Lesson 1: The People Behind The Park
This first lesson is about people. People are a theme park's most important asset. It takes people to create a theme park; that's what this class is about.
But it also takes people to operate a theme park: to run the rides, keep them working, keep it clean, and keep it stocked with interesting merchandise and palatable food. As theme park engineers, we need to design our park with these people in mind. In a sense, they are our customers. If they can't run their park efficiently, we haven't done our jobs right.
Of course, there's an even more important group of people: our guests. Everything we put into our theme park needs to be designed with them in mind. Our theme park must lure them in, and keep them coming back, or there will be no one to pay the bills!
This lesson looks at each of these groups of people. By understanding each of them we will be able to deign a better park.
In the discussion area for this lesson we'll introduce ourselves and talk about our favorite attractions.
Lesson 2: Attractions -- Where Story is King
When people think of theme parks, the first thing they think of are attractions. Everyone has his or her favorites. When I was a kid it was a toss up whether my favorite was Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean or The Haunted Mansion.
In this lesson we look at all the different types of attractions: Gravity Rides, Dark Rides, Boat Rides, Simulators, Theaters, even food service and merchandising.
By the end of this lesson we'll have assembled the complete palette we'll use to paint our own theme park.
In the discussion area for this lesson we'll each begin to create our own attraction. What's your passion? Roller coasters, theater, cooking, science fiction, history? It's time to start brainstorming your perfect ride.
Lesson 3: Planning Your Attraction
In this lesson we'll look at the early stages of design, from Blue Sky through initial story creation, then the process of fitting the story to our intended audience and finally trying to figure out whether it fits within the real world's design constraints.
In the discussion area you'll begin polishing your attraction idea, and trying to sell it to "management"!
Lesson 4: Your Creative Team
This lesson moves forward in time to the next step after an attraction concept is approved. It's the last completely right-brain stage in the process, before the whole can of worms gets dumped into the engineers' cubicles and we start picking them out of our keyboards.
In the discussion area we'll talk about the creative team's efforts to firm up your attraction so that the physical design can begin.
Lesson 5: Project Phases
In this lesson we're going to sprint through nearly all of the phases of a major theme park project, from initial concept through the early stages of design and construction, then installation and test, and finally a -- hopefully -- grand opening to the public.
At the end of this lesson you will have an appreciation for the many diverse people who work on theme parks. Perhaps you'll see yourself in one of these roles. If so, that's a great clue to what your own involvement in theme parks might be as a career.
In the discussion area we'll plan out all the activities that will be needed to get your attraction to opening day. Later, when we're finished, we'll see how close we came to following this game plan!
Lesson 6: Engineering Your Attraction
In this lesson we'll survey the different engineering disciplines and describe, in general terms, what they do. Then, in the rest of the course, we'll take a detailed look at each of those engineering specialties, and see how they impact your attraction.
Speaking of your attraction, it had better be pretty well defined at this point. As engineers we're going to start spending money on some rather large, expensive things -- buildings for example -- and it's going to get progressively expensive to make creative changes. So take off your funny looking creative hat (the one with the moose antlers), and put on your hardhat. We're headed for the construction site.
In the discussion area we'll try to spot all the technical challenges that may come our way as we design the inner workings of your attraction.
Lesson 7: Show Control Engineering
We've arrived at the meat of the course. The appetizers and salad were fun, but now we've got some real work to do. In this lesson we'll put on our Show Control Engineer's (hard) hat and get down to the real work of designing a theme park attraction.
This lesson's discussion area is a great place to talk about the show control challenges you attraction team faces.
Lesson 8: Ride Control Engineering
Q: Who is the first passenger on a theme park ride?
A: A sandbag.
There are a number of reasons for this. Sandbags have very low health insurance costs. Sandbags look better wearing shorts than the average theme park guest. And sandbags can't sue you.
In this lesson we'll discover why all of those characteristics are important in the world of the Ride Control Engineer.
How will you control this ride of yours? Tell us in the discussion area.
Lesson 9:Audio / Video Engineering
In this lesson we leave behind the pressures of Ride Control Engineering and venture into the world of Audio / Video Engineering.
The discussion area provides you with a forum to describe the sights and sounds of your attractions, and to identify any special challenges they present.
Lesson 10: Other Engineers
Now our designs are complete, our equipment fabricated. It's been shipped to the field and installed. Hopefully in the right place.
Finally the big moment has arrived. Every resource we can bring to bear must head for the field as we plunge into the turbulent sea of test and adjust.
In this lesson we'll meet the other members of the technical team as they struggle to ready the attraction for opening day.
In the discussion area you can give us a peek into the beehive of activity your attraction has become.
Lesson 11: Designing an Entire Theme Park
In this lesson we're going to put it all together. We'll start by looking at the history of theme parks, beginning with the granddaddy of them all, Disneyland.
Next we'll look at why building a theme park is a lot like building a city -- only more so.
Then we'll sweat the details -- all those real world issues about site planning, infrastructure and services that our guests want to know nothing about.
And finally we'll bring things full circle and finish that theme park design we started way back in lesson one.
In this week's assignment, each of you are going to play the role of billionaire eccentric, and create an entire theme park, just the way it suits you. What will your theme park be like? Will it be educational, exciting, emotionally involving, tasty, fun?
It's up to you. As they say in the trade, "The money cannons are loaded."
Lesson 12: The Future of Themed Entertainment
Before the vehicle comes to a stop, let's get out our binoculars, our microscope, and our crystal ball, and take a look around.
With our binoculars we'll survey the wide world of themed entertainment, and find out what other markets there are besides theme parks.
With our microscope we'll take a closer look ourselves, and see where we might fit into the themed entertainment job sector. More importantly, we'll discuss some strategies for getting that job.
And finally, with our crystal ball, we'll gaze into the future of themed entertainment to see where it's headed, and even make a few wishes...