Huh? That's it? Even more attention to detail by way of exit signs. That's nothing more than a wish list of more money to be spent on inconsequential stuff.
Funny that you mentioned cold, hard stone castle walls because my first thought was the Explorer's fortress in Mediterranean Harbour, with its winding stone passage staircase. Hopefully one day you will get to see a truely immersive Disney theme park that blows away even the BEST parks in the US.
Everyone knows WDW is marketed towards those east of the Mississippi and, like government, the yokels, rednecks and bubbas get the theme parks they deserve. At least in the case of Disney, it's watered down experiences, more princess meet 'n' greets, bad show in Splash Mountain with most of the AAs not working and "thrill" rides replacing the grand, sweeping omnimover people eaters of 1980's Epcot Centre.
The theme parks for true connoisseurs are in Japan.
The ride and the theming are what you make of them. If small details ruin the entire experience for you, then a theme park is only going to be able to disappoint. Like you said, due to laws and regulations, certain safety precautions have to be taken. I like the themed exit signs, but if you theme them too well, they might be mistaken for ride elements and not an actual exit.
I agree that it would be nice to be able to explain away or hide certain elements, but it doesn't take away from the overall experience for me!
There are tricks that can help with things such as exit signs, too. Just put a dogleg or twist in the queue so that guests are facing away from an exit sign, for one. (And when the guests instinctively turn around, toward the entrance, during an evacuation, then they'll see the exit signs.) But that's a first-gen trick. I think it's worth questioning whether it can be done better.
When was talked with Sam Gennawey about theme park design late last year, materials were a big issue - how the use of high-quality materials helps establish a theme. But for as well as Disney does this, and Universal with Harry Potter, parks could do even better. How then, to make that affordable enough to be implemented? That's a challenge for designers of the next generation of themed environments to address, too.
I love the issues this post brings up. There's much here for fans who love detail to debate. Thanks for posting.
The way I see it, while the ride is in motion there really is no need for exit signs. If the ride stops for whatever reason then the signs should become illuminated. It's not like we need them while we are securely strapped into the vehicle. And if the ride is operating then no park personnel should be in the ride area anyway.
I was starring at Rip Ride Rockit the other day and I realized how awfully intrusive and ugly the stairs and platform at the top of the lift are. I think something needs to be done about those bad boys, and other coasters. For example, removing those ultra wide stairs on Wild Eagle could enhance the sense of freedom and flight while ascending the lift. Sheikra and Griffons extra wide cars could also benefit greatly from removing all the stairs, walkways and railings that surround the upper turnaround of the lift. Not to mention all those unsightly electrical boxes that get in the way of the view.
I applaud Intamin for having smaller, less obtrusive stairs and railings on their lifts. On top of that Intamin only does the stairs on one side of the lift, except on Skyrush.
Wouldn't life be grand without all the little things getting in the way!!
As cool as SOME parts of the queue are, I'm not a huge fan of it like everyone else. However, it's because of other gross oversights than exit signs.
I'm with Robert, Pirates probably has the best styled queue to convince guest that they are somewhere else (minus the icky and low black ceiling). Anytime a line is split, I think that help. The winding halls with small chambers with curious objects works well. Heavy chains seem to fit nicely and if the kids are bored (and I don't recommend this) they can touch and climb around the giant barrels.
Another Queue, perhaps because of it's simplicity, works well is the Tower of Terror queue. The Garden section with the music, while not crazily detailed really works well, and flows well into the very well themed interior.
My final queue shout out is the Everest queue. As authentic looking as other queues may be, this one is authentic. 98% of the items, including the hand maid Yeti temple, are from Asia. The queue has no ropes or chains. It never really has a switchback. It has interesting buildings that look real that subtly build up the story and educate you. I'm not judging based on what it's based (I'm indifferent to HP) but by the thoroughness, and I'd have to say Everest may be that next generation queue, and hardly anyone notices.