Ranking our 5 Senses in Disney’s Theme Parks

| April 17, 2014 | 7 Replies

We all know when we walk into a Disney theme park that our 5 senses are about to get a workout.  We’ll soon be in sensory overload once we’ve made our way past the entrance, through the main walkway, and around the park.  Whether we enjoy a pineapple Dole Whip and arouse our sense of taste, or listening to the background music in Future World to excite our sense of sound, all of our senses are under assault when we enter the parks.  Let’s take a top 5 look at which senses rank the highest and lowest in the Disney theme parks.


All 5 of our senses play a very important role in the parks.  Some are more important than others.  The Disney Company understands the importance of making sure all 5 of our senses are engaged.  They are very careful to make sure they don’t ignore one of our senses when building an attraction.  Here is my ranking of the top 5 senses used in Disney’s theme parks.

Number 5 – Touch


Doesn’t it seem everything you touch at Walt Disney World has a certain feel to it?  It usually feels different than anything you’ve touched back home.  It’s almost as if the material used during construction came from some magical place far, far away.   One of my favorite things to touch are the railings in the ride queues.  Each of them has a distinct feel depending on the attraction.

Even the feeling of the popcorn boxes you wrap your hand around can remind you that you are at Walt Disney World, especially if you enjoy it during each visit.  The sense of touch reminds us of where we are and that we are in our favorite place in the world.

Number 4 – Taste


What would a Disney World vacation be without food?  A Mickey premium ice cream bar can be just what the Doctor ordered to remind us where we are.  That smooth and creamy taste of chocolate and vanilla ice cream together can push us into sensory overload.

Isn’t there a distinctive taste to a Walt Disney World hamburger?  Most of the toppings are consistent across property and I would venture to guess most of the meat and buns come from the same place.  I know whenever I bite into a Disney World cheeseburger I’m quickly reminded that Soarin isn’t too far away, or Big Thunder Mountain is right around the corner.

Number 3 – Smell


Good smell or bad smell…or maybe both?  Either way, our nose can quickly remind us where we are.  A simple stroll past the Kringla Bakery in Norway can grab our attention.  How about the smell of Rome burning inside Spaceship Earth?  That may be one of the best reminders through smell that we are at our favorite place.

I know this may sound gross, but the simple smell of body order in a ride queue can remind us we are on vacation in a theme park.  The smell of mildew at the Polynesian Resort or inside the ride queue of Splash Mountain certainly is a familiar smell.  It doesn’t have to be food.  It can also be smells from within attractions or in general gathering areas.

Number 2 – Sight


“Wow!  Look at that!”  “That looks pretty cool!”  “Now there’s something you don’t see every day.”  These are phrases I hear often when walking through the Disney theme parks.  And who could blame a first time guest for saying them?  Most of us know how careful Disney is with making sure what we see is consistent inside and even outside the theme parks.  If you are in Frontierland you probably won’t see the top of Pirates of the Caribbean.  If you are in Tomorrowland you won’t see anything resembling a cowboy.

There is so much to see at Walt Disney World to put a smile or a frown on your face.  Most of what you see is designed to evoke an emotion.  The most iconic symbol at Walt Disney World is Cinderella’s Castle.  No matter how many times you see it you can’t help but smile (or maybe cry from joy).

Number 1 – Sound


I really struggled with deciding on Sound as the number 1 sense at Walt Disney World.  Sight is so important, but in the end what we hear from Disney is so important in arousing our emotions.

We recently discovered how important sound, specifically music, is in what Disney produces through the movie Frozen.  It’s what really made the movie a smash hit.  The soundtrack won an Oscar and was the reason why Disney decided to run a sing-a-long version in movie theaters across America.

Just as important is the music in parades, attractions, and general loop music in the common areas of the theme park.  Most of us love the common area loop music in and around Future World at EPCOT.

What about other theme park sounds like crowd noise, and the bellowing voices of the ‘Citizens Hollywood’ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios?  These sounds are designed to get your attention and draw you to them.

Sound is such a key sense in Disney’s theme parks that it sets the tone for every attraction.  Disney can make you cry, smile, frown, or even jump for joy by providing emotional music and sounds that will pull at your heart strings.


It seems every trip to Walt Disney World is a sensory overload for all of us.  First time visitors don’t expect the kind of sensory overload that seasoned Disney visitors have come to expect.  In some cases it’s probably why first time visitors become second, third and regular visitors to Disney’s theme parks.   They love the sights, sounds, and tastes of a Disney vacation.

What do you feel are the most important senses at Walt Disney World?  What is your favorite sense that is aroused inside the parks?  Leave your responses below.

We love vacationing at Walt Disney World for more than just arousing our 5 senses, but it’s these senses that keep bringing us back over and over again.  As we continue to visit the theme parks we develop a sixth sense; the “Disney sense.”  Most of us are pretty good at using it.

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Category: Disney World

  • http://www.tricia.me/ TriciaMeyer

    I really find myself getting taken in by the smells. The Rome burning one definitely stands out! The orange groves are my favorite part of Soarin’. There is also a distinct smell to Pirates of the Caribbean. Oh! And the baked goods during Philharmagic!

  • mexner

    Before I read the article, I put my mental list in order and it matched yours exactly. Sound as number 1 was the easiest one for me – the music loops, the train whistle, the boat horns – fun article, thanks!

  • Kelloggs

    Funny how we all forget the sense of balance:)

  • Katie

    The funny thing is, these don’t really change no matter which park you visit! I’ve been to DisneylandParis and Tokyo Disney and the “assault” of the senses are the same!

  • Roni

    Sense of sound, so true. When walking through my neighborhood one day, I heard wooden wind chimes that instantly reminded me of Africa in Animal Kingdom (they sound almost like a marimba). I purposely walk down that side street now just to hear them and get nostalgic!

  • Gmh Gmh

    I was going back and forth on whether sight or sound would be #1 but I think you got it right, I love the attention to detail that goes into everything we see in the parks but it’s a few specific sounds and songs that cause me to tear up every time I’m there.

  • Beth Carbonaro

    I love this article! It’s so thought provoking! I’d love to hear Mr. DelPrince’s thoughts on how our senses in Disney Theme Parks invoke our “Disney Side”. Do our 5 senses at Disney create our Disney sense of self? What do you think, Aaron?