Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Those creative types: Disney Imagineers and The Haunted Mansion

The Haunted Mansion is one of my favorite attractions at Disney World. Its goofy spookiness is pure Disney and pure fun.

When you first step into the ride, you feel as if you're in an old-fashioned foyer. An ominous voice speaks and fun things happen and you can't quite believe your eyes or what your body is feeling. One of those things is that the room appears to stretch on top. It's a memorable event, but one that would not have existed had it not been for some space limitations.

Because of the way the original Disneyland had been set up, with train tracks surrounding the theme park area, new attractions could not expand outward easily. The only way the Imagineers (engineers everywhere else but if you work at Disney you get this cool title) could make Haunted Mansion work, was to take people underground via an elevator to an area outside of the one marked by the railway tracks. This has to be written into the experience, thus the seemingly stretching ceiling when it's actually the elevator lowering.

The effect that resulted from this limitation became such a hit that it was replicated in other Disney Parks that didn't have the same space limitation.

I've done my share of complaining about certain limitations placed on writers, but I also know that when I am given complete free reign: draw a picture of anything I wish, I freeze. Structure, rules: these are good things, because they focus our minds and force us to use our creativity within prescribed boundaries. Who knows, unexpected but excellent work can result.


Nandini said...

OK, so ... good things come from limitations? Being currently painted into a corner because of the setting/time of my historical, I really, really, hope so!

And I think imagineers are awesome. I'm glad Randy Pausch got to be one ...

Yat-Yee said...

I am sorry you feel cornered in your WIP. You never know, this may be the very reason you come up with a most excellent solution.