Edited by Judith Rubin
Today, it’s possible to study themed entertainment in college and even have the chance to be recruited into the industry from there. A student can graduate from a curriculum specifically designed to set them on the path to becoming, say, a dark ride designer or an interactive show writer, or a roller coaster engineer. This is a great boon for those who aspire to careers in the sector, or wish to add to their education. It is also a relatively new thing.
Many people have come – and still come – to the attractions industry with degrees and training in theater, film, fine arts, architecture or engineering, even journalism. Some had their initial training on the road with live touring shows. There are even seasoned professionals in our midst who did not graduate from college at all.
But increasingly, there are specific, university-level themed entertainment programs, both undergraduate and graduate. And alongside this development, there is continuing discussion about what the elements of such an education should be in order to best equip students to enter the industry with the right skills and expectations to realize their dream careers and answer the needs of employers.
This e-book is part of that discussion in the still-developing arena of themed entertainment higher education. It includes reports from pioneers and leaders in the field, first-hand accounts from students and graduates, as well as industry research and analysis by educators. Have you got a story to contribute? Please contact InPark editor Judith Rubin.
What should Themed Experience graduates know, say and do? A well-rounded program is a must. Author: Peter Weishar, Professor of Themed Experience and Program Director of the Themed Experience Graduate track at the University of Central Florida – April 2020
Juggling college and internships in the themed entertainment industry With every day I have more confidence that my intention to become an entertainment designer was the right path. I am growing from a little girl who played with design as a hobby to an international designer. — Author: Yun Enya Huang, student at the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) – June 2020
How to create a win-win collaboration between academia and the themed entertainment industry Communication and realistic expectations are leading us to fruitful collaboration. — Author: Peter Weishar, Professor of Themed Experience and Program Director of the Themed Experience Graduate track at the University of Central Florida – Nov 2019
The expansion of formal themed experience education will benefit the industry Formal education in the design and production of themed experience will become the norm for those entering the field. This is a positive evolution for the industry. — Author: Peter Weishar, Professor of Themed Experience and Program Director of the Themed Experience Graduate track at the University of Central Florida – Oct 2019
Wärtsilä and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts At the School of Design & Production at UNCSA, an education in working in the digital age begins with a pencil. Michael Kelley, Dean of the School of Design & Production, elaborates: “We still start every student on drafting by hand before we take them to software like CAD and SketchUp. Fundamentals have to be taught. Everything after that is tool.” – March 2019
KEN SABA: The Whats, Whys and Hows A top media producer in themed entertainment tells his story: I started off in college as a film animation student, fell in love with the tech side of film and TV. After a five-year contract position as a videographer for NASA, I decided I wanted to learn more and enrolled at Art Center to focus on the creative and business side of film I was offered scholarship for “9th term honors” which is an extra semester after you graduate in which you can take any class in any department…. Feb 2017
What makes a great roller coaster engineer? A roller coaster engineer’s skillset encompasses the major engineering disciplines such as mechanical, structural, and electrical. Excellent problem solving skills using science and math, thinking outside the box, and adaptability are vital. Interest in the field is also a plus. — Kevin Dazey discussed the topic with five leading manufacturers – August 2016
From Disney princess to Disney intern: a design school grad tells her story Theme parks had been a second home to me my entire young existence, and I was confirmed in my determination to become a part of the professional community. — Arielle Rassel’s experience as a themed entertainment student at SCAD – May 2012
Higher education: Themed entertainment becomes a degree program The leaders of industry have become the teachers. — Author: Matt Kent – May 2016
The Case for Customer Education Three reasons customer education is important: Keeping customers in the dark can lead to unrealistic expectations; there is value for the organization; good customers tend to receive better service. — Author: Dr. Edwin N. Torres, Assistant Professor at the University of Central Florida, Rosen College of Hospitality Management. – Feb 2018
The highs and lows of customer emotions in theme parks A research team engaged in a systematic effort to ascertain the main causes of customer delight and outrage within the theme park setting. We focused our energies on the Top 20 Theme Parks in North America. Author: Dr. Edwin N. Torres, Assistant Professor at the University of Central Florida, Rosen College of Hospitality Management. – Nov 2017
Hobbyists, scholars, foodies, walkers, bingers and light fans enjoy the park in their own special ways We profiled a visitor demographic made up of local, single, annual passholders who attend the park in groups organized through Meetup.com. Their behaviors are different than those of seasonal tourists and their experiences are self-customized. — Authors: Dr. Edwin N. Torres and Dr. Marissa Orlowski, University of Central Florida Rosen College of Hospitality Management – May 2017