In Praise of Traditionalism

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Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean is probably the pinnacle of traditional design.

Okay, since I constantly seem to get sidetracked by this issue any time I try to write anything about theme parks, I might as well talk about it now.

First some quick definitions. David Younger in his fantastic book aptly titled “Theme Park Design” (add link) outlines a few different design styles that have been applied to theme parks in their relatively short history. Here they are along with their (paraphrased) definitions.

Traditional: the classic form of design that originated with Disneyland that seeks to immerse you in environments. Characteristics include almagations of different kinds of spatial entertainment (not just rides), a trend towards experiential vs explicit story, loose theming. Pirates of the Caribbean or The Haunted Mansion.

Continue reading “In Praise of Traditionalism”

A Christmas Carol!

I was recently watching the Robert Zemeckis version of A Christmas Carol (the motion capture one with Jim Carrey) and it really struck me again just how well suited to a theme park or theatre experience it would be. I particularly love this version because of just how dark it is, to me really illustrating the vision of what A Christmas Carol should be. Aka a nightmare. (A happy dream isn’t going to change your bad ways is it?)

Also I probably should have cropped some of these images. You live and learn I guess starting off a new blog. LOL.

Anyway, I had a series of images mostly just pop into my head and I decided to try and put them down. So here’s an idea for a theme park show or immersiveish experience (at least one scene would make it impossible for normal theatre).

Main Curtain/Scene 1So the movie begins and ends with an illustrated book fading into the actual action of the movie. I’ve always loved this kind of effect, especially when done live (the Jungle Book show at Animal Kingdom used to do this). So the opening curtain is styled in the same way, like an illustration out of a book with a scene of Scrooge going about town. When the music starts the lights fade and it would line up perfectly with the real set and actors.  Continue reading “A Christmas Carol!”

The Trend Towards (new) Immersion

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter undoubtably set in motion a new immersion standard.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter undoubtably set in motion a new immersion standard.

Alrighty, a big topic to start off with lol. Just as a warning, this post doesn’t exactly have a thesis – there’s a lot of ground to cover, more it’s a bunch of half developed observations. Take it as fair warning that my biggest flaw as a writer is keeping myself focused.

Has anyone else noticed just how prevalent the terms “immersive” or “immersion” have become in the themed entertainment world? It seems I can’t even read a press release for a  new merry-go-round without coming across a sentence like,

“this ground-breaking new attraction featuring a brand new type of rotating mechanism immerses the rider into the world of wooden horses and carousels of old like never before.”

Hyperbole and the focus on ride system aside (topics for another day) there’s that damn word again: a concept encompassing perhaps the absolute pinnacle of themed design being reduced to a buzzword completely devoid of any of it’s original meaning. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is immersive. Radiator Springs is immersive. The Rivers of America is immersive (I can hear some shouts about that last one coming my way already – I’ll get to it). The Simpsons land at Universal Orlando is not immersive. Nor is the despicable me attraction. Nor is a lot of the theme park world. But that’s not a bad thing, especially when the focus on immersion in the modern era seems ever so more emphasized not on the concept of immersion itself, but on a particular subtype of it. Continue reading “The Trend Towards (new) Immersion”