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It’s Over My Head - Part One - Magic Kingdom

Jack Spence Masthead


Last year, I wrote an article called “Pounding the Pavement” in which I looked at the ground we walk on in the four WDW theme parks. Today I will be discussing the areas found above our heads: the ceilings of the many shops, restaurants, and attractions found in the parks.

As I mentioned in “Pounding the Pavement,” most people never give a second thought to the ground they walk on. The same is true for the ceilings and the details above us. We rarely look up and say, “Wow!” But as with everything in a Disney park, details can be found above our heads just as easily as anyplace else. But it wasn’t always this way.

In the early years of the Magic Kingdom, many of the buildings lining Main Street had simple, mass produced “Armstrong-type” ceilings. And in some instances, this is still the case. Take for example the Confectionery. Even today, it lacks imagination. If you look closely at the ceiling, you can see it’s nothing more than a grid of metal strips holding up marginally decorated tiles. Notice too, the air-conditioning vents. No building of the 1890’s ever had a ceiling that looked like this, let alone air conditioning vents.


Confectionery

Confectionery Ceiling


I know you’re saying to yourself, “It’s 2013. Air-conditioning is a fact of life today, even if it wasn’t around in the 1890’s. What can Disney do about this incongruity?”

Disney has already addressed this incompatibility of eras in a number of imaginative ways. One of the most common is “hiding” the air-conditioning vents in beams as seen in the next picture. Sure, if you look at the beams, the vents are obvious. But this method is far more palatable than vents that look like they were manufactured in the 1970’s.


Air Conditioning Duct


Of course lighting also becomes an issue. Gas lamps of the 1890’s simply would not provide enough illumination for a modern shop. We must accept out of necessity canned lights in ceilings.

Although the ceiling in the Confectionery could use a total makeover, we must give Disney some credit. They have tried to add some humor and detail to this overhead area by building a conveyor system that transports buckets of candy around the store.


Candy Conveyor

Candy Conveyor


Our next stop is the train station portico. Here, molding has been used quite effectively to turn an otherwise flat surface into a work of art (and also conceal a couple of speakers).


Train Station

Train Station Portico


Just inside Town Square Theater (formally Exposition Hall) we find an elaborately decked-out dome and chandelier.


Town Square Theater

Town Square Theater


In a recent article I wrote about the Emporium, I discussed the various ceilings found in this shopping arcade.


Emporium

Emporium

Emporium


At the Main Street Cinema, a multitude of light bulbs add interest to this multi-level ceiling.


Main Street Cinema

Main Street Cinema


The ceiling inside the Crystal Palace is charming and elegant. It really is a pleasure to dine with the characters beneath such beauty.


Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace


As we know, more often than not, when you leave an attraction, you exit through a shop. Such is the case with Stitch’s Great Escape. When leaving this extraterrestrial event, guests find themselves in Merchant of Venus. For the most part, the ceiling is made up of simple tiles. But if you look closely, you’ll see Stitch’s footprints scattered about. And in another section of the shop we see Stitch himself, poking his head through the tiles.


Merchant of Venus

Merchant of Venus

Merchant of Venus


Nearby at the Sun Care Center, it’s not the ceiling that impresses, but the space-aged light fixture that resembles orbiting planets.


Sun Care Center

Sun Care Center


Riding the People Mover is one of my favorite pastimes at the Magic Kingdom. And traveling through Space Mountain is always interesting. But be sure to ride facing forward. If you ride facing backwards, you’ll miss seeing the space crew attending to their craft.


Space Mountain

Space Mountain


While riding Space Mountain, stars, spacecraft, and asteroids can be seen darting overhead. However, many people miss these effects as they ride this coaster with their eyes closed. This effect is also difficult to photograph since cast members ask you to put your camera away while riding.

Over in Liberty Square we find a wonderful domed ceiling just inside Hall of Presidents.


Hall of Presidents

Hall of Presidents


At the Haunted Mansion we find perhaps the spookiest of all ceilings. When we first enter the stretch room, the ceiling is adorned with simple molding. But when thunder crashes and the lights go dark, the ceiling disappears to reveal a man hanging from a noose. Because lighting is dim in this room, and flash photography forbidden, I have no pictures to share with you here.

Columbia Harbor House has a number of nautically themed ceilings. Several of these resemble the underside of the main deck of a sailing ship.


Columbia Harbor House

Columbia Harbor House

Columbia Harbor House


On Frontierland’s Splash Mountain, we find the space above our heads is either covered with leaf-laden branches or cave rock.


Splash Mountain

Splash Mountain


The open-air queue area for Pirates of the Caribbean features heavy timbers running along the ceiling. Timbers like these were necessary when constructing a massive fortresse as portrayed here.


Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean


The walkway between Liberty Square and Adventureland incorporates a beautifully detailed ceiling into the design. Next time you’re waiting for a friend to finish up in the restrooms located off of this corridor, take a gander at what lies above your head. Notice again how Disney has incorporated vents and other utilitarian features into the design.


Adventureland - Frontierland Breezeway

Adventureland - Frontierland Breezeway

Adventureland - Frontierland Breezeway


Walt Disney World is all abuzz with the opening of the Be Our Guest Restaurant located in the New Fantasyland. This elegant eatery features one of the most elaborate of all the Magic Kingdom ceilings. Diners really do feel as if they have been magically transported to Beast’s Castle and maybe into the movie itself.


Be Our Guest Restaurant

Be Our Guest Restaurant


Speaking of castles, Cinderella has a pretty nice one herself. And the ceiling in the banquet hall demands attention.


Cinderella Castle

Cinderella Castle


At Big Top Souvenirs in Storybook Circus, we find the canvas of the big top overhead. Besides the colorful striped fabric, a good observer will discover a tightrope, trapeze, and other circus paraphernalia.


Big Top Souvenirs

Big Top Souvenirs


That's it for today. Check back tomorrow when I'll be discussing the overhead delights of Disney's Hollywood Studios.


The previous post in this blog was Walt Disney World Guide Maps.

The next post in this blog is It’s Over My Head - Part Two - Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Comments (15)

Karen:

As always another great article, Jack. Can't wait to see the next 3. Also, can't wait for our next trip to check out these ceilings.

Tim:

I love reading your articles Jack. Every time I go to Disney I try to find the stuff you point out, keep up the good work!

thomas mangano:

thanks Jack i feel better now knowing i'm not the only one that looks at ceiling and walls

Claire Gregory:

Hi Jack!
Actually I have always noticed the ceilings, especially when we were renovating our house. I have the same picture of the walkway ceiling! I want the ceiling in the lobby of Tower of Terror! Its a beautiful piece of work and totally appropriate to the historical period they are portraying. It looks very similar to the lobby ceiling of Toronto's Royal York Hotel, which is the same vintage as the Hollywood Tower Hotel.
Thanks for all the hard work!
Claire

Josh:

hey Jack
once again you have opened our eyes to more awesome details that not too many see. it is amazing to look at something as simple as a ceiling and see the details that fit right in with either the resturants, shops, or attractions. can't wait for the other parts and as always keep up the great work.

Nicole:

Jack,
I'm not sure how you do it...every week when I "tune in" you've got another remarkable take on the World. I never thought much about the ceilings until now. What will you think of next? I'll be back next week to find out!
Nicole

Tim:

The spotlights panning around inside of Big Top Souvenirs is perhaps my single favorite little detail in the New Fantasyland. It is the kind of simple, practical effect (not that there is anything wrong with digital projectors and the like) that I adore in Disney theme parks.

Jenny Sperandeo:

Hi Jack! Thanks again for pointing out the little things that make Disney so special. Who would have thought ceilings could be so interesting...

Jeff:

I liked this article Jack. A few of them I have never noticed before such as the Stitch. You didn't mention that the children painted on the ceiling of Be Our Guest are actually in the likeness of the Imagineer's children though.

Mad Capn Bob:

When I was dining at the Columbia House, I noticed they were piping in some shanties to maintain that nautical atmosphere. Unfortunately, I knew the words to some of them. Yes, I admit, I sang along, scupper me hide. But I did it quiet-like, markee. Just as well they *didn't* play "Cape Cod Girls".

Ceilings? Sometimes I notice them, sometimes not. But I'm planning a return to the parks in July, so I'll have to keep me deadlights fixed on...higher things. Always enjoy your articles and photos.

The WEDWay People Mover is one of my favorites, too.

Rafa:

Great job as always, Jack! :-)

Oh, and although you didn't mention it (perhaps because it was too obvious), it's interesting that at the center of the "space-aged light fixture" of Sun Care Center there is a hidden Mickey!

Keep up the good work!

Jack's Comment:

Steve Barrett, the Hidden Mickey guy, is a team member of AllEars. Because of this, I usually don't point out hidden Mickey's. I let him do this. This was the case with Sun Care Center.

Chris:

When I was in Disneyland last summer I was looking up,Alot of old tin work on those ceilings.Guess that was from Walts touch

Deb Ragno:

Once again I am reminded to LOOK UP! Thank you so much for the pics. One thing did surprise me. We have never done the Haunted Mansion and now I am even more glad that we haven't. Having known two people who committed suicide by hanging in the last year, seeing someone hanging from a noose certainly would cause me turmoil. I never knew this was there and now that I know, I am surprised that Disney would consider this to be entertaining.

Laurie:

Great article as always! I always enjoy your articles. I often have not noticed all the details you present in your articles because I am keeping up with three children when we are at WDW...so it is nice to be able to read your articles at home and really let the details soak in. That being said, I actually have enjoyed one of the details you mentioned in your article...the ceiling of the walkway between Adventureland and Liberty Square. My youngest and I sat out an afternoon storm here. She fell asleep on my lap and I got to people watch and I also noticed all the details that WDW has put into this walkway...including the ceiling! :-)

JM:

I loved your articles on 'looking up'...now you've given us one more detail to delve into for our next trip,I am so lucky to have 2 sons who love the 'details of disney' as much as I do...and I love that it seems like there is always more to the stories in the theming to look forward to!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 4, 2013 7:01 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Walt Disney World Guide Maps.

The next post in this blog is It’s Over My Head - Part Two - Disney's Hollywood Studios.

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