Friday, September 2, 2011

Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln

Welcome back to another attraction typography case study. This week we'll be looking at Disneyland's Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.
Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln was originally designed by WED Imagineers for the 1964 New York World's Fair.  The New York World's Fair version was slightly different from what we would experience today in the parks—the original show focused more on the great state of Illinois, as the show was originally designed and developed for the States Pavilion at the World's Fair. Voiced by Disney character actor Royal Dano, Lincoln addresses the audience, giving a speech about his life, American liberty, justice, inspiration and the U.S. Constitution. Over time, the classic show has been branded and rebranded for guests: The Walt Disney Story, The Walt Disney Story featuring Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, the American Civil War version, Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years and the current version we have today, spearheaded by Imagineer Tony Baxter.

When looking at the typography used for this attraction in the posters, merchandise and signage, we see a wide array of specimens from many type classifications. The type can be broken down into two main categories: decorative display fonts and "classical" looking serif typefaces.  Some of the various specimens used by Disney designers to brand this experience over the years are: Tuscan, Woodblock, Western, Victorian, Slab Serif, Italianate, Geometric, and Script. While it may not seem like all of these classifications would work together, Disney designers paid close attention to the themes of early Americana and patriotic pride to create a seamless font palette that is both historically accurate (with a few flourished liberties) and visually beautiful. Generally speaking, we can pinpoint all of the typography to the late-18th to mid-19th century. Most, if not all the fonts you see today are professional commercial fonts from one particular type foundry, the same type foundry that designers have been using throughout Main Street USA both at Disneyland and the Walt Disney World Resort.

Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln set the standard for Disney theme park technology and storytelling—without, it we may never have had pillaging pirates or hitchhiking ghosts. Well that concludes this week’s case study. See you all back here on Monday for a new Retro '71 shirt concept. Have a great weekend and see you soon.