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The Science Behind the Magic: Mickey's PhilharMagic

The Disney Imagination Campus team
by The Disney Imagination Campus team

Places, everyone! It’s time to present Maestro Mickey Mouse and the PhilharMagic Orchestra! 

Let’s take a seat and explore the science behind the magic of Mickey’s PhilharMagic and how acoustic engineering and lighting techniques are used in sync with each other to immerse the audience into the story! 

Acoustic Engineering

What is it? Acoustics is the study of sound and how it reacts in an environment. Acoustic engineers designed the space in Mickey’s PhilharMagic to immerse guests into the story through the utilization of sound energy. 

How do we use it? Acoustic engineers had to consider how to reduce echoes and unwanted noise, how to place the speakers so the audience can hear in all parts of the theater, and how sound will interact with different surfaces and surface angles. The immersiveness of the panoramic visuals, music, sensory effects, and story distract you from the fact that you are sitting in a theater.

Where do we use it? When you hear the Concert Hall’s stage manager Goofy moving around backstage before the show begins, you can hear him because there are speakers located all around the theater. When you are flying through the clouds with Aladdin and Jasmine on a magic carpet ride and with Peter Pan using magic pixie dust, you can feel the dramatic wind effect from the large fans overhead, but you do not notice the noise from the fans. That’s because sound dampening fabric covers the walls to reduce echoes and unwanted noises during the performance. 

Lighting Techniques

What is it? Lighting techniques are used in a theater to enforce the dramatic impact of a production and how the audience views the show. Examples of technology that are used to enhance lighting in the theater included projected visuals, spotlights, gobos, strobe lights, and color filters.  

How do we use it? Light is used to help tell the story of the attraction. Whether it’s the 3D visual effects seen on the screen through opera glasses, or the dancing light effects installed throughout the theater, the theatrical lighting enhances the story’s narrative and helps transition between scenes. Not only do the lights change throughout the show, but the lights are synced to the music and sound effects to apply more emphasis. 

Where do we use it? To create the 3D effect you see on the screen, two projectors are used to project an image for each eye onto the screen. When viewed though special glasses, our brains perceive the two separate images as one 3D image. Multi-colored lights were also installed around the theater and used to replicate being under the sea, venturing through the African savanna, or discovering a whole new world in the stars.

The next time you experience Mickey’s PhilharMagic, notice how sound and light work together to tell a captivating story inspired by the music and animation of the most beloved Disney films!

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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