Five Ways Disneyland Controls You with Psychology

Today we look at the different ways that Disney increases purchases, manages crowds, and improves visuals.


Allen J. Schaben, Los Angeles Times

Thousands of people visit Disneyland, the happiest place on earth every day. They come to shop, ride, eat, and enjoy that special magic that only Disney seems to bring. However, as each person steps their way into the park, many of them are unaware of the ways that Disneyland is using psychology to control them. Here are the top 5 sneaky Disney Mind Control facts revealed.
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Heat on the streets

Dark pavement + California sun = heat. You know it, I know it, and Disneyland knows it. The pavement on Main Street, U.S.A is dark to keep you moving.  Moving down the street and into the shops! It is great for traffic control. You don’t often find a large traffic jam down Main Street except during rope drop, parades, and fireworks because of this smart trick.

Cold induced impulse

Disneyland Emporuim

the coldest store in the park | Visions Fantastic

The Emporium on Main Street is the coldest shop in the entire park. You will also notice, they sell sweatshirts at the Emporium. No one really thinks to buy a sweatshirt when it’s 85 degrees outside, but if the AC is hitting you just right it’s easy to forget exactly how hot it is outside…

Forced Perspective

forced perspective

smaller as it goes up | photo credit

Most Disneyland fans know that Main Street, U.S.A. was built using forced perspective. For example, the taller the building gets, the smaller the bricks actually are. Not only did it help with controlling the sizes of the buildings, but it makes Sleeping Beauty’s Castle look a lot bigger than it actually is. But, Main Street, U.S.A. is not the only place this Disney forced perspective is in place. If you have ever taken a trip around the castle, chances are you’ve been to visit Snow White’s Grotto. The statues of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves were a generous gift from an anonymous donor. However, there was one problem with them: Snow White is the same size as all the dwarves! The grotto was built using that same forced perspective so Snow White seems taller and many guests are none the wiser! This trick was so popular, that Tokyo Disneyland demanded the exact same grotto: dwarfed Snow White and all!

No See-Um…Disneyland Go Away Green

disneyland main club 33 door

Disney created a color called Go Away Green. A very bland green shade you see a lot of in the park but don’t really think anything about – until now.  It was created with the idea that the common eye would glaze right over it. Truth is, unless you’re looking for it, it is all too easy to just glance right past anything painted in this all-too-neutral color. No See-Um Green is actually in a lot of places. The fences, buildings, the wall around the park… And most famously, the door to the exclusive Club 33.

Smell Those Vanilla Dreams


Not your normal speaker | photo credit

From the furnishings inside and out, to the sounds of the drills and cries from the “painless dentist” office, there is always something commendable to be said about the details on Main Street, U.S.A. Step outside the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor or the Candy Shop with its cute little striped awning and take a deep breath. Smell that? Vanilla – YUM! Not only are there Aromatherapy studies that show Vanilla creates a calming effect, but doesn't it just make you hungry?! Taking a look underneath the windows, it looks like a speaker, but it’s not. That is a vent. (Technical term: the Smellitzer, a patented scent generator that makes sure you smell exactly what they want you to smell.)

Combine the Smellitzer with the awning to circulate the air and you have yourself one powerful urge to at least look into the window to see what’s cooking! You will also find your olfactory sensors at work in places like: The main entrance to the park (popcorn), Pirates of the Caribbean (old, wet wood and sea salt), The Haunted Mansion (dusty and musty.)

[yellowbox]Exclusive Bonus: Read our full list of the top five secret places in Disneyland. Get the list here. [/yellowbox]

Clever, clever Disneyland! While their secret mind control powers really aren't all that secret (anymore) or powerful, we still love the park and all its particulars.

Did we miss something on the list? Comment below with your Disneyland knowledge!

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14 comments add your comment

  1. Another way Disneyland controls you with psychology is with the trash cans. There will alway be a garbage can close by because people want to throw away their trash when they are done. This trick of psychology keeps the park cleaner than other parks with the need for fewer street cleaners. Mr. Disney would buy a drink from a stand and walk around. When he finished it, he would look for a garbage can. If there wasn’t one nearby he would say a garbage can needs to go here.

    • Also, Disneyland strategically places trash cans throughout the park where you generally cannot take more than about 20 steps without getting to a trash can.

      • The amount is actually 30 feet. Walt Disney calculated this after observing other guests at different parks and fairs before building Disneyland.

    • Actually, i work there, trash cans are placed a specific distance apart because of the reason of ‘it takes this long to eat a churro, popcorn, snack, ect..’

      Not that he would buy a drink and aimlessly walk around until he’s finished

  2. Disneyland is outstanding due to these great sneaky effect`s that they produce , I could not imagine going there without the smell`s and color`s , I hope to god as a 50 yr veteran of disneyland , that they quit changing the old original area`s and leave them alone , the new carnival digital attractions are horrible and only for the uneducated masses of people that are not from around the park , we who have gone almost 3 time`s per month and some time`s stay for a week at a time for the full effect , love it the way it is . does anyone remember having breakfast at the orleans cafe at 8am when they used to open up early , sitting against the beautiful wrought iron looking out over the river and taking it all in before hardly anyone is there yet ? nothing like it on earth , now it is not open till I believe 11am or some horrible crowded hour , and no breakfast , you have to go to twain`s instead which is ok , but too cafeteria like for regular`s .

  3. i don’t knowbifh is counts psychologically, but DisnyLand doesn’t sell gum in order to keep it off of the streets and other places people discard them (other than the trash).

  4. Listen to the background music throughout the day.
    In the morning it’s quick and energetic to get you excited. In the evening it’s slower and more romantic. It slows to a crawl towards closing to make you yawn and want to go back to your hotel room.

    • That’s very interesting. I hadn’t ever noticed the change throughout the day. But, now that you mention this, there is quite a big change from morning to night.

      • Muzak is the same way. Bouncy in mid-morning when people are usually starting to wane a little.

  5. I am allergic to both vanilla and artificial perfumes. If it’s both I m dead. Lawsuit? Wanna be my lawyer? 😀

  6. Good information as a whole, but you are off on a few things. First and foremost, Disneyana. Anyone that has worked in that store can tell you that it is probably one of the hottest stores on Main Street. The A/C in there is not real good. If you want good air conditioning on Main Street, Disneyana is the place to be. It is kept like a refrigerator in there at times. The temperature of the stores has nothing to do with the sales and marketing of products, much less sweatshirts. The mere fact that the largest majority of tourists come from outside of California and in many cases outside of the USA, accounts for the largest sales in sweatshirts. About a quarter of the sweatshirt sales come from unexpected changes in the weather or people not anticipating the weather in Southern California to get into the mid 40’s at itmes, and 55-60 degrees on most nights.

    In terms of the green paint, it might also be noted that green has been in use at the park for the protective parameters around rides that are being refurbished as well. If you haven’t noticed or arrived at the park by coming down Harbor Blvd or via Ball Avenue, our TDA building (administrative offices) are painted in that green as well. It is a little brighter than shown in your picture, but not by very much.

    The scent/smells coming out of Candy Palace and the Ice Cream Parlor are not artificial by any means. They are vented out from the production area of the location. Candy Palace has been doing that for many years. The Ice Cream Parlor started doing it about 15 years ago, maybe a little longer. Understand that Canday Palace makes a significant amount of candy and other products in–house, enough to maintain that smell that many people enjoy. YOu will notice however, that a large majority of the candy on the shelves are from the Florida production facilities and are shipped here. Therefore, if you want fresh candy, get it from the glass cases. That is always good advice.

    The asphalt running down Main Street was placed there to be intended to represent a typical American city. Main Street as a whole is modeled after a 1910 city, whereas Tomorrowland is modeled after a representation of what 1986 would look like. I mention both only because those two dates together match that of the appearance of Haley’s comet. This was intentional. ANother noteworthy fact… on opening day, the asphalt was still “moist”… That is a good term. In those days, men wore a suit and women wore dresses, and heels. On opening day, their heels were sticking into the asphalt because it wasn’t completely dry. It had only been poured a few days earlier. I will say that management is fairly adament about keeping the trees on Main Street trimmed back. This isn’t to eliminate shade. It actually has two purposes. First, any tree larger than 10-12 feet on Main Street will obscure the view of buildings, but moreso, it will also interfere with the forced perspective of the buildings that you mention here in your article.

    Someone in their comments mentioned the trash cans. They are placed exactly 30 steps a part from each other, as this was the time that it took Walt to eat a hot dog. He felt that this would reduce trash significantly at the park.

    Someone mentioned gum. Walt disliked gum in a HUGE way. It will NEVER be sold at the park.

    There are a lot of quirks throughout the Disneyland theme parks. It definitely is a “well-oiled” machine. The one thing for certain is that Disneyland is in the business of making people happy. Your enjoyment and entertainment as a whole is their top priority. Cast members will almost always go out of their way to assist you in that process.

    Hope that helps with a few things. I have been working in and around the Disneyland theme park for almost three decades. I have been fortunate to meet and work with a lot of great people from the top down. Disneyland has always been and probably always will be my escape.

    • Thank you very much for your comment. I really appreciate your addition to the conversation.

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