The Light Trap

Journey into Themed Design

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The Light Trap

Did you ever wonder if there was a logical reason behind the way you enter a show building?

Picture if you will that you’ve just spent 35 minutes waiting in the outdoor queue of Space Mountain in its below version, and are just about to enter the mountain.

« Show Building »
Enclosed structures that contain attractions such as rides or entertainment shows. The building is usually themed only on his visible sides.

In a few minutes, you will be blasted to the moon in the complete darkness… Or half-darkness. Why? Because there is no light trap. Don’t start to imagine a complex thing coming from Star Wars : it is only an architectural layout.

Image de « Disney Blueprint Page »

If you look closely at the way the guests enter the building, from the main entry or the Fastpass one, you will notice that the layout forces you to make a 90° turn in a covered walkway. It’s this layout that we call a « light trap ». Let me explain : the light can only travel in straight line, and so will be « trapped » in the highlighted zones of the picture below.

In a ride like Space Mountain where the dark atmosphera is a main criteria, this layout was essential to avoid keeping a closed door between the outside queue line and the « stellar way »

« Space Mountain – De la Terre à la Lune » – Disneyland Paris

Opening : 1995

Launched rollecoaster with inversions

This layout was of course not an exclusivity. You will be able to notice it in many Dark Rides where the vehicule goes into a U-Turn or does a zigzag at the beginning of the ride to prevent the light to enter the building. You can see it below in « Snow White’s Scary Adventure » or Peter Pan’s Flight.


« Peter Pan’s Flight » – Disneyland Paris

Ouverture 1992

Dark Ride

That’s it for today! The next time you step into a dark ride, try to spot if the deviation you just took is really innocent, and if others design tricks were used to control the brightness of the area.