Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What is Disneyland's theme?

Islands of Adventure is one of the most popular theme parks in the world. It has lands devoted to Dr. Seuss, high fantasy, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, cartoons produced by Jay Ward, and Marvel Comics. What do these themes have in common?

Um. They all have lands in Islands of Adventure...?

Universal claims that the park’s theme is “places to adventure.” At best, that means, “places to walk around and go on roller coasters." At worst, it means, “whatever Universal can get the rights to.”

Nothing says "extraordinary" like mass-marketed franchises!

Without a theme to unify its lands, Islands of Adventure is not a theme park, but a themes park--or, more pedantically, "an amusement park with themed lands." That’s no great loss, because it’s still a lotta fun, and it doesn’t have much integrity to lose. It’s not like we're talking about Disneyland, here.

Say, while we’re on the subject, what’s Disneyland’s theme?

Uh oh.

Nothing’s coming to mind. Animal Kingdom's theme is “animals,” EPCOT is “a permanent World’s Fair,” Hollywood and Universal Studios are both “movies,” but Disneyland? I dunno.

How dispiriting!

Disneyland is definitive. When you hear the phrase “theme park,” you probably think of the castle. It’s so iconic, they’ve cloned it five times, on three different continents.

A mouse made the company, but he isn't its logo.

Surely the quintessential theme park is, indeed, a theme park, and not “an amusement park with themed lands!” Surely there’s a subject that unifies it!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pardon our dust!

I'm applying to PhD programs, and it's gobbling up my time.

Fear not! There's plenty of forthcoming content. To whet your whistle:

There are four ride-throughs in the works.

Two dark rides for Beastly Kingdom: one about a dragon, and one about sirens.

A show for Hollywood Studios about directing.

A re-imagined Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea submarine ride for Tomorrowland.

There are also new ideas, causes, and philosophies gestating.

Figuring out what Disneyland's theme is, exactly.

Developing a new land for Disneyland.

The problem with--and solution for--Tomorrowland.

What to do with toddlers in the parks, and how we can broaden attractions to include them without excluding everyone else.

Why there hasn't been a great Brobdingnagian attraction.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Animal Kingdom needs a dark ride.

For years, Animal Kingdom’s advertisements insisted that it was “not a zoo.”

Nahtazu, n., A theme park infested with zoo animals.

The advertisers were so proud of what the park wasn’t, they forgot to tell us what it was. Not that their summary would matter. They were wrong.

It is a zoo. And it’s a magnificent zoo. The animals are glorious, and the theming is some of Disney’s most tasteful work. Animal Kingdom has nothing to be ashamed of.

...except its attractions. If I were advertising a park whose E-tickets are a raft ride about deforestation and a movie where a stinkbug farts on us, I’d insist that it is only a zoo.

We need more attractions.

Expedition Everest was a helpful addition, but it’s a thrill ride. If we meet the height requirement, a yeti tries to eat us. If we don’t meet the height requirement, a yeti tries to orphan us.

"Hi, kids! I'm adopting you! My stool smells like your birth parents!"

We need attractions for all ages. If possible, they should be dark rides, partly because dark rides are a Disney speciality, but mostly because they’re air conditioned.

Let’s work backwards. If we scrutinize Animal Kingdom's lands, maybe we can find a subject they haven't explored yet.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

How to adapt a movie into a ride.

A lot of movies would make great rides, but we have to be careful.

If we faithfully translate a movie into a ride, it’ll be redundant. We’ll spend the whole ride remembering the movie, instead of being immersed in the movie.

It would be like if we went to a concert, hoping to hear this...

...but instead of hearing this...

...we heard this.

A ride that’s based on a movie must provide new insight into a familiar story.

It should use our foreknowledge as a shortcut. Since we already know the story, the ride doesn’t have to waste time explaining it. Instead, it should make us experience the movie from a different perspective.

That’s not an easy thing to do. There are two common mistakes, and there are two effective approaches.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A dark ride for Dinoland!

Dinoland, USA seems like a natural location for a dark ride, since its animals must be animatronic. (Real dinosaurs are represented by such a demanding union that it’s not worth hiring them.)

The difficulty is making a dinosaur dark ride that appeals to all ages.

At the end of the day, I'd prefer this to a stinkbug farting on me.

We have to establish a tone that’s awesome, without being too scary. We’ll start by figuring out the setting.

I have a theory about the relationship between settings and dark rides, but I’ll discuss it in-depth in a later article. For now, let me over-simplify: dark rides can be (1) stylized, (2) set indoors, or (3) set outdoors, but during the night.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Hollywood Studios that never was, and always will be.

I love Hollywood Studios.

I’ve graduated from, like, ninety-seven universities, but I have more pride in a theme park. Honestly, it’s my alma mater.

Working at the Backlot Tour changed my life. My writing flourished, and my filmmaking matured. I met some of my best friends, hid from my troubles, fell in love, began my quarter-life crisis, and made a Difference.

I stood beneath the Earful Tower as they removed the Disney-MGM Studios logo. I returned when they painted the Hollywood Studios logo.

And it needs to be razed.

The whole park. It’s lousy. It started lousy, it’s getting lousier, and the future holds no signs of delousing.

Its theme is lazily defined and lazily maintained. Its layout is tortuous. Half of the attractions are irrelevant, and the other half are poorly conceived.

Nothing in Disney brings out my Daddy Issues as much as Studios. Somewhere in there, there’s a great park...a park I’m proud to have in my ancestry...but I take every lousy aspect as a personal offense.

So please excuse the tone of this article. It’s a little severe in places, but that’s only because I care.

Rest assured, that passion will be reflected in forthcoming articles on how I intend to improve Studios. The stuff I’m about to introduce may be the most exciting work you’ll see on this blog.

So let’s give Studios a bath, remove its glasses, let down its hair, and teach it to enunciate its haitches.

Why can't Studios be more like a park?
Parks are so tasteful, yet bursting with flair,
painstakingly themed, but to us,
They excite and delight each parent, teen, and brat!
Why can't Studios be like that?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

What is a theme park?

Let’s establish the basics.

It’s tempting to say that a theme park is an outlet for escapism.

We could certainly use one. Prison lobbyists are increasing the demand for new prisons by paying Congress to extend criminal sentences. Sex offenders in Miami must live under a bridge because it’s the only place in the city that isn’t within 2,500 feet of a school. South Africans are raping babies to “cure” their AIDS.

Please let's go to Disney World.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Pocahontas' Colors of the Wind.

Created by my sister, Emily, my friend, Tim, and me.

Lately, the parks have been projecting film onto unconventional surfaces.

It started with mist screens in Fantasmic, and now we’re seeing film projected onto whole buildings, like Disneyland’s it’s a small world.

From 0:01 through 1:29.

We like this trend, and feel that it deserves its own attraction.

Hence, Pocahontas: a dark ride that experiments with projecting film in unconventional ways. The centerpiece of the ride is an interpretation of the “Colors of the Wind” scene.

Yes, the World of Color has a Pocahontas scene,
but ours is a ride, and ours is better.

Let’s ride through, shall we?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

There are oodles of posts gestating.

They mostly sort into three categories.

PHILOSOPHIES. I'm fascinated with narratology within the parks, and why it works the way it does. Many opinions will be presented as fact, because life's too short for neutral phrasing.

BRAINSTORMS. They're "brainstorms," not "blue sky thinking," because this blog has a rainbow-colored banner and I'm insecure enough to choose the butch synonym.

RIDE-THROUGHS. I dunno why you've come to Pure Imagineering, but I'm here for new attractions. That said, of all the upcoming posts, the fewest are ride-throughs. It takes a long time to design 'em, it takes even longer to write 'em, and I don't wanna post something until it's worth reading.

All of these will be living documents. Nothing is perfect (especially not my "blueprints"). If the Disney parks can be revised, so can my Fan Fiction.

Stay tuned! I'll have the first walk-through up within the week!

Friday, July 8, 2011

To all who come to this happy blog, welcome!

Hi, there! I’m Ian. I used to be a Backlot Tour Guide.

I was known for my nuanced performances.

I have, like, thirty-seven writing degrees. I also have a few opinions about the Disney parks.

Even though these opinions are sincere, well-intentioned, and objectively true, they are perhaps ever-so-slightly hindering my growth as a spiritual being.

The water bottle I'm holding was filled with bathtub Dole Whip.

I was thrown out of Magic Kingdom for replacing all of the children in it's a small world with Jack Sparrow animatronics.

I was thrown out of Epcot for drag racing on Test Track. (I got my Corolla up to sixty-five miles an hour!!)

I was thrown out of Hollywood Studios. I entered the Toy Story (Midway) Mania! building and shot everyone (...with pies, LOL).

I was thrown out of Animal Kingdom for siphoning gas from Chester and Hester's gas station. They didn't care that I was resuscitating the dinosaurs in the petroleum!

I threw myself out of California Adventure, because, uggh.

I was thrown out of Disneyland for not believing in Pixie Hollow. That was the worst of them.

Picture this, but covered with fairy corpses.

So I'm rehabilitating. It's time to be positive. It's time to use my, like, fifty-three writing degrees for Good.

It's time to have a happy blog.

Instead of dwelling upon the Disney attractions that disappoint me, I’ll speculate about the Disney attractions that I’d like to see.

Pure Imagineering will attempt to be constructive. Maybe that's unrealistic, since some ideas are unsalvageable...but I'm hard-pressed to name one. It's not like there's a Little Mermaid-themed restaurant where they serve seafood.

Pure Imagineering will attempt to be creative. Not every movie needs its own attraction. I believe that theme parks should offer immersive experiences, not DVD commercials. Let Shareholdeering worry about synergy. I will only adapt a franchise into an attraction if the franchise merits the adaptation.

Above all, Pure Imagineering will be fan fiction. It will be sincere, well-intentioned, objectively true fan fiction.

And, with luck, it will be the Happiest Disney Theme Park Fan Fiction Blog on Earth.

Let's start by crucifying those responsible for "Celebrate You!"