Scent-evoked nostalgia and how Disney does it so well

Disney World Florida

Scent-evoked nostalgia is a concept that scholars have researched and discussed for a while now. Nostalgia drives a sentimental connection to past experiences, typically when we felt our happiest. We have previously spoken in our Vectair blogs about how scent is closely linked to emotions and memories. If the aircare product or the scent that we have smelt (or are smelling) is perceived as a ‘positive’ scent, it has the ability to evoke good memories that are powerful, meaning they will stay in the mind for longer.

Disney and ‘Soarin around the world’

Companies and venues have been realising the connection between scent and nostalgia and creating ‘experiences’ with scent. On a recent trip to Disney World in Florida, we were blown away at the sheer number of scents that stuck in the mind for hours or days to come. From a sensory perspective, Disney is an unbelievable feast for the senses – lighting, sounds, even culinary experiences are carefully considered and everywhere you turn there is something to see, touch, hear, taste or smell. Did you know, there is an entire brand of candles that exist to evoke memories of Walt Disney World?

One particularly interesting concept from a scent perspective was the ride ‘Soarin around the world’ at Disney’s Epcot. The ride centers around a 180-degree, 80-foot IMAX digital projection dome, featuring spectacular aerial footage mixed with scents to transport you through the air around the world. You truly feel as though you are paragliding your way around the globe!

The vital role of scent at ‘Soarin’ is to connect with your inner nostalgia to take you to each place – immersing you in the magic through smell. Scent is pumped into the ride from above your seat. As you soar over the beaches in Fiji, you’re hit with notes of bamboo, tropical flowers and melon. As you fly over the Taj Mahal in India, you are treated to a bouquet of beautiful roses. As you glide over the elephants in Africa, you can smell grass and a hint of spice.

It is not just on the rides where Disney excels in scent-evoked nostalgic experiences – the countries in Epcot all feature fragrances that link to each nation. For example, a scent of English Ivy can be found at the UK pavilion in Epcot. Just one walk down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom and you will never forget the smell of warm popcorn and sweet treats! It truly brings scent to life.

Using Disney as scent inspiration

It is important that venues don’t miss the opportunity to connect to their customers through scent as a sensory experience. Companies can take inspiration from Disney to use scent in a way that transports their customer to a place – for example, to total relaxation in a spa – and evoke nostalgia, so they remember your experience in a positive way for a long time to come. With more than 30 years of experience with aircare, Vectair staff are experts at helping our customers choose scents to match their experiences, while also advising on different delivery models.

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