Thursday, May 31, 2012

Out of the Blue

lue is statistically the most popular color in the spectrum. A deeper understanding of this account is the topic of a whole other discussion, so I’ll try to stay on target. I will say, for the record, that my personal favorite color is orange and very much not blue. I’ve read that color preference and personality types are inversely related, which corroborates this preface: I’m aware that my opinion tends to be in the minority.

A great deal of study has gone into the psychology of colors. Blue is known as the calm color. It’s associated with relaxation and often used in art and design for a soothing effect. Some cities like Tokyo and Glasgow have even experimented with soft blue lighting at night in an attempt to reduce crime. However, certain excess amounts and dark shades can also stimulate feelings of coldness and depression.

As someone who is not the biggest fan of the color blue, I say with as much objectivity as I can that the Disney Company seems to be a bit infatuated with it. They’ve got blue coming out the wazoo. I could nitpick any number of things like their former movie logo, or almost every single one of their DVD spines… (The Disney movie collection on my shelf looks like an aquarium tank.) A particular head-scratcher is the blue-zation of Cinderella’s dress. This has frustrated me for years, and I’m astounded at the almost conspiracy-like execution of covering up any evidence that her dress was actually SILVER. It was described as “gold and silver” in the original Charles Perrault novel, appears as white or silver in Mary Blair’s concept art, and remained a shimmering silver in the 1950 animated film. Yet every piece of merchandise and costumed character since who-knows-when has her in a very blue dress. Even a tailored screenshot on the back of the DVD box shows her sporting an inexplicably blue gown. Since I swore to stay focused, let’s just note that for now and move forward. I promise you though, this will not be the last you’ll hear from me on the Cinderella blues.

Hold on to your glass slippers for this: She's not blonde either.

 “it’s a small world” has a very devout fan base, even after 45+ years of praying for world peace. There’s no questioning the emotion this attraction still rallies, given the reaction to the 2009 makeover. Just a few years ago, whether or not you supported the Disney movie character cameos, rainforest reduction, and new “Mary Blair” “America” “scene” (I didn’t.), you couldn’t argue that the people still treasured these little singing children of the world. Even relatives of Mary Blair spoke up in protest, asking the Disney Company to not tarnish the attraction’s original messages of peace and unity. Tying in color influences, I often read that the façade and final show scene are white to symbolize purity, as children were chosen to represent innocence. I wonder then, how fans and family reacted to the blue-ening of the façade circa 1980..? I especially wish there were blogs and chat rooms available when it became an exhibition of pastels. (But hey, who didn’t have highlights in the 90’s?)

 Recently, we were given our first look at Matterhorn’s new night time lighting. In fact, it was hard to miss from across the park.


I’m not sure what the logical reasoning is for this choice of lighting. (Or should I call it “lightning”?) Either the plutonium usage of our time traveling caused a radioactive meltdown in the mountain (we did visit the 1959 bobsled run back in January, after all…) or the mystery of the abominable snowman’s existence is being explained through the revelation that Matterhorn is, in fact, from another planet. This sort of science fictionery may have flown back in the days when Matterhorn was billed under Tomorrowland, but most of us have accepted its life choice as a Fantasyland attraction decades ago and have since moved on. Perhaps the role-reversal was influenced by its painfully cartoony and un-Tomorrowlandish nautical neighbor.

We shouldn’t be surprised, as years of haphazard management and heedless aesthetic choices have left parts of the park – moreover, the park itself – with a major identity crisis.

But – as much as I tried not to – I digress.

So the falls are glowing blue. So what, right? “I think it’s pretty,” one might say. Perhaps it is, but perhaps it’s just another shiny thing to make us go “Ooh… Ahh…” Another cheap, er… cost-efficient trick aimed at the lowest common denominator to satisfy our need to simply see something new. All the while, disregarding any clear definition of what Matterhorn is or what the attraction is about. Not to mention the money and effort that was just put into giving the mountain a (fantastic) more realistic paint job. I will admit to some further bias here... Matterhorn has always been one of my favorites. Even before I ever rode the bobsleds, one of my favorite things was to pass through via Skyway and marvel at its majesty. Its sounds and smells were so perfectly immersive, and that creature inside dared me to make eye contact with him (though I never would). I was also fascinated with its maze of winding tubular track which begged to be deciphered. So you see it is with great respect for Mr. Disney’s masterpiece of a thrill ride that I choke at seeing it turned into a rave party by night. Perhaps Al Lutz was right about MatterHORNica after all…

It falls – pun intended – into a Disney trend of showiness without reason. I’m reminded of Madame Leota’s crystal ball, which now soars majestically through the air despite incantation logic, storytelling purpose, or regard for her own personal safety. Disney just has her do it… because they can. It’s new. It’s visually stimulating. And by gum, you’re gonna like it!

I’m reminded of something else – something about this particular lighting effect that just feels a little familiar, but from where…?

Lavender blue, dilly dilly.
Ah yes! All over the place. Talk about a primary color. Looks like Matterhorn’s falls aren’t the first landmark to get the LED treatment lately, and – in a place where trends overstay their welcome – I’m sure there’s plenty of cerulean cellophane to last Disney for years to come.

So why are we being treated to so much blue hum? Ginger once suggested to me that they’ve been subliminally planting Tron into our brains; I’m all for a good conspiracy theory as long as it includes glowing cocktails. Some Disney lighting director might simply have an affinity for this one particular color; perhaps polls have suggested that most guests – as statistics have shown – prefer it as well. In the spirit of Tokyo, we could be subjects of color psychology, slowly and subtly being lulled into a blue haze of serenity. Whatever the case, at least we can rule out the possibility that Disney would ever be persuading us to buy something…


  1. Wow, talk about subliminal advertising. No wonder I like to take my spinning glow-thingy into the Haunted Mansion and keep it turned on throughout the entire attraction.....oh, and Pirates of the Caribbean too!

    Excellent post!

  2. Thanks, TM! I always thought you did that just because it's sooooooo cool! You fashionista you!