The Smellitzer uses a series of pumps and vents to launch the smells 200 feet at just the right second. And then an exhaust system sucks the odor out of the room before it interferes with your next sensory experience.
WED designers are collecting scents from suppliers all over the world and blending them to produce the desired effect. So far, more than 300 odors have been tried, but more than 3,000 will be tested before the final choices are made. The smellitzer operates like an air cannon, aiming the scent up to 200 feet across a room toward an exhaust system. Guests traveling on the moving vehicles will pass through the scene as the appropriate scent drifts across their path. Regulated by computer, the scent can be triggered for a fresh aroma just prior to each vehicle's arrival.
According to McCarthy, the use of smell has fascinated the entertainment industry for a long time. "Back in the fifties, Mike Todd developed a process called 'smell-a-vision'," McCarthy said. "The idea was to release certain scents into the theatre as the visual counterpart was shown on the screen." McCarthy, who worked with Todd on the project, claims there were many problems with "smell-a-vision." "The main problems was that odors tended to linger in the air, and after a while they all blended together," he said. "We couldn't get the scents in and out of the theatre quickly enough." At Epcot Center, the situation will be different because the audience will be moving through each of the many experiences in each pavilion.
Some of the most unusual scents will be in the Land pavilion at Epcot Center. Here, the visitors will experience tropical vegetation, rain forests, deserts; some of the great terrain found on Earth. Of course, Disney "Imagineers" plan to supply all the appropriate smells. Guests traveling through a farming scene may detect a faint animal smell. In another scene, an orange grove will smell like the real thing. Still another effect calls for the smell of damp earth.
Some of the smells will hardly be noticeable to most people. The aroma will be there, but the sensory perception may not be a conscious one. The WED engineers have learned how to regulate the strength or intensity of the odors used. A whole generation of unique techniques, special effects and transportation systems are being developed for Epcot Center.