Monday, November 9, 2009

Manufactured Emotion

Great little story over on Dustin Curtis' blog on meeting "Mr. Q" and discussing his role in the ambient sounds you hear at the Walt Disney World theme parks.

To get the original audio system at Disney World to work, engineers simply attached large speakers to several hundred light-posts randomly scattered throughout the park. It worked reasonably well, and in the decades since, the process has changed very little. For most theme parks, this is how audio systems are still built. But for the happiest place on Earth, and for Mr Q, it wasn’t good enough: it turns out, there is actually a minor flaw with this system. Because the speakers are placed on arbitrarily-positioned light-posts throughout the park, the volume of the music slightly fluctuates as visitors walk along pathways. As they get closer to a speaker, the music gets louder, and as they walk away, it gets quieter.

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