Deep design analysis of Walt Disney World's lighting fixtures

FoxxFur, the brilliant, pseudonymous design critic and scholar of Disney themeparks, is back again, with the first post in a series of long analyses of the use of lighting fixtures in the design of Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom park. FoxxFur matches the attention-to-detail of the original Imagineers, unearthing a design sensibility that is incredibly subtle, and making a strong case that this subtlety isn't wasted -- rather, it all contributes to an overall sense of consistency and immersion that is the secret of the Disney park success.

One of the best light poles in the entire park, these tall lamps manage to represent Main Street, Adventureland and the Hub all at once. They span the bridge leading from the Crystal Palace to the gateway to Adventureland.

The Hub features much more utilitarian lamps overall, very similar to those seen outside the train station amidst the turnstiles. I think these were selected to create a garden-like atmosphere throughout the Hub, which benefits in Florida greatly from her meandering waterways, sloping lawns, and expansive flowerbeds, recalling the European gardens which inspired Disneyland. Their frosted globes link the entry area, Main Street, and the Hub in a single unified organically flowing movement.

Our tall lamps, above, are unique and occur only at the Crystal Palace bridge. While their tall shape mimics the castle and their frosted globes remind us of Main Street, notice the details of leaves, fronds, and lion heads - hinting at what will be seen nearby in Adventureland.

All the Lights of the Kingdom: Part One


  1. Pseudonymous ?   How can you be sure his/her name isn’t Foxxfur?  Quite an assumption there, Cory.

  2. Cory, have you ever written about the deeply conflicted relationship you have with Disney? You obviously have a great deal of love for their creations (and why not? Their creations are brilliant) but as a copyfighter you abhor what The Mouse represents for the public domain and creative collaboration. I’d like to know more about how you resolve this internally.

  3. I’m always fascinated by great light fixtures, and have built many of my own. I looked at the fixtures and arrays in the article, but one thing I missed. There was no mention of the types of bulbs used in any of the fixtures. I’m sure Disney would have made the effort to assure the color temperature and spectrum were suited to the application. For years I wrote spectral descriptions of phosphors, metal salt components and blackbody emissions of various lamps (bulbs) on the market. I’d bet some of Disney’s considerations of illuminant placements would have been quite interesting if revealed. I frequently discussed lighting technologies on Usenet with researchers from the major manufacturers. They shared a lot of historic development stories from the industry.

    SIDE NOTE:  Unfortunately, due to the more useful application my lighting knowledge I may soon be doing time.

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