I’ve Got a Dream, and that Dream is for Disney to Make More Bathrooms like the Tangled Bathrooms
Everybody has their favorite bathroom locations around the Disney Parks. And while I doubt it’s something that the Imagineers intended while constructing the lands, it is basically just a plain fact. Maybe you prefer the big open bathroom on the bend before entering the countries at Epcot over the tiny ones inside the Mexico pavilion, or maybe it’s the one back behind Gaston’s tavern in New Fantasyland over the ones in Storybook Circus. My favorite bathroom out of all of the bathrooms in Disney World (and believe me when I say I’ve been to just about all of them!) are the Tangled bathrooms near “it’s a small world” in Fantasyland.
Behold, the Tangled bathrooms! | Tabitha Anctil
Lexi, you may be thinking, this is an awfully strange topic to write a column about. And you’re right. It is kind of weird. However, this bathroom completes a task that I don’t think any other bathroom in the park does – it follows a narrative, and you guessed it, folks, builds a world! Now I know that not everyone who goes to the Disney Parks is looking for story arcs upon entering a restroom, but whether you realize it or not, your subconscious picks up on the storytelling techniques that are applied to the area.
So, what do we need first to get the attention of our audience? A hook! For me, the hook of this land is probably Rapunzel’s tower off in the distance during the daytime or the lanterns gleaming and glowing in the night. I think that both the tower and lanterns act as hooks, because they immediately inform us about the world we’re entering into. No other Disney stories use the tower or the lanterns in the same way. Plus, they’re two fantastical and magical elements of the Tangled story. They’re eye catching and draw parkgoers in for a closer look.
One of our hooks! The tower! | Natalie Koch
Next, we need a reason for the audience to stay wrapped up in the magic of our story. In this area, that reason is all of the little details that illustrate the plot of the movie. Plot consists of characters: a protagonist (main character), antagonist (villain), secondary characters (this includes Flynn as the love interest and Pascal as the “best friend”), and of course the ensemble (all the boys from the Snuggly Duckling and the Stabbington Brothers).
Besides the characters, we need the meat of the story. For Disney movies, and any musical, plot points are broken up into songs. In its simplest form, a plot has six steps. Let’s take a look at the plotting for Tangled and how it’s exemplified into the physical world of the Tangled Restroom Area.
1) Introduction and Exposition: Think “When Will My Life Begin,” which is how we find out the ways in which Rapunzel spends her time; and “Mother Knows Best,” which shows the relationship between Rapunzel and Mother Gothel.
What we see IRL: Notice the guitar and books and paints and brushes and paintings all in the bathrooms, and the tower.
2) Rising Action: This is the stuff. This is kicked off with the inciting incident, which is when Rapunzel sits on her window ledge and sings “When Will My Life Begin (Reprise 2).” After that, we have more stuff! We go to the Snuggly Duckling which gives us “I Have a Dream.” Then we meet Maximus, plus Flynn finds out about Rapunzel’s magical hair. The end of the rising action is “I See the Light.”
What we see IRL: The frying pans and the fact that the area is modeled after Corona’s town square area (Rapunzel dances here after getting her hair braided) shows that she does end up leaving the tower. The wanted signs hanging up around the bathrooms represent the Snuggly Duckling. Maximus’s hoof prints are on the ground, so we’ve met him and he’s important. The glowing hair is emulated in the signs on the actual bathroom door labels. The many lanterns are strung all across the sky and glow at night, just like they do in honor of the lost princess.
One of the many frying pans showcased in the area! | Natalie Koch
3) Crisis: When we, as the audience, think that things can’t get any worse, (even though they inevitably do). This is when Flynn sees the green lantern (hint: green means evil!) and docks the boat. The Stabbington Brothers knock him out and tie him to the boat with the tiara so that Rapunzel thinks he left her, even though he really didn’t have a choice in the matter, and Mother Gothel swoops back in to be the worst, even though Rapunzel still thinks she’s the best. Eventually our friends from the Snuggly Duckling come to save the day (Thanks Maximus!).
What we see IRL: I would say that this is all represented in the area by Flynn’s satchel. It’d be a lot for Disney to show the unused hanging system, so flowers and little hidden Pascals will suffice.
4) Climax: The turning point. This is when Mother Gothel stabs Flynn, Flynn cuts Rapunzel’s hair, and Rapunzel’s tears heal Flynn.
What we see IRL: The fact that Flynn lives on is shown in his pardoned poster. If you think about it, the area wouldn’t really exist at all if the climax didn’t happen or wasn’t followed by a resolution.
5) Falling Action: Wrapping everything up. Rapunzel is able to heal Flynn and, with a little help from Pascal, Mother Gothel plummets to her doom – though it seems like by the time her cape hits the ground, her body has already evaporated.
What we see IRL (or don’t in this case): This is why there is no sense of Mother Gothel’s presence in the area.
6) Resolution: Happily ever after. Rapunzel is reunited with her parents and rules the kingdom with grace, plus she and Flynn get married.
What we see IRL: Because all ends well, the area is happy and bright.
Isn't it just lovely? | Natalie Koch
Whew! Now that we got through all those technical literary terms, let’s look at some examples more in depth. We’ll start with two of my favorites: (1) the frying pans in various places and (2) the wanted signs. These are both some of the more obvious theming in the area, but they really bring the audience right into the timeline of the story.
The frying pans are hung up in the bathrooms as decor and off the balcony above the entrance, while the wanted signs are hung on the outer wall of the bathrooms. Flynn’s wanted poster says he’s “pardoned” (and you know, they can just never get his nose right!), The Stabbington Brothers have been “captured,” and Shorty is “at large (but not very).” I think that these three posters are a wonderful way for Imagneers to bring the audience back into the setting – the time and place – of the film, while also expressing if this scene takes place before, during, or after the plot of the movie. Because we know what we know from Tangled, these posters show us that we’re probably entering Corona right after Rapunzel and Flynn get their happily ever after.
One of the signs hung up on the walls near the entrance to the restrooms | Tabitha Anctil
I could go on and on (clearly) about how wonderful and interactive this area is, but I’ll put a link to one of my favorite videos here and photo listicles here. While you look through them, I encourage you to keep an eye out for Rapunzel’s painting supplies, Pascal’s friends, and Maximus’s hoof print. Also, notice the way the tables and chairs keep in theme with the rest of the land–they all look like barrels or tree stumps–kind of like they could be found in the Snuggly Duckling!
-Color, Color, Color!-
Now, let’s focus on the colors and lighting of the area. Though closed off and a bit cove-like, the area is always filled with bright light. Whether that be from the sun or the lanterns hung from “strings” above the seating area, it’s always well lit, allowing guests to admire the decor. The color palette matches that of the movie, and so it immediately transports guests who had come from “it’s a small world” or Peter Pan’s Flight, or maybe from Haunted Mansion off in the other direction, to focus on the scene at hand. The cove-like cornering of the area also helps with this by keeping guests’ attention on Tangled, even if they’re just passing through.
The neutral color for this area is a warm-toned cream. This keeps the mood happy and upbeat, even on those rainy Florida afternoons. The buildings vary between warm browns and reds–nothing too startling or eye catching. The focus stays on the bright colors of Rapunzel’s painting palette. Purple is everywhere, though it doesn’t feel overwhelming. It’s in the flowers and the top of her tower and the murals and decorations she’s painted along the walls. It’s even on the bricks on top of the actual restroom building. It’s in the flags hanging between the lanterns and in the tiles on the floor of the bathroom. The variation of purples in Rapunzel’s dress surround guests. The greens of Pascal and the golden hues of the magic flower are also used as accent colors throughout the area. Keep in mind, too, that many of the surrounding buildings look just like the ones in the village square of Corona during the dancing scene after Rapunzel gets her hair braided.
Disney uses color in very specific and intentional ways (more on that in a future story!), but besides that, the rest of the details make for a wonderfully themed rest area and, honestly, I wish more bathrooms and areas to relax and recharge (both ourselves and our phones) were done with so much care. It’s fun to be in this area! There’s so much to look at, the chairs are fairly comfortable, and at night you can even take Photopass photos with the glowing lanterns!
We love a good throwback to 2017
So what do you think? Do you want more bathrooms like this one to start popping up around the Disney Parks? Do you have a favorite bathroom or am I just crazy? Let me know in the comments below!