Thursday, June 18, 2009

Following up on entering Disney

I wrote in my previous post about the release I felt on first entering the Disney resort we stayed at last time. I wanted to follow up on that, because I've been reading Designing Disney: Imagineering and the Art of the Show by John Hench. In a section where he talks about the importance of play (for both children and adults) and the necessary ritual to enter a spirit of play, I found the following:
Imagineers create a feeling of ritual at the park's entrance. Many guests have saved up for a long time and traveled great distances to come to their chosen park. The lushly planted berm identifies and separates the park from the outside world; the entranceway to the park is the gateway to playtime. The tunnel entrance to Disneyland is a door through a warm-gray stone wall, an archway that gives guests the feeling that they are entering a special place on the other side. It still amazes me that such simple features of landscape and architecture work so well to transport guests from their everyday lives to the specially sanctioned playtime that the park alone offers. As guests traverse the tunnel, they leave behind the everyday routine of working, maintaining shelter, obeying rules; they enter a space where they can play voluntarily, and where, we know they will have the opportunity to feel more alive.
Yes; this is very much akin to what I experienced. I entered a different world, and in it's own way, it was carefully demarcated from the ordinary world. I note also that the tunnel entrance to the park is captioned with a plaque that reads:
Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.
What marked the transition when I entered the hotel? I think it was clearly the moment I saw Goofy in the lobby. The whole presentation was a unified (and beautiful) whole, but Goofy is what alerted me, "You're at Disney now, and that means you can quit worrying and have fun."

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