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  • [Question] Disneyland Thesis Ideas

    Hi everyone, hope this is an appropriate area to post this.

    I am a grad student in Environmental Design at the dissertation topic selection stage. I am having a really tough time choosing a thesis topic and would like to ask for help in the best place I can think of given my interests.
    My program is a bit schizophrenic-students study everything from urban design to ecology to interior design and everything in between.

    With a background in animation and media and a passion for Disney park spatial-experiences I thought my topic selection would be a slam dunk. I would write about Disney parks, in particular how with WED all these creative disciplines converge to create kinetic spaces, (which is the catch all phrase I use for everything from queues to rides to general park dynamic design).





    I love Disney and hardly want to write some critique. I want to celebrate this design synergy and this is where I need help! Are there any Disney Scholars here who might be willing to guide me with a topic selection?
    One thought I had was looking at how these kinetic spaces are developed. I know they are generally first conceptualized visually with concept art and later built into tangible scale models.



    Any comments on this idea or suggestions in general would really be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    Re: Disneyland Thesis Ideas

    As a fellow grad student, I sympathize with you completely!!

    As a developmental science student...I'm approaching your thoughts from a devil's advocate perspective. My 'specialty' is children and media. We study children's learning from and cognitive processing of media. As much as I love Disney, I would hesitate to bring it into my work, as I feel that my emotional feelings would present a huge bias in my research and interpretation of findings. Granted, your program seems to focus less on experimental science and more on critical thinking and design assessment (just a guess from your short description). I would also worry that your strong feelings about Disney would make it difficult for you to be open to others opinions or criticisms of Disney design. However, I don't know your area of academia well enough to apply my own thoughts and experiences to your work.

    Could you do something broader on overall theme park design (historic versus trends of the present and future), developing guidelines based on what you believe are the most successful design elements? That way, you could bring critiques of bad practices in while focusing on the successful things that you like about WED? It would allow you to celebrate what you love without your dissertation sounding like a Disney lovefest.

    Just a few thoughts; they may be utterly useless. Best of luck!!!

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Disneyland Thesis Ideas

      Fellow two-time grad student here--I feel your pain! (and yours, TikiRoom!)

      I agree with TikiRoom in that your feelings for Disney may not make you the most objective person. You're not going to be able to avoid criticizing Disney. Are you going to have a verbal thesis defense? If so, you're going to have to prepare yourself for an anti-Disney onslaught. I'm not sure I understand your field completely either , but I can tell you that in a thesis you will HAVE to point out things that are wrong in what you're studying.

      My thought was similar to Tiki's. Can you bring it down to a smaller scale? Like, rather than tackling Disneyland as a whole (is this a master's degree or doctorate?), I'd probably bring it down. Maybe look at something like queue design--take one or two rides where Disney completely got it right, and one to two where they totally got it wrong, then do an analysis of both sides, create a best practices, and maybe invent a model attraction with an ideal queue? Or take a section of the park and analyze crowd flow, one good, one bad, and apply it to an original park design. Is that the kind of thing you're studying?

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      • #4
        Re: Disneyland Thesis Ideas

        Originally posted by ktulu View Post
        [FONT=&quot]
        Greetings. If I could go back to school, I'd take what you are doing. I'm currently eyeing an Environmental Engineering Technology program that I may take in a couple years time if funds become available again - wish I would've taken that instead of Electronics Engineering Technology and my BBA.

        I can't suggest any particular topics, however, today while I had my little earth day Disneynature movie marathon, while watching the Oceans Blu-Ray I decided to watch the featurette: "Disney & Nature: Preserving The World We Share". It opened my eyes a bit more about the company. There's a number of initiatives that I did not know they were involved in. For instance, I thought they started all their "green" initiatives recently when they launched Disneynature, but they've been going at it since the 80s (and actually earlier if you count the True Life Adventures they did during Walt's era). Since your background is environmentally related, I highly recommend checking out that featurette. It's not that long, about 15 minutes maybe. I think it's also on the DVD of the movie (I just took a look on Youtube if it was up, but it's not). You may get some idea for your dissertation from it and perhaps change the mentality of your profs about Disney (I know what you are talking about, I've been through similar situations myself. ) Good luck!

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        • #5

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          • #6
            Re: Disneyland Thesis Ideas

            Keep us posted; I'd love to know what you end up choosing!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Disneyland Thesis Ideas

              Hello fellow design student
              I'm in interior design and I'm always looking at the design aspect of things and certain spatial relationships. I wish I could help you out but I agree with something that Shelby H said: What if you take two land areas that really work and two that don't and get into the details of that and how that can relate to environmental design. I think choosing a subject close to your interests will actually make you hate this project less than you would had you chosen something irrelevant in your life. I know how design projects can be. I'm in the middle of one that I didn't choose that I'm so bored with and have a long way to go. Good luck with choosing a topic and keep us posted.


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              • #8
                Re: Disneyland Thesis Ideas

                Thanks Tiki/ Izzy- I will sure let you know how I make out. I will certainly give consideration to that comparative idea as a possible path as it seems like as strong/ interesting direction.

                Take care

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Disneyland Thesis Ideas

                  Originally posted by TikiRoom View Post
                  As a fellow grad student, I sympathize with you completely!!

                  As a developmental science student...I'm approaching your thoughts from a devil's advocate perspective. My 'specialty' is children and media. We study children's learning from and cognitive processing of media. As much as I love Disney, I would hesitate to bring it into my work, as I feel that my emotional feelings would present a huge bias in my research and interpretation of findings. Granted, your program seems to focus less on experimental science and more on critical thinking and design assessment (just a guess from your short description). I would also worry that your strong feelings about Disney would make it difficult for you to be open to others opinions or criticisms of Disney design. However, I don't know your area of academia well enough to apply my own thoughts and experiences to your work.

                  Could you do something broader on overall theme park design (historic versus trends of the present and future), developing guidelines based on what you believe are the most successful design elements? That way, you could bring critiques of bad practices in while focusing on the successful things that you like about WED? It would allow you to celebrate what you love without your dissertation sounding like a Disney lovefest.

                  Just a few thoughts; they may be utterly useless. Best of luck!!!
                  I just wrote a research paper on the effects of the social media on children, such an interesting topic and you start looking at the television that our children are watching differently. Where are you studying developmental science if you don't mind me asking? ( I am starting to look into graduate schools )

                  As for the original post, like others have suggested comparative work always seems to get the job done. Are you restricting yourself to just DLR or are you open to maybe comparing the way they design their queues over at WDW? I believe I read something about animation design in your OP, why not compare they way Disney films movies such as Cinderella versus Pixar animation style? Hope I was a little helpful

                  Comment

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