During our vacation in Disneyland, we visited nearly every ride and attraction. Each one was so carefully crafted down to every last tiny detail. I never thought for a moment that anything felt out of place. But… I have Designer’s Curse. I inspect every detail, look around every corner, obsess over every sign.
First, The Details
For example, lets take two different Disneyland attractions: “Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye” and “Space Mountain.”
Indiana Jones has you entering a jungle in Adventureland, walking into ancient ruins with bamboo supports and stone walls. The cast members are wearing collared tan shirts and brown fedora hats. The loading gates look like worn down metal, and there are wooden directional signs.
In contrast, Space Mountain in Tomorrowland is white and glows purple in the evening. You walk into what looks like a futuristic space station, down corridors that glow blue with numbers and letters and screens that show star systems. The cast members are wearing space jumpsuits with bright colored lining. You walk into the loading area with a space shuttle hanging inside, and the gates are translucent and glow orange.
Enter the Exit Signs
In North America, emergency exit signs simply contain word “EXIT” above every exit door and at the intersection of corridors. But until now, I didn’t know how specific these signs are required to be. There’s a reason they all look the same.
California law states that emergency exit signs must be illuminated no less than 50 lux. The word “EXIT” must be at least six inches tall and the strokes of the letters must be no less than three quarters of an inch. The letters of the sign should be a color or design that creates a great contrast with the background.
There are obviously companies that create standard emergency exit signs, but because Disney themes every bit of their attractions, they can’t afford for an exit sign to look out of place, even though the signs must stand out. Disney solves this problem by designing within the constraints. They make their own emergency exit signs that fit well in their respective areas and attractions.