Muse 8: Architectural Cross-Dissolve in Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe


“Here’s a tall tale straight from the chuck wagon, just the way the old-timers used to tell it. According to them, Pecos Bill was the roughest, toughest, rootin’est, tootin’est, shootin’est cowpoke that ever lived. Well, any story about old Pecos is bound to be right strong medicine, so maybe it’s best to sashay into it kinda gentle-like.”

Melody Time

If you asked me to pick my favorite quick-service restaurant at Magic Kingdom, I’d answer with Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe every single time. Not only is it inexpensive—in Disney terms, that is—but the value for your money is amazing, and I can confirm that the “pixie dusting” here is adorable (pixie dusting = random acts of kindness from Disney Cast Members). On top of that, this restaurant salutes Melody Time, one of my favorite lesser-known Disney movies from the 1940s.

Of course, this is an aesthetic philosophy blog and not a restaurant review blog, so I will keep my foodie instincts at bay. What I want to discuss today isn’t the censorship of Melody Time or the tragic loss of the pulled pork sandwich here. Instead, I’d like to talk about how this restaurant beautifully illustrates the practice of cross-dissolve—because technically, it spans both Frontierland and Adventureland.

I first heard of the term “cross-dissolve” (as applied to architecture) on The Imagineering Toolbox‘s article “TYSVC: Transitions – Liberty Square to Fantasyland.” In that article, Lou Prosperi writes the following:

Transitions most often involve making sure that as guests make their way through the park, the changes they experience as they move from subject to subject, or area to area, are as seamless as possible. The Imagineers accomplish this through the use of what they call three-dimensional cross-dissolves that employ different sorts of sensory cues to let their audience know that they’re moving to a different area. As guests move through the park and pass from one land to another, the theming, colors, textures, walkways, and even background music around them changes subtly, and before they know it they’re in a completely different environment.

Lou Prosperi, “TYSVC: Transitions – Liberty Square to Fantasyland”

On the Frontierland side of the restaurant, Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe looks like a set from an old Western movie. If you walk in through that side, you wouldn’t be surprised if an old-fashioned saloon shoot-out started ringing in your ears. It fits the theme of Frontierland, which immerses you in the time of cowboys and sprawling wilderness hardly known to western civilization. However, if you walk in through the Adventureland side of the restaurant, you’ll discover that it looks like a fancy pueblo, blending in with the Latin American influence of Pirates of the Caribbean. Watch the video below to see what I mean:

Honestly, AllEars.net blew my mind when they discussed this and the restaurant’s story in “The Secrets You Didn’t Know About This Popular Disney World Restaurant.” I love the multifaceted approach Disney takes to artistic unity, and this is only one manifestation of the cross-dissolve technique. Now I’m hungry for tacos!


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