In the last video and exercise, we talked
about the role of story in the creation of a land. Really great stories have a deeper meaning behind them called a theme. The theme is the unifying idea: the thing that the story is about. For example, in the movie Cars the story is about Lightning McQueen in his adventure but the theme is that life is about the journey - not the destination. Another example in all of the Star Wars films from the Star Wars Universe, we hear lots of stories about lots of different characters but they're all united by a common theme: the power of hope. So when we design a theme park we need to have a deep understanding of the theme we want to communicate. Let's hear more about theme. We call ourselves storytellers and we're telling a story. And a story is what happens. A theme is what's the story about. And that theme can really influence the whole design and tone of a project. Theme is the deep interior meaning of a story. For example, Avatar is not about a planet. Avatar is about our deep obligation to be respectful to the living world - that's a theme. If you think about watching a really good film, when you walk out of the theater, what is it that you've taken away from that story that changes you? Because if you think about all the best stories that you've ever watched or listened to or read or experienced, there
is a change that happens in you and that is really really rooted into a very strong theme. I love amusement parks! I love amusement parks! There is a big difference though between a theme park and an amusement park. An amusement park tends to be focused on physical sensation. A theme park is built just like a novel around a theme. So the first thing you should understand from a theme park is that it is about something. And anything inside of it is only there because those things are also about what the theme park is about. Nowadays I think of it as immersive world, really, is the theme park 2.0. We want to create an extremely immersive and authentic land and we want you to
truly believe that you're in this place. So, the difference between a theme park and an amusement park is that a theme park has stories that are interconnected and integrated and that all of the various pieces speak to one another. A theme park sets you on a series of experiences that you kind of know where you are and where you're going and that informs the design of everything within that particular land. Theme informs every aspect of a story and the way it's told. And for Imagineers it acts as the touchstone for everything we do when we bring stories to life in the real world. We create huge projects and we have to make thousands of decisions, so the theme is your standard for decision-making. The question you are always asking yourself is, "Does this thing or does it not help feed into the theme?" That theme is what you're designing to - it establishes the rules. If the story of Pirates, for example, it's about adventure and about freedom. That theme starts to drive how you design everything. You don't want buildings that are square and solid, you want buildings that have whimsy and fun and it wants to be colorful, who have a lot of humor built into it. Think of Disney's Animal Kingdom, the whole park. If my theme is the intrinsic value of nature and I have one door and there are thousands of doors - one door intrinsic value of nature - is that door more likely to be made of wood or is it more likely to be made of steel? It's probably made of wood. Is that wood
more likely to be smooth or rough? Intrinsic value of nature - probably rough.
If there's a doorknob on a single door out of a thousand doors in a place about
the intrinsic value of nature, is that doorknob more likely to be shiny or rusty? It's probably rusty. If there is a pattern on a doorknob the size of my thumbnail, is that pattern more likely to be geometric or organic? It's more likely to be organic. So you can see how a simple decision, "is this or is it not related to the theme?" Can allow you to control a huge spectrum of decisions that go into making a theme park. So you can see that theme plays a central role in everything that we do at Imagineering. And that's what helps make Disney theme parks so unique. In the next exercise, you'll have a chance to think about some themes from stories you love. You'll get a chance to develop a theme for your own land.