Color Theory and Walt Disney World

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Complementary colors are pairs of colors that are of “opposite” hue in some color model. The most popular color model is the artist color wheel where complementary colors are seen opposite of each other. Analogous colors are found next to each other on the same color model. Disney uses this knowledge when designing its themeparks and movies to create pleasing eye-catching color schemes.

Tiana’s Showboat Jubilee which, just finished entertaining guests at the Magic Kingdom, is an excellent example of complementary colors. Below are decorations for Tiana’s Showboat Jubilee that waere placed on the riverboat Liberty Belle where the jubilee took place.

Complementary and analogous colors used to decorate the Liberty Belle in the Magic Kingdom for Tiana's Showboat Jubille, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Complementary and analogous colors used to decorate the Liberty Belle for Tiana’s Showboat Jubille.

On the color wheel, purple and yellow are found opposite of each other making them complementary. While yellow and green are next to each on the color wheel or analogous. The three together form a color triad. Disney designers and animators study color theory to come up with visually exciting productions based on such tools. They also make for pleasing photographs.

Tiana's Showboat Jubille on the Liberty Belle rounding the corner on the Rivers of America in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Tiana’s Showboat Jubille on the Liberty Belle rounding the corner on the Rivers of America.

Here is the Liberty Belle with the full complement of entertainers in Tiana’s Showboat Jubille from the Disney animated movie, The Princess and the Frog. You will notice the colors purple, yellow and green are used in most of the costumes like the lovely Southern Belle seen below.

One of the lovely Southern Belles of Tiana's Showboat Jubille on the Liberty Belle in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
One of the lovely Southern Belles of Tiana’s Showboat Jubille.

Finding complementary colors will make your photos pop and add to your travel photos at Walt Disney World.

Scott's "Photographic Innoventions" blog focuses on intermediate to advanced photography concepts and techniques relevant for Point and Shoot and Digital SLR cameras.

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2 Replies to “Color Theory and Walt Disney World”

  1. Scott,
    In this case, there is much more to the color selection than the color wheel. Since the Princess and the Frog is set in New Orleans, Imagineers chose the official colors of Mardi Gras. These colors were chosen in 1872 by the King of Carnival, Rex.

    He chose these colors to stand for the following:

    Purple represents justice
    Green stands for faith
    Gold stands for power

    Mardi Gras season just began and is huge in this part of the country. Purple, gold and green are already making their annual appearance.

    – Jon

    Scott replies: Thank you, Jon, for telling us about the significance of these colors in the celebration of Mardi Gras.. I wasn’t aware of their meanings. They are also be an excellent example of complementary colors, too.

  2. Um, all props to the Disney designers, but the reason that purple, yellow, and green were used on the Showboat is because those are the traditional colors of Mardi Gras! They’ve been used for many, many years in that celebration in New Orleans 🙂 So people back then must have known about color theory too!

    Scott replies: Oh, I know these colors are associated with Mardi Gras, too. I was in Walt Disney World last year during Mardi Gras week with a lot of Louisiana residents sporting these colors.

    Goes to show you how certain colors are prevalent in our history.