Want to learn to design theme parks? Here's a new place to start

August 14, 2019, 5:58 PM · A couple of months ago, I asked if the popular online instructional course Masterclass ever would feature a themed entertainment designer. Now, competitor Khan Academy has jumped in to fill that space, offering an online tutorial in cooperation with Walt Disney Imagineering.

Imagineering in a Box features a series of instructional videos and exercises that take viewers through the process of creating theme park attractions.

"Disney Imagineers from hundreds of career disciplines around the world share how they use a wide range of skills – from story development and conceptual design, to math, physics and engineering – that all come together to create immersive experiences," the course's description says.

Khan Academy is an online learning resource known for its supplementary courses aimed at high school students, but it also offers material that dives into more professional disciplines — such as, now, theme park attraction design. The Imagineering in a Box course includes three lessons, each with six to 10 assigned exercises. Each exercise is preceded by an instructional video, usually around six minutes, that introduces and explains an important concept in the lesson.

The first lesson, "Creating worlds," introduces theming, layout, and building, landscape and sound design for theme park lands. The second lesson, "Designing attractions," talks about storyboards, ride systems, layout, and capacity. The final lesson, "Bringing characters to life," gets into character types, costumes, armatures, and actuators.

Khan Academy courses are free, and while this one alone won't get anyone a job on a design team, a first run through shows a solid overview of the field that can help inspire and direct someone considering themed entertainment design as a career. Or, at the very least, it should deepen any fan's appreciation for the work that goes into creating a successful theme park attraction.

Replies (8)

August 14, 2019 at 6:29 PM

I haven't checked it out, but it sounds like something us TPA veterans might find interesting. Thank!

August 14, 2019 at 8:04 PM

That looks interesting.

August 14, 2019 at 10:03 PM

An intriguing concept. Of course, it's always easy to jot down ideas but this looks like how it can help folks understand how they work in reality which is good too.

August 14, 2019 at 11:42 PM

Imagineering In A Box is easily found on Walt Disney Imagineering's YouTube channel, it's a fun web series:)

August 15, 2019 at 2:45 AM

A Question. Free or Paid?

August 15, 2019 at 3:03 AM

Was a good watch, especially the part on attraction design. However it is more aimed towards people in school rather than adults, although the main interview sections are really good. As an adult I'd skip past all of the activity sections and just focus on what the imagineers are saying as some tasks seemed a bit tedious. Would have loved to have done this when I was in school though.

August 15, 2019 at 8:35 AM

What a great online resource for high school students that are exploring their career options, especially in this field! I wonder how much time & energy will be spent advertising this to guidance departments and academic advisors. If nothing else, this sounds like something that a high school teacher could incorporate into a design curriculum. Heck, as an English teacher, I might even borrow some of it for my narrative elements writing unit involving world building, characterization, sensory details, theme/mood, etc.!

August 16, 2019 at 9:49 AM

Thanks! I just shared this with my 16 year old. He uses Khan Academy, and he loves computer design, so this may be useful for him.

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