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The Science Behind the Magic: Mad Tea Party

The Disney Imagination Campus team
by The Disney Imagination Campus team

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland, let’s fall down the rabbit hole and join the Mad Hatter, March Hare, and Dormouse for a Mad Tea Party! 

Curiouser and curiouser! Let’s use our curiosity and imagination to explore the science behind the magic of the Mad Tea Party and why centripetal force and the rainbow color spectrum make spinning in these giant, colorful teacups so much fun!

Centripetal Force

What is it? Centripetal force is a force that acts on a body moving in a circular path and is directed toward the center around which the body is moving. 

How do we use it? When the center steering wheel is spun in the middle of the giant teacup, it spins the teacup in a circular motion. The centripetal force makes your body follow the curved path in which the teacups are moving due to gravity keeping you in your seat. 

Where do we use it? The next time you take a spin on the Mad Tea Party, notice how the force feels on your body. Spin too fast, and you might feel a little dizzy! (Here’s a hint: Find a central point to focus your vision on while you spin, and you won’t feel quite as dizzy afterward!)

Rainbow Color Spectrum

What is it? The colorful teacups on the Mad Tea Party attraction were originally designed by artist Mary Blair. These colors resemble many of the colors found in the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. The human eye and brain together translate light on the electromagnetic spectrum into color. Newton observed that color is not inherent in objects, but the surface of an object reflects some colors and absorbs all the others.

How do we use it? Each teacup is painted with two colors. There is a lighter color used as the main color of the teacup and the saucer, and a darker color used for the lined pattern. We can see these colors because when light hits an object, the object reflects some of that light and absorbs the rest of it. 

Where do we use it? Pay attention to how Mary Blair’s unique approach to midcentury modern design and the variety of rainbow colors are used to immerse you into the fantastical setting of Wonderland. Which color teacup will you choose the next time you experience the Mad Tea Party? 

The next time you experience the Mad Tea Party at Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort, take a moment to reflect on the science behind the magic of this attraction. Don’t forget to wish Alice a very merry (un)BIRTHDAY!

Curious to learn more? Check out the Science & Technology workshops at our East Campus in Walt Disney World Resort and our West Campus in Disneyland Resort for a discovery of the real-world application of science, technology, engineering, art, and math at some of our most popular attractions! Sign up for our e-newsletter to stay up to date on all things Disney Imagination Campus and explore all our academic workshops to see how we inspire imagination-powered learning.

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