Pyramid Pairings #2: It All Begins with a Story / Attention to Detail


Pyramid Pairings are specific pairs of Imagineering Pyramid principles and how they work together. The second Pyramid Pairing we’re going to look at is It All Begins with a Story and Attention to Detail.

Let’s start with a refresher on these principles, from The Imagineering Pyramid.

It All Begins with a Story is described on page 25:

…“it all begins with a story” means using your subject matter to inform all decisions about your project.

Attention to Detail is described on page 37:

The principle underlying this tool is straightforward enough. This is all about paying attention to every detail.

As I noted in my last Pyramid Pairings post, It All Begins with a Story naturally pairs with nearly all of the other principles in the Imagineering Pyramid, since your story or subject matter will likely play a big part in how you employ the other principles. In the case of this pairing, the relationship between the principles is reciprocal – the story drives the details, and the details in turn help tell the story. Put another way, your story or subject matter will suggest certain types of details, and the specific details you choose to focus on can help reinforce your story. (This reciprocity occurs between other pairings as well, which we’ll explore in future posts)

Let’s look at some examples of how details can be both derived from and reinforce a Disney park attraction’s story.

The story of Town Square Theater in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World involves Guests visiting Mickey’s dressing room backstage at a magic show, so we might expect to see details related to magic in this venue. However, the specific details we find not only strongly reinforce the magic theme, but also reinforce Mickey’s part in the story as well. Some of the things we see backstage include:

  • Books entitled “Sorcery for the Stage: Apprentice Edition”, “The Magic Kingdom: Royalty’s Greatest Magicians”, and “The Magic Wand – Owner’s Manual”.
  • A crystal ball (labeled “Leota’s Crystals”, named for Madame Leota from the Haunted Mansion)
  • Yensid’s hat from The Sorcerer’s Apprentice short in Fantasia (also known as Sorcerer Mickey’s hat).
  • A poster for a “Band Concert at the Park” (from The Band Concert Mickey Mouse short film)

Another example of details reinforcing an attraction’s story can be found in Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The story of Expedition Everest is focused on the “Himalayan Escapes – Tours and Expeditions” tour company and their business transporting thrill seekers across the Forbidden Mountain, home to the legendary Yeti. Based on this story and subject matter, it’s natural that the details we’ll see would be inspired by the Yeti, but many of the things we’ll see serve to enrich the story.

As Guests enter the queue for this attraction, they pass through a number of areas that reinforce the story of the Yeti. First we pass through the Yeti Mandir, a temple dedicated to the Yeti that features several intricately detailed carvings of the Yeti. Among these are different representations of the Yeti.These different carvings reinforce the various myths surrounding the Yeti. We later pass through a museum featuring artifacts related to both the “facts” and legends of the mysterious Yeti. Of particular interest is the  “Mystery of the Lost Expedition” exhibit, which includes artifacts retrieved from the slopes of the mountain, including damaged camping gear and pictures depicting footprints and other evidence of whatever it was that attacked the expedition. The details here strongly hint at what might await Guests on their journey across the Forbidden Mountain.

It All Begins with a Story and Attention to Detail also work together in fields “beyond the berm”. Again, your subject matter provides a general idea of the types of details you might use in your project, and the specific details you choose can serve to strengthen and reinforce your subject matter. This post is an example of this at work. My story is how subject matter and attention to detail work together, so it makes sense that I would use examples of details in specific Disney park attractions and how they reinforce each attraction’s story. My hope is that the specific examples I chose work to reinforce my story effectively (you’ll have to tell me if I chose wisely).

Imagineering Pyramid Checklist Questions

To wrap up, here are some additional Imagineering Pyramid Checklists questions based on this pairing:

  • What types of details does my subject matter suggest?
  • What types of details can I use to highlight my story and subject matter?
  • How can I use details to strengthen and reinforce my story?

Thoughts? Tell me what you think in the comments!



One thought on “Pyramid Pairings #2: It All Begins with a Story / Attention to Detail

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