The Basics of Themed Entertainment: Presentations

The Art of the Presentation

Dreaming up and building incredible, themed experiences that will be enjoyed by millions of people all over the world is truly an amazing experience. It’s one that requires the dedicated work of passionate individuals who collaborate as a team to deliver the business goals of a client. Of all the tools required in this a process, excellent communication factors the highest when measuring the success of the project team. As we continue in the series, “The Basics”, it’s important to understand how the presentation fits into the project process and how to assemble and deliver one with game-changing results. Many university degree programs or even corporate internships feature opportunities to present. However, even as good as those experiences are, little can prepare you for standing in front of a client when hundreds of millions of their dollars are entrusted to your team- that’s high pressure!

 

Assembling the...

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Themed Entertainment, the basics.

What is Themed Entertainment?

“Themed Entertainment” refers to the creation of an artificial environment where various elements bring to life a thematically driven story for immersing visitors in a strongly identified or branded setting. Visitors enjoy these experiences as a form of escapism and play.

This definition describes the core principals we use in creating themed experiences: artificial environments, a thematically driven story, the elements created to bring it to life, the immersion of visitors in this environment, the built environment represents the company’s brand and leveraging escapism and play as emotional connections to our guests. 

 As themed experience designers, we apply these principles in a HUGE industry that encompasses many markets and businesses. Let’s look at the core elements that make it up…

Theme Parks 

Let’s start with the obvious ones first: Theme Park. Since Walt Disney opened Disneyland in 1955 in...

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How to Lead Creative Teams

Leading Creative Teams


Without rival, one of the most difficult leadership roles I have ever had is leading creative teams, and I’m a life-long creative! In this post, I will explore these challenges and offer some remedies that have helped me in my 30-year career journey leading others. There is a lot of material on leadership available and I fully support many of these best practices for general leadership. However, I have found less information available on leading creative teams; I hope you find this information helpful!

What’s the Difference?

Let’s start by examining the differences between creative and non-creative teams. I would categorize “non-creative” roles as those whose primary delivery, action, or existence is inherently not a creative function or part of a project. That’s not to say that these team members aren’t creative individually or actually perform their tasks by applying creativity… Let’s use an engineer as...

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The Dynamics of Team Culture & Collaboration

The individual parts are greater than the whole

 

The Themed Entertainment Industry is a broad and wonderfully complex world that offers incredible escapism, imagination and emotional connection. It also feels like the projects we undertake to build these experiences are equally complex, vast and definitely generate emotion! Telling dimensional stories to one of the widest demographic of visitors of any market in the world and creating them to perform 365 days a year for 15-18 hours a day without diminishing the experience is a very tall order indeed!

Highly specialized, interdisciplinary team work for years to create and build these experiences with multiple layers of detail. There are many educational materials available to inform the curious how these experiences are dreamt-up and delivered, however, there doesn’t seem to be much discussion on the dynamic, collaborative teams and their culture that is created to foster these awesome achievements. The first step is to...

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Dimensionalizing Brand

Theron Skees is the Chief Creative Officer of Designer’s Creative Studio. He also currently oversees Disney Cruise Lines as the Vice President, Creative Portfolio Executive with Walt Disney Imagineering.

“Story” as Brand Experience

Telling a story is at the heart of every one of our projects. We understand this as designers in the Themed Entertainment Industry. Story is our communication method and experience is the product we create. Our demographic is… well, everyone. Our design criterion includes the creation of experiences that appeal to the broadest possible audience. Those of us who have worked with the “legacy brands” in this industry like the Walt Disney Company know that we balance the need for nostalgiaand trend all within the same property. We also know that if our experiences don’t connect with our guests emotionally, they are less likely to return year after year. Retailers, tech companies, and automobile manufacturers have...

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Storytelling: Is It As Important To Theme Parks As It Is To Film?

Recently, I was asked the question “is storytelling as important to themed attractions as it is to a film or TV show?” I believe that storytelling is a way of communication that has many different routes of delivery. From the earliest times in human history, storytelling was accomplished verbally and with simple drawings, human-to-human. The medium of film and television gives us the ability to communicate a story, in two dimensions, to millions of people at the same time.

Just like a great book, film and T.V. can draw an audience into the story and make emotional connections. When watching a story unfold on the screen, an audience travels through the story at the pace the director has chosen. All of the scenes, characters, and actions unfold as the director has established. The same is true of how an author guides a reader through a novel.

A story establishes a theme: which is the general meaning of the story or what audiences take away from the experience. Therefore,...

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How's The Health of Your Team? - Positive Tension Is The Remedy.

Positive Tension. Just like there are two poles on a battery, you need both charges to make energy. The same is true on a project team. The participants of a project have sometimes fundamental different objectives, although sharing the same goal. It takes a very diverse team of professionals to deliver the type of complex experiences we create in the themed entertainment industry. For example, the creative team members are focused on innovation, dreaming up the impossible, and are focused on taking risks to deliver something that has not been done before.


The project delivery team members, on the other hand, share the same overall goal of delivering a unique experience for guests, and approach it with a different set of criteria: they are fundamentally risk-averse, cost-conscious, and schedule-driven. Much of their success is measured through strict adherence to processes. Although many other subject matter experts participate in a project, these two categories are the most obvious...

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Hope for the New Generation of Themed Entertainment Designers

Welcome to the first post of the Designer's Creative Studio, I am excited to share personalized, content that is accessible to you; members of the Studio first! For those of you who may not know who I am, my name is Theron Skees and I am bringing over thirty years of experience within the themed entertainment industry working on everything from film and television to theme parks, retail, dining & entertainment and cruise ships.


In the coming months, you can look forward to articles, excerpts of interviews with industry pros, and monthly updates with all things involving creativity, design, leadership, and themed experiences. My goal for this blog is to share my experience and insights that create magic through design. I have been dreaming and doing the impossible for many years and want to help you do the same.


I have had the opportunity to teach and guide many students, as well as recent graduates, and they are concerned about the state of the industry. “Will...

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