Sunday, December 18, 2011

Safety Disney Style - Unlighting the streets

A few days in Disneyland proves a welcoming distraction. Disney is an example of fantasy story-telling and juvenile adventure from a company that practically invented the concept.

Most interesting was seeing Disneyland streets at night. Many are quite dark. Except for Main Street it is the surrounding buildings that show up in neon splendor. The point is to make streets predictable to allow easy walking without stumbling (I did anyway).

Then it's a simple matter to highlight surrounding features with spectacular lighting and beautiful reflections. This has the subtle effect of drawing you in to have a closer look. The ambient spillover light is more than adequate to navigate the streets.

For anyone obsessed on lighting streets, Disney shows how you can do safety and not light streets at all.

True, this is easy when people arrive in families seeking cartoon fantasies. How angry can you get in the company of Goofy, Tinker Bell and Mickey? It's a self-selection that breeds natural surveillance.

If you're up for some high-falutin Foucauldian theory about this read Shearing and Stenning's 1984 article - From the Panopticon to Disney World: The Development of Discipline.

When reading this it helps to resist the duh reflex. "Disney is an exemplar of modern private corporate policing". Translation: Walk for days through hundreds of exhibits, restaurants, and recreational areas without fear of crime by following Disney's rules. Duh.

Disney does this, they say, by embedding social control into the physical and management systems so that control becomes consensual. Like lighting the buildings and not the streets.

For my money, spent on a holiday in Disneyland, the corporate order of Mickey and Minnie is a fun reprieve. And if I tire of Disney's subtle corporate order, I just leave.

Happy Holidays.

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