“Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho, it’s off to work we go!” So sing Walt Disney’s Seven Dwarfs.
But who knew the little fellows would be used to hold up the floors of Disney Headquarters in Burbank, California? Internationally known American architect Michael Graves knew. He designed the whimsical building.
Disney is not just for kids. When you visit any of the Disney theme parks or hotels, you’ll find buildings designed by some of the world’s leading architects, including Graves.
Typically, theme park architecture is — well — thematic. Borrowing popular motifs from history and fairy tales, theme park buildings are designed to tell a story. For example, it’s well known that the Romantic Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany inspired Disney’s theme park castles.
At Disney, architects may:
- strive for historic authenticity and recreate historic buildings, or
- take a whimsical approach and exaggerate storybook images, or
- create subtle, abstract images.
How? Check out the work of these top Disney architects. Architecture becomes magic, whether designing for Disney or not:
- Peter Dominick
- Charles Gwathmey
- Robert A. M. Stern
- Philip Johnson
- Cesar Pelli
- Michael Graves
- Arata Isozaki
- Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown
One of the best sources for in-depth information on buildings at Disney resorts world-wide is Building a Dream: The Art of Disney Architecture, by Beth Dunlop. This 208 page book includes interviews with architects, drawings and color photos, and a helpful bibliography.
But, while you’re admiring the work of these great architects, don’t forget to go on that Thunder Mountain Ride. At Disney theme parks, even the roller coasters are artfully designed.