The Magic Behind The Scenes – Seeing Is Not Always Believing

I believe many of you may be familiar with what is called “forced perspective”. It’s a trick used by filmmakers and yes also by Imagineers to make your eyes and mind see something that isn’t real. It is used everywhere at Walt Disney World but a couple of prime examples happen on Main Street USA.

The most basic forced perspective trick is making buildings look larger than they actually are. The Imagineers do this by making each story on a building a little smaller as they go up. As an example, the standard first story height of the buildings on Main Street USA is around twelve feet, the second stories come in at around ten feet, the third at eight feet, etc. By making each story a bit smaller they actually look further away and therefore the building looks larger. A very neat trick and it works beautifully!

Another example concerns the perspective of distance. As you enter the Magic Kingdom all excited and full of energy and you begin your trek down Main Street USA you see Cinderella Castle way off in the distance. When you are finished touring for the day and head back down Main Street USA toward the train station all tuckered out, the distance looks very much shorter. Wasn’t it considerate of the folks at Disney to make Main Street USA shorter while you were touring so that when you were ready to head home you wouldn’t have to walk so far?

The distance is the same, but you already knew that. As you walk toward the Hub and Cinderella Castle, notice that everything at the far end of Main Street USA is wide open and just plain gorgeous. The sheer size of the Castle (more forced perspective) makes the distances appear much greater. As you walk back towards the train station, the buildings are smaller in both perspective and reality and the area at the far end is closed in by the train station, City Hall, Tony’s, etc. This makes the scope of the area much smaller and therefore it appears much closer. Oh those devious Imagineers!!

I thinks that explains the title!! As always, enjoy your visit to Walt Disney World!!

Ken


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