Friday, March 4, 2011

Matterhorn Bobsleds

Guten Tag, y'all! This week we’ll take a brisk look at the typography used throughout Disneyland's Matterhorn Bobsleds. Walt Disney came up with the concept for the attraction while visiting the Swiss Alps on vacation with his family. Once back home in the states, Walt tasked his Imagineers with creating a Matterhorn of his own. Stepping up technology, as Imagineers do, the Matterhorn was the first roller coaster to implement a tubular steel continuous track system. This innovation ushered in a whole new era of thrill ride capabilities.

Many of the typefaces and fonts used throughout the attraction are derived from English, German and Irish lineage . . . while the actual Matterhorn is located in Switzerland. Regardless of whether or not it is completely accurate, the typography does give an air of authenticity to the overall theme.

Most of the typefaces used on the signage are display fonts. The signs feature a few classic Serifs and italicized Sans Serifs to convey the speed of the bobsleds barreling through the icy slopes of the mountain. However, the two most prominent classifications are Blackletter and Calligraphic.
Blackletter typefaces are heavy, bold, angular fonts derived from medieval script writing, and are Disney’s fonts of choice for most anything and everything in Fantasyland. Blackletter typefaces can break down even further into five subcategories: Bastarda, Fraktur, Quadrata, Rotunda, and Textura.
Calligraphic fonts are hand-drawn fonts. Typically gentle and light in weight, these are designed to mimic the traditional quill-and-ink flowing script found in early monastic manuscripts. Two main variations appear throughout the Matterhorn Bobsleds: Uncial and Jackboot. Uncial fonts are more consistent with what you’d expect from calligraphy. While most are Irish-based, some can be traced as far back as the late Roman Empire.  Jackboot fonts are bolder, heavier variations that are crisp, sharp and usually italicized. These make for a perfect transition between the themes of Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. 


While the typography used may not be historically accurate in terms of origin and locale, Disney designers knew what they where doing. These interesting and unique typefaces blend together into a font palette that truly evokes the Swiss Alps.

Well that does if for this week - thanks for dropping by and I look forward to seeing you back on Monday for a new Retro 71 concept. Auf Wiedersehen!