Detailed Look at Disney’s (Impressive) First-Ever Projection-Mapped Topiary

    Originally unannounced, Disney World has implemented projection mapping for the first time on a topiary for the 2024 EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival. Disney has previously rolled out some floodlights on select topiaries, but guests have typically only been able to enjoy the wonderful character topiaries during the daylight hours.

    EPCOT is certainly turning into the nighttime park at Disney World (if only we could get some longer hours), and Walt Disney Imagineers are working on bringing the topiaries into the night. “We have been evolving the process of adding lighting effects to the topiaries, consistently pushing ourselves to enhance them even more”, shared Josh Harrison, Senior Illusion Integrator with Walt Disney Imagineering.

    Figment topiary in World Celebration (2024)

    That said, Imagineers were looking to do something more than simple lighting as seen for the Figment topiary above. Imagineers said that Coco would be the perfect opportunity to implement projection mapping to make the colorful Dante topiary pop at night.

    First, here’s a look at Dante (and Miguel) during the daylight hours.

    Normally reserved for iconic structures like Cinderella Castle, the Tree of Life, the Hollywood Tower Hotel, or some of Disney’s high-budget headliner attractions, Imagineers installed a projector on the other side of the walkway to make the topiary glow at night. To put a point on this – Walt Disney Imagineering installed a projector to light up a topiary. That feels like a weird sentence, and certainly not something that we had on our Flower & Garden bingo card this year.

    Once the sun sets, the projector combines with solar-charged paint on the topiary to allow for an afterglow that matches the color language of the Land of the Dead realm.

    The projection mapping is reserved for just Dante, and Miguel sits in the dark.

    To be honest, the implementation is imperfect. When we visited, the projector was not aligned with the topiary properly, and it was wiggling often with just the slightest breeze. It’s clear that this is a temporary implementation and not met with the same precision as something like the Cinderella Castle projections.

    There is certainly room for improvement, and we hope that Disney does iterate and improve instead of abandon. There is also no animation, which is something that we’ve come to expect from projection mapping on structures such as the Tree of Life or Cinderella Castle. I’m sure there has been an internal challenge put forth to Imagineering to bring some animation to the 2025 version of the event.

    That said, this is a topiary. The fact that Disney tried to enhance a topiary for the 3 hours per night that it’ll be seen in darkness is quite impressive and should be applauded. To (somewhat) quote Isabella from Encanto (represented nearby in topiary form), “[Disney] just made something unexpected”.

    We expected to see a few vloggers and bloggers last night live-streaming and showing off the topiary, but instead, during the 15 minutes or so that we took photos, we saw something else – surprised (and impressed) guests. Dante is a showstopper at night, and we hope that Imagineering and the horticulture team continue to implement cool and unexpected enhancements that are not going to win TEA awards, but will make the family from Denver and the local from Orlando stop, stare, and smile.

    As always, keep checking back with us here at as we continue to bring you the latest news, photos, and info from around the Disney Parks! Newsletter

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