How do theme park architects and designers hide unsightly backstage buildings? They use unique colors and various shades of go away green.
Theme park fans understand visiting a theme park is about experiencing immersive experiences and being removed from the real world. As theme park designers, we go to great lengths – and great expense – to remove as much of the outside world’s visual intrusions or reducing backstage buildings’ visual impact to onstage, themed environments.
One of the budget friendly ways we keep theme park Guest’s eyes and view sheds focused on the the 3-Dimensional story we are telling is to paint away intrusive elements with ‘Go Away Green’ paint. The next time you visit your favorite theme park, look for the use of paint colors to hide in plain sight parts of buildings or the landscape.
We provide an insider’s guide to the famous Disney’s go away green paint concept with insight into how not all go away green’s are the same.
Disney’s Go Away Green
Walt Disney Imagineers created a set of proprietary colored green paints that are used as visual intrusion camouflage to hide backstage buildings or other items onstage in the landscape as a means to de-emphasize those features from the Guests point of view. As many know, theme parks – certainly Disney theme parks – are quite literally stories their Guests traverse through. Unlike movies where the story unfolds 24 frame per second, a theme park’s story is ‘static’ and it unfolds as the Guests move through the themed facilities and placemaking.
Theme park designers are careful to use various design methodologies to ‘guide’ the Guests view sheds throughout the parks. For example, some views within a them park may be foreshortened with a shallow depth of field to emphasize something in the theme park’s story or narrative relatively close in proximity to the Guest. On the other hand, theme park designers may want the Guest to have a long-range view across a body of water, or down a simulated street, or through dense vegetation to give the theme park’s story being told depth, and provide the Guest the ability view various ‘scenes’ over a longer period of time.
Masking backstage or unwanted physical details from the Guests in tight interior or exterior space makes it easier for theme park designers to hide backstage buildings or other unwanted features in the landscape. This can be achieved by increase the height of walls or using taller and more dense landscape features – plants, trees, ‘live’ rocks, or even faux rock work.
Why Use the Color Green for Go Away Green?
De-emphasizing unsightly features in the long-range, views across large bodies of water, or more open areas of a theme park – while giving a sense of scale and depth – can cause unwanted physical features to creep into the theme park designers’ intended view shed for that particular exterior ‘scene’. Features like show buildings, ride or ‘gravity’ buildings, backstage support facilities, landscape features such as irrigation control boxes, exposed foundations of themed elements sitting in the area development, etc.
Realizing it is physically impossible to completely hide everything from the ‘real world’ that visually intrudes into a Guests line of sight while onstage at a theme park, Disney Imagineers created their own unique go away green paint colors. These various shades of green are painted on the exterior walls of backstage buildings and site features that – either due to scale or other physical site limitations – cannot be masked by landscaping or other themed features.
Why was the color green chosen to mask visual intrusions?
Themed planting designs often found in theme parks and are used for a multitude of reasons. Theme park Landscape Architects will use lush landscaping to give a sense of place, enhance the storyline (exotic plants to placemake a far away country), provide shade, provide an enhanced sense of placemaking in-between the themed facilities and attractions along promenades, and used on large berms with trees and dense planting schemes are used to mask large back of house facilities that may impede on the onstage story.
Since large landscaped berms are a staple at many theme parks, it only makes sense the buildings, facilities, and back of house visual intrusions be painted green to fade into the background and play off the adjacent landscaping as camouflage.
Go away green works best on backstage facilities that are relatively close to the height of the adjacent landscaping berms or screen walls. For back of house facilities greater in height than the tallest trees, then Go Away Blue – often called Bye Bye Blue – is utilized mimicking the color of the sky.
Not All Go Away Greens Are the Same
While many theme park fans may initially believe there is only one ‘magical’ go away green color that was developed by Imagineering, that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are a plethora of varying shades of green hues developed and utilized by Walt Disney Imagineers, and other theme park designers, depending on the theme park’s location and surrounding color palette.
The varying shades of go away green work in tandem with the color palette of the theme park they reside within. For example, many people probably understand the overall color palette and hues of colors differ when comparing Disneyland in California versus the Magic Kingdom in Florida. The color shift and warmth of the colors the two different locations experience is due to the differentiated color emanating – and intensity of the light – from the sun in the two different geographical locations. The overall color hues of the Magic Kingdom tend to be more warm and more vivid than Disneyland.
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As a result of the sun’s intensity, and the different types of plant material used to screen buildings, the hues of the go away greens are modified accordingly. The go away greens at the Disneyland Resort tend to be more muted when compared to the go away greens at the Magic Kingdom park in Florida.
Building upon all of this, depending on the location in the theme park – while still assuming the geographic location of the park – the hues and color shift in the go away greens will be slightly altered. For example, the green hue utilized on the backstage facades of the Main Street, U.S.A facilities in the Magic Kingdom are more muted in their hue when compared to the go away greens utilized on the back of house facility exterior walls on Be Our Guest, the Dumbo the Flying Elephant Scene One facility, and the Barnstormer roller coaster train maintenance shed. At these locations, the go away green is much darker to correspond to the existing Florida landscape around the backstage side of the Magic Kingdom park.
Using the picture (above) one can see the go away green utilized on the existing two-story back of house operations facility – located between the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land and Toy Story Land, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the hue of the go away green was selected to work with the lush landscaping surrounding the Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster.