Friday, September 16, 2011

The Opening Sequence...

Sam Gennaway at Samland (too lazy to put this link in, sorry) had a post that caught my interest a short time ago, titled The Magic Kingdom: A Grand Entrance> In it he talks about the approach to the Magic Kingdom from the guest's perspective, and the way that Walt Disney and the Imagineers wanted to control the experience. Sam also talks about the "storyboarding" of the event, as many of the Imagineers came from a film background. So it was no surprise that the experience has parallels to the opening sequences from a film.

I never really thought about the approach to the Magic Kingdom, or to any Disney park, from this exact perspective, but I think it can apply to every park. Think about an opening montage of a film, then compare it to the "framed" view from, say, the monorail coming up on Epcot. You get your wide shot, narrowing in focus as we approach the park, the Sphere getting larger and larger, until finally it disappears out of the shot as we loop around FutureWorld, and again the wide shot shows the American Adventure in the distance, teasing us with the view for a few seconds until we loop back around and exit the monorail. The Sphere looms now, and as we pass through the entryway we have a still shot of the icon. As we walk toward it, it gets larger and larger, until we are in its shadow, and now we're part of the story.

It works for Animal Kingdom, too, as you drive in. You see the huge Tree of Life in the distance (the wide opening shot) then it disappears behind the foliage as you approach the gates. Finally you (the camera) are passing through the lush jungle, animals on either side of you, exploring a bit along the way, until you burst into the clearing, and there it is, a closer "wide" shot, now looking absolutely huge. And you are into the story.

I don't know film terminology, I am not from a film background. Yet I love watching movies, and I find this comparison to be almost inspiring. It's a whole other way of experiencing the park as I approach it.

Filmmakers build excitement and suspense, setting up the entire story through the use of their opening montages; Disney Imagineers do much the same thing. I'm looking forward to visiting in the future, to consider my approaches to the parks in these terms. I'm also going to think about this as I continue to armchair imagineer my own parks...

Thanks, Sam, for a Disney enthusiasm boost.


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