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Orange Bird Photo Hunt


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Originality in Theme Park Design

A few tips to follow when developing your ideas.

Be original
I know this sounds obvious but so often people see a Disney movie and say, “they should make a ride out of that.” If one of your ideas is based on an existing movie, think of unique ways of presenting that story.  Toy Story Mania is an example of an existing creative work presented in a new and original way. Often people say, “they should put this ride from this park in to that other park.”  This can be a worthwhile effort but if you are going to call it your idea, make sure it’s not a simple carbon copy of something that already exists.

Better yet, develop ideas that are not based on someone else’s existing creative efforts.  A large number of Disney attractions are not based on films.  One of the best recent examples of this is Expedition Everest.  Some classic examples include Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, The Carousel of Progress, and Space Mountain.

Make it timeless
The best attractions, dining experiences, hotels, etc. are ones that won’t feel dated two years after they open.  The Matterhorn today looks and feels just as cool to today’s children and adults as it did to those of 1959 when it opened.

Avoid pop-culture references.  An attraction featuring The Jonas Brothers might exciting for (some) guests today, but what happens when the brothers are washed-up and some other group of manufactured Disney Chanel teenage siblings take center stage?

Avoid character cross-overs
This is where a character from one film and one time period hangs out with another character from an unrelated film and completely different time period.  It has been done successfully and tastefully a few times in the past, yes.  A very classic example is The Mickey Mouse Review (the predecessor of Mickey’s Philharmagic)- a musical review at The Magic Kingdom starring Mickey as the conductor of a orchestra made up of dozens of characters, all animatronic.  But now-a-days character cross-overs are in far too many places.  Every parade, every night-time spectacular, and we see it way too much in Disney merchandise.  It’s a sign of a lack of originality.  Why does this happen?  I feel that it happens often because it’s easy to throw 20 popular characters together, each with their famous one-line phrase, and call it “new.”  I suggest staying away from this altogether. 

Make it fun for all ages
Providing entertainment that everyone could enjoy was the name of Walt Disney’s game.  Granted, some of the little tykes have to patiently await the day they reach a certain height to experience the more intense attraction, but once they grow a little more, everything is fare game.

Evoke emotion
This is perhaps the most important thing to remember when developing a concept.  How can cement, rebar, and paint put together in the right way have such an emotional impact on millions of people from all the corners of the earth?  Few words can describe the emotion I feel when I walk through the tunnels under the Disneyland Railroad track and come out on the side in Town Square.   The sights, the sounds, the smell of popcorn, the childhood memories.  Always keep in mind the following question: “How does my concept reach the inner soul of it’s guests- whether it be through laughter, motion, color, sound, music, smell, touch, light, darkness, size, sadness, innovation, nostalgia, shear amazement, or a combination of a few or all of these things?”