Monday, October 4, 2010

Theme Parks - Kinetic Energy

When you are wandering around a Disney theme park, perhaps you notice that things are moving. Or perhaps you don't notice. But it makes an impression, if only subconsciously.

I don't have a great deal of theme park experience. I've been to both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort, and I've gone to Six Flags Great America, plus the St. Louis version of Six Flags and a couple of smaller parks. But when I think about it, the major difference I see is the quality of motion around the guests at the parks. Yes, at Six Flags, there is plenty of motion with coasters flying around, but they just look intimidating and scary.

At Disney parks, the motion is of a different quality. In Tomorrowland, you have the PeopleMover going past above you, and the Astro Orbiter, also happening above your head. At Splash Mountain you see the logs coming out of the mountain and down the flume before spashing into the water. Even Dumbo and the Magic Carpets of Aladdin provide kinetic energy in their corners of the park. Near the main entrance the Disney Railroad provides the motion.

The motion at the Magic Kingdom is exciting, inviting (perhaps), interesting, but not intimidating or frightening in the least.

Epcot's Dancing Waters Fountain provides kinetic energy in the Communicore, as does the monorail itself as it loops through the park. Test Track, of course, has the motion of its vehicles as they race past its entrance, and the pools of the Imagination! pavilion have their own brand of kinetic attraction with the illusion of water flowing uphill. Even The Seas With Nemo and Friends have motion with those silly animatronic pelicans in front of its entrance.

The other two parks don't have as much kinetic energy available for guests' diversion and for subliminal atmosphere, at least not that I can think of. It's been almost two years since I've been to Disney, so some stuff is a bit hazy in my mind. (I'll be rectifying that next month with my family.)

If any readers come up with any other examples of how Disney uses kinetic energy to set atmosphere and keep things interesting for the guests without hitting them over the head with the motion, please feel free to mention them in the comments section.

Thanks for reading.



Future Guy said...

There are also the whirlygigs in Innoventions plaza. I don't think they all move anymore, though.

The Studios and Animal Kingdom have surprisingly few examples of kinetic energy, now that I think of it.

Scott said...

You're referring to those spinny things over the center of the plaza, where the pin trading store is? That's something I hadn't thought of, though it certainly is an example of kinetic energy being used. I'll probably notice them more when we visit next month. Not sure if all or some are moving at this point...