Imagineering Process Update

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I finished the last of my edits on THE IMAGINEERING PROCESS last weekend, and submitted my final draft to my publisher Theme Park Press yesterday.

As of now we’re looking at a release in Winter/Spring 2018.

I’ll be posting excepts, graphics, and other updates here as we get closer to the release.

I also hope to be able to spend a little more time on posts here in the next few months.

Take care!

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The Pyramid in Practice: Pre-Shows and Post-Shows in Pandora – The World of Avatar

This post looks at Pre-Shows and Post-Shows in practice in the Avatar Flight of Passage attraction at Pandora -The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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The Pre-Shows and Post-Shows chapter of The Imagineering Pyramid, opens with the following:

“When you experience a Disney theme park attraction, it’s uncommon that you do so without some form of introduction before the attraction or a reminder after it. In fact, nearly all Disney park attractions lead guests into and out of the attraction in some way or another. This practice is…what Imagineers refer to as Pre-Shows and Post-Shows.”

Pre-Shows

Pre-shows prepare the audience for what they are about to experience and often help convey the attraction’s creative intent.

The Pre-Show to Avatar Flight of Passage includes an extensive queue and “training” video that explains what Guests will experience when they link to their avatars and climb on board their banshees.

The following video provides a good look at this Pre-Show experience:

Post-Shows

Post-shows reinforce key ideas and themes, and most often include themed areas or interactive activities or games. One specific form of post-show is what’s referred to in the themed entertainment world as “exit through retail” in which guests are led through a themed merchandise shop as they exit an attraction.

The Avatar Flight of Passage Post-Show uses this “exit through retail” approach, taking Guests into a shop called Windtraders as they exit the attraction.

But beyond  simply selling t-shirts, buttons, and other souvenirs, Windtraders also offers two specific experiences that help reinforce key ideas and themes from Avatar Flight of Passage.

The first is the opportunity to “adopt a banshee”. Banshees are the flying creatures that Guests (and their linked avatars) fly on when they experience the attraction, and this experience allows Guests to take one home with them. Watch the following video to see how this works:

The other experience is the opportunity to turn yourself into a Navi action figure. There is an area with kiosks with machines that scan the Guest’s face and allow the Guest to select other options about their action figure, and the figure is made for you while you wait. Check out the following video to see how this works:

These experiences take the “exit through retail” type of post-show to a whole new level, and provide new and interesting ways for Guests to take part of the magic home with them.

Thoughts?  Tell me what you think in the comments!

Podcast Interview – Live From Barsaive

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Years ago I worked as a line developer for a role playing game called Earthdawn published by FASA Corporation. I referenced Earthdawn and some of the products I worked on for the game in The Imagineering Pyramid.

Recently some fans of the game started a podcast about Earthdawn called Live From Barsaive, where they talk about the game and the game’s setting (an area known as Barsaive, hence the name). I’ve been listening since the beginning, and have enjoyed the show quite a bit. It’s extremely gratifying (and humbling) to know that something I worked on so long ago (I worked on the game from 1992 through 1998) could be so well regarded.

The hosts of the show, Chad and Rachel, asked if I would be a guest on their show, and we recently recorded our episode. I had a great time. We talked for more than an hour, talking about Earthdawn,  The Imagineering Pyramid (they’re fans of Disney parks and have both read the book), and Disney parks in general.

The episode should be available soon. I’ll post again when it’s live.

Thanks!

Sneak Preview of The Imagineering Process

Hey! Here’s a sneak Preview from “THE IMAGINEERING PROCESS: Using the Disney Theme Park Design Process to Bring Your Creative Ideas to Life”.

From Chapter 11: Another View of The Imagineering Process

If we strip away the details of each stage of the Imagineering Process and boil each down to its core essence or objective, we find a simple but powerful process suitable for nearly any type of creative project.

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To bring your creative ideas to life, you…

…define your overall objective, including what you can do, can’t do, and must do when developing and building your project. (Prologue)

…create a vision with enough detail to be able to explain, present, and sell it to others. (Blue Sky)

…develop and flesh-out your vision with enough additional detail to explain what needs to be designed and built. (Concept Development)

…develop the plans and documents that describe and explain how your vision will be brought to life. (Design)

…build the actual project, based on the design developed in the previous stages. (Construction)

…test and validate your design at each stage to help solve and/or prevent problems that may arise during the design and construction process. (Models)

…present your project to your audience, allow them to experience it, and evaluate its success and effectiveness over time. (Epilogue)

This is how the Imagineers bring the Disney parks to life, and you can use it too!

More previews to come!

 

Thoughts? Let me know what you think in the comments!

The Pyramid in Practice: Attention to Detail and Kali River Rapids

Imagineer Joe Rohde‘s Instagram feed is like an Imagineering Master Class, providing a steady stream of unique and fun insights into the areas of theme park design and placemaking.

One of his most recent posts is an excellent example of how the Imagineers use Attention to Detail to help tell their stories, and how the meaning of some details can change over time. This post deals with the placement of a boombox and stack of cassette tapes in the dispatching office at Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom.

As Rohde writes, the original Creative Intent of this detail (yes, even individual details within show scenes have their own Creative Intent) was to illustrate that the people working in the dispatching office were living in roughly the same time period as Guests. However, because that particular show scene has not been updated since it was first installed in the mid 1990s, to modern Guests the boombox and cassette tapes now suggest the dispatching office is from a time gone by.

It will be interesting to see if this ever gets updated as Rohde suggests, and if so, how.

Take a look:

This is a shot of the dispatching office in Kali River Rapids. Certain details begin to shift their meaning because the research trips that led to this design took place in the mid-1990s, which is getting to be a quarter century ago. For example, there is a boombox on the shelf and a little stack of cassette tapes next to it. While the boombox was not brand-new when we installed it, it was meant to indicate that these people were living contemporary lives, and have access to electronic equipment, and were not living in some kind of fanciful ye olde long time ago. However, now, a boombox and cassettes are themselves strange antiques from some jolly olde long time ago. I promise you, that even people in a small village in Nepal probably have better audio gear than this. I mean…they have smart-phones after all!! At some point, it is certain that these props will probably need to be upgraded… Replaced with props that while still not being new, are contemporary enough to show that we are talking about people who live with us, in our time. That is an important message, because, even though our first research trips took place a quarter century ago, every one of the conservation crises represented in every one of our stories has gotten worse since we started…so we still need to make our stories pointed in the right direction. If rainforests, and elephants, and gorillas, and rhinos, and indigenous cultures, all become a thing of the past, then Disney's Animal Kingdom will become a fantasy park… Not the adventure into reality that it is. #disneysanimalkingdom #animalkingdom #kaliriverrapids #dak #conservation #wildlifeconservation #design

A post shared by Joe Rohde (@joerohde) on

You can find this post on Joe Rohde’s instagram feed here.

If you’re interested in Imagineering and themed entertainment, I strongly recommend following Joe on both Twitter and Instagram.

 

Thoughts? Tell me what you think in the comments!

The Pyramid in Practice – Theming and Imagination Dental Solutions

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In this post, I want to look at a company called Imagination Dental Solutions and a somewhat unusual example of Theming known as “Dental Theming”.

Imagination Dental Solutions is an award winning design and manufacturing studio with a decade of experience creating themed environments for dental offices. That’s right, dental offices. And this is where “Dental Theming” comes in.

According to the Imagination Dental Solutions website, “Dental theming is the transformation of regular dentist office into an amazing and entirely different environment through the use if murals, gaming, and 3D elements….Our theming creates positive patient experiences. Children are excited to visit a themed dental office, making it easier… to provide them with a foundation for good dental health.”

I think this is a great example of theming and “using appropriate details to strengthen your story and support your creative intent”. The environments IDS creates are extremely detailed and elaborately themed, creating a transformative experience for their clients’ guests. The image below shows just a small sampling of the themed environments Imagination Dental Solutions has created over the last decade. You can see more at their website.

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Copyright 2017 Imagination Dental Solutions. All rights reserved. Used without permission.

 

As a side note, Imagination Dental Solutions has a relationship of sorts with the theme park industry. Their parent company is  Studio Y Creations, “an innovator and leader in the theming and display industry… considered among the best companies in the world for designing and manufacturing three-dimensional displays.” One of Studio Y Creation’s clients is Canobie Lake Park, a small, family-friendly amusement park located in Salem, NH (a park near and dear to my heart and one I try to visit at least once a year). You can see some of Studio Y Creation’s work at Canobie Lake Park on their website.

 

Thoughts? Let me know what you think in the comments!