A View of Epcot’s World Showcase After Dark
By Tyler Braun
We all know that the Disney Parks are beautiful during the day, but many would argue that they get even more beautiful at night. Disney Imagineers are masters of lighting. They can convey everything from time period to mood with simple changes in lighting. Walking around Epcot’s World Showcase at night is a master class in the simplistic elegance and subtle importance of perfect lighting. Let’s take a stroll through World Showcase after dark!
Note - You can enlarge the pictures by clicking on them.
Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion. Notice the beautiful use of flood lighting from below, a staple of Disney architectural lighting.
Epcot’s Norway Pavilion is a great example of how Disney uses time period and location appropriate lighting (see the two lanterns on the wall as well as the street lamps in the middle of the frame) juxtaposed with special effects and theatrical lighting (see the spotlight shining on the chimney of the building towards the top). This creates a sense of realism and “show” at the same time.
The lighting inside is just as well thought out and executed as the architectural lighting, as shown in the way this Buddha statue is lit inside Epcot’s China Pavilion.
In Epcot’s Germany Pavilion, notice that most of the lighting below the rooftop line is casting downward. This serves two purposes, first causing the eye to see the village square as an up close and personal space, and the second to cause a dark roof line. The dark roof accentuates the light on the castle behind, which you’ll notice has light coming from below, another trick to make it seem even taller. The downward light of the bottom half and the upward light of the top half makes the height difference even more dramatic, even though there is probably less than twenty feet of difference. It’s also fun to see the windows lit up on the second level, inevitably causing you to wonder who occupies the space behind the panes.
With Disney Imagineers being masters of lighting, they also know when not to use any, as is the case with the Torii Gate in the Japan Pavilion. While I’ve seen it lit in the past, it seems as though the Imagineers have decided to remove the lighting. This further accentuates the beauty of the lighting surrounding World Showcase Lagoon.
One of my favorite buildings in World Showcase is the Pagoda in the Japan Pavilion. To put it simply, it’s beautiful! It stands, a strong and proud sentinel against the night sky.
The tower in World Showcase’s Morocco Pavilion is another expert example of uplighting. It causes the eye to look up at the tower, giving the illusion of more height. On ground level, the pavilion is lit with soft orange light, making the orange in the buildings stand out and causing a pretty dark look that would be authentic to Morocco.
The France Pavilion has to be good, for it is home to Paris, “The City of Lights”. Notice how they have used more white & yellow lights, lifting the whole look of the building and accentuating the colors. If you look closely, you can see they’ve faced a light on the building in the shape of a diamond, mimicking the look in the curtains in the top window and drawing the eye to the center and the “Impressions de France” sign.
The castle in the Canada Pavilion is another textbook example of using light to their advantage. I think Canada’s castle is one of the prettiest and most under appreciated buildings in World Showcase. Sure, there’s not really anything to do, but it’s such a beautiful structure and, of course, it’s lit very well. Notice the stronger lighting at the top, giving the illusion that the building is taller than it actually is. The lamps lighting your way up the stairs are beautiful, and the lights on behind only certain windows gives the castle an excellent sense of realism and wonder.
Disney Park’s are in many ways works of art, and lighting is an integral part of painting that picture and setting the scene. Disney Magic is in the details, and next time you’re in Walt Disney World (or any Disney Park), take the time to notice the incredible and subtle role that lighting plays in every aspect of the parks.