May 31, 2008, 2:04 pm
The World Science Festival:
Behind Disney’s Magic
Disney teamed up with the World Science Festival on Saturday with a show about the science that goes into that old Disney magic. Like most Disney productions, it was very professional and very kid-friendly.
There was science — physics, chemistry, biology, computer science and environmental science. The imagineers (imagination + engineers, get it?) brought out a roller coaster simulator to show how G-force works to put the thrills into the ride and keep the rider in his seat, even when hanging upside down.
Liquid nitrogen and a giant air blaster pushed out fog. The creepy atmosphere was aided by dark lighting, a cemetery scene and eerie music, helping to illustrate how a blend of science and art goes into all the special effects.
N.Y.U.’s Skirball Center auditorium was too small for real fireworks, but the imagineers were able to demonstrate how they get different colors into the shooting explosions by adding various elements like copper and strontium.
Audience members could also see how live human beings provide the movements and gestures for animated characters like skeleton pirates. Other volunteers took an elephant-sized G.P.S. tracking device and trekked out to Washington Square Park, while the audience tracked their movements via satellite.
What was great about these demonstrations is that they showed kids that sometimes science can be used to produce the things they love — wild rides, engaging stories, beautiful art and more.