When we talk about building the world's best theme parks, that usually means working with some wildly popular IP. But you can build great attractions from original ideas, too. Working with an established franchise does give developers a head start in that audiences already will know and love its characters and settings. But starting from scratch gives designers the freedom to establish that emotional relationship - to create a space that will endure as the heart and focus of fans' enthusiasm, instead of just being an extension of that.
So who's making major attractions based on original concepts these days? Actually, Universal Studios just did it. With Volcano Bay, Universal created an entire park without using a single one of its many owned or licensed franchises. And it's been a hit, with attendance in its first, partial year of operation on pace to make Volcano Bay the most popular water park in America this year.
How did Universal do it? I sat down with Dale Mason, Vice President and Executive Art Director at Universal Creative, to find out. Dale talked about how he and his team developed the story, characters and concepts that helped define Volcano Bay and convince Universal management to build this park. He also addressed the challenge of staying on the right side of the divide between cultural inspiration and appropriation when designing attractions.
And Dale and I talked about the importance of crafting a backstory to ensure the authenticity of any theme park or attraction. So let's get to it, and welcome Dale to the latest episode of our "Building the World's Best Theme Parks" podcast.
Want more about Volcano Bay? Enjoy our walking tour of the park, from its opening week.
Getting back to the topic at hand, though, what are some of our favorite original stories in well-themed parks and attractions? And what kind of original stories would you like to see a major park develop someday?
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