pp. 28-29 p. 30

The Cinderella Castle has been welcoming patrons to Walt Disney World for more than 25 years. Toni Page Birdsong examines the lighting that has enchanted both young and old alike.

Most designers would agree that dreaming in the actual world is much easier with the right technology. And the union of imagination and invention is exactly what made recent lighting changes to Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World Resort so successful.

What used to be a simple two-color wash over the famous gothic castle has evolved into a cyclorama of more than 20 different colors projected continuously by a 30-minute loop of SMPTE-synchronized audio. According to Mark Dunlap, senior lighting designer for Walt Disney Imagineering, it is a lighting effect that has been tinkered with by Imagineers for the past four years.

"Basically, technology caught up with Imagineers; we're always looking for better ways to light the castle and this new technology gives us the flexibility we've been looking for," Dunlap said. "The castle used to be lit in such a way that at night it was more or less a piece of scenery. Since the new lighting was installed, guests stand and watch the castle change colors and listen to the audio story. The castle has definitely become a nighttime attraction in its own right."