The first is the bit Lou mentioned that the glass in the windows is not perfect. Clear glass like we have today was simply not possible then, so the windows of the time had small imperfections like bubbles or slightly “wavy” textures.

    The Harbor House windows have that texture and it fits so well with the era. The light coming in is slightly scattered and that simply helps set the stage for a nice experience.

    Second is the size of the windows. This isn’t a perfect example of the times – glass was expensive to buy and replace so windows typically were smaller than what we have today, and there were fewer of them on buildings – but the Harbor House still has the windows laid out such that you get a more intimate and cozy feel than the modern, large windows. I compare it to the windows in the Starlight Cafe in Tomorrowland – they are huge and have a completely different feel to them. The fewer windows in HH simply make for a more faithful representation of that era. One of my favorite counter service restaurants and it is much more realistic because of the lighting techniques used.

  9. Excellent show. First, I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t say that a trip to the Walt Disney Word resort is fundamentally a theatrical experience. I could talk about this for hours, and maybe someday I will, but for now, let it suffice to say that lighting design is an integral and indispensable aspect of any theatrical offering. At the risk of being hyperbolic (and if you can’t be hyperbolic about Disney World what can you be hyperbolic about), one can’t even begin to appreciate and comprehend the lighting design and effects at Disney World until you have a good familiarity of the work of pioneer scenographer Adolph Appia, Richard Wagner (yes the opera guy) and more recently Czech scenographer Josef Svoboda. More than a century of theatrical lighting design developments are beautifully realized in the Disney parks. So bravo for this past show. My favorite effect, hands down is The ballroom/banquet in the Haunted Mansion. I know you discussed the Haunted Mansion busts and the exterior lights during the show, but the use of the “Pepper’s Ghost” effect in the ballroom is brilliant in its simplicity and a wonderful nod to the scenography of the 19th century. I never tire of it. On my first visit, the ride broke down for about ten minutes in the ballroom, and I loved every second of it. Lou, I don’t remember you mentioning a food lighting effect, but I may have missed it. I have one. The illuminated Mickey Mouse ice cubes that they’ll put in children’s drinks! You also have to give a shout out to the moment when Winnie the Pooh falls into a deep sleep and we see a slumbering Pooh rise into dreamland, while the actual sleeping Pooh disappears. I particularly enjoy the lighting at EPCOT’s World Showcase gateway. The walk from the EPCOT resorts, the pavilion outside the entrance, the boat launch, the path that leads to Great Britain and France, and the path by the water all make you feel like you are in Paris City of Lights. There are many elements that contribute to that, none more important at night than the lights. Just thought of another food effect: the menus at Le Cellier are illuminated. I suppose I could do this all night. Thanks for all the terrific shows Lou. Wait a sec, wait a sec. . .how can we not mention the lighting effects of the Main Street Electrical Parade. .. if just for the scope. I’ll have to let this suffice for now.

  10. Bridgette Gallagher says:

    I’ve got three myself-

    I love the twinkling sidewalk squares at Epcot. I always forget about them until we are waking out at the end of the night. It’s just one more little bit of magic at the end of the day.

    I love how cinderella’s castle changes color as the night goes. And every once in a while you can catch an extra little sparkle swinging from one of the turrets.

    My last favorite lighting effects are the ballroom ghosts in the haunted mansion. Not new technology by any means but I love how the effects work.

  11. Arthur Allen says:

    I was already tipped off to the ghost chorus effect one year before my first Disneyland visit in 1985. At a suburban amateur haunted house, they had a witch’s face projected onto a white cylinder with a hat and hair. Probably they used an 8mm projector running a film loop of about a minute or two, but the projector itself was hidden inside scenery. Because you were looking at it right there in the lobby while waiting for the next tour, you had time to figure out how it works, unlike in the Haunted Mansion where you are whisked away. The Seattle Public Library has video projected faces on spheres as an artwork, which reminds me of the Haunted Mansion every time I see it.

    Dang, I wish I had seen the Epcot entrance plaza fiber optics. I don’t know how I missed them. I guess I’ll just have to go back some day.

  12. Blake Rogers says:

    Something a lot of people haven’t seen as Animal Kingdom is rarely open at night is the lighting on the Ttee of Life. All the carvings in the trunk just pop out.


    I can’t wait for Animal Kingdom to become a night-time park!

  13. Brian Walton says:

    Great show, Lou. Here’s a different take. We were just on CAPTAIN EO last weekend. What about the cool in-theatre lighting that synchs with the film? I particularly love the flashing beacon that flashes in the room, along with it on the screen. A simple effect, but very immersive.

  14. Ben says:

    I’m writing this as I listen to the podcast, so it’s probably going to be really long. As I was listening to the part about the nighttime scenes being very serene, I was looking at photos of inside Spaceship Earth and all of the nighttime scenes are all clear nights. The first counterexample that came to mind was the first scene of Living with the Land, which thinking about it, even though it’s a literal hurricane and they mention how destructive it is (or at least how destructive it seems), I think it’s also very serene. I was also thinking about how the German Biergarten is also an indoor area that feels like it’s outside, but the Mexico pavilion definitely is calmer, even with the market. It’s just that one blue on the back wall behind the temple that they don’t have at the Biergarten. That being said, the Biergarten I think is less concerned with being calm. The sky is a lot darker, I think because they’re trying to pull your attention towards the stage and not towards the ceiling and sides of the room like they do in Mexico. I also 100% agree with the change in Tommorrowland, it’s one of my favorite places at night. Depending on what you define as “lighting”, if you consider fireworks to be lighting, one of my favorite things to do is ride BTMR when Wishes is going off. Going up the second lift hill with the fireworks just over the castle is really cool and I’ve only been able to do it once so far. Definitely something to try if you get a chance.