Yet as curious as I am about the details of so many theme park attractions, I can't get these pros to give up their secrets. It's an extension of the magicians' code: They're not going to "break the magic" by telling you how its done.
But is that really necessary? Is it always true that if someone knows the secret of a trick, he's less impressed with it?
Personally, I don't think so. I've spent plenty of time backstage at the Magic Kingdom, and that experience didn't cause me to love theme parks any less. My work at Walt Disney World actually intensified my love of the parks. Seeing the inner workings of Audio Animatronics and ride systems didn't break the spell for me - they cast a spell that's led me to spend so much time visiting and reporting on theme parks.
I do know people who feel the opposite, though. They know don't want to know how things work; they just want to enjoy the show. So I thought this would make for a great Vote of the Week discussion.
Over the long term, do you think you'd like theme park attractions more, or less, if you knew more about the technology and tricks that made them work? Do the tech details turn you off, or turn you on - making you feel more connected to the ride or show and the people who produced it?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Please, if you've been a long-time lurker and have an opinion on this, consider this your invitation to jump in and leave a comment. And, as always, thanks for reading Theme Park Insider.Tweet
Which is a hard thing to summarize to someone :)
It's like when people ask me: "what software do you use to design theme parks?" -- the same software that every other design industry uses. It's not some "secret software" or magic elixer that solves problems -- it's the collaboration of numerous talented people in multiple disciplines, focused on the same goal, that solves problems and creates magic.
The most pertinent "secret" I've ever discovered about attraction design are Mickey's Ten Commandments -- which aren't a secret, and apply to EVERY project we do EVERY DAY, no matter what park or attraction or part of the world we're working in.
That said, what I don't want to know is the plot. So, I avoid "spoilers" until after I've experienced an attraction (or a movie, for that matter). Nor do I want to know every single effect. I want to say, "how'd they do that?," at least some of the time. For instance, I avoided recaps/previews of what was exactly on HP & the Forbidden Journey until I rode it. I knew some things, including that it uses a Kuka arm, but knew neither the plot nor exactly how the arm would be used (brilliantly, I might add). Basically, I like knowing how it's done, but just tease me at the beginning. I can always learn more after I've tried it.
Why do you need to know? It is the same thing with magicians in that once you know, the trick is ruined. I really don't need to know how the trick works. You probably already know the tricks for the smaller or older attractions. The newer attractions are a mystery, but probably not that hard to crack. This is an issue of money and how much a company is willing to pay to make it work.
The secret that even Disney seems to not figure out is how to make a better park than Disneyland. They keep missing the mark with the exception of DisneySeas. Every other park is a disappointment.
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It's easy to ask this question to theme park aficionados like ourselves, but ask someone who likes theme parks but isn't so crazy on details and you'll get a whole 'nother answer.